Final Exam Study Guide - English 106 

The purpose of this study guide is not to indicate exactly what will be on the exam. The ideas below (many of which we've discussed in class) are intended to help you think about and organize the works we've read and studied this semester.  Use these study guide ideas with 1.) your class discussion notes and own reading notes/ideas to think about the short stories/novella we have read along with 2.) your review/rereading of the literature itself.  Don't forget the biographical entries (back of Fiction 100), the Short Story Handbook (back of Fiction 100), and the study questions at the end of each story that give you helpful ideas.  And be sure to review the Course Notes.

Your midterm:  Study your responses using my comments.  Review your quizzes too.  Consider the examples you heard/we discussed in class.

Videos: Armenian Genocide (your reading notes/class discussion notes) & the clips from the movie adaptation of TIDM we viewed in class.

Write out practice responses to previous quiz questions as well as questions you make up. Remember the quiz/midterm examples we went over in class. For the essay, beginning your response with a clear thesis statement is key.
As you review your notes, revise and clarify them.  Review the in-class cards.  Make your review and studying an active process.  Review the stories as you review your notes.  Review the Course Themes (see Course Notes) as you consider these ideas below.

**Although the final exam will cover material we've read after the midterm (see the syllabus), there are also carry-over works from the first half of class on the final exam: "Saboteur" "Two Questions," and TIDM (review critical introduction.

Possible question types:

  1. *Identifications: You will identify an unidentified passage (give the title of the story) and explain its significance. (I will not give you short, obscure passages.)*
  2. *Multiple choice, fill in the blank, or matching*
  3. *Short Answer  Think of individual works as well as connections among works.
  4. ***NEW***Longer essay question (1 pg) focusing on a single work or on comparing/contrasting works. Also, you will have some choices. 

*Like quiz/midterm questions. Also, you will have some choices.

Time for final exam: 2 hrs (Exam length: about 1 1/2 hrs for thinking, writing, and revising/editing)


Key ideas/concepts: scientific methodology, scientific romance, spirit of perverseness/psychological terror (Course Notes--Poe), deduction vs induction, romance of reason, Imagism (Hermingway), Literary Naturalism, "dirty realism," genocide (repressive violence--culture of violence), diaspora.  Also consider the short story as a genre (Poe definition of short story--Course Notes) and differences from the novella (Course Notes) as a genre. 

See Course Themes (Course Notes)


Consider these questions/ideas: Do the fantastic and extraordinary lead to social criticism/critique?  Why do we consider Sherlock Holmes's powers of deduction, rooted in realism and science, amazing or fantastic?  Why is Sherlock Holmes so popular today?  How do we react to the fantastic and extraordinary?   Likewise, does "The Cask" reveal the extraordinary in the "spirit of perverseness," the psychology of terror?   The atmosphere of the story?  Can technology create the extraordinary in everyday life, in our human desire for knowledge and discovery? What about the supernatural? Does this concept reveal our attempt to explain what we can't explain through reason and logic?  A way of contemplating other possibilities beyond our immediate environment--the line between this world and another one (e.g., "The Signal-Man")?  For TIDM: Do science and its discoveries reveal the miraculous in daily life, appearances that are deceiving, and the ability to imagine possibilities that do not immediately exist?  (See critical intro to our Penguin edition of TIDM.)  Compare the novella to the movie adaptation clips we watched in class.


What is the role of nature?  How is nature presented/depicted in each story?  Tom Ackler in "Them Old Cowboy Songs":  "Some lived and some died, and that's how it was."  What is the relationship between humans and the natural world (e.g., "To Build a Fire--unnamed protagonist and natural world/his dog? Nick Adams's desire to fish the river)?  What about the relationship between individuals as they fight to survive in nature? Is there a difference between the the Hemingway story and the other two? What is/are this difference(s)? Also, environmentalism: do we need to be good stewards of nature?  Do we need to foster and understand our relationship with nature?  Also, consider the writing style of stories under this theme.  How does writing style reinforce these ideas/themes?


Does this theme refer to physical and mental terror?  How do characters use and carry out violence? Create terror? Can society (or the State: "Uncle Baghdasar"--Armenian Genocide) and the even universe itself foster a sense of terror in us?  What about individual morality and ethics in response to terror and violence?  How does race ("The Man Who Was Almost a Man") add to our understanding of terror and violence.  What is the role of pain--can it heighten our awareness--beyond our "animal natures," make us feel alive, remind us of our mortality?  Do pain, terror, and violence mask our hidden desires? The relationship terror and violence and relgious faith ("A Good Man Is Hard to Find")? Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" and TIDM

The Individual and Society theme connects to all themes here as well.

Other themes:  Masculinity?  Some stories this semester have focused on male protagonists with some female characters.  What view of masculinity do stories present--values and attitudes attached to this concept?  What about female characters (e.g., "Two Questions," "Them Old Cowboy Songs")?

The midterm study guide will be helpful as well for carry-over works.

Longer essay: Begin your response with a specific, clear thesis.  For a comparison/contrast essay, the thesis should link both works.  Think about how what works you might compare and contrast.  For example, "To Build a Fire" and "Big Two-Hearted River"?  Or "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Speckled Band"?  Also, think about how stories fit more than one theme.  For example, TIDM: Extraordinary and Fantastic, Individual and Society, and Terror and Violence.