American Literature Fin.

ENGL 2570: Survey of American Literature I


Dr. Shirley Toland-Dix, Professor


This examination is intended to test your skills in critical analysis and close reading of the texts we have discussed.  For best results, TAKE YOUR TIME and provide thoughtful, specifically developed responses to all the questions you answer.


THIS COPY OF THE EXAMMUST BE SUBMITTED ALONG WITH YOUR RESPONSES. Completed examinations should be submitted by 2 am, Friday, July 28th.


Obviously, as this is a take-home exam and you have the anthology and my lectures open in front of you, you will be able to identify the author and title of each work! Most of the points will come from how fully and specifically you answer the questions that follow the quote.


READ THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY.  In sections I, II and III, your responses must be in your own words and must come from assigned class readings – information I have posted to Blackboard and the anthology.  Answer all parts of each question.   I expect your responses to be thoughtful and specifically developed as you will have 42 hours in which to complete the final.


Plagiarized exams will fail automatically.  Answers taken from random internet sites are not acceptable and will be disqualified.


I encourage you to use your own writing –discussion questions, journal entries, essays, etc. — as a resource for your final exam responses.  This is why you create a body of your own work, so that you will have a reservoir of your own thoughtfully developed ideas to draw from.


  1. IDENTIFYsix (6) of the following seven (7) quotes. READ the QUOTES CAREFULLY.  Give the author and title of the work that the quote is taken from.  Provide concise but specific answers of 3-5 sentences to all of the question(s) that follow the quote. (17 points each)



1.)       ‘now master,’ and the steel glanced nigh the throat.

Again Don Benito faintly shuddered.

‘You must not           shake so master. – See, Don Amasa, master always shakes when I shave him.  And yet master knows I never yet have drawn blood, though it’s true, if master will shake so, I may some of these times.’




What does the narrator think is going on in this scene?  What do we later learn is really going on?  Why is that significant?





2.)                   When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much

applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

To the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.




Provide a brief explication of the poem.   What 2 experiences is the poet comparing?  Which does he prefer?  How do you know?





3.)       The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship. . . . These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. . . . I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me.  Their complexions, too, differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke . . . united to confirm me in this belief. . . . When I looked round the

ship too, and saw a large furnace of copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted my fate; and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted.

Author _________________________Title_________________________


Who is the speaker and what exactly is the situation?  What does he think his “fate” will be?  What happened to him instead?  Who is his audience and what is the purpose of his narrative?  What of significance does this description of his experience reveal to his reader?





4.)          He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.  This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain.  Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.  And [added to] this assemblage of horrors . . . he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them.


Author ______________________Title____________________________


Read this quote carefully.  Of what, specifically, is the author accusing the king of Great Britain?

Why was this passage left out of the final document?  Why is it ironic that this author is bringing this charge against the king?





5.)  In order to secure my Credit and Character as a Tradesman, I took care not only to be in Reality Industrious and frugal, but to avoid all Appearances of the contrary.  I dressed plainly; I was seen at no Places of idle Diversion . . . and to show that I was not above my Business, I sometimes brought home the Paper I purchase’d at the Stores, thro the Streets on a Wheelbarrow.


Author _________________________Title__________________________


What is the situation?  What specific advice is the speaker, a successful businessman, giving to his readers?





6.)       Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this    country, their social and religious degradation – in view of the unjust laws above           mentioned and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and     fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have       immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as           citizens of the United States.


Author________________________ Title_________________________


What exactly does the above quote declare?  At what historical convention was the document created?  Which important American document is it modeled after?  Why?




7.)        This . . . was the turning-point in my career as a slave.  It rekindled the few            expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood.        It recalled the departed self-confidence, and inspired me again with a             determination to be free.  The gratification afforded by the triumph was a full    compensation for whatever else might follow, even death itself.  He only can             understand the deep satisfaction which I experienced, who has himself repelled     by force the bloody arm of slavery.  I felt as I  never felt before.  It was a glorious            resurrection, from the tomb of slavery to the heaven of freedom. . . . I now,       resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.




What specific experience is the speaker describing?  Why does he see it as a turning point in his life?  How is this event presented as a turning point in the narrative?




PART II.Write a specific essay of at least 160 words in response to oneofthe following questions.  Be sure that youprovide specific details and supporting quotes.  Answer ALL parts of eachquestion, both A, B, and C.(48 pts)

Remember that you have access to the information I have posted to Blackboard throughout the semester.


1.) Melville has written a story that CANNOT be read as a simple cautionary tale of good vs. evil.  List at least 3 things about the story that make it more complex than that.  Consider where the mutiny takes place and why.  Discuss two of the major characters in detail:  Captain Delano, Benito Cereno, and/or Babo.  Can either of the characters you discuss be seen as simply a hero or a villain?  Why or why not?


2.)A).Specifically discuss one or two important purposes of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography.  In other words, why does he write a story of his life?He wants other young white men from poor beginnings to know about the possibilities for life in America.  Discuss what you think is significant about Franklin’s description of himself when he first gets to Philadelphia as a runaway apprentice with just enough money for bread in his pocket.  See p.483, Vol. A.

B.) Franklin tells the reader his strategies for becoming successful.  Franklin also talks about mistakes he made, his “errata.”  Give a detailed example of one of his errata.  What happened?  What did he learn”



PART III.  Write a thoughtful essay of  approx. 160 words in response to one of the following questions.  Be sure that you provide specific details and supporting quotes.   Answer ALL parts of each question, both A and B.   (48 pts)

Remember that you have access to the information I have posted to Blackboard throughout the semester.


1.)Compare Frederick Douglass’s ex-slave narrative to the ex-slave narrative andthe “Letter from a Fugitive Slave”  by Harriet Jacobs.


A.What do the conflicts between Douglass and Covey and Jacobs and Flint reveal about the gender dynamics within the system of slavery?  How does Douglass claim manhood?   What does Douglass identify as the challenge(s) he faced as an enslaved man? Specifically discuss the significance of the year that he spends with Covey, the slave breaker.


B.) What does Jacobs identify as the constant danger she and other enslaved women faced?  Provide a detailed supporting example here, either what happened to her and how she responded OR one of the stories she shares in “Letter From a Fugitive Slave.”  Who is the audience for her narrative? What challenges does she face in getting a sympathetic response from that audience?



4.)What was the significance of Emerson’s “Divinity School Address”?

Where and when does he make this address?  Who is his audience?  How is this a turning point in Emerson’s career?  What do you consider the purpose or primary argument of Emerson’s address?

Select 4 supporting quotes from the address that represent what you see as Emerson’s main ideas.  Each quote should be followed by a brief discussion of what the quote means.  Establish how Emerson explains his Transcendentalist beliefs onthe relationship between the Divine/ Godand human beings.