Final Exam


Reread the essay “Notes of a Native Son” from the book of the same title. You can find the essay on Blackboard under “Course Content,” and I have also attached it to the email I sent out about this final exam. Choose two (2) prompts from the list below and answer both in separate essay responses of approximately 250-350 words each, for a total of about 500-700 words. You will not get a chance to revise this exam, so put some thought into your responses before you submit. In grading it, I will be looking primarily at your ideas rather than mechanics or grammar. Still try to be as grammatical as you can, but the main focus will be on the content of what you’re saying rather than the specific way you say it.

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Use specific details from the essay to support your answers. It might help to create a thesis statement for each question you choose to help you focus your answers. These thesis statements will answer the questions you choose from the list below; the rest of your response will then support that answer with specific evidence. Because these essay responses are short, you needn’t bother with a formal introduction or conclusion. Start your response with your thesis statement, then supply the details from the essay that demonstrate why you’re arguing that your statement is true.

Please upload your responses (as one document) to Blackboard by 12:30 p.m. on Monday, November 23. Please note in your responses which prompt you’re responding to: 1, 2, 3, or 4.


Choose two (2) of the following prompts to answer in responses of 250-350 words each:

1. Explain the title “Notes of a Native Son.” Why “Notes” and not, say, “Declaration”? What does “notes” imply? How about “native” and “son”? What are the multiple meanings of “son” in this case? What does it mean to be “native”?

2. How successfully does Baldwin merge the political (matters of national and international importance, such as racism) and the personal (details about his life specifically)? How does he reveal the broader significance of his personal experiences for the nation and world he and his readers inhabit? In other words, what lessons does Baldwin seek to teach about racism and life in general by using his own life as an example?

3. Examine the structure of this essay. Why is it divided into three sections? How do the divisions help Baldwin tell his story and clarify his meaning? Why does he use these divisions instead of writing one continuous essay? Which of the three sections strikes you as the most important to the essay’s overall impact?

4. What is the significance of Baldwin’s conclusion in this essay? How does the final paragraph reinforce the essay that precedes it? In other words, how do the anecdotes and observations from earlier in the essay demonstrate Baldwin’s lesson about “hold[ing] in the mind forever two ideas which seemed to be in opposition” – “acceptance” and “equal power”? How well does this concluding paragraph tie the essay together?


Times New Roman font, Size 12, Double-spaced, .doc or .docx format file (Microsoft Word)


Word Count: Approximately 500-700

Please try to stay within these confines. It’s okay if you go a little under or over, but don’t go crazy.

Due Date

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