The Big Sea: An Autobiography 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. What neighborhood in Paris did Hughes walk through to look for a job and a place to live?

2. How did the Africans Hughes met respond to his skin color?

3. Where did Hughes, his mother, and his grandmother go to meet his father?

4. Where was Langston Hughes born?

5. Why did Hughes turn down Alain Locke's request to meet with him?

Short Essay Questions

1. What was Hughes's ethnic heritage? How did this affect his travels in Africa?

2. What kinds of things happened on board Hughes's ship from New York to Rotterdam? How were they different than the typical passage aboard the S.S. Malone?

3. What were James Hughes's plans for his son? How did they differ from what Hughes wanted for himself?

4. What were some of the sights and sounds Hughes witnessed upon entering New York waters? How did he react to them?

5. Where did Hughes find a more permanent job in Paris? What were his initial job duties? What important new perk did this job offer him?

6. What happened aboard the S.S. Malone the week before the ship reached the Virgin Islands on its return to New York?

7. How did Hughes begin writing poetry? Did he like writing poetry? What was his style of poetry?

8. How did Hughes convince his father to allow him to attend Columbia University in New York? When did Hughes leave Mexico for college?

9. How did Hughes react to being thought of as Mexican on his way home from Mexico? How did he use this misidentity to his advantage?

10. How did Hughes react to being in college at Columbia University? What were the problems he identified?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

During his time at college, Hughes was introduced to a woman, whose name he did not reveal, who would become his patron and allow him to write without fears of poverty. Discuss this woman and her relationship with Hughes. Describe her and her interest in Hughes and his writing. How did the two of them communicate with each other? How did the relationship finally end?

Essay Topic 2

In his autobiography, Hughes only mentions two women in whom he was romantically interested: Suzanna Jones from high school and Mary in Paris. The more important relationship was with Mary. Discuss their relationship. Who was Mary, and how did they meet? Did Hughes reveal how he really felt about Mary? What happened to their love affair, and how did it affect Hughes?

Essay Topic 3

One of the issues Hughes raised again and again in his book was that of race. He often remarked on the color of his skin, whether he was a "black man" in one country and not in another. What are some of the major threads of the theme of race that run through Hughes's book? Why are they an important part of Hughes's autobiography?

(see the answer keys)

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