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 is pakht?

2. What was the name of the poetry journal Balakian founded in 1976?

3. What team was Columbia playing when the fan had a heart attack?

4. In what year did Balakian and his father take a Greyhound bus across the United States?

5. For what did Balakian win a trophy at the end of his first year at the private high school?

Short Essay Questions

1. In what way was Balakian's attachment to the Jewish families in his first neighborhood ultimately superficial, and could it have been deeper?

2. What was Balakian's reaction to the film, The Graduate?

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

5. Describe the impact poetry had on Balakian during high school and how it connected to his family's silence about the genocide.

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

7. How did Balakian's school term paper on Turkey mark a turning point in his relationship with his father?

8. How did Balakian react to seeing his father perform emergency medical care to the heart attack victim at the football game?

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

10. Why did Balakian react so strongly to Allen Ginsberg's reading of his poem "Kaddish"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

Even after the genocide was over, the Armenian people continued to suffer, not least because there was no acknowledgment of their suffering. Write an essay exploring how they continued to suffer at the hands of the Turks in the aftermath. How did the Turks prevent them from reestablishing a free nation? Why did the world stand by as they continued to lose land? What is the current situation of Armenia and how has that nation provided Armenians around the world with some hope?

Essay Topic 3

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?

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