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Midterm Exam Example

Here is another midterm exam that is very similar to the other examples.

E238:04 Midterm Exam   3/12/08
Name: ______________________

Please follow the directions for each section.  Note that in each section you will have some amount of choice in the questions you’ll be answering.  On this sheet, please circle the identifications or questions that you will be responding to, and answer them in an orderly, well-labeled fashion on separate, loose sheets of paper.  Please put your name on every sheet.  The exam is based on a 100 point scale.  Partial credit will be given for answers that are done partially well.

Identifications (5 point each): Respond to 8 of 14.  For each, explain what it is, what book it comes from, and why it is of significance.
Mangan’s Sister
Rainy River
Joe Trace
Billy Pilgrim’s Coat
Edgar Derby
The Saleswoman at the Bazaar
Kilgore Trout
“So it goes”
Kiowa’s Moccasins
Montana Wildhack
Water Buffalo
Violet’s Birds

Short Answer (10 points each):  Answer 4 of 8, including one from each section.  Remember to use specific evidence to support your answers.  These should take at least a paragraph to answer sufficiently.

  1. Contrast the Araby Bazaar in the narrator’s mind with what he finds when he arrives there.  Be specific about the details of setting.
  2. Describe how the initial setting of “Araby” – the aunt and uncle’s house on Richmond Street – fits in with the story’s themes of blindness vs. knowledge (and/or free will and institutions).  Refer to as many specific details of this initial setting as you can.
  3. What sort of comment is Slaughterhouse-Five making about free will?  Describe the Tralfamadorian concept of time and how it fits in with these ideas.
  4. How would you describe a “typical soldier”?  Does Billy Pilgrim fit into this category?  Give evidence from Slaughterhouse-Five as to why Billy fits or doesn’t fit into this mold.
  5. From section to section of The Things They Carried, O’Brien makes specific choices with regard to point of view (only three section/stories are not in first person).  Describe at least two specific instances where you see the choice of point of view being important to a particular story/section.  What choice was made, and how did it effect the story being told?
  6. List at least three items that the soldiers carried in the first story/section, and explain how each is significant to the larger story being told.  That is, how do they factor into the themes of The Things They Carried?
  7. In the introduction to Jazz, Morrison says her hope was for “structure to equal meaning.”  Where do you see the aspects of jazz (the musical form) – of “invention. Improvisation, originality, change” – present in the form or content of Jazz? Give at lease three aspects, and support each answer with specific examples. 
  8. Describe the City as it exists in Jazz.  What personality traits does it exhibit?  What role does it play in the characters’ identities, and their actions?  Discuss at least two characters.

Long Answer (20 points):  Answer 1 of 4.  Remember to use specific evidence to support your answers, and to fully answer each question.  These should take several paragraphs to answer sufficiently.

  1. Why does Vonnegut consider Slaughterhouse-Five a “failure”?  What does he mean?  Do you think O’Brien feels the same way about The Things They Carried?  How (in what specific ways) do each of these books address both the failure and power of language?
  2. The role of Narrator is an important filter at work in both Jazz and Slaughterhouse-Five.  Explain how each narrator is used in their respective books.  In what specific ways does each factor into how a reader might read this book?  Is either unreliable?  How can you tell?
  3. Discuss the idea of the “anti-hero.”  Does Tim O’Brien (the character) fit into this role?  Describe one of the other characters that we’ve encountered and explain why they should or shouldn’t be seen as an “anti-hero.”  How do these two characters compare to each other?
  4. Discuss the structures of Slaughterhouse-Five and Jazz.  How does each challenge the traditional narrative structure that we examined in class?  How might each book’s specific narrative form further the content of the story being told?  Compare the two – how might they be working in a similar fashion, and/or how might they be different in their approach?