Final Exam Instructions and Research Questions

Final Exam: Argumentative Essay (Open Book)


.Select one of the research questions.

.Write an introduction in which you present the author(s) and text(s) to be discussed, your chosen research question and your thesis statement (your main argument and answer to the question).

.Develop at least two body paragraphs in which you present supporting evidence from the primary source(s).

.Write a conclusion in which you wrap up your discussion on the author(s) and text(s), summarize your argument(s) and finish with a personal statement.


Research Questions

Why Jamaica Kincaid in A Small Place and Roxane Gay in “The Harder They Come” portray the predominantly white tourist from Europe and the U.S. through a negative filter?

Why Jimmy Cliff in “The Harder They Come” and Bob Marley in “Concrete Jungle” argue, even after the independence from Britain, that black Jamaicans are not free?

How Manuel Abreu Adorno in “And the Hippies Came” questions the hippie culture and its promotion of “liberation, peace, and love”?

How Earl Lovelace in the story “Joebell and America” connects U.S. media and music to migration?

What roles race and ethnic background play in the friendship presented by Alexia Arthurs in “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands”?

How Edwidge Danticat in “Caroline’s Wedding” shows the clashes between different family members underscoring their access to U.S. citizenship and their cultural and spiritual connections with Haiti?

What aspects of Caribbean history Elizabeth Acevedo highlights in her poem “Afro-Latina” and how they allow her to form a prideful identity?

Afro Latina- Elizabeth Acevedo

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning novel, THE POET X. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the National Book Award, and the Boston-Globe Hornbook Award Prize for Best Children’s Fiction of 2018.


Presentation: Osvaldo Jaquez

Open discussion:

Regarding the Afro-Latina identity, discuss the three stages discuss by Acevedo in her poem.

Caroline’s Wedding (179-188)- Edwidge Danticat



Open reading and discussion

The Toast

“Say something for your sister,” Ma said in my ear.

I stood up and held my glass in her direction.

“A few years ago, our parents made this journey,” I said.

“This is a stop on the journey where my sister leaves us. We will miss her greatly, but she will never be gone from us.”

It was something that Ma might have said. (181)


The Roses

“Who are they from.?” I asked.

“Caroline,” she said. “Sweet, sweet Caroline.”

Distance had already made my sister Saint Sweet Caroline. “Are you convinced of Caroline’s happiness now.?” I asked.

“You ask such difficult questions.”

That night she went to bed with a few Polaroids of the wedding photos and the roses by her bed. Later, I saw her walking past nay room cradling the vase. She woke up several times to sniff the roses and change the water. (182)


The Dream

Then he asked me, “If we were painters, which landscapes would we paint?”

I said, “I don’t understand.”

He said, “We are playing a game, you must answer me.”

I said, “I don’t know the answers.”

“When you become mothers, how will you name your sons?”

“We’ll name them all after you,” I said.

“You have forgotten how to play this game,” he said. “What kind of lullabies do we sing to our children at night?

“Where do you bury your dead?”

His face was fading into a dreamy glow.

“What kind of legends will your daughters be told? What kinds of charms will you give them to ward off evil?” (183)

The Passport

My passport came in the mail the next day, addressed to Gracina Azile, my real and permanent name.

I filled out all the necessary sections, my name and address, and listed my mother to be contacted in case I was in an accident. For the first time in my life, I felt truly secure living in America. It was like being in a war zone and finally receiving a weapon of my own, like standing on the firing line and finally getting a bulletproof vest.

We had all paid dearly for this piece of paper, this final assurance that I belonged in the club. It had cost my parents’ marriage, my mother’s spirit, my sister’s arm.

I felt like an indentured servant who had finally been allowed to join the family. (185-6)



The kitchen radio was playing an old classic on one of the Haitian stations.

Beloved Haiti, there is no place like you.
I had to leave you before I could understand you. (185)

“Why is it that when you lose something, it is always in the last place that you look for it?” she asked finally.

