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. Who was Florence?

2. Who took over Hughes's English classes when he left Mexico?

3. Who did Hughes want to see performing at the Metropolitan Opera House upon his return to New York?

4. How did Hughes begin earning his own money while he lived with his father?

5. What neighborhood in Paris did Hughes walk through to look for a job and a place to live?

Short Essay Questions

1. What were the contents of the one box Hughes brought with him on the ship? What was he thinking about as he threw the contents of the box off of the S.S. Malone into the ocean?

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 happened when Hughes picked up Jocko from the pet shop in New York? How did he raise the money to get home?

4. Describe Hughes's childhood. With whom did he live? How did he begin to be a reader? Where did he attend school?

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

6. Who did Hughes stand in line to see at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York? What did he think of the performance?

7. What was Hughes's life like during his senior year in high school, which was also the end of the war?

8. Who was Jocko? Where did he come from? Where did he live?

9. Why did Hughes throw all of his books overboard while traveling to Africa? What did this act symbolize?

10. What was the ritual on the S.S. Malone when the ship crossed the equator?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Hughes remained in Mexico for a year while earning the money to leave the country. What had transpired between Hughes and his father that set Hughes on a plan to leave Mexico? What was Hughes's goal while he was there, and how did he go about reaching that goal? Discuss how this plan affected Hughes's life as a man.

Essay Topic 2

Hughes titled one of the chapters in his autobiography "Distinguished Visitor." This visitor brought with him the beginnings of major fame for Hughes. Discuss the visitor and what he had to offer Hughes. Who did he introduce Hughes to that influenced his career? Why was this visitor important throughout Hughes's career?

Essay Topic 3

Hughes met a child, Edward, while in an African port. Hughes said his meetings with Edward inspired his best short story "African Morning." What was Edward's story? Why did Hughes find Edward's situation especially painful? Why did his encounter with Edward inspire a story?

(see the answer keys)

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