Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts : Determine Theme or Main Idea and Analyze Its Development Throughout the Text and Objectively Summarize a Text: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.2

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts

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All Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Determine Theme Or Main Idea And Analyze Its Development Throughout The Text And Objectively Summarize A Text: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.7.2

"Sonnet 18" by William Shakespeare

1        Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
2        Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3        Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4        And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
5        Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6        And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
7        And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8        By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
9        But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10      Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
11      Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
12      When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
13      So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
14      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

In this poem, the speaker is addressing __________.

Possible Answers:

someone who criticized his or her other written works

someone he or she loves

a fellow writer

an enemy

death

Correct answer:

someone he or she loves

Explanation:

The poem establishes addressee most directly in its first two lines:

1        Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
2        Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Here, we see that the speaker is asking if he should compare the poem's addressee before saying that this person is "more lovely" and "more temperate" ("temperate" meaning mild or restrained). Lines 3–8 all talk about negative aspects of "a summer's day," thus making the addressee look better than "a summer's day." If the poet is praising the addressee's beauty  (e.g. by calling them "more lovely" than a summer's day) and general demeanor (e.g. by calling them "more temperate" than a summer's day), we can infer that the poem is addressed to the speaker's beloved. None of the other answer choices make sense.

Example Question #2 : Determine Theme Or Main Idea And Analyze Its Development Throughout The Text And Objectively Summarize A Text: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.7.2

"Sonnet 18" by William Shakespeare

1        Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
2        Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3        Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4        And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
5        Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6        And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
7        And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8        By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
9        But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10      Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
11      Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
12      When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
13      So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
14      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

The poem starts by talking about __________, but by the end, it is talking about __________.

Possible Answers:

writing . . . nature

anger . . . friendship

beauty . . . life and death

life and death . . . beauty

nature . . . machines

Correct answer:

beauty . . . life and death

Explanation:

What does this poem focus on at the start? It compares its addressee to "a summer's day" but argues and gives evidence that the addressee is better. Line one makes the comparison rhetorically, line two decides in favor of the addressee, and lines 3–8 focus on negative aspects of a summer's day. Thus, we can summarize this part of the poem by saying that it generally has to do with beauty and nature. That means that the correct answer could either be "nature . . . machines" or "beauty . . . life and death." The poem does not talk about machines at all, but in lines 9–14, it talks about life, death, and (very subtly) writing. The speaker personifies death directly in line 11 ("Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade"), and claims that the addressee will live on in "eternal lines to time"—the poem itself, as the poem's last two lines reveal. Thus, the end of the poem has to do with "life and death." The correct answer is "beauty . . . life and death."

Example Question #3 : Determine Theme Or Main Idea And Analyze Its Development Throughout The Text And Objectively Summarize A Text: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.7.2

Adapted from White Fang by Jack London (1906)

Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness -- a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.

But there was life, abroad in the land and defiant. Down the frozen waterway toiled a string of wolfish dogs. Their bristly fur was rimed with frost. Their breath froze in the air as it left their mouths, spouting forth in spumes of vapor that settled upon the hair of their bodies and formed into crystals of frost. Leather harness was on the dogs, and leather traces attached them to a sled which dragged along behind. On the sled, securely lashed, was a long and narrow oblong box. There were other things on the sled -- blankets, an axe, and a coffee-pot and frying-pan; but prominent, occupying most of the space, was the long and narrow oblong box.

In advance of the dogs, on wide snowshoes, toiled a man. At the rear of the sled toiled a second man. On the sled, in the box, lay a third man whose toil was over, -- a man whom the Wild had conquered and beaten down until he would never move nor struggle again.

But at front and rear, unawed and indomitable, toiled the two men who were not yet dead. Their bodies were covered with fur and soft-tanned leather. Eyelashes and cheeks and lips were so coated with the crystals from their frozen breath that their faces were not discernible. This gave them the seeming of ghostly masques, undertakers in a spectral world at the funeral of some ghost. But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.

They travelled on without speech, saving their breath for the work of their bodies. On every side was the silence, pressing upon them with a tangible presence.

