Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts : Determine Figurative and Connotative Word Meanings and Analyze Cumulative Effects of Word Choice: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.4

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

All Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts Resources

2 Diagnostic Tests 31 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Determine Figurative And Connotative Word Meanings And Analyze Cumulative Effects Of Word Choice: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.9 10.4

Passage adapted from Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798)

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist:
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could not laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered,
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossameres!

Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman's mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
"The game is done! I've won! I've won!"
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea.
Off shot the spectre-bark.

The use of nautical language, like "tacked and veered" and "keel," is used to suggest that the narrator is ____________.

Possible Answers:

speaking from beyond the grave

the ship's medic

the ship's captain

a sailor

Correct answer:

a sailor


This question starts with the assertion that the author uses nautical language in the text, and that the use of this kind of diction and jargon gives us an implication about the narrator. It is important to note here that this assertion is a given in answering this question and should be trusted as an accurate analytic statement about the text. 

So, what is a reasonable inference to take from the use of seafaring jargon? Firstly, it is not medical jargon, so it's not reasonable to assume from the use of nautical language that the narrator is specifically a ship's doctor. Similarly, the use of nautical language is not in any way an indicator, and certainly not a direct indicator, that our narrator is speaking from the grave.

So, the last question we have to settle is whether or not the use of nautical language specifically tells us that the narrator is the not merely a sailor but the ship's captain as well. The use of nautical terms is not this specific, however, it signals that the narrator is a sailor, not in a position of authority.

Example Question #2 : Determine Figurative And Connotative Word Meanings And Analyze Cumulative Effects Of Word Choice: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.9 10.4

Adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)

Upon my return to the United States a few months ago, after the extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, of which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and who were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, some of which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person but myself; others not so much so.

One consideration which deterred me was that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the appearance of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative faculties.

Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated were of a nature so positively marvellous that, unsupported as my assertions must necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, and he a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family, and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my veracity-the probability being that the public at large would regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious fiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless, one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with the suggestions of my advisers.

Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interest in my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of it which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger," a monthly magazine, published by Mr. Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me, among others, to prepare at once a full account of what I had seen and undergone, and trust to the shrewdness and common-sense of the public-insisting, with great plausibility, that however roughly, as regards mere authorship, my book should be got up, its very uncouthness, if there were any, would give it all the better chance of being received as truth.

Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind to do as he suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not stir in the matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own words, a narrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts afforded by myself, publishing it in the "Southern Messenger" under the garb of fiction. To this, perceiving no objection, I consented, stipulating only that my real name should be retained. Two numbers of the pretended fiction appeared, consequently, in the "Messenger" for January and February (1837), and, in order that it might certainly be regarded as fiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to the articles in the table of contents of the magazine.

The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at length to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had been so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appeared in the "Messenger" (without altering or distorting a single fact), the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, and several letters were sent to Mr. P.'s address, distinctly expressing a conviction to the contrary. I thence concluded that the facts of my narrative would prove of such a nature as to carry with them sufficient evidence of their own authenticity, and that I had consequently little to fear on the score of popular incredulity.

This exposé being made, it will be seen at once how much of what follows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understood that no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were written by Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the "Messenger," it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion ends and my own commences; the difference in point of style will be readily perceived.


-A.G Pym

In the context of this passage, the bolded and underlined word "garb" is being used to mean ________________.

Possible Answers:




unclear jargon

Correct answer:



Literally, the word "garb" is used as a noun to refer to (usually spectacular) clothing or as a verb to refer to the act of dressing or adorning oneself in a particular way. The meaning, then, in this passage is not literal. The passage is in no way concerned with fashion, nor even physical appearances (note that there is no visual imagery in this passage).

So, let's look at the passage to help us figure out what the figurative meaning at play in this case might be. The author uses the word to refer to his story being published "under the garb of fiction." If we extend our thinking a little here, we can think of a true story (like the one Arthur Pym is claiming he told to Edgar Allen Poe) being "dressed up" as fiction. Thus, the true story would be labelled a fiction, putting the fancy clothes of a genre on Pym's life story!

All Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts Resources

2 Diagnostic Tests 31 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: