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. Why does Cortez finally burn the city?

2. What people do Karlsefni and Snorri find in the New World?

3. What happens to Columbus when he finally makes it back to Spain?

4. What author does Gregory say is never accused of being insincere?

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. What was shocking to the Puritans about slave society?

2. What were the markets like in Tenochtitlan?

3. What was Aaron Burr like, according to Williams?

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

5. What is Ponce de Leon's dog doing when he is killed?

6. How did Freydis trick her husband? What happened as a result?

7. How did Williams think that bodily suffering affected the Pilgrims?

8. What happens to Columbus' sailors when the weather is bad and the ships go through violent storms?

9. Why did De Soto's men try to keep the Indians from finding out about his death?

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

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.

Essay Topic 2

Write an essay in which you compare "The Voyage of the Mayflower" with "Cotton Mather's Wonders of the Invisible World." In "The Voyage of the Mayflower," Williams implies that Puritan values gave rise to the Salem witch trials. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Support your answer with examples from In the American Grain.

Essay Topic 3

Consider In the American Grain as a whole. What do you think William Carlos Williams is trying to tell his readers about the American national character? Do you think Williams believes there is just one national character, or several? How was the national character shaped? What do most Americans believe about their own identities as Americans? Write a strong thesis and develop it by relating examples from the book and responding to them.

(see the answer keys)

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