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. Why does Arthur Springer from Scribano & Lawrence call Reta to introduce himself?

2. What does Reta reveal about the first time she met Tom?

3. Why does Reta write a letter of complaint to an editor of a literary magazine about a series of books called "Great Minds of the Western Intellectual World"?

4. According to Reta, what is there a sense of that runs throughout her main characters' story?

5. What exercise does Reta find repellent?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are some concerns Reta has in creating her fictional character Alicia, and how are they significant?

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

3. How does the American election results in Florida that Tom, Christine, and Natalie watch relate to Norah's absence?

4. Why is Reta reluctant to give Arthur Springer a first draft of her novel, and what does it reveal about her writing?

5. Why does Arthur love Alicia as a character and why is it significant?

6. 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?

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

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

9. 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"?

10. Describe life in the Winters' household.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss grief as a major theme of the novel, especially the expression of suffering, responding to the following questions:

1. How does Reta cope with her grief?

2. How are Norah's actions a manifestation of grief?

3. What is the relationship between memory and grief?

Essay Topic 2

Another major theme in the novel is the issue of homelessness and its consequences for the people affected by it.

1. Identify some preconceptions about homelessness that are disproved by the characters' actions.

2. What is Shields' overall message about people who are homeless?

Essay Topic 3

In the novel, Reta has several flashbacks about Norah in the weeks before her disappearance. Choose three memories and discuss what they reveal about Reta, Norah, and the nature of their relationship.

(see the answer keys)

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