Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze Authorial Point of View and How Author Responds to Conflicting Perspectives: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.6

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Example Question #1 : Analyze Authorial Point Of View And How Author Responds To Conflicting Perspectives: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.8.6

Adapted from “Introduced Species That Have Become Pests” in Our Vanishing Wild Life, Its Extermination and Protection by William Temple Hornaday (1913)

The man who successfully introduces into a new habitat any species of living thing assumes a very grave responsibility. Every introduced species is doubtful gravel until panned out. The enormous losses that have been inflicted upon the world through the perpetuation of follies with wild animals and plants would, if added together, be enough to purchase a principality. The most aggravating feature of these follies in transplantation is that never yet have they been made severely punishable. We are just as careless and easygoing on this point as we were about the government of Yellowstone Park in the days when Howell and other poachers destroyed our first national bison herd. Even though Howell was caught red-handed, skinning seven Park bison cows, he could not be punished for it, because there was no penalty prescribed by any law. Today, there is a way in which any revengeful person could inflict enormous damage on the entire South, at no cost to himself, involve those states in enormous losses and the expenditure of vast sums of money, yet go absolutely unpunished!

The gypsy moth is a case in point. This winged calamity was imported near Boston by a French entomologist, Mr. Leopold Trouvelot, in 1868 or 69. The scientist did not purposely set the pest free. He was endeavoring with live specimens to find a moth that would produce a cocoon of commercial value to America, and a sudden gust of wind blew his living and breeding specimens of the gypsy moth out of his study through an open window. The moth itself is not bad to look at, but its larvae is a great, overgrown brute with an appetite like a hog. Immediately Mr. Trouvelot sought to recover his specimens. When he failed to find them all, he notified the State authorities of the accident. Every effort was made to recover all the specimens, but enough escaped to produce progeny that soon became a scourge to the trees of Massachusetts. The method of the big, nasty-looking mottled-brown caterpillar was very simple. It devoured the entire foliage of every tree that grew in its sphere of influence.

The gypsy moth spread with alarming rapidity and persistence. In time, the state of Massachusetts was forced to begin a relentless war upon it, by poisonous sprays and by fire. It was awful! Up to this date (1912) the New England states and the United States Government service have expended in fighting this pest about $7,680,000!

The spread of this pest has been slowed, but the gypsy moth never will be wholly stamped out. Today it exists in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, and it is due to reach New York at an early date. It is steadily spreading in three directions from Boston, its original point of departure, and when it strikes the State of New York, we, too, will begin to pay dearly for the Trouvelot experiment.

How does the author feel about Howell?

Possible Answers:

The author likes Howell because he helped identify a problem with the consequences available for environmental disruptors.

The author thinks that Howell made a great mistake in releasing gypsy moths into the United States.

The author agrees with Howell that invasive species are often problematic.

The author greatly dislikes Howell for his audacious disrespect for nature.

The author is annoyed by Howell’s insistence that invasive species do not cause significant problems.

Correct answer:

The author greatly dislikes Howell for his audacious disrespect for nature.

Explanation:

Let’s look at the part of the first paragraph in which the author brings up Howell, paying attention to why he does so:

We are just as careless and easygoing on this point as we were about the government of Yellowstone Park in the days when Howell and other poachers destroyed our first national bison herd. Even though Howell was caught red-handed, skinning seven Park bison cows, he could not be punished for it, because there was no penalty prescribed by any law. Today, there is a way in which any revengeful person could inflict enormous damage on the entire South, at no cost to himself, involve those states in enormous losses and the expenditure of vast sums of money, yet go absolutely unpunished!

In mentioning Howell, the author is providing an example supporting his argument that harsher legal penalties are necessary for those who harm the environment. The author describes Howell as a “poacher” who “destroyed our first national bison herd” and was “caught red-handed.” From this, we can tell that the best answer choice is “the author greatly dislikes Howell for his audacious disrespect for nature.” 

One of the other answer choices attempts to get you to confuse Howell with Mr. Trouvelot, who released the gypsy moths—don’t fall for that! Check the passage if you are worried at all about confusing the two so you can avoid pitfall answers like that one.

Example Question #2 : Analyze Authorial Point Of View And How Author Responds To Conflicting Perspectives: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.8.6

Adapted from "Save the Redwoods" by John Muir in Sierra Club Bulletin Volume XI Number 1 (January 1920)

Forty-seven years ago one of these Calaveras King Sequoias was laboriously cut down, that the stump might be had for a dancing-floor. Another, one of the finest in the grove, was skinned alive to a height of one hundred and sixteen feet and the bark sent to London to show how fine and big that Calaveras tree was—as sensible a scheme as skinning our great men would be to prove their greatness. Now some millmen want to cut all the Calaveras trees into lumber and money. No doubt these trees would make good lumber after passing through a sawmill, as George Washington after passing through the hands of a French cook would have made good food. But both for Washington and the tree that bears his name higher uses have been found.

