The Big Sea: An Autobiography Test | Final 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 was "Fire?"

2. Who did Hughes bump into in New Orleans from his days in Harlem?

3. When Hughes wrote "The Big Sea," how many years had passed since he had worked on his survey?

4. What did Hughes by in a shop on Poydras Street that found him on his way to Havana the next day?

5. Why did Hughes want to return to college?

Short Essay Questions

1. What other meeting did Dr. Locke arrange for Hughes before leaving town?

2. What was hazing at Lincoln University? What kinds of things did hazing involve? What was Hughes's initiation ritual for his fraternity?

3. What were some of the places in Italy Hughes saw aboard the ship headed for New York? What happened to him in Valencia?

4. What was "Not Without Laughter"? Why was it important in Hughes's life?

5. How did Hughes conclude his story of the racial survey at Lincoln? What changes did he witness at the school and in how many years?

6. What poem did Hughes submit to "Opportunity" magazine owned by the National Urban League? What was the poem about? What happened to the poem that changes Hughes's life?

7. What did Florence do after the brawl at the Grand Duc? How did this affect the club and what did the owner finally do?

8. What club did white people come into Harlem to drink and listen to music? Why did Hughes not go to this club? How did most Harlem blacks feel about this club?

9. What was "Shuffle Along" and why was it important in the history of the Black Renaissance in Harlem of the 1920s? Who were some of the important blacks associated with music in the 1920s in Harlem.

10. Why did Hughes travel to Italy for the summer? Where did he stay?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Hughes opened his autobiography with the line "Life is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pull" and closed it with "Literature is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pulled. I'm still pulling." Discuss these two statements and how they pertain to Hughes, his autobiography, and his life.

Essay Topic 2

What was "The Weary Blues"? Discuss how Hughes came to write it, how it was received, and from where it got its title.

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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