Study Questions: FYS section 7, Mid-term Exam

Fall 1997

NOTE: Two or three actual exam questions will be chosen from these (possibly slightly modified). If you can answer these clearly, accurately, and reasonably fully, you should be well prepared for the exam. Feel free to study with others in the course and to discuss possible answers with each other.

  1. How is identity and self-concept influenced by family structure and family relationships? Use examples from at least three films and/or readings to support your answer.
  2. The poem "Curiosity" describes two different approaches to risk-taking - the "cat" and "dog" approaches. How can willingness or reluctance to take risks affect one's identity? Use three different films and/or readings to support your answer.
  3. "Tom Wolfe was right. You can never go home again, because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory." -John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley. Do you agree with Steinbeck and Wolfe? Why or why not? Explain your answer in a carefully reasoned and organized essay that draws upon the arguments and perspectives of at least three of the authors we've read so far.
  4. What as you see it are the most important identity issues that first year students face? Give 3­5 examples from the films and/or readings, and interpret these examples using one of the identity development schemes we have discussed (such as , Erikson, Perry, Marcia).
  5. Drawing on films and readings from the text, discuss the relationship between education and identity. (For example: "Everyday Use" (Walker), "The Cave, (Plato), Erikson and Marcia (discussed in McMartin and Forisha-Kovach, "Dust Angels" (Stoller))
  6. Write a careful, thorough summary of one of these identity development schemes: Erikson or Perry.
  7. Virginia Stoller writes in "Dust Angels" that "traveling back and forth from one community to another can be dangerous" (198). Such a tension is one that many college students face. Discuss the difficulties of maintaining ties both with home/family and with a community away from home. Draw on three of the following essays, stories or films: A River Runs Through It, Walker's "Everyday Use," Stoller's "Dust Angels," Plato's "The Cave," Joyce Carol Oates' "Theft."
  8. Explain Marcia's four identity statuses. Use at least three of the following characters as illustrations: (a) the "cat" and "dog" type of personalities described in Alastair Reed's Curiosity, (b) the residents of Plato's The Cave, (c) Peter in Swing Kids, (d) Marya in Theft, (e) the narrator of Amy Tan's Two Kinds.
  9. Imagine a college student who (unlike you!) is not willing to take any unnecessary risks in college. You want to give that student some advice. What would you tell her? What kinds of risks should he take? Which kinds should she avoid? What might this student miss if he or she takes no risks? (Hint: since you have only been at college for four weeks, your imaginary student may ask why you think you are in a position to give advice! To be convincing you must provide evidence from at least three examples of the poetry, films, stories, and articles you have encountered in FYS.)
  10. Some people seem to develop their identities mainly by "differentiating" themselves from their parents, home community, church, etc., while others seem to develop their identities mainly by "identification" with these -- and still others clearly do some of both. Show how this works by choosing one character from a film we have seen, another character from a work of poetry or fiction, and still another from a non-fiction work (three in all!). Compare the ways that these characters formed their identities through some combination of differentiation and identification. Can you relate to any of these people in a special way? Explain.
  11. The students in Joyce Carol Oates' story Theft engaged in various kinds of unhealthy behavior. Identify three to five of these behaviors and explain why you think they developed, what the consequences are, and how students engaged in such behaviors might break out of these behavioral patterns to develop new ones.
  12. Thomas and Peter in Swing Kids attempt to be "HJ's by day, Swing Kids by night." Using them and authors or characters from at least two other works we have studied as examples, discuss the challenges and results of trying to live out conflicting roles or identities. Other suggestions: Marya and Imogene in "Theft," Paul in A River Runs Through It, Virginia Stoller in Dust Angels.