Final exam information


On the final exam, as on the midterm exam, there will be two parts. In Part I, you will have a list of terms that we have learned this semester (review our list here, and get more background information from “Elements of Fiction.” There will also be a list of 10 passages from our readings since the midterm. You will have to choose five of the passages, and for each, you will identify the title and author of the passage, identify which term is an appropriate label for that passage, AND explain why in a sentence or two. There might be more than one term that applies to any given passage, for example, if a passage is an example of first-person narration and setting–either would be correct in that case. You will not get credit, though, if you do not provide an explanation of why it is the appropriate label, since I won’t know if you know the terms or are just guessing. In completing Part I, you will need to use five different terms–that is, each term you use cannot be used more than once, even if they can apply to more than one passage. Extra credit will be given for completing a sixth answer.

In Part II, you will write a well-developed essay(thesis-driven, organized, thoughtful, evidence-based, proofread), in which you compare two texts we have read since the midterm exam based on their approach to one of the following issues, topics, or themes. Use two examples from each story, using quotations from your quotation sheet as evidence, developed using the now-famous five-step method, to support for your thesis-driven essay. If you want to include a third story as well, you can, and that can include anything we read this semester, but make sure you have enough time to do so. Here are the five questions we agreed upon:

  1. Using two stories we read, compare what happens when characters face impossible choices.
  2. Using two stories we read, compare what happens when stories are not definitive but instead create uncertainty or ambiguity or a multiplicity of possibility when important information is the unknowable or un-confirmable.
  3. Using two stories we read, compare how characters’ personal history or family history have an impact on future generations.
  4. Using two stories we read, compare what happens when characters exhibit pride. Consider the positive and/or negative effects of pride.
  5. Using two stories we read, compare what happens when characters reverse roles, including familial, professional, or social roles.

Look back at our class notes as we brainstormed these topics for the ideas we discussed in class. On the exam, this will be a list of three, so be sure to prepare three of the five to guarantee one of your preferred options will be available to you on Monday! Look for the poll in the sidebar to give me a sense of which question you’re hoping to find on the exam on Monday.

Your essay should be approximately 500-600 words—if you’re writing 5 words per line, that’s 5-6 pages in the blue book, fewer pages if you get more words per line. There’s no need to count all of the words: check to see roughly how many words you write per line on a few lines, then multiply that by 20 (lines per page) and the number of pages you have. Most of you had no trouble meeting this requirement this for the midterm exam. When you include a quotation, even though it is already on your quotation sheet, I ask that you copy it into your essay. Rather than using whiteout or making a mess, when you need to make a correction, just cross out what you want to delete.

To get started, you should use the time before the exam to plan your three possible essays. Take time at the start of the exam to think about which question you will respond to, remember what  you want to write about it, and use the blue book to write down notes before you start writing the essay. There’s no need to skip every other line, but you might want to skip a line or two between paragraphs to give yourself space to add in any additional words or sentences when you re-read your essay.

Good luck!

Brainstorming for the final exam


For the final exam, we are going to draft several questions for a comparative essay. In class on Wednesday, we will narrow this list to 5 possible topics. I will then offer you the choice of one of three of the topics on the final exam, which you will take on Monday, 5/20.

We discussed several interesting connections between Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl” and Toni Morrison’s Beloved in class today, and between Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” in our class last week. Please reply here with some suggested topics. Please include a short rationale to help the class understand the topic. We might blend related topics together as we did for the midterm exam.


Circumvent (transitive verb) :to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem

From A Rose For Emily: “By the time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily’s allies to help circumvent the cousins”

In the passage, it talks about getting rid of the cousins. Circumvent means to get around the cousins, to avoid them.


Vindicated (transitive verb):  confirm, substantiate; to provide justification or defense for : justify

From A Rose For Emily: “So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.”

Basically, it means a confirmation. That there can be a chance where she would meet someone to be with the rest of her life.


Gallantry (noun): dashing courage; heroic bravery; noble-minded behavior

From A Jury Of Her Peers: “And yet,” said he, with the gallantry of a young politician, “for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies?”

