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Literature
Grade: Middle
Subject: Literature

#3118. Soldier X by Don Wulffson

Literature, level: Middle
Posted Tue May 4 09:55:41 PDT 2004 by Mrs. Catherine Nutter (cnutter@abs.misd.net).
Anchor Bay Schools, New Baltimore, MI
Materials Required: Soldier X books
Concepts Taught: Analysis of plot and characters

Soldier X by Don Wulffson
Novel Exam

Character/Term Identification: Match the descriptions in the first column with their identities in the second column. Each choice will only be used once.

1. a general term for a Russian man A. X
2. a disfigured sergeant whose practical words of advice help the B. Erik Brandt
protagonist make smart decisions throughout his experiences C. Jakob
3. unit of men who have broken various army rules and are therefore D. Oskar
sent on the most dangerous missions E. Dobelmann
4. the name the protagonist prefers to be called F. "Ivan"
5. a 15-year-old girl who discovers X's secret identity but doesn't G. Hals
report him H. "punishment brigade"
6. a patient at the Russian hospital who inspires X and is like a father I. Mr. Long-Underwear
figure to him J. Nikolai
7. kindly elderly woman who takes Tamara and X into her home K. Aleksandr Dukhanov
8. one of the cruel veterans who intimidates the young soldiers, but L. Zoya
is all business in the trenches M. Tamara
9. had a metal splinter in his head until X pulled it out; dies at N. Sergo
trenches in Tarnapol O. Elena Novak
10. freckled-faced German soldier whom X thinks he may have seen
alive later in the story in Grdnov
11. tall, gangly boy who panics in the trenches; he flees looking "like a
skinny horse on just its rear legs" before he is gunned down
12. stocky woman in charge of the ward staff at the Russian hospital
13. the severely brain-damaged "guard" of the Russian hospital
14. the Russian identity the protagonist takes on
15. the protagonist's given name at birth


Quote Identification: Match the quotes in the first column with their source in the second column. All the sources will be chosen at least once. Some will be used more than once.

16. "You are nothing--your Volk are everything." A. X
17. "I hope they are criminals. . .Because if they are not, then we are." B. Tamara
18. "I am not here to frighten you. . .I am here to save your lives--and even C. Dobelmann
your pretty faces." D. Nikolai
19. "I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell out the truth. But I couldn't. . .I E. Elena Novak
was caught in the middle of a lie, pretending to be unable to remember F. Oskar
things I wished I could forget." G. motto of Hitler Jugend
20. "What's wrong with my legs?...I was sure they were getting better!"
21. "Your most important weapon is your brain--your mind power. . .Do not
lose control. . .[or] you will be dead."
22. "You're not nobody--not to me, you aren't."
23. "You're ill. . .we can't have you dead, too! Come, come. Get in the car."
24. "If victory is death. . .then we have won."


Multiple Choice: Choose the best answer for each item.

Part 1 Questions:
25. The protagonist begins his military career as:
A. a Russian orderly B. a German soldier C. a German spy D. an eager volunteer

26. How old was the protagonist when he first was drafted?
A. 13 B. 14 C. 15 D. 16

27. What ethnicity are the protagonist's grandparents?
A. Czechoslovakian B. German C. Austrian D. Russian

28. According to the protagonist, what term is given to people the Nazis want removed?
A. undesirables B. Lebensraum C. intolerables D. Jugend

29. What did the protagonist dream at age 11 as he watched soldiers march off to war?
A. the war would not begin C. his father could see the glorious sight
B. he could one day be a war hero D. his grandparents were true Germans

30. How does the young soldier, Jakob, deal with his fear of going to war while on the train?
A. by immersing himself in Russian tour books C. by befriending the veteran soldiers
B. by asking the protagonist annoying questions D. by praying diligently

31. What does the veteran soldier do during the train ride?
A. eats Jakob's sandwich C. belches
B. wipes his hands of the protagonist's shirt D. A and B E. all of these

32. How does the protagonist react when he sees the man who has been gunned down do a grotesque dance as he
falls to his death?
A. he shrieks in terror C. he laughs
B. he vomits D. he in stunned to silence

33. What meat was in the "thick and good" stew offered by the veterans?
A. rat C. deer
B. dog D. mice

34. What event causes the protagonist to wake up behind enemy lines?
A. he is napping when the infantry is overrun C. he is lost in the dark and gets knocked out by a tree
B. he head is smashed by a Russian's gun D. he is smashed in the head by a tank

35. Why does the protagonist decide to put on the dead Russian soldier's uniform?
A. he hears a pleading German get executed
B. he sees Russian soldiers stabbing already dead Germans
C. he wanted to fight for the Russians in the first place
D. A and B
E. B and C

