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 does Ponce de Leon die?

2. Who does the narrator say that the Puritans went on to persecute later?

3. What do Indian envoys bring to De Soto and his men?

4. Why is Ponce de Leon free to go exploring in Florida?

5. How do the Spanish justify killing so many peaceful islanders?

Short Essay Questions

1. How is "De Soto and the New World" narrated?

2. What did William Carlos Williams think was most admirable about the Puritans?

3. How could Raleigh have avoided being beheaded?

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

5. What makes Houston a good example of someone who "came up from under"?

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

7. What proof does Cotton Mather offer to show that witches can make themselves invisible?

8. What does Williams think that Benjamin Franklin would say are the most important American virtues? Does Williams agree with Franklin? Why or why not?

9. Why does Houston leave the Cherokees after they have raised him? Why does he return to them?

10. How did Cortez feel about burning Tenochtitlan?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In "Jacataqua," Williams argues that some kinds of violence are not crimes of passion, but rather are crimes of starvation -- spiritual starvation. Write an essay explaining Williams' views on spiritual poverty and wealth, and spiritual fullness and starvation. Use quotations from In the American Grain to support your answer.

Essay Topic 2

Aaron Burr appears in two of Williams' essays, "Jacataqua," and "The Virtue of History." Consider Aaron Burr's character in light of all that Williams says in "Jacataqua" about the American tendency to avoid touch, to be spiritually impoverished, and to keep women locked up by creating a culture in which women fear the loss of their virginity. Write an essay in which you judge Burr by the standards set forth in "Jacataqua." Support your thesis with evidence from both essays.

Essay Topic 3

William Carlos Williams includes, as part of In the American Grain, several essays about historical figures who served in the military: George Washington, John Paul Jones, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton. How does military life fit into the American Grain? Does military life only affect those who serve in the military, or is it also a part of being American for those who never do any military service? Write an essay responding to this question in which you cite the experiences of these four men as they are depicted in Williams' essays, and also draw upon your own experiences and values in contemporary America.

(see the answer keys)

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