A young politician back then were probably seen as with power and respect, nowadays, there are seen also like that but one would think that they are just corrupting our system to fit their needs. So now, I understand that the way he talked, had some emphasis due to him being a politician.


Queer (Adj): differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal; of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady

From A Jury Of Her Peers: ” He didn’t begin at once, and she had noticed that he looked queer–as if standing in that kitchen and having to tell what he had seen there yesterday morning made him almost sick.”

From what I finally understand from this passge, is that, she was noticing that Mr. Hale looked odd, in which, she was trying to figure out his questionable nature that made him sick.


Scarcely (adv): barely; hardly; not quite; insufficient to satisfy the need or demand; not abundant

From A Jury Of Her Peers: “Mrs. Hale scarcely finished her reply, for they had gone up a little hill and could see the Wright place now, and seeing it did not make her feel like talking.

Seeing what the definition is, I can see that she barely finished what she had to say because she was closing in on the Wright place, approaching her destination to where she knew it was a lonesome place.


Giddy (adj.):  impulsive; flighty

From The Shawl: “A power surged up from the center of me, and I danced at him, light and giddy, full of a heady rightness”

From what I can understand this, was that the son was sort of impulsive in a way also because his father was drunk and he did it to protect his siblings.


Mended (Transitive verb):  to put into good shape or working order again; to improve or strengthen (as a relationship) by negotiation or conciliation.

From The Shawl: “What had thrust in her heart? Had something broken inside her, too, as it had in him? Even then, he knew that this broken place inside him would not be mended, except by terrible means…. page 3

Now I understand that his father’s heart could not be fixed, to have it working again like any normal happy person, that his heart won’t improve.


adjective: gloomily or resentfully silent or repressed

From “The Shawl”

“She was moody and sullen one moment, her lower lip jutting and her eyes flashing, filled with storms. The next, she would shake her hair over her face and blow it straight out in front of her to make her children scream with laughter.”


adjective :rejecting or lacking the capacity for social interaction

from “What You Pawn I Will Redeem”

“Of course, crazy is not the official definition of my mental problem, but I don’t think asocial disorder fits it, either, because that makes me sound like I’m a serial killer or something.”


noun : an American Indian social gathering or fair usually including competitive dancing

from- What You Pawn I Will Redeem

“I didn’t know for sure, because I hadn’t seen that regalia in person ever. I’d only seen photographs of my grandmother dancing in it. And those were taken before somebody stole it from her, fifty years ago. But it sure looked like my memory of it, and it had all the same color feathers and beads that my family sewed into our powwow regalia.”


noun :a structure built along or at an angle from the shore of navigable waters so that ships may lie alongside to receive and discharge cargo and passengers

From: What You Pawn I Will Redeem

“Back on the wharf, I stood near the Bainbridge Island Terminal and tried to sell papers to business commuters boarding the ferry.”

“It’s not evil, just sad”

This semester, as a class, we read Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Beloved has so many great moments and statements that could make a person think really hard about what was said and themselves. The quote that made me feel a sense of “wow” was, “It’s not evil, just sad”, which was said by Sethe. She was telling Paul D that the presence of the house was not of anything evil, just full of sadness. I drew this picture because just like my quote, this picture has a lot of mystery to it. In my picture I wanted to depict the idea of the house not knowing whether it wants to be evil or sad. The idea that Sethe thought she could identify what emotion or feeling the house was carrying was a little unjust to me. Only the house can determine what it wants to feel. When I first read this quote in Beloved I too asked these questions about the house or the presence of the house. Even as the story went on and answered these questions, it only added to my interest of this statement made by Sethe. At times the house would seem sad to Sethe because she didn’t want to see her baby’s spirit in a bad way and she knew why the baby’s spirit would be sad. On the other hand if we look at the way the house treated people it was of an evil essence. I used the colors of red and black with the inspiration of the movie Beloved, when Paul D first entered the house it turned red and looking deeper it was black. Black can signify sadness, just like when people go to funerals they wear black, or when someone is filled with sorrow they sit in darkness.  Red and black are typical colors of evil and sadness. I wrote the numbers 1, 2, and 4 backwards on the house to depict how unorthodox the house seemed to me.