CLEP Humanities : Analyzing the Content of Twentieth-Century Fiction

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

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Example Question #4 : Clep: Humanities

The novels of John Updike are marked by all of the following EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

a use of fantasy elements

a sharp realism

a focus on middle-class American life

explorations of Protestant theology and morality

frank descriptions of sexual activities

Correct answer:

a use of fantasy elements

Explanation:

John Updike was a prolific, successful, and critically acclaimed American author whose work was centered in the middle of the twentieth century. Updike's style, which was fairly consistent over his more than twenty novels and dozens of short stories, featured an intense realism in storytelling about middle class Americans that often had frank descriptions of sexual activity and discussions of Protestant beliefs.

Example Question #5 : Clep: Humanities

The American author who wrote a series of novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawtha County, Mississippi was __________.

Possible Answers:

William Faulkner

Philip Roth

John Updike

Edith Wharton

Sinclair Lewis

Correct answer:

William Faulkner

Explanation:

Virtually the entire canon of William Faulkner is set in the fictional Yoknapatawtha County. Even the stories set elsewhere refer back to or feature characters from Faulkner's other stories set there. William Faulkner’s literary achievements earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949.

Example Question #6 : Clep: Humanities

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (1915) tells the tale of __________.

Possible Answers:

a man transformed into a hideous bug

a man overcome by the guilt of the monstrous crime he committed

the use of an elaborate torture device

a young woman who is stoned to death by her fellow villagers

a man who is charged with a crime he did not commit

Correct answer:

a man transformed into a hideous bug

Explanation:

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis is a landmark novella that tells the story of Gregor Samsa, who finds himself transformed one morning into a massive bug. The Metamorphosis is Kafka's most famous story, and has many of the hallmarks of Kafka's style, including surreal situations, ironic plots, and dark humor.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Fiction

The author Raymond Chandler's style was marked by all of the following EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

complex plot twists

detective stories

Los Angeles as a setting

romantic tales of heroism

sparse descriptions and language

Correct answer:

romantic tales of heroism

Explanation:

Raymond Chandler wrote his first book when he was in his 40s during the Great Depression. Nonetheless, he instantly became one of America's bestselling authors, writing several books in a "pulp" vein about the detective Phillip Marlowe. In doing so, Chandler pioneered literary detective fiction, with its hard-boiled investigator, sparse language, complex plots, and dark mood. Chandler's typical Los Angeles settings also saw many of his books, like The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, made into films.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Fiction

Which of these twentieth century American novels concerns a corrupt evangelist in the Midwest?

Possible Answers:

Arrowsmith

The Sound and the Fury

The Jungle

Tender is the Night

Elmer Gantry

Correct answer:

Elmer Gantry

Explanation:

Sinclair Lewis published his novel Elmer Gantry in March 1927, and immediately had both a bestseller and controversy on his hands. Lewis' story of a corrupt and immoral evangelist, which was based on the careers of actual evangelists, drew widespread derision from religious groups. Nonetheless, Elmer Gantry was the bestselling American novel of 1927.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Content Of Fiction

The novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison uses the main character's invisibility as an allegory for __________.

Possible Answers:

the African-American experience

the Biblical story of Jesus' crucifixion

the Red Scare

U.S. involvement in overseas wars

depression and anxiety

Correct answer:

the African-American experience

Explanation:

Ralph Ellison's 1952 novel Invisible Man tells the story of an unnamed narrator who is not physically "invisible," but instead is someone who people refuse to see. Ellison's book was an allegory for the status of African Americans in American society at the time. The book also dealt with Marxist politics, cultural norms, and issues of black nationalism through its narrator becoming invisible.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Content Of Fiction

The 1946 novel All the King’s Men, loosely based on the political career of Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, was written by __________.

Possible Answers:

William Faulkner

Flanney O'Connor

Robert Penn Warren

Eudora Welty

Walker Percy

Correct answer:

Robert Penn Warren

Explanation:

Robert Penn Warren won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with All the King's Men, a roman à clef about the political career of assassinated Louisiana politician Huey P. Long. The novel was made into a successful film, and gained Warren a notable amount of literary success. Warren is the only person to win a Pulitzer for Fiction and Poetry, having won the latter prize in both 1958 and 1979.

Example Question #3 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Fiction

What is the twentieth-century novel about a man obsessed with a twelve-year-old girl?

Possible Answers:

Catch-22

Lolita

One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Portnoy's Complaint

Correct answer:

Lolita

Explanation:

Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel Lolita caused almost instant controversy, as its subject matter was about a college professor in his late thirties who was obsessed with a twelve-year-old girl. The book's narrative format, featuring an unreliable narrator, proved engrossing to readers and critics. As well, Nabokov's use of language and plumbing of psychological problems made the book considered one of the best of the century.

Example Question #4 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Fiction

Which of the following books is the William Faulkner novel about a family attempting to bury their deceased mother?

Possible Answers:

Sanctuary

As I Lay Dying

The Sun Also Rises

The Sound and the Fury

Finnegans Wake

Correct answer:

As I Lay Dying

Explanation:

William Faulkner is well known both for exploring the culture and habits of the inhabitants of his native Mississippi and using inventive and creative forms of narrative and literary structure. Both of these elements are exhibited in his book As I Lay Dying. Covering the attempt of the dysfunctional Bundren family to bury their mother Addie in her family cemetery, the chapters take the point of view of different members of the family.

Example Question #5 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Fiction

What is the science fiction novel that discusses a dystopian future where all books are outlawed?

Possible Answers:

Foundation

Watership Down

2001: A Space Odyssey

The Invisible Man

Fahrenheit 451

Correct answer:

Fahrenheit 451

Explanation:

Ray Bradbury was well known as a general science fiction author in the early 1950s who covered topics like space flight and aliens. His 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 was a much more obviously allegorical tale about the social and political situation in 1950s America. The book's discussion of banning and burning books was an intentional effort by Bradbury to address the Red Scare, censorship, and political banishment.

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