Because of course, once you remember, you always stop looking. (188)

Caroline’s Wedding (167-179)- Edwidge Danticat


Presentation: Jennine Wallace

Expand on the significance of the following quotes taking into considerations other elements of these segments:

Caroline’s shower (166-168)

Ma acted like a waitress and served everyone as Caroline took center stage sitting on the loveseat that we designated the “shower chair.” She was wearing one of her minidresses, a navy blue with a wide butterfly collar. We laid the presents in front of her to open, after she had guessed what was inside. (167)


Packing Gifts (168-171)

“Maybe she jumps at it because she thinks he is being noble. Maybe she thinks he is doing her a favor. Maybe she thinks he is the only man who will ever come along to marry her. ”

“Maybe he loves her,” I said.

“Love cannot make horses fly,” she said. “Caroline should not marry a man if that man wants to be noble by marrying Caroline.”

“We don’t know that, Ma.”

“The heart is like a stone,” she said. “We never know what it is in the middle.

“Only some hearts are like that,” I said.

“That is where we make mistakes,” she said. “All hearts are stone until we melt, and then they turn back to stone again,”

Did you feel that way when Papa married that woman?” I asked.

My heart has a store of painful marks,” she said, “and that is one of them.” (170)


The Eve (171-174)

Caroline went to our room and came back wearing her wedding dress and a prosthetic arm.

Ma’s eyes wandered between the bare knees poking beneath the dress and the device attached to Caroline’s forearm.

“I went out today and got myself a wedding present,” Car­oline said. It was a robotic arm with two shoulder straps that controlled the motion of the plastic fingers. (173)


The Wedding Day (174-179)

Ma’s eyes were fierce with purpose as she tried to stir Car­oline out of her stupor.

“At last a sign,” she joked. “She is my daughter after all. This is just the way I was on the day of my wedding.”

Caroline groaned as Ma ran the leaves over her skin. (175)


Caroline’s face, as I had known it, slowly began to fade, piece by piece, before my eyes. Another woman was setting in, a married woman, someone who was no longer my little sister.

“I, Caroline Azile, take this man to be my lawful wedded husband.”

I couldn’t help but feel as though she was divorcing us, trading in her old allegiances for a new one. (179)

Caroline’s Wedding (154-166)- Edwidge Danticat


Presentations: Aaliyah Ali and Christopher Wong

In  “Caroline’s Wedding” generation gaps are intertwined with cultural differences, various immigrant experiences, and access to American citizenship. Each member interacts with the American culture in Brooklyn through different approaches. The mother works towards Haitian cultural retention and diasporic solidarity, Gracina to achieve a successful intercultural way of life and Caroline to adapt completely to a non-religious, progressive and practical U.S.

This is shown throughout the wedding process. There are clashing views within the family regarding the courtship, the wedding shower, and the actual wedding ceremony. The event also marks their contrasting opinions and practices of womanhood and love relationships.

Although the mother and her daughters are living in a tense period, all of them demonstrates their commitment to some negotiation based on mutual love.

Individual Work

Identify and discuss one of the following topics:

.Dreams (154-5; 164-5)

.Memories of old Haitian life and beliefs (156-8, 165-6)

.Wedding preparations (159-63)

.Mother-daughter relationship (162-3)


General Question

What elements from the Haitian immigrant experience we could grasp from these topics?

Caroline’s Wedding (139-153)- Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat is an award-winning writer of Haitian descent. Danticat was born on January 19, 1969, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her parents, fleeing the oppressive regimes of Francois Duvalier and son Jean-Claude, were able to settle in Brooklyn, New York, while Danticat and younger sibling André had to remain behind. After years of correspondence, Danticat and her brother were able to come to the States, being reunited with their parents and meeting two new siblings they didn’t know. Danticat started to hone her craft as a writer during her adolescence.

Danticat went to study French literature at Barnard College in Manhattan, later earning a creative writing graduate degree from Brown University in 1993. Her former master’s thesis was released in 1994 as the debut novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, following a girl’s journey from Haiti to the U.S.

Over the years, Danticat has penned a variety of fiction and non-fiction, chronicling the lives of Haitian citizens and creating vivid, unflinching portrayals of injustice.

Caroline’s Wedding

While narrating everyday events during the period before a wedding, Edwidge Danticat covers the history of a Haitian family in Brooklyn. By using flashbacks, reflections on dreams, spiritual beliefs, and family traditions, the narrator creates a complex picture of diasporic life.

