Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Robert M. Pirsig
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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. Signs that they were approaching the High Plains included all EXCEPT

2. Why did Chris and the Narrator get soaked on their trip to Canada?

3. Phaedrus' stage fright concerning classroom teaching appeared to students as

4. Annihilation ECS consisted of

5. The back road route of traveling is better than the highway for all the following reasons EXCEPT

Short Essay Questions

1. No two motorcycle manufacturers split up the motorcycle parts in the same way. What did the Narrator mean by this? The Narrator talks about the knife they use to split up the parts and then talks about how Phaedrus used the knife creatively, yet analytically. To what do you think the Narrator is alluding to?

2. Based on what you have read through chapter 28, by way of predicting an outcome for the book, write a paragraph or two explaining a dream you think the Narrator will have near the end of the book.

3. A society which kills multitudes in wars, pollutes the land and oceans, and destroys the dignity of individuals is said to be a higher society than one that hunts and gathers. How can that be rationally explained?

4. The Narrator chose a trip with various types of terrain as the backdrop for this book on philosophy. Every description is in the book for a reason. What does the 11,000 foot mountain summit represent? What do the switchcbacks correspond to the thinking being done at that time? Do the paved roads represent something? If so, what? What does the shining wall across the misty harbor seem to denote?

5. Sentence fragments are exchanged between the Narrator and the young woman who comes into the classroom. What do we learn about rumors concerning Phaedrus (the Narrator) that circulated in the English department? What do you think is the young woman's role at the university at this time?

6. Chris' Indian friend's grandmother said that ghosts appear when someone has not been buried right. How does that relate to the discussions of the Narrator about Phaedrus? At what times and in what places does Phaedrus appear?

7. What are the various symbols of chapter 23 and what do you think they mean?

8. The Narrator seems to be descending into an abyss as he relates the details of Phaedrus' descent into a full mental breakdown. Why do you think he quit attending the class with the Chairman and then quit teaching his own classes?

9. The Narrator says that the ghost Phaedrus pursued appeared incoherent and meaningless, causing the most normal of everyday acts to seem slightly mad. What everyday assumptions and purposes caused this?

10. The breakthrough of blue sky allows the Narrator and Chris to see the top of the ridge they are climbing. At the same time, the Narrator seems to reach a breakthrough in his Chautauqua. What did Phaedrus realize about Quality that was such a breakthrough?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What traits does Chris have that were troublesome traits for Phaedrus?

Essay Topic 2

What gave Phaedrus permission to keep haunting the author? Where should the author have buried Phaedrus? How would this have been possible?

Essay Topic 3

Plato often used names for his characters that suggested the nature of their personalities. When the author chose the name "Phaedrus," he thought it meant wolf. When the Narrator is describing Phaedrus' contemplations, he describes a meeting with a timber wolf (chapter 7). How does the reader come to the conclusion that Phaedrus and wolf have some commonalities? "Phaedrus" actually means brilliant while "lykos" means wolf in Greek. Explain how both wolf and brilliant apply to Phaedrus / the Narrator.

(see the answer keys)

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