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The Examination Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Examination.
This section contains 473 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Examination Summary & Study Guide Description

The Examination Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Examination by Malcolm Bosse.

"The Examination" is the story of two young brothers living in China in the sixteenth century. The brothers, named Lao Hong and Lao Chen, live in a small village in the province of Sichuan with a father who spends all of his time drinking and gambling. Their mother, who is an educated woman, has died. Chen is the older of the two brothers and is remarkable for his memory and knowledge of Chinese literature and writing. Hong, the younger brother, has a reputation for impudence and is recognized as an excellent trainer of fighting crickets.

As a promise to their dying mother, the brothers leave their small village to travel to Chengdu where a series of provincial exams are given to scholars who wish to obtain official government positions. Hong earns money for their travel by fighting his best crickets. Chen passes the provincial examination in Chengdu, ranking fifth, and the brothers proceed to Beijing, where the highest examinations are given to the best scholars. Hong uses his wariness and practical knowledge to help and protect his older brother, who is usually preoccupied with books and poetry, and who is often distracted by girls.

Along the way, Hong becomes initiated into a secret society called White Lotus and is entrusted to spy and carry messages for the subversive group. The brothers are separated when the boat on which they are traveling is boarded by pirates and they are taken captive. Hong is tortured over a message he carries for White Lotus, but escapes with the help of a fellow White Lotus member. Chen is rescued by the Chinese army and the two brothers are reunited to continue on their way to Beijing.

In Beijing, Hong becomes involved in a White Lotus plot to assassinate a corrupt government official. Chen takes the palace examinations and is declared the best scholar. He is offered a high position caring for the tomb of Confucius, the ancient teacher he most admires. Chen accepts the position. Based on his short time traveling with the army after escaping the pirates, Hong decides a military career is his calling. The book ends as he leaves his brother in Beijing, traveling south to join the army.

"The Examination" explores themes such as friendship, duty, loyalty and social justice. As the brothers travel through parts of China they have never seen before, they observe hardship and suffering among some of the peasants, stirring them to think about the causes of injustice and their personal responsibilities. Their loyalty and honesty is tested as they try to find their way through the obstacles they encounter on their journey, including pirates and corrupt officials. In the end, both brothers fulfill their promise to their departed mother and in the process develop their own set of priorities upon which they will live their own lives.

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This section contains 473 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Examination Study Guide
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