Trivia Quiz for Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes (1930)
For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 9/19/21
1. The Growing Child’s Perspective. On women, love and marriage. Which of the following quips about women is not in the novel?
a. “X was an intensely dreary girl … who had failed so far to marry, and seemed to have no biological reason for existing.”
b. “I ain’t never seen a yaller dude yet that meant a dark woman no good.”
c. “She knew how it was, of course, that her husband hadn’t written before. That was all right now.”
d. “Treat ‘em like chickens, son. Throw ‘em a little corn and they’ll run after you, but don’t give ‘em too much. If you do, they’ll stop layin’ and expect you to wait on ‘em.”
2. On work, money and justice. Which of the following is not in Hughes’s novel?
a. “She was a good nurse… Sometimes they paid her and sometimes they didn’t.”
b. “On Thursdays she did the Reinarts’ washing, on Fridays she ironed it, and on Saturdays she sent it home, clean and beautifully white, and received as pay the sum of seventy-five cents.”
c. “’I was not thinking of the slave-trade,’ replied X; ‘governess-trade, I assure you, was all that I had in view; widely different certainly as to the guilt of those who carry it on.’”
d. “I reckon white folks does think right smart of me … They always likes you when you tries to do right.”
3. On secrets and misunderstandings. Which of the following is not in the novel?
a. “X had lived too long with three women not to have learned to hold his tongue about the private doings of each of them. … he “saw it with his eyes, but not with his mouth.”
b. “Her longing for love had become an obsession.”
c. “X had discovered long ago that you could hear and see many things by not going to sleep when the family expected you to.”
d. “He had discovered already, though, that so-called jokes are often not really jokes at all, but rather unpleasant realities that hurt.”
4. The Savvy Youth’s Perspective. As time passes, the narration begins questioning certain statements and truths. Which of the following lines is not in the book?
a. “It was all great fun, and innocent fun except when one stopped to think, as white folks did, that some of the blues lines had, not only double, but triple meanings.”
b. “X wondered how people got to be great, as, one by one, he made the spittoons bright.”
c. “’It’s too bad you aren’t white.’ … X had taken this to heart, not as an insult, but as a compliment.”
d. “How incredible that anyone should insist on living in that squalid building that would be demolished any day now.”
5. The Emerging Adult Perspective. On religion, fighting, and doing good. Which of the following is not from Hughes’s book?
a. “I’m very ready to believe his character will improve, and acquire from hers the steadiness and delicacy of principle that it wants.”
b. “But I don’t want heaven! I want to live first! … I want to live!”
c. “To those who lived on the other side of the railroad and never realized the utter stupidity of the word ‘sin’, the Bottoms was vile and wicked.”
d. “‘To the uninitiated it would seem that a fight was imminent. But underneath, all was good-natured and friendly—and through and above everything went laughter. No matter how belligerent or lewd their talk was … these black men laughed.”
6. Not Without Laughter as Migration Novel. A classic in the genre, it depicts an African-American family moving North from a small town to a big city, in hopes of a better life. Circle the correct sequence of the child hero’s movement in the novel.
a. Stanton, KS to Chicago, IL
b. New Orleans, LA to Stanton, KS, to Chicago, IL
c. Stanton, KS to Chicago, IL, to Stanton, KS
d. Stanton, KS to Detroit, MI to Chicago, IL
7. The area where the hero lives in Chicago is nicknamed “The Black Belt”. True / False
8. Poetry and music! Which of the following poetic descriptions is not from the novel?
a. “Earth and sky were fresh and clean after the heavy night-rain, and the young corn-shoots stood straight in the garden… There was the mingled scent of wet soil and golden pollen on the breeze that blew carelessly through the clear air.”
b. “The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep.”
c. “Funny how old folks like to sing that way, ain’t it?’ ‘It’s beautiful!’ X cried—for, vibrant and steady like a stream of living faith, their song filled the whole night: An’ we’ll understand it better by an’ by!’”
d. “While the cynical banjo covered unplumbable depths with a plinking surface of staccato gaiety, like the sparkling bubbles that rise on deep water over a man who has just drowned himself.”
9. What kind of music does the author not describe or evoke in this book?
10. Ambivalence Rules? The narration leaves the ending open, and judgment remains up to the reader. Which of the following uncomfortable statements is not from Hughes’s novel?
a. “He didn’t know that grown-up people cried, except at funerals … He didn’t know they ever cried alone, by themselves in their own houses.”
b. “White folks will see that the Negro can be trusted in war as well as peace. Times will be better after this for all of us.”
c. “I only had to break it, and I was rid of it forever. So simple! I’d never thought of it before.”
d. “They’re right, though, looking out for themselves… and yet I hate ‘em for it.”
1. a. (That quote is from Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love.)
2. c. (That quote is from Jane Austen, Emma.)
3. b. (A quote from Mitford, The Pursuit of Love.)
4. d. (That quote is from Clarice Lispector, Family Ties.)
5. a. (A quote from Emma, by Jane Austen.)
8. b. (That quote is from Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.)
10. c. (That quote is from Nella Larsen, Passing.)