Presentation: Brenda Hernandez


Discuss in five groups. Look for sections and quotes to support your answers.

Describe the narrator’s family migration story? (139-142)

How the story of her courtship allows the reader to understand, Ma’s resistance to Caroline’s wedding? (142-146)

Explain the following quote from the priest at the ceremony to the dead: “We have come here this far, from the shackles of the old Africans” (146- 149)

How the narrator’s dream about her father permits to reflect on certain beliefs of the Haitians but also on different approaches to mourning? (149- 152)

Reflect on Caroline’s missing arm metaphorically from the perspective of immigration and second-generation livelihood. (153)

Concrete Jungle- Bob Marley/ Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands- Alexia Arthurs

I. “Concrete Jungle”- Bob Marley 

Robert Nesta Marley, (1945 – 1981) was a Jamaican singer and songwriter. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by blending elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, as well as forging a smooth and distinctive vocal and songwriting style. Marley’s contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaican music worldwide and made him a global figure in popular culture.

Concrete jungle: a modern city or urban area filled with large buildings and regarded especially as a harshly competitive, unwelcoming, or dangerous place

“Concrete Jungle” played a special role in the history of reggae music: this was the first song on the first album (Catch A Fire, 1973) that really broke reggae to international audiences outside Jamaica.

Presentation: Heaven-lee Allen

II. “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands”- Alexia Arthurs

The short version is that I, Alexia Arthurs, grew up in Jamaica and New York. I’m a graduate of Hunter College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I write stories about Jamaicans. I’m interested in the Jamaican diaspora and in Caribbean feminism. I published my first book, a collection of short stories, called “How to Love a Jamaican” in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2018.

The longer story is that I was born in Mandeville, Jamaica. We moved to New York when I was twelve—my mother, like many immigrant mothers, believed that she could better provide for her three children in the States, where three of her sisters lived.  As a child, moving to the United States was a fulfilled dream because I had observed that everyone believed that the U.S. was superior to any other place in the world. The realities were different, painful—I was navigating the distance from the country of my childhood, and the fact that my family wanted so badly to build a future in a country that was unwelcome to foreigners. As I grew, in some ways I recognized myself as an American and in other ways I was Jamaican. Over time, I started to explore this tension of belonging and distance through my writing. I started writing “How to Love a Jamaican” when I was twenty-four and finished when I was twenty-eight, but in a way it feels that I was writing those stories for even longer than that because I’ve been asking certain questions since I was a kid.

Interview with Alexia Arthurs by Abigail Bereola


No one man should have all that power
The clock’s ticking’, I just count the hours
Stop tripping’, I’m tripping’ off the power
(21st-century schizoid man)
The system broken, the school’s closed, the prisons open
We ain’t got nothing’ to lose, ma’ fucka’, we rolling
Huh? Ma’fucka’, we rollin’
With some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands
In this white man’s world, we the ones chosen
So goodnight, cruel world, I see you in the mornin’
Huh? I’ll see you in the mornin’
This is way too much, I need a moment

Presentations: Shaniece Craigs and Emily Batista 

Conversation in trios (Part I 3-16)

Reflecting on racial and ethnic identities in the US, Arthurs says that “there’s a difference between being seen and being understood.” What do you understand by this phrase? To what extent do you identify with it? In relation to the story, how could we interpret this notion to the relationship between the narrator, Kimberly, and Cecilia? (4, 8) And to Kimberly’s photographs? (6, 7, 8)

Questions  (Part II 16-31)
Presentation: Ashley Bomar
What was Kimberly and Cecilia’s disagreement regarding dating patterns? (16-18)
What things Kimberly appreciated from Cecilia? What things stand out from their exploration of the city? (18-19)
Compare Kimberly and Cecilia’s economic background. How racial relations in the city differ depending on that background? (19-21)
Reflecting on the party and Cecilia’s bringing a black man to it, Kimberly argues that Jamaicans are the performers of the Caribbean. Why she thinks this? (23-26)

How the show Girls allows Kimberly to make a social critique on gentrification? (26-28)