These are the potential questions for the Homegoing exam. On the test itself, there will be five options to choose from and you will write four paragraphs, each a well-developed response that demonstrates an understanding of the text and our discussion of it. It’s hard to imagine that you could answer these questions in less than 6-8 great sentences each.

  1. What is Marcus studying and why isn’t his research going well? What feeling does he indicate that he hopes to capture with his project? Why does Marcus go to Ghana and what does he learn from his experiences there? Marcus believes that “most people lived their lives on upper levels, not stopping to peer underneath (298). What does he mean by this? Where do we find examples of this elsewhere in the book? Are there any characters in the novel who defy this characterization?
  2. Explore the theme of complicity. What are some examples of complicity found in the novel? Who is complicit in the slave trade? Where do most of the slaves come from and who trades them? Who does Abena’s father say is ultimately responsible (142)? Do you agree with him? Explain why or why not.
  3. Evaluate the treatment and role of women in the novel. What role does marriage play within the cultures represented in the novel and how are the women treated as a result? Likewise, what significance does fertility and motherhood have for the women and how does it influence their treatment? In the chapter entitled “Effia,” what does Adwoa tell Effia that her coupling with James is really about? In its depiction of the collective experiences of the female characters, what does the book seem to reveal about womanhood? How different would you say the treatment and role of women is today? Discuss.
  4. Analyze the structure of the book. Why do you think the author assigned a chapter to each of the major characters? What points of view are represented therein? Does any single point of view seem to stand out among the rest or do you believe that the author presented a balanced point of view? Explain. Although each chapter is distinct, what do the stories have in common when considered collectively? How might your interpretation of the book differ if the author had chosen to tell the story from a single point of view?
  5. Explore the motif of storytelling. Who are the storytellers in the book and what kinds of stories do they tell? Who is their audience? What might these examples suggest about the purpose and significance of a storytelling tradition?
  6. What is history according to Yaw? What does he tell his students is “the problem of history” (226)? Who does Yaw say we believe when reading historical texts and what does he say is the question we must ask when studying history? How might these ideas influence your own reading of Gyasi’s book and reshape your ideas about the historical subjects and themes treated therein?

The exam over Things Fall Apart will be on Thursday. You can read the questions and begin to prepare for it today.


Mark Twain, who traveled all over the world, offered this advice to a young friend:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Even though we may not in the position to heed Twain’s advice and race off to some new corner of the world right now, we can at least do a bit of virtual exploration and dreaming in the form of an amazing English essay in which you will compare and contrast two potential travel destinations and make the case to visit one of the pair.

The prompt is located here.

Your simple outline is due to Mr. Pogreba on Friday, October 26 and the essay is due on Friday, November 2 by 11:00 p.m. Please share it with me using Google Drive.


  • In his review of Malcolm Gladwell’s work, Steven Pinker writes, “[t]he reasoning in “Outliers,” which consists of cherry-picked anecdotes, post-hoc sophistry and false dichotomies, had me gnawing on my Kindle.”  Is Pinker’s criticism a fair look at Gladwell’s work? Why or why not?
  • In Outliers, Gladwell argues, “It is not the brightest who succeed.  Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf.  It is, rather, a gift.  Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”  Defend/refute/qualify this argument.
  • Michiko Kakutani writes that Gladwell’s “assessments turn individuals into pawns of their cultural heritage, just as Mr. Gladwell’s emphasis on class and accidents of historical timing plays down the role of individual grit and talent to the point where he seems to be sketching a kind of theory of social predestination, determining who gets ahead and who does not – and all based not on persuasive, broadband research, but on a flimsy selection of colorful anecdotes and stories.”  Using evidence from the text and class discussion, defend, refute or qualify Kakutani’s assertion that Gladwell unfairly plays down the importance of individual grit and talent as determinants of success.
  • Discuss the 10,000 hour rule and evaluate its relationship to success.
  • Explain Gladwell’s theory about how culture and language affect the likelihood of plane crashes. Be specific about his claim and the evidence he uses to support it.
  • Explain how the chapters about hockey players and airline pilots prove the same essential argument.
  • Gladwell seems to believe that we are, at least in part, the product of our genetic and cultural heritage. Focusing on his examples of the Southern culture of honor and Chinese skill at math, explain his argument and show why/why not you believe it to be true.

For each of these questions, you should be prepared to write at least 6-8 sentences using specific examples from the text. An answer receiving a score of an “A” will be well-reasoned, specific, and demonstrate mastery of the text.


We have a number of deadlines for Honors 2 to be aware of, so here they are:

  • Friday, September 28: Have read the Epilogue of Outliers and be ready for the Latin Roots 1-3 test.
  • Monday, October 1: Outline for Outliers Essay Due
  • Tuesday, October 2: Revision of High/School Middle School Essay Due
  • Wednesday, October 3: Outliers Exam
  • Friday, October 5: First draft of Outliers essay Due

All of the material you’ll need for these is on the website.