The pale light of the short sunless day was beginning to fade, when a faint far cry arose on the still air. It soared upward with a swift rush, till it reached its topmost note, where it persisted, palpitant and tense, and then slowly died away. It might have been a lost soul wailing, had it not been invested with a certain sad fierceness and hungry eagerness.

A second cry arose, piercing the silence with needlelike shrillness. Both men located the sound. It was to the rear, somewhere in the snow expanse they had just traversed. A third and answering cry arose, also to the rear and to the left of the second cry.

"They're after us, Bill," said the man at the front.

"Meat is scarce," answered his comrade. "I ain't seen a rabbit sign for days.”

At the fall of darkness they swung the dogs into a cluster of spruce trees on the edge of the waterway and made a camp. The coffin, at the side of the fire, served for seat and table. The wolf-dogs, clustered on the far side of the fire, snarled and bickered among themselves, but evinced no inclination to stray off into the darkness.

- - -

"Henry," said Bill, munching with deliberation the beans he was eating, "How many dogs 've we got, Henry?"

"Six."

"Well, Henry . . ." Bill stopped for a moment, in order that his words might gain greater significance. "As I was sayin', Henry, we've got six dogs. I took six fish out of the bag. I gave one fish to each dog, an', Henry, I was one fish short."

"You counted wrong."

"We've got six dogs," the other reiterated dispassionately. "took out six fish. One Ear didn't get no fish. I come back to the bag afterward an' got 'm his fish."

"We've only got six dogs," Henry said.

"Henry," Bill went on, "I won't say they was all dogs, but there was seven of 'm that got fish."

Henry stopped eating to glance across the fire and count the dogs.

"There's only six now," he said.

"I saw the other one run off across the snow," Bill announced with cool positiveness. "I saw seven.”

Bill opened his mouth to speak, but changed his mind. Instead, he pointed toward the wall of darkness that pressed about them from every side. There was no suggestion of form in the utter blackness; only could be seen a pair of eyes gleaming like live coals. Henry indicated with his head a second pair, and a third. A circle of the gleaming eyes had drawn about their camp.

The author develops the passage’s theme of humans struggling against nature most directly and most strongly in which of the following excerpts?

Possible Answers:

“The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light.” (Paragraph 1)

“But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.” (Paragraph 4)

“The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness.” (Paragraph 1)

“There was no suggestion of form in the utter blackness; only could be seen a pair of eyes gleaming like live coals.” (Paragraph 22)

“This gave them the seeming of ghostly masques, undertakers in a spectral world at the funeral of some ghost.” (Paragraph 4)

Correct answer:

“But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.” (Paragraph 4)

Explanation:

One of the major themes of the passage is the struggle of human explorers in unwelcoming natural environments. The author personifies nature a great deal at the start of the passage to establish this theme and a serious, somber mood. The best answer choice here needs to capture both aspects of the theme—that is, it should directly mention both humans and nature when portraying this struggle.

"The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light.” (Paragraph 1) - This sentence sets up the natural environment as stark and unpleasant, but it doesn't say anything about people, so it's not the best answer.

“The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness.” (Paragraph 1) - This again simply describes the environment and doesn't mention humans at all, so it's not correct either.

"There was no suggestion of form in the utter blackness; only could be seen a pair of eyes gleaming like live coals.” (Paragraph 21)" - This describes the eyes of the wolves that surround the camp at the end of the passage. While this event in the story as a whole develops the theme, this particular sentence is not the best answer choice, as it doesn't directly mention the environment or humans.

“This gave them the seeming of ghostly masques, undertakers in a spectral world at the funeral of some ghost.” (Paragraph 4) - This description describes how the bundled-up men look, but it doesn't mention nature or the environment at all. It's merely descriptive and doesn't directly portray the theme of humans struggling against nature.

“But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.” (Paragraph 4) - This is the correct answer. It mentions both humans ("But under it all they were men . . . puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure") and the environment ("the land of desolation and mockery and silence"). The end of the sentence in particular pits humans directly against their environment.

All Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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