The purpose of this study guide is not to indicate exactly what will be on the exam. The ideas below (which we've discussed in class) are intended to help you think about the works we've read and studied so far this semester. Use these study guide ideas with 1.) your notes and own ideas to think about the short stories and poems we have read along with 2.) your review/rereading of the literature itself. Don't forget the biographical intros. and study questions for each story/poem that give you helpful ideas. You might also reread the intro material on short fiction and poetry as well as the nature of literature. The additional material assigned (after the works themeselves) also offers additional perspectives. And be sure to review the Course Notes.
Write out practice responses to previous quiz questions as well as questions you make up. Remember the quizzes we went over in class. The cards you used for group work in class have good notes.
**The midterm will draw from all works on the syllabus up to the midterm,
including "The Pitcher" and "Chicago." No books or notes during the exam.
Possible question types:
- Identifications: You will identify an unnamed passage (give the title of the story) and explain its significance. I will not give you short, obscure passages.
- Multiple choice, fill in the blank, or matching*
- Short Answer* Think of individual works as well as connections among works.
*Like quiz questions. Also, you will have some choices.
Time for midterm: 75 mins.
1. Genre - Short fiction and poetry. Know the features of short fiction we focus on when we analyze: plot (and setting), characterization, point of view, and theme. Note that each story we read came from a chapter that focuses on one of these. You might read the intros to these chapters. Poems also have plots in a sense, even though these may be fairly simple for short poems. (Paraphrasing a poem is a way of getting at "plot.") We also think about the poem's theme. But we must especially consider meter (rhythm), sound, and language. Key Terms for Poetry: (see the Glossary) enjambment, end-stopped, caesura, rhythm, meter, blank verse, free verse, Shakespearean sonnet. Be able to discuss the features of short fiction and poetry and apply these to short stories and poems.
2. Short Fiction (Stories). Consider themes we've discussed this semester so far. For example,
"Bartleby" - capitalism, individual & collective, passive resistance, free will & fate, surface & depth; "Soldiers Home" - affects of war, meaning of home, pyschological trauma; "The Answer is No" - role of marriage, issues of gender (e.g., concerning sex, love, social attitudes, culture). Go through your notes and think of themes for other stories we've read. Be able to discuss these themes. Also, consider connections among stories. For example, both "The Lady with the Pet Dog" and "The Answer is No" deal with the theme of marriage. How would you compare and contrast each story? What would be your thesis for a response to a question about marriage in both stories? Finally, consider style. How does the terse style of "Solider's Home" enhance its theme? Its effect on you as a reader? How would you characterize Melville's style in "Bartleby"?
Our transition from short fiction to poetry: "55 Miles to the Gas Pump." How does this short story lead us to poetry - its use of language and images. As you pointed out in class, each paragraph is one sentence.
3. Poetry. Consider the themes we've discussed this semester so far. For example, the Shakespeare sonnet - time, mutability, nature, beauty; "To Autumn" - attitude toward death, movement from preharvest to postharvest, nature; "Dover Beach" - Romantic & Victorian, individual & society, tranquility & struggle. Important: consider meter, sound, and language in the poems we've read. (The overhead I used for the Keats poem/Lines we scanned on the board for "Dover Beach.") What about comparing poems: Nature in the Shakespeare sonnet and Keats's "To Autumn"? For notes on "The Pitcher" and "Chicago," see Course Notes (Course Website).
Finally, what about comparing a short story and a poem?