36. How does the protagonist get shot in the stomach?
A. he is shot by a German officer whom he thought was dead
B. his Russian rifle misfires on him
C. he is shot during the battle in the trench
D. he is shot by his colleague as the other falls to his death

Part 2 Questions:
37. How do the veterans at the Russian hospital compare to the German veterans from the front?
A. they are cruel and demented C. they are older
B. they are excited about the war D. they are helpful and kind

38. What do the Russian patients use for bedpans?
A. German helmets C. soup pans
B. Russian helmets D. old flower pots

39. For what reason does the protagonist feel a bond with the paralyzed man at the Russian hospital?
A. they are both outsiders in an already close-knit group
B. they are both the same age and religion
C. they are both in love with Tamara
D. they are both keeping everything locked up inside for their own reasons

40. For what reason do the orderlies at the hospital fear "inspections"?
A. if they are well enough, they will be sent back to the front
B. they can never manage to keep the hospital clean
C. they are afraid of the scrutiny of the generals
D. they are former convicts who do not want to return to jail

41. Who removes the medal from the paralyzed patient's body?
A. the protagonist B. Zoya C. Nikolai D. Tamara

42. How did Tamara's father die?
A. he was placed on the Russian "death squad"
B. he was imprisoned and then executed
C. he died in a glorious battle
D. he killed himself when his wife left him

43. What event offers some escape for the hospital staff and its patients from the war?
A. fresh venison B. a formal dance C. music is played D. fresh fruit from nearby orchards

44. What makes Tamara suspect the protagonist is really a German?
A. when he yells out after scalding himself
B. when he talks in his sleep
C. when he accidentally mentions Vilsburg
D. when he calls her his little Liebchen

45. Why do the protagonist and Tamara flee the hospital?
A. they want to be together but are told they cannot
B. the village comes under attack by the Germans
C. it catches on fire and all the others perish
D. they want to go to Switzerland and elope

Part 3 Questions:
46. Which event shows the protagonist's ability to once again use his wits to secure his survival?
A. when he makes soup out of rats and potatoes
B. when he confuses the German soldiers in the cornfield
C. when he is able to make the dilapidated car run
D. when he makes a campfire with only two sticks

47. What causes Tamara and the protagonist's happy existence and Elena Novak's to end?
A. the Germans start retreating through the village and it is bombed
B. Elena discovers they are from a Russian hospital and won't shelter them
C. Elena dies of a heart attack and her son kicks them out
D. Elena turns out to be a Hitler supporter and threatens them

48. What is the significance of the title name "Narcissus"?
A. Tamara falls in love with another, more handsome man
B. Tamara ends up feeling she is too good for the protagonist
C. the protagonist and Tamara wed in a narcissus field
D. the protagonist thinks he is too disfigured for anyone to really love him

49. Whose shot causes the protagonist to lose his arm?
A. a German soldier's B. a Russian soldier's C. an American soldier's D. British soldier's

50. Which is NOT a theme of this novel?
A. fear B. fate C. identity D. survival


Soldier X by Don Wulffson
Essay Topics

1. How does X change from beginning to end as a result of his experiences in the war and his relationships with others? Which characters had the greatest impact on him? What did he learn from them? How did knowing them affect his choices (because of their advice or because he thought of them as well as himself)?

2. Francis Edward Smedly wrote, "All's fair in love and war." Is this a true statement? What decisions are made throughout the novel that seem shocking or drastic to someone who is not living during war-time? Why do the characters resort to the actions that they do? Are their actions justifiable or are they unacceptable by a standard code of ethics?

3. Does war bring out the best in some people and the worst in others? How does war affect a person? Cite and discuss instances that reveal how living during war-time influences the characters' behaviors and choices. Consider the veteran German soldiers and the wounded veteran Russian soldiers. How did war affect these two different groups of men in general? Consider the civilians with whom X and Tamara come into contact. How do they respond and why? Is there an instances where X and Tamara decide to help the enemy, risking their lives if they're found out?

4. Discuss five symbols throughout the novel and their importance regarding the characters or the novel's themes. Consider the title (Does it just refer to the prota-gonist?), the protagonist's name, the dark clothes X's mother wears as he leaves for war, the use of German helmets in the hospital, the paralyzed man in the hospital, music in the ward, and the dream of "walking" to America (just to name a few). What do these symbols reveal to the reader about X, his future, or the themes in the novel? (Possible themes: survival, identity, loss, self-pity, anger, hope)

5. Discuss at least two instances where the following themes are reinforced throughout the novel. (Your entire paper should only discuss one or two themes. You may not do five different themes.) Themes: courage, perseverance in time of anguish, fear, intelligence, insanity, narcissism, or survival.