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. What poet's work was the class dissecting when Balakian challenged another student's interpretation of the words?

2. At what school did Aunt Anna teach French?

3. What does odar mean?

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

5. About how many words did the World Book encyclopedia have on Armenia when Balakian tried to research his culture?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why did Balakian and Auntie Anna argue about literature?

2. What was Balakian's reaction to the folktales his grandmother would frequently tell him?

3. 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?

4. When the Balakian family was preparing to move to another town, what was the deeper significance of Balakian's mother's insistence that her son not get too attached to any one place?

5. How did Balakian's mother's behavior at the restaurant in France reflect her cultured upbringing?

6. Describe the Wall family, who were Balakian's neighbors in Tenafly.

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

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

9. In what ways did life at Auntie Anna's and Uncle Steve's house differ from life in the Balakian household?

10. How did sports help heal the rift between Balakian and his father?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Prior to beginning the genocide of the Armenians, the Turkish government conducted a campaign of propaganda against the Armenian people and other Christians. How does the dehumanization of other people make it easier to kill them? How did the long-term treatment of Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire pave the way for the eventual extermination of a race? Would it have been possible for the Turks to have carried out the genocide if conditions had been different over the years?

Essay Topic 2

When Peter Balakian was a child, Armenia existed only as a small Soviet-controlled republic. Did the lack of a truly independent Armenia affect the ability of the Armenian people to maintain their culture? Did the permanent loss of most of the traditional Armenian homeland destroy the culture? How does a nation maintain its identity if they are denied a place among the family of nations? Does the existence of the modern, independent nation of Armenia make it easier to maintain an identity?

Essay Topic 3

At least some of Balakian's relatives would appear to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their sufferings. Nafina, in particular, seemed to suffer as evidenced by her breakdown when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. How did her suppression of her memories affect her over the long term? Had she been more open about the genocide, would she have been spared the breakdown in 1941? Why did she continue to suppress the memories after recovering from the breakdown? Can this suppression ever be healthy or does it inevitably lead to PTSD? Would the survivors of the Armenian genocide have had a different post-war experience if the genocide had occurred after PTSD became a well-known malady?

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