Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

Peter Balakian
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Essay Topic 1

Balakian wrote frequently about the central role food played in his extended family. What importance does food have in Armenian culture? How did the experience of starvation during the genocide impact Armenian immigrants to the U.S.? Would food still have had the same importance if the Armenians had not experienced starvation? How do immigrant families transmit their culture to their children through food? How do they express their love at the dinner table?

Essay Topic 2

Balakian's family became quickly assimilated into the American suburbs. Aside from the food, Peter Balakian was not exposed to any distinctly Armenian cultural traditions. Write an essay exploring the question of whether assimilation requires that immigrants leave behind their cultures. Is it possible to blend two cultures? Can immigrants retain treasured traditions and still be considered assimilated? Why was the author's family so eager to become assimilated? Would their attitude...

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