Waterland 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 the historical event that Tom Crick keeps returning to over and over again as he explains that history seems to move in a circle?

2. What does Tom Crick's new-coined term "histrionics" refer to?

3. Who says, "explaining's a way of avoiding the facts while you pretend to get near to them?"

4. What is Tom Crick's response to this revelation?

5. What is one of the books Tom Crick reads that he finds in the trove of books collected by his great-aunts Louisa and Dora?

Short Essay Questions

1. In chapter 21, Tom Crick asks, "when the past tries to demolish itself, how do you demolish the past?" What is he getting at?

2. As he watches Dick ride off on his motorbike at the end of chapter 46, Tom states that Dick rides as if he has the legacy of the Atkinsons on his back. How so?

3. Chapter 26 is a long dissertation by Tom Crick about the mating habits of the eel. Recall three theories about how eels procreate that naturalists have advanced over the millennia.

4. In chapter 17, Tom Crick discusses his difficulties in trying to marry Mary Metcalf. What are the sources of those difficulties?

5. What is the significance of phlegm for the body according to chapter 51?

6. In chapter 13, Tom Crick uses a pun on the word "histrionics" to explain his feelings. What is that pun and what is its significance?

7. In chapter 1, the narrator describes the Crick family's relationship with the Fens how?

8. In chapter 8, Tom Crick speaks about how humans tell stories. What are some examples he uses about how history and fiction sometimes seem to overlap?

9. In chapter 31, Price tells Tom Crick about the student club he is part of. What club is that and what is its purpose?

10. In chapter 28, Tom explains why he turned to history and stories as passionately as he did. Why is that?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Analyze Tom's opinions about history and fate and explain how they relate to the relationship between the parents and children he has woven into his narrative. What might the symbolic meaning be of the fact that he and Mary cannot have a child of their own, and the only way for them to have something similar is for Mary to steal an infant and for Tom to claim Price as his son in the pub?

Essay Topic 2

Carefully consider the character of Ernest Atkinson in Graham Swift's novel Waterland. Trace the mistakes he makes that lead to his social, political, and financial decline in Gildsey and that cause catastrophe for his descendants. Finally, analyze what Ernest's life might symbolize in Tom Crick's narrative about the Fens and its people.

Essay Topic 3

One important theme in Graham Swift's novel Waterland is the tension between people from different social backgrounds. Choose one of the characters who crosses a social barrier in an important relationship and has to suffer the consequences for doing so. Using specifics from the book, trace the character's reasons, actions, and the reactions of those who are and those who are not from his or her own social class. What might the author be trying to show about history and about society by including the instance you chose in the novel?

(see the answer keys)

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