Trivia Quiz for Christmas stories
Nikolai Gogol, The Night Before Christmas (Russian, 1832)
Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory (American, 1956)
Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Welsh, 1950)
For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 12/19/21
Timelessness. Each story suggests the eternal essence of holiday magic, yet their styles capture that feeling in different ways. Match quote to author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas
1. “One Christmas was so much like another, in those years…”
2. “It’s always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year … announces: ‘It’s fruitcake weather!’”
3. “A clear winter night had come; the stars peeped out; the moon rose majestically in the sky to light good people and all the world so that all might enjoy singing.”
Delicious food! Each story details the treats that accompany the holidays. Match the special food to the author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas
4. rice, honey, and fat bacon and sausage
5. toffee, fudge, allsorts, crunches, cracknel, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh
6. a beef bone, some Satsuma oranges, flapjacks, fried squirrel, and honey-in-the-comb
Seasonal sounds. Each story evokes sounds that signify winter and holidays. Match the special sound to the author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas
7. “A wild turkey calls. A renegade hog grunts in the undergrowth…. Here, there, a flash, a flutter, an ecstasy of shrillings remind us that not all the birds have flown south.”
8. “The snow sparkled… Groups of lads and girls appeared with sacks. Songs rang out, and under almost every cottage window were crowds of carol-singers.”
9. “It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence.”
Maxims about life. Each story contains some lesson to be learned. Match the teaching to the author who mentions it: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas
10. “And when we stopped running … everything was good again and shone over the town.”
11. “Home is where my friend is.”
12. “Things are queerly arranged in our world! All who live in it are always trying to outdo and imitate one another.”
Hints of melancholy. Each story alludes to some mystery or sadness as well. Match the quote to the author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas
13. “One, two, three, and we began to sing … round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. … And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice”
14. “Is it because my friend is shy with everyone except strangers that these strangers, and merest acquaintances, seem to us our truest friends? I think yes.”
15. “She is jeering at me. I am no more to her than an old rusty horseshoe.”
16. Snow! Circle the story which does not mention a snowy Christmas.
a. The Night Before Christmas b. A Christmas Memory c. A Child’s Christmas in Wales
Women’s work. Women are a force to be reckoned with in these stories, in vastly different ways.
17. Nikolai Gogol’s story pivots around the actions of certain women. Which is not in the story?
a. One woman beats her husband, then “sighing and groaning, waddled off to tell her old friends of her husband’s unmannerliness and the blows she had to put up with from him.”
b. A witch steals the stars out of the sky.
c. Oksana, the village beauty, is so full of caprices that most of her would-be suitors give up on her.
d. A poor woman receives a white wool shawl knitted by her sister one year.
18. Dylan Thomas describes all but one of the following women in his story. Which does not belong?
a. “Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens.”
b. One neighbor is condemned by his auntie because: “For all the husband’s faults, the wife is guilty.”
c. “Some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edges of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers.”
d. After a few drinks of port, one aunt stands “in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush.”
19. Truman Capote’s tale is dominated by a female friend who is described as all but one of the following. Which attribute does not belong to her?
a. Superstitious, she spends the thirteenth of each month in bed.
b. She was not known to go to movies, eat in restaurants, wish anyone harm, or let a hungry dog go hungry.
c. She takes a long time getting dressed, and loves to preen before a looking-glass in admiration.
d. She was known to kill rattlesnakes, tame hummingbirds, tell ghost stories, and walk in the rain.
20. Beautiful styles! Which is not by Dylan Thomas? [hint: there are two correct answers.]
a. “Snow grew overnight on the roofs of houses like a pure and grandfather moss.”
b. “It seemed to him as though all the houses had fixed their innumerable fiery eyes upon him, watching.”
c. “The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves.”
d. “A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky.”
17. d (That describes Capote’s friend)
18. b (That quote is from Pavlova, A Double Life)
19. c (That description applies to a character in Gogol’s story)
20. b (from Gogol) and d (from Capote)