Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts : Interpret Figures of Speech in Context: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.5.A

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Interpret Figures Of Speech In Context: Ccss.Ela Literacy.L.6.5.A

Ally's teacher wants Ally to use more personification in her writing. Select the answer that would accomplish this by replacing the underlined portion of the sentences provided. 

While Hannah was playing outside, snow began to fall from the sky. As she lifted her head up towards the clouds, a snowflake lightly landed on the tip of her nose. 

Possible Answers:

kissed 

hit

land

fell on

Correct answer:

kissed 

Explanation:

Personification is used in writing to give human characteristics to inanimate or non-living objects. 

In this case, we are looking for a word to replace "landed"; however, the new word needs to possess human characteristics or attributes (i.e. something that a human would do, that an object can't do). In this sentence, the best answer is "kissed." 

While Hannah was playing outside, it began to snow. As she lifted her head up towards the clouds, a snowflake lightly kissed on the tip of her nose. 

Example Question #2 : Interpret Figures Of Speech In Context: Ccss.Ela Literacy.L.6.5.A

Kate's teacher wants Kate to use more personification in her writing. Select the answer that would accomplish this by replacing the underlined portion of the sentence provided. 

The bees bothered us as they flew around our picnic table. 

Possible Answers:

stopped

stung

landed on

taunted

Correct answer:

taunted

Explanation:

Personification is used in writing to give human characteristics to inanimate or non-living objects. 

In this case, we are looking for a word to replace "bothered"; however, the new word needs to possess human characteristics or attributes (i.e. something that a human would do, that an object can't do). In this sentence, the best answer is "taunted." 

The bees taunted us as they flew around our picnic table. 

Example Question #3 : Interpret Figures Of Speech In Context: Ccss.Ela Literacy.L.6.5.A

Adapted from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) (1876)

Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged.

He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work—the very thought of it burnt him like fire. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.

He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presently—the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben’s gait was the hop-skip-and-jump—proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to star-board and rounded to ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstance—for he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:

“Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!” The headway ran almost out, and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.

Tom went on whitewashing—paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: “Hi-yiYou’re up a stump, ain’t you!”

No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom’s mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

“Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?”

Tom wheeled suddenly and said:

“Why, it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”

“Say—I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work—wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t that work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticized the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

“No—no—I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”

“No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme, just try. Only just a little—I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”

“Ben, I’d like to; but Aunt Polly—well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it—”

“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I’ll give you the core of my apple.”

“Well, here—No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard—”

“I’ll give you all of it!”

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was tired, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

When the narrator says, “the very thought of it burnt him like fire,” he is specifically describing how Tom __________.

Possible Answers:

is planning on running away

does not want to be made fun of

is eager to go swimming

does not want to do his homework, and is painting the fence to procrastinate

is completely set against spending all day painting the fence

Correct answer:

does not want to be made fun of

Explanation:

This statement appears in the passage's second paragraph:

He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work—the very thought of it burnt him like fire.

Context is very important to understanding what the narrator is describing with this simile. We need to look at the sentences that precede the simile to understand to what the narrator is referring. At the end of the first paragraph, Tom has started to paint the fence, but he is feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the job. In this paragraph, he is considering how the other boys fill make fun of him for having to work on a Saturday instead of having time to play. The content that immediately precedes the simile is "they would make a world of fun of him for having to work." Thus, we can infer that the thought of the other boys making fun of him is what "burnt [Tom] like fire." The correct answer is that the simile conveys how Tom "does not want to be made fun of."

Example Question #4 : Interpret Figures Of Speech In Context: Ccss.Ela Literacy.L.6.5.A

Adapted from “In Cowboy Land” in An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

Though I had previously made a trip into the then Territory of Dakota, beyond the Red River, it was not until 1883 that I went to the Little Missouri, and there took hold of two cattle ranches, the Chimney Butte and the Elkhorn.

It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories. It was a land of vast silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horseman. It was a land of scattered ranches, of herds of long-horned cattle, and of reckless riders who unmoved looked in the eyes of life or of death. In that land we led a free and hardy life, with horse and with rifle. We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst; and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another; but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.

I first reached the Little Missouri on a Northern Pacific train about three in the morning of a cool September day in 1883. Next day I walked over to the abandoned army post, and, after some hours among the gray log shacks, a ranchman who had driven into the station agreed to take me out to his ranch, the Chimney Butte ranch, where he was living with his brother and their partner.

The ranch was a log structure with a dirt roof, a corral for the horses near by, and a chicken-house jabbed against the rear of the ranch house. Inside there was only one room, with a table, three or four chairs, a cooking-stove, and three bunks. The owners were Sylvane and Joe Ferris and William J. Merrifield. There was a fourth man, George Meyer, who also worked for me later. That evening we all played old sledge round the table, and at one period the game was interrupted by a frightful squawking outside which told us that a bobcat had made a raid on the chicken-house.

After a buffalo hunt with my original friend, Joe Ferris, I entered into partnership with Merrifield and Sylvane Ferris, and we started a cow ranch, with the maltese cross brand—always known as "maltee cross," by the way, as the general impression along the Little Missouri was that "maltese" must be a plural. Twenty-nine years later my four friends of that night were delegates to the First Progressive National Convention at Chicago. They were among my most constant companions for the few years next succeeding the evening when the bobcat interrupted the game of old sledge. I lived and worked with them on the ranch, and with them and many others like them on the round-up.

I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision—in short, the virtues that ought to come from life in the open country. I enjoyed the life to the full.

Which of the following does the author indicate when he personifies the rivers by describing them as “lonely” in the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

The rivers are located close by one another.

There is only one river in the West.

The rivers are not near one another.

Rivers are always lonely places, not just in the West.

The people who visit the rivers are lonely.

Correct answer:

The rivers are not near one another.

Explanation:

Let's take a look at the indicated part of the passage:

It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories. It was a land of vast silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horseman.

In this part of the passage, Roosevelt is describing the West as it was when he lived there. In describing the rivers as "lonely," he is using personification. Rivers aren't sentient, so they can't actually be "lonely." Why would someone be "lonely"? If someone were alone, or feeling alone, they might feel "lonely." Thus, if the rivers are "alone," what does this tell us? This description of the rivers lets us infer that they are not near one another. This fits with the preceding description of the land as "a land of vast silent spaces." The correct answer is "The rivers are not near one another." None of the other answers are supported by the passage.

All Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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