A Woman Alone: Autobiographical Writings Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What community was Bessie in in "The Isolation of Boeta L"?

2. In "The woman from America," who does Bessie say are always in the majority?

3. According to Bessie, the blacks of Cape Town accept hell to have what?

4. What startled Bessie in 1965?

5. According to Bessie, what do African people push aside?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why is there no rage and oppression in Botswana?

2. How was African Independence celebrated in Botswana?

3. What facts about her parentage were brutally told to Bessie by the magistrate and the missionary?

4. What are Bessie's beliefs about racists?

5. In "An Unspeakable Crime," why does Bessie feel discouraged by the South African blacks?

6. What more compassionate details concerning her mother did Bessie learn over time?

7. In "The Old Woman," what is Bessie referring to when she says "Gods walk around Africa barefoot with nothing"?

8. How does Bessie describe Botswana in 1964?

9. In "A Gentle People," what are Bessie's feelings regarding the black people of Cape Town?

10. What did Bessie think of the mission orphanage that she was sent to at age 13?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

After reading "A Woman Alone," what are your views on oppression? How does it begin? What is it based on? Does it spiral out of control or is it a deliberate action? How do events in South Africa since he 1990s seem compared to the hopes of the previously oppressed people?

Essay Topic 2

While Bessie is a true supporter of the black Africans, she can also be highly critical of them. Their lack of initiative in trying to better their situation is a common frustration to Bessie. List three examples that illustrate Bessie's frustration with perceived "passivity" of other black Africans. Bessie admits that she prefers to be on the sidelines when writing. Do you think that it's fair for Bessie to judge others from the sidelines instead of getting actively involved herself?

Essay Topic 3

Bessie views African religion as "within oneself," with no need for institutions or communal worship. Does this seem to work well, for them? Why does Bessie think that this fits into their basic philosophy of life? Bessie states that this is the religion of any people who have never been wanted by the rest of mankind nor had the means or education to find God in a "posh place." Do you agree with this statement? Does a place of worship have to be posh? Is the fact of a community coming together more important than the structure that they worship in? Why, do you think, she assumes that all organized religions have elegant places of worship? Do you think she's right? Given the black South African's sense of being set apart from the rest of the world, do you think their type of "individual" worship only serves to emphasize their "aloneness"? Would a more group-based religion make them feel like part of something larger?

(see the answer keys)

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