Humanities 420 Review for Midterm
See syllabus for date of your Midterm Exam. Your Midterm will follow the pattern of one of the
sample Midterms below; read and study your stories to perform well on an exam such as the following:
This Midterm will be divided into two sections; an objective section defining terms, and an essay section.
Part I (Closed book; worth 40%, or 10% each): Defining Terms
1) Know and define five stages of plot structure
2) Know and define four major types of irony
3) Know and define four types of point of view
4) Define five other literary elements from a list
Part II (Open book; worth 60%): Essay
Answer two questions (chosen from a group of five questions) in essay format
on the stories we have read. The questions will ask you to show how a chosen literary element
reveals theme, or they may be comparison contrast (comparing two or more stories or characters).
DIRECTIONS: Choose TWO of the following questions. READ the question carefully and be sure to answer every aspect of it. Decide on a narrowed and focused THESIS statement that clearly conveys the main point you want to make, and state this at the beginning of your essay/answer. Support your thesis using examples from the story(ies), and relate these examples back to your thesis statement, discussing their meaning (THEME - the one that you have chosen). Do NOT use the same story more than once. Each of these questions will be worth 30%.
1) An initiation story is a type of story that narrates the events of a character, usually a young man or woman, who is "initiated" into some aspect of adulthood. That is, he/she grows up in some way, and learns a lesson about life that makes him or her more of an adult. A de-nitiation story is a story of a character who is faced with the same opportunity to grow up, but fails to do so. Using at least three stories we have read, define initiation story/de-nitiation in your own words, and discuss how these stories are either initiation stories or de-nitiation stories. The stories that might particularly work well for this question include: Araby, Barn Burning, Young Goodman Brown, Things They Carried
2) Choosing at least three of the stories we have read, examine them from the lens of "cultural criticisim" that is, discuss how the main character has struggled with the conflict of his/her own desires for his/her life (or ideals and own morals about life) against society's imposed expectations on that character. Define the character's desires and why they have them, as well as society's expectations and restrictions on the character. Discuss what means the character uses to overcome these restrictions, and whether or not the character was successful in his attempt to live out his own desires. Was it worth it? What happens to the character as a result of his/her struggle? Is there cosmic irony used?? You might consider discussing the stories that deal with women's roles in society versus the personality and needs of the individual woman (this would be "feminist criticism" as a subset of cultural critcism) in the story ("Story of an Hour" "Horse Dealer's Daughter" "Yellow Wallpaper" "Jury of her Peers"). You could also consider the stories discussing the situation of minority groups in the dominant society - "Blue Winds Dancing" and "Cathedral" represent marginalized groups, and add one of the feminist stories listed to round out that group.
3) In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," "The Things They Carried," "The Horse Dealer's Daughter," and "Cathedral," each of the main characters undergoes a sort of epiphany, a dynamic and dramatic transformation that seems to result from an internal or external struggle, a knocking down of false constructions and illusions, and ends in a connection with another human - or love. Discuss this process and the similar theme in each of the stories, though about vastly different people and subjects.
4) Discuss characteristics of postmodernism and current postmodern society and use examples from the stories we have read to support your point. "The Things They Carried" will be the best story to use, but you can also find characteristics of the dominant American culture in "Blue Winds Dancing" and "Cathedral." Also, a "Good Man is Hard to Find" or "Araby" may work as well. Check with me if you can think of another applicable story.