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 reminds Bessie of the man, Snowball?

2. Who does Bessie think the Afrikaner race will one day emulate?

3. Bessie Head was born in what year?

4. What additional information did the social worker tell Bessie?

5. Where was Bessie sent at age 13?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why is Bessie so drawn to the American woman in "Woman from America"?

2. What lasting effect did the treatment by the missionaries have on Bessie?

3. In "Village People," how does Bessie describe the black African people?

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

5. In "preface to Witchcraft," why is Bessie angry with South Africa?

6. How did Bessie react when she was forbidden to visit her adoptive family on school holidays?

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

8. How was African Independence celebrated in Botswana?

9. How does Bessie describe Botswana in 1964?

10. Why did Bessie keep all the notes that the American woman gave her?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Oppression stunted and almost obliterated Bessie's creativity. And yet, the musician, Makeba, seemed to revel in it. Why do you think it would affect two people so differently? Is it a question of passion? Does it create more passion for some and less for others? Do you think that Makeba's passion for liberation fueled her in a creative sense? Did she use the situation to her own advantage? Did Bessie's avoidance of anything liberatory or revolutionary deny her this? Had she been more liberal, might she have been able to write?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

In Ellen Kuzwayo's "Call me Woman," she describes her life before and after oppression. What was her life like before? What was the view of South African then? What kind of work was her family involved in? What kind of education did she have? Ellen was a part of the first groups of educated blacks that felt leadership should be based on merit, not ethnicity. What event changed her life drastically? Do you think she was at all prepared to be thrust into a world of instant poverty, violence, and suffering? How did she deal with it? Do you think that it's easier for someone to accept this, if they've been born into it and it's all they've ever known, rather than someone, like Ellen, who knew a good life and then was forced to give everything up?

(see the answer keys)

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