American Lit

Unit II – Written Exam
–       Answer the following questions in one complete paragraph.  Simply type your answers below the question.  Also, avoid copying and pasting – as it might lead to formatting issues.  It is ok to prep; but, when it comes to finalizing, be sure to type the exam up from a fresh start.
–       Be sure to review the Checklist before attempting to complete the exam.  Also, as stated within the Checklist, keep in mind that this is an academic and English writing course; so, we must follow the rules and regulations of academic writing.   The best advice is to treat each question as “mini-essays.”
–       Be sure to use the material we read to support our positions.  Note: Topic 2 is more about our interpretation of the time period rather than any specific text.
–       For Topic 3, be sure to write on only one of the three short stories.

1.     Using his speech, “An Indian’s Views of Indian Affairs,” discuss the idea of peace for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce.
o   What is the role of death in the argument for peace?
o   How does Chief Joseph use logical and emotional appeals to persuade his audience?
o   Within these appeals, what effect(s) does the repetition of “Good words will not” have on the overall them of the speech?

2.     Explore the lack of ethnic and cultural representation in the immediate years of Post-Civil War America (Reconstruction).
o   What might be some of the causes for this lack: political motivations, religious motivations, the rise of domestic terrorism?
o   For what reasons might the writers within these years (who were mainly male, white, and highly educated) have avoided discussing the destruction of Native American Tribes or the development of support system for newly freed southern slave?
o   Lastly, consider the long-term effects of this short historical frame.  In what ways might have America been “set-back” because of this lack of representation?

3.     Respond one of the following topics from our Post-Civil War selection:
o   Discuss Kate Chopin’s short story, “The Storm.”
§  Although written in the latter-years of the 19th century, in what ways does the story feel contemporary; thus, we can ask, in what ways has this story lasted?
§  What role does the title play within the overall conception of the story?
§  Why does Calixta lack guilt or remorse?
o   Discuss Jack London’s short story, “To Build a Fire.”
§  In what ways does the setting effect the story and / or character?
§  Further, how does the weather function as an antagonist – does it become a “character” itself?
§  How does London’s story differ from the current industrial movements taking place in America at the time: factories, increased migration to major cities, the construction of the transcontinental railway?
o   Discuss Mark Twain’s short story, “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
§  What role to satire play within the text? (Comedy + Social Activism = Satire)
§  What cultural clashes exist within the story?  How does humor help to illustrate them?
§  What aspects of this story can be seen in today’s world?  Has America in 2021 progressed far-beyond America in 1890?  Why?  Why not?

4.     Discuss Langston Hughes’s poems, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Let America Be America Again,” as representative of Romantic Literature.
o   Define Romantic Literature in your own words
o   Point out and explain the romantic elements within the poems
o   Why does Hughes refer to Walt Whitman (another romantic poet) – what similarities do they share in writing and in life.  What might be their differences?  Does Hughes seem to speak friendly or critically of Whitman?

5.     Examine the Blues as both a form and genre of both music and literature.
o   Discuss the ways in which the Blues emerges in the 20th century – what might have motivated its creation?
o   Rooted in the African-American south, how was the Blues able to extend beyond its original cultural identity?  Meaning, what about the Blues is universal?
o   In what ways did the writers of the Harlem Renaissance (those we studied) use the Blues within their writings?

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