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

2. What is the name of the university Norah is accepted to in 1998?

3. What prize did Reta's novel, "My Thyme is Up," win the previous year?

4. What does Reta discuss with the person she visits after her encounter with Norah in early November?

5. In the few weeks prior to her disappearance, who does Ben think Norah might have a problem with that would account for her uncharacteristic behavior?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe Reta and Lois's relationship.

2. What does Reta notice on Norah's wrists that cause Tom to forget his trilobites and research stress and trauma?

3. Why does Arthur Springer call one day after Christmas and what is Reta's response?

4. Why does an older friend of Reta's advise her to read obituaries as a young writer?

5. How does Reta respond to the death of Mr. Scribano and how is it significant?

6. How does the staff's response at the hostel regarding Norah's gloves indicate her invisibility as a street person?

7. Why don't the Winters' want to discuss the fact that Norah probably gave her Christmas package away?

8. Why is Lois's conversation with Arthur when she comes over to investigate about dinner significant?

9. How does Emma, Reta's journalist friend, try to comfort her and how is it significant?

10. Why does Reta sign her letter to Dennis Ford-Halpern, "Yours, Rita Orange d'Ville"?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the role that faith plays in the novel. What are the differences between personal and religious faith? Discuss Reta's views on faith.

Essay Topic 2

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 3

How does Shields portray heroines in the novel? Respond to the following:

1. What characters can be regarded as tragic heroines?

2. Discuss Reta's ideas about heroines and heroism.

3. How are the heroines in the novel in opposition to society?

(see the answer keys)

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