Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts : Determine Figurative, Connotative, and Technical Word Meanings and the Impact of Word Choice: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.4

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All Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Determine Figurative, Connotative, And Technical Word Meanings And The Impact Of Word Choice: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.7.4

“The Petrified Forest of Arizona” by E.A. J. Seddon, Associate Editor, Southern Division in The Mountain States Monitor, September 1918.

The Petrified Forest of Arizona is an area covered with the fossil remains of prehistoric trees. The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs. They were buried thousands of feet beneath the bottom of an inland sea. This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area. 

Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock. Iron oxides were present in the silica. These oxides created brilliant and beautiful brown, yellow, and red colors in the rock. 

Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory. The wrappings of the dead monarchs were slowly washed away by erosion and corrosion. Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.

Which of the following best describes the effects of the author’s use of the word “embalming,” underlined in the first sentence of the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

The word evokes ancient Egypt and pharaohs, strengthening the comparison between the ancient trees and monarchs.

The word brings to mind gravestones, suggesting that something on the Earth’s surface marks spots where you can find trees being petrified underground.

The word has to do with death, so it explains for the first time to the reader that the trees have been knocked down and are no longer growing when the process of petrification begins.

The word has to do with the process of preserving a deceased person and compares the effects of water with those of an undertaker.

The word returns to the author’s statement about how words can be misnomers, as “embalming” is a misnomer suggesting that the tree is being preserved.

Correct answer:

The word evokes ancient Egypt and pharaohs, strengthening the comparison between the ancient trees and monarchs.

Explanation:

It's important to understand what the word "embalming" means and how the author uses it in the passage before you try to answer this question. Here is the sentence in which the word appears:

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs.

"Embalming" refers to the process by which a corpse is preserved. Thus, when the author refers to petrification as "embalming," he is implicitly comparing the trees with people. The author refers to the trees as "fallen monarchs" in the same sentence. Encouraged to think of both royalty and the preservation of a corpse in the same sentence, many readers may associate "embalming" with mummification in ancient Egypt, a process used to preserve the bodies of deceased rulers and other people considered to be important.

Now that we've analyzed the word's usage, let's consider the answer choices. Each answer choice consists of two parts: the subtle meaning that the word's usage has, and the effect this has in the passage. Four of the answer choices describe "embalming" as being associated with death; any of those might be correct. Its use has nothing to do with the author's description of misnomers, so let's ignore the answer choice "The word returns to the author’s statement about how words can be misnomers, as “embalming” is a misnomer suggesting that the tree is being preserved." This leaves us with four answer choices:

"The word has to do with the process of preserving a corpse, strengthening the personification of the ancient trees."

"The word has to do with undertakers and compares the effects of water with those of an undertaker."

"The word brings to mind gravestones, suggesting that something on the Earth’s surface marks spots where you can find trees being petrified underground."

"The word has to do with death, so it explains for the first time to the reader that the trees have been knocked down and are no longer growing when the process of petrification begins."

The answer choice discussing "gravestones" isn't correct; nothing about the word's usage specifically has to do with gravestones or tells the audience that certain spots identify where trees are being petrified underground, and nothing in the rest of the passage supports this. The answer choice that says "explains for the first time to the reader that the trees have been knocked down" isn't correct either, because the author explained this point at the end of the first paragraph, not for the first time in this sentence. The answer choice about the word "[comparing] the effects of water with those of an undertaker" isn't correct either because water hasn't even been mentioned as being part of the petrification process at this point in the passage. The correct answer is that "the word has to do with the process of preserving a corpse, strengthening the personification of the ancient trees." As we noted earlier, by using the word "embalming," the author is implicitly comparing the trees with humans.

All Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 27 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
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