Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Peter Balakian
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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. How old was Peter Balakian when his aunts began taking him on the house-viewing expeditions?

2. What sports implement was hanging in the office of Dr. Cooley, the headmaster of Balakian's new private high school?

3. Where did Balakian and his father meet the Indian dressed as a chief during their cross-country tour?

4. Whose voice did Balakian describe as hitting him "as broken glass under a tire"?

5. What meat did the Balakian family frequently eat for dinner?

Short Essay Questions

1. What did the phrase "the old country" mean to Balakian as a child?

2. Did Balakian's father have a strong connection to Constantinople, and how did that reflect the city's tumultuous history?

3. How did Balakian's memorial poem for his grandmother reflect his Armenian past?

4. How did Balakian's family's attachment to food reflect their ancestors' history?

5. What were some of the reasons Balakian likely did not seek out information about Armenia while he was still in college?

6. Why did Balakian's grandmother tell him a story from the genocide while he was delirious with fever?

7. How did Balakian's grandmother continue to affect him even after her death?

8. How did Balakian's father's fear of germs, as well as other family member's obsession with health and safety, reflect their experiences during the genocide?

9. Why was Balakian so unnerved by his grandmother's constant doting on him at family gatherings?

10. Why did Balakian's father send him the newspaper clipping about the Armenian Soviet republic and how did Peter react?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

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 grandfather Diran was a physician who served during the genocide and was required at times to treat Turkish soldiers. He did so knowing that many of these soldiers were likely to return to the front to kill more Armenians. Write an essay exploring how he was able to deal with this situation. Did knowing what these men were doing impact his ability to follow the Hippocratic Oath? Why did he treat the Turkish soldiers?

Essay Topic 3

To this day, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the deaths of Armenians as genocide. Why would the government continue to deny atrocities committed long before current Turks were even alive? How does the denial of past crimes affect the development of a nation? Can Turkey ever be considered a part of the community of modern, humane nations as long as it continues to deny the genocide? What would a confession mean to the Turkish people today? How important is critical self-evaluation to the development of a nation?

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