Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir Test | Final 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 the Young Turks take over the crumbling Ottoman Empire?

2. What city managed to protect itself from Turkish invaders in the 17th century, thereby stopping the expansion of Ottoman power throughout Western Europe?

3. How many Armenian children were in the school photograph taken in Aleppo in 1920?

4. In what year did the UN declare genocide a crime against humanity?

5. What is the traditional day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide?

Short Essay Questions

1. What was the deeper significance of the 500 pairs of shoes stolen by the Turks from Balakian's grandfather?

2. How has the Turkish government used its influence to prevent honest discussion of the Armenian genocide over the years?

3. How did Balakian's aunts justify the family's inability to talk about the genocide when he was a child?

4. How did the Turks use the geography of the land to make it easier to kill Armenians?

5. Why is Der Zor considered the Armenian equivalent of Auschwitz?

6. What was the deeper significance of the way in which Dovey's father was killed?

7. Why was Balakian surprised the Syrian government suppressed published works about the Armenian genocide?

8. What did Dovey mean when she said that Turkish culture was theft?

9. How did writing the poem, "The History of Armenia," help Balakian process his new knowledge of his people's history?

10. What was Nafina's reaction to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

When the Balakian family lived in Teaneck, New Jersey, Peter felt a special kinship with the Jews. Why did he feel this connection? Was it simply a matter of being exposed to a tight-knit community or was there something deeper that Peter could not have articulated? Why did he feel left out when his own family had traditions? If he had known at the time about the Armenian genocide, would the connection have been deeper?

Essay Topic 2

Turkish government officials and their supporters have claimed that the denial of the genocide is a form of protected free speech. Do you believe that? Can speech that denies a central historical truth be protected under free speech statutes? Does this denial make it more difficult for Armenians to exercise their own freedom of speech to publicize the genocide? Does the granting of free speech rights mean that all positions must be treated as legitimate sides in a debate?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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