Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze multiple interpretations of a work: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.7

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All Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyze Multiple Interpretations Of A Work: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.11 12.7

Passage adapted from "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street" by Herman Melville (1853)

I am a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written—I mean the law-copyists or scriveners. I have known very many of them, professionally and privately, and if I pleased, could relate divers histories, at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. But I waive the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby, who was a scrivener of the strangest I ever saw or heard of. While of other law-copyists I might write the complete life, of Bartleby nothing of that sort can be done. I believe that no materials exist for a full and satisfactory biography of this man. It is an irreparable loss to literature. Bartleby was one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except from the original sources, and in his case those are very small. What my own astonished eyes saw of Bartleby, that is all I know of him, except, indeed, one vague report which will appear in the sequel.

Ere introducing the scrivener, as he first appeared to me, it is fit I make some mention of myself, my employees, my business, my chambers, and general surroundings; because some such description is indispensable to an adequate understanding of the chief character about to be presented.

Imprimis: I am a man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best. Hence, though I belong to a profession proverbially energetic and nervous, even to turbulence, at times, yet nothing of that sort have I ever suffered to invade my peace. I am one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men's bonds and mortgages and title-deeds. All who know me, consider me an eminently safe man. The late John Jacob Astor, a personage little given to poetic enthusiasm, had no hesitation in pronouncing my first grand point to be prudence; my next, method. I do not speak it in vanity, but simply record the fact, that I was not unemployed in my profession by the late John Jacob Astor; a name which, I admit, I love to repeat, for it hath a rounded and orbicular sound to it, and rings like unto bullion. I will freely add, that I was not insensible to the late John Jacob Astor's good opinion.

Which is the narrative effect of the highlighted portion of the passage?

Possible Answers:

It shifts the focus from exposition to plot development

It introduces the unreliability of memory as a main theme in the passage

It foregrounds storytelling itself as a main theme in the passage

It signals that the narrator himself, and not Bartleby, is the primary focus on the passage

Correct answer:

It foregrounds storytelling itself as a main theme in the passage

Explanation:

We can start to answer this question by first eliminating two answers that clearly do no reflect the narrative effect of the highlighted passage. Firstly, since the highlighted passage is simply describing and explaining the narrator's style choices in terms of their efficacy in describing Bartleby as a subject, it is not reasonable to say that this passage "signals that the narrator himself, and not Bartleby, is the primary focus of the passage." Secondly, there is no shift from exposition to direct plot development in this passage, and this section of text is itself expositional in nature, making this choice similarly incorrect. So, we are left with two possible options: either the highlighted selection emphasizes storytelling as a main theme in the passage or it introduces the unreliability of memory as a similar such theme. Since the highlighted passage does not even mention memory, and directly describes the narrator's storytelling methods, the correct answer reflects storytelling itself as a main theme in the passage.

All Common Core: 11th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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