English Language and Literature Quiz Bee Difficult Questions

Difficult Category. You can use the sample questions below for an English Language and Literature Quiz Bee. Answers are also provided. Depending on the level of the quiz bee participants, you can modify the questions, hence the other types such as multiple choice or alternative response.

  1. The award winning 2005 children’s book And Tango Makes Three has been subject to much controversy as it was seen to be highlighting what behavior in the animal kingdom?
    • Homosexuality. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. Due to the penguin parents being of the same sex, some adults in the United States have objected to children reading the book.
  2. In a certain poem, the word SMOG, built in combining FOG and SMOKE is used by a poet to mean something that has the properties of both. In formal stylistic analysis, what device best defines the practice?
    • Portmanteau. In stylistics, portmanteau is a practice of joining together two or more words in order to create an entirely new word; this is often done in order to create a name or word for something by combining the individual characteristics of two or more other words.
  3. Who is the Filipino-born journalist, filmmaker, and immigration activist who authored and contributed to three Washington Post articles about the Virginia Tech Shootings that were awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting?
    • Jose Antonio Vargas. Jose Antonio Vargas was born on February 3, 1981 in Antipolo city, Rizal. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at San Francisco State University. In his career as a journalist, filmmaker and activist, he was awarded Pulitzer Prize and the Sidney Award. He is also the founder of “Define America,” a non-profit organization to open up dialogue about criteria people use to determine who is an American. About himself he says, “I am an American. I just don’t have the right papers.”
  4. What literary device is employed by a novelist when in the middle of the character’s dilemmas, the protagonist is suddenly led to find a solution through a divine intervention?
    • Deus ex Machina. Deus ex Machina is a rather debatable and often criticized form of literary device. It refers to the incidence where an implausible concept or character is brought into the story in order to make the conflict in the story resolve and to bring about a pleasing solution. The use of Deus ex Machina is seldom recommended as it is seen to be the mark of a poor plot that the writer needs to resort to random, insupportable and unbelievable twists and turns to reach the end of the story.
  5. “He had no idea of the disastrous chain of events to follow.” In this sentence, while the protagonist is clueless of further developments, the reader learns that something disastrous and problematic is about to happen to/for him. What then, is employed by the writer to suggest an upcoming outcome to the story?
    • Foreshadowing. Foreshadowing refers to the use of indicative words or phrases and hints that set the stage for a story to unfold and give the reader a hint of something that is going to happen without revealing the story or spoiling the suspense.
  6. What literary device is employed in the poetic line: “He spoke of times past and future, and dreamt of things to be”?
    • Anastrophe. Anastrophe is a form of literary device wherein the order of the noun and adjective in the sentence or line is exchanged. In standard parlance and writing, the adjective comes first before the noun but when one is employing an anastrophe, the noun is followed by the adjective. This reserved order creates a dramatic impact and lends weight to the description offered by the adjective.
  7. What is the opening sentence of the book that ends with “It was the devious-cruising Rachel that in her retracing search after missing children, only found another orphan.”?
    • Call me Ishmael from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick
  8. What evident literary device is used by the poet in the line: The soft whistling teapot informed him it was time for breakfast?
    • Pathetic Fallacy. Pathetic fallacy is a type of literary device whereby the author ascribes the human feelings of one or more of his/her characters to non-human objects or nature or phenomenon. It is a type of personification, and is known to occur more by accident and less on purpose.
  9. What French classical theory of language style posses a high aesthetic characteristics and is used by poets and other literary artists?
    • Stylus Altus. Stylus Mediocris or style of high society is a language style used by the royalties; Stylus Humilis or style of low society is a language style for all kinds of people or language style of the masses; while, Explication de Texte is a French school which developed a method of text analysis and interpretation known as close reading. Stylus Altus or work of art is a language style used by poets and other literary artists.
  10. In Carl Gustav Jung’s heroic archetypes, which hero of tragedy has a fatal flaw which brings about his downfall but not without achieving some kind of realization or wisdom? 
    • Transcendent Hero. Carl Jung first applied the term archetype to literature. He recognized that there were universal patterns in all stories and mythologies regardless of culture or historical period and hypothesized that part of the human mind contained a collective unconscious shared by all members of the human species, a sort of universal, primal memory. Transcendent heroes are archetypes first observed in Greek and Shakespearean tragedies—-Oedipus, Hamlet, Macbeth, etc.)
  11. In Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic approach to literary criticism, an art or literature is considered as reconciliation between pleasure and reality principles, a sublime working through of Eros and Thanatos and the fulfillment of basic bodily drives via transformation into something “better,” civilized and artistic. (The question) If Richard Crashaw’s poems depict his adoration to the mother figure and anathematization of the father, a psychoanalytic analyst would likely reconsider what certain stage in the psychoanalytic development?
    • Phallic Stage. In this stage, the child undergoes the Oedipal complex of desire for the mother, rivalry with the father, and appropriate super-ego guilt taught through castration anxiety which causes the child to desire others outside of the family.
  12. What do we call the practice as that initiated by Roland Barthes, of analyzing sign systems, not just language, but objects, images, and behaviors, and which opens itself up to literary and media studies of film, television, and pop culture?
    • Semiotics. Semiotics is a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactic, semantics, and pragmatics.
  13. Which best-selling 1989 novel begins “My father has asked me to be fourth corner at the X. I am to replace my mother, whose seat at the mah-jong table has been empty since she died two months ago”?
    • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It focuses on four Chinese American immigrant families in San Francisco, California who start a club known as “the Joy Luck Club,” playing the Chinese game of mah-jong for money while feasting on a variety of foods. The book is structured somewhat like a mah-jong game, with four parts divided into four sections to create sixteen chapters.
  14. Karataka and Damanaka are the names of the two jackals that are retainers to a lion king. Their lively adventures as well as the stories they tell one another make up nearly half of which classic ancient Sanskrit work?
    • The Panchatantra or literally, ‘Five Principles.’ It is a collection of originally Indian animal fables in verse and prose. The original Sanskrit work, now long lost, and which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE, is attributed to Vishnu Sarma.
  15. John F. Kennedy’s often quoted sentence in his 1961 inaugural address was inspired by which Lebanese-American poet who wrote “Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?…”?
    • Khalil Gibran (1883-1931). He was born in Lebanon and spent much of his productive life in the United States. One of his most notable lines of poetry in the English speaking world is from Sand and Foam (1926), which reads : ‘Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you’. This was taken by John Lennon and placed, though in a slightly altered form, into the song “Julia” from The Beatles’ 1968 album The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album).
  16. In what great 20th century novel does Rose of Sharon having lost her baby offer milk from her breasts to a starving man?
    • The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck
  17. After this novel was published in the country it was set in, the author was sued by Mineko Iwasaki claiming that the author violated their agreement to protect her anonymity if she told him about her life and profession. What is this 1997 novel that chronicles the pursuit of Chiyo Sakamoto to become an entertainer?
    • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGolden listed Iwasaki as a source in his acknowledgments for the novel, causing her to face a serious backlash. In 2003, Golden’s publisher settled with Iwasaki out of court for an undisclosed sum of money. Iwasaki later went on to write her own autobiography, which shows a very different picture of twentieth-century geisha life than the one shown in Golden’s novel. The book was published as Geisha, a Life in the U.S. and Geisha of Gion in the U.K.
  18. Originally coined by a Czech theorist, Jan Mukarovsky as aktualisace, it is a term in English borrowed from the Prague School of Linguistics and encompasses deviations from linguistic or other socially accepted norms which invoke the analogy of a literary figure seen against a background.
    • Foregrounding. Foreground is a term usually used in art, having opposite meaning to background. In literature foregrounding is described as ‘artistically motivated deviation’ which refers to stylistic effects that occur whether in at the phonetic, grammatical and/or semantic levels.
  19. What literary awards of the Philippines have been termed by the Manila Standard as the Pulitzer Prize of the Philippines although, unlike the nominations for the Pulitzers, entries to these awards competitions have to be previously unpublished pieces?
    • The Palanca Awards or the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. The Palanca Awards, organized by the Carlos Palanca, is one of the Philippines most long-running awards. It was established in 1950 to inspire Filipino writers to improve their literary works. In 2009, it added a category for poetry for children in both Filipino and English.
  20. Which functional style of the English language has an aesthetic-cognitive function and employs genuinely imaginative means and stylistic devices, the use of words in their contextual meaning and the peculiar individual selection of syntax?
    • The Belles-Letters Functional Style. The term BELLE is a French term which literally means “beautiful” or “fine.” Belles Letters Functional Style of the English language is usually employed in poetries, emotive prose and dramas.