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. In what year did Peter's grandmother die?

2. What advice did Balakian (at the urging of his aunt) reluctantly seek from William Saroyan?

3. What was the name of the poet with whom Balakian started his journal?

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

5. What color dress did Auntie Anna wear while delivering a talk at Balakian's college?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. 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?

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

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

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

7. Why did Balakian's father insist his son leave the public schools and attend a private school?

8. How did Balakian's mother differ from most of the other mothers on Crabtree Lane in Tenafly?

9. Why was Balakian's Aunt Anna so opposed to American suburbia?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Balakian's grandmother initially sought compensation from the Turkish government for her family's sufferings. How important is compensation to the victims of state-sponsored terror? Can any compensation be sufficient or does the compensation have a deeper, more symbolic meaning? Did the grandmother's filing of the documents help her process the events? Can there ever be sufficient compensation for the Armenian people, especially almost a century after the genocide?

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

Balakian did not learn about the Armenian genocide or his own family's experiences until he sought out that information as an adult. Even then, some family members questioned what he was doing. Did his family do him a disservice by hiding the truth from him for so many years? Would knowing the past have enabled him to have a different, deeper understanding of the ways his family members lived their lives in America? Or did keeping the truth from him enable him to have a normal American childhood before delving into the past on his own? Did his family's "protection" of him give him a solid ground on which to stand while confronting the horrific events of the past?

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