In the American Grain Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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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 much time does Samuel de Champlain spend in North America before he is permitted to establish a French colony?

2. In his conclusion, what word does Gregory use to characterize Williams' prose?

3. What happens to the girl Ponce de Leon gives a gold crucifix to?

4. What happens when the Greenlanders fight with the people they meet in the New World?

5. What is Columbus' point when he makes the following statement: "I was twenty-eight years old when I came into your Highnesses' service, and now I have not a hair upon me that is not gray; my body is infirm..."

Short Essay Questions

1. Why did Williams compare the Puritans to dwarves in fairy tales? What does he mean by this?

2. Why does Ponce de Leon send women ashore when he first arrives in Guadaloupe?

3. Why did the English put a price on Pire Rasles' head? Why did they want him killed?

4. What do you think will happen to the "credulous and literal-minded" if they walk into the "ancient trap" that Gregory considers history to be?

5. What was shocking to the Puritans about slave society?

6. Why does Benjamin Franklin say that manufacturing is not a viable activity in the American economy?

7. Why did Ponce de Leon travel around the Caribbean? What was his business there?

8. How do Columbus' voyages east, returning to Spain, differ from his voyages west, heading to the New World?

9. Why does Williams say that Mendelberg is like a woman as he conducts his orchestra? How is Lincoln like Mendelberg?

10. What does the narrator of "Sir Walter Raleigh" imply when he exhorts the Muse to sing of "the pursuit of beauty and the husk that remains," or when he says that Raleigh's England became "a mouthful of smoke sucked from the embers of a burnt weed"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In the Introduction, Horace Gregory writes that "History is a humiliating subject for any man to think of knowing...The desire to know history is a near relative of the desire to know truth, and that is where, for most of us, a pit lies waiting." Does William Carlos Williams avoid the pit, or fall into it? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 2

Does Williams admire Sir Walter Raleigh? Why or why not? Support your answer with evidence from In the American Grain.

Essay Topic 3

Why do you think Williams chooses to tell the stories of Eric the Red and Freydis? What makes these tales part of the American grain? Use evidence from the narratives to support your answer.

(see the answer keys)

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