Unless Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. According to Reta's writer friends at the Orange Blossom Room, why are women excluded from real life?

2. What does Reta do in lieu of attending the funeral for the person at Scribano & Lawrence?

3. Who suddenly dies at Scribano & Lawrence?

4. What problem does Reta initially attribute Norah's disappearance to when she first goes missing?

5. What is delivered to the house that is emblematic of life going on in the Winters' household?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is Reta's complaint in her letter to the editor of a literary magazine regarding one of its advertising pages?

2. Describe life in the Winters' household.

3. How do Natalie and Christine attempt to give the impression that Norah's absence is part of a normal routine?

4. Why does Reta initially think Norah's problems may have stemmed from her relationship with Ben Abbot?

5. Why does Norah make the sarcastic observation in her letter to Alexander Valkner that he must have suffered from extreme fatigue when he thought of his list of "literary big cats"?

6. During Norah's visit from university the previous year, Reta states that she knew how "wildly out control" Norah was, how "she'd become dangerous to her own being." Describe why Reta comes to this conclusion.

7. Why does the memory of shopping for the perfect scarf for Norah haunt Reta as a "big female secret" and what does the scarf represent?

8. Why does Reta feel that normalcy is "monstrous?"

9. Why do Reta and her writer friends at the Orange Blossom Room conclude that the concepts of goodness and greatness are incompatible for women?

10. What does Reta's husband Tom do for a living and how is it significant concerning Norah's absence?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

As a novel, "Unless" functions as a mystery. As such, there are clues provided to lead the reader in many directions. What are some true and false leads surrounding Norah's disappearance? How does Shields utilize flashbacks and dialogue to create suspension in the novel?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the role of family in the novel, responding to the following questions:

1. What responsibilities do family members share?

2. Does Shields portray the Winters family as being functional or dysfunctional?

3. How are the Winters family members treated?

4. Who is accepted as a family member and who is not?

Essay Topic 3

Compare and contrast Reta and Danielle's views on women, responding to the following questions:

1. What observations do Reta and Danielle make about society's perception of women?

2. How do Reta and Danielle feel about the roles women have in society?

(see the answer keys)

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