Answering Identification Questions

All of the exams in this course will include identification questions.  This page is intended to help you identify some good ways of answering the questions.

Typical instructions and question:

Instructions: Identify the following, indicating the title, author, character speaking (if applicable), and significance of the item below.

Example: an "enormous stove" that is "humming with godlike violence" and at points "glows yellow from the heat"

Title: "The Blue Hotel"
Author: "Stephen Crane"

Which of the following answers would be the best one to write under "significance"? Why
Test yourself using the online quiz, which provides feedback on each of the answers.

 a. The stove is in the middle of the room where the men play cards in Crane's story.

b. The stove is important in the story because all the men gather around it and cannot leave the room. This contributes to their inability to get along.

c. In the story, the stove is in the middle of the room. All the men must gather around it to get warm, and Johnny keeps the chair next to it. At one point, Scully makes Johnny give his chair to the Swede. The men must leave the stove in order to fight in the blizzard.

d. The stove dominates the main room of Scully's Palace Hotel. Its heat contrasts with the cold outside and shows the men's dependence upon Scully and his hotel to keep warm. It shows that men must be civilized and get along with one another if they are to survive against the cold of nature.

e. The stove, which is "humming" inside, represents the men and their violent natures, which are only barely kept under control. Its glowing points suggest that the forces within it are about ready to burst through, which parallels the tensions within the men who are clustered around it. It contrasts with the cold blizzard outside.

f. The "enormous" stove, a central symbol in the story, represents the men and their barely controlled violent natures. Its glowing points suggest that the forces within it are about ready to burst through the thin iron covering, a symbol of the tensions about to burst within the men who are clustered around it. The heat of the stove is thus seen ironically not as comforting but as violent, like the equally extreme cold of the blizzard. The "godlike" stove does not encourage the peacefulness that is usually associated with the cultural symbol of the hearth; rather, it suggests that violence within the hotel matches the violent storm outside.