Could one of these Sequoia Kings come to town in all its godlike majesty so as to be strikingly seen and allowed to plead its own cause, there would never again be any lack of defenders. And the same may be said of all the other Sequoia groves and forests of the Sierra with their companions and the noble Sequoia sempervirens, or redwood, of the coast mountains.

In these noble groves and forests to the southward of the Calaveras Grove the axe and saw have long been busy, and thousands of the finest Sequoias have been felled, blasted into manageable dimensions, and sawed into lumber by methods destructive almost beyond belief, while fires have spread still wider and more lamentable ruin. In the course of my explorations twenty-five years ago, I found five sawmills located on or near the lower margin of the Sequoia belt, all of which were cutting more or less [Sequoia gigantea] lumber, which looks like the redwood of the coast, and was sold as redwood. One of the smallest of these mills in the season of 1874 sawed two million feet of Sequoia lumber. Since that time other mills have been built among the Sequoias, notably the large ones on Kings River and the head of the Fresno. The destruction of these grand trees is still going on.

Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot defend themselves or run away. And few destroyers of trees ever plant any; nor can planting avail much toward restoring our grand aboriginal giants. It took more than three thousand years to make some of the oldest of the Sequoias, trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra.

At one point in the first paragraph, the author makes a concession to his opponents, telling the reader that they are correct about some aspect of the debate at hand. Which of the following most accurately describes this concession?

Possible Answers:

The author suggests that cutting down Sequoia trees to provide entertainment spaces like dancing-floors is a worthwhile endeavor, as it encourages people to appreciate the trees surrounding the area.

The author suggests that cutting down trees for scientific study is a logical reason to fell them.

The author agrees with the opposition only to set up for a comparison that makes the idea of using Sequoia trees for lumber look shockingly ridiculous and disgusting.

The author admits that despite his claims, not all of the Sequoia trees in the grove have been protected: some have been cut down.

The author admits that not everyone wants to cut the Sequoias down for lumber—some people want to protect them.

Correct answer:

The author agrees with the opposition only to set up for a comparison that makes the idea of using Sequoia trees for lumber look shockingly ridiculous and disgusting.

Explanation:

To answer this question, we'll need to identify the concession that the author makes in the first paragraph. At what point does the author admit that the people he's arguing against are right about something?

Forty-seven years ago one of these Calaveras King Sequoias was laboriously cut down, that the stump might be had for a dancing-floor. Another, one of the finest in the grove, was skinned alive to a height of one hundred and sixteen feet and the bark sent to London to show how fine and big that Calaveras tree was—as sensible a scheme as skinning our great men would be to prove their greatness. Now some millmen want to cut all the Calaveras trees into lumber and money. No doubt these trees would make good lumber after passing through a sawmill, as George Washington after passing through the hands of a French cook would have made good food. But both for Washington and the tree that bears his name higher uses have been found.

The only time the author says that his opponents are correct is when he states, "No doubt these trees would make good lumber after passing through a sawmill." After this, he continues, "as George Washington after passing through the hands of a French cook would have made good food." The end of that sentence makes the idea of using Sequoia trees for lumber look like a horrifying and terrible idea. Which answer choice reflects this? The best answer is "The author agrees with the opposition only to set up for a comparison that makes the idea of using Sequoia trees for lumber look shockingly ridiculous and disgusting."

Example Question #3 : Analyze Authorial Point Of View And How Author Responds To Conflicting Perspectives: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.8.6

Passage 1

It’s a great time to be green! Environmentally friendly practices have become very popular with shoppers. Business owners can capitalize on this trend by accurately advertising how their products are good for the environment, such as by using recycled materials.

Many shoppers associate the color green with sustainability. So, consider using eye-catching green details on your products when describing how they help the environment. You may want to incorporate symbols of nature into your advertising as well. Popular symbols associated with sustainability include leaves, trees, and flowers. These details may not seem important, but they are. The visual way in which a sustainability claim is made can make the difference between a shopper trying your product or leaving it on the shelf.

Some people want to regulate sustainability claims. This is a bad idea. Increased regulation would be an unnecessary burden on businesses. It would slow the time it takes them to adapt to trends. If every advertising decision had to be approved by a regulating body, a lot of time would be wasted. Just think how ridiculous it would be if you wanted to use a blue logo instead of a red one and had to fill out paperwork approving that decision! The threat of increased regulation is all the more reason to emphasize the greenness of your products today.

 

Passage 2

Environmentalism has become very popular lately. As a result, many products are emphasizing “green” status—that is, how they help protect the environment. This trend has been accompanied by an ugly shadow: “greenwashing.” “Greenwashing” is the practice of making false claims about a product’s sustainability. Companies can say that a product is “greener” than it really is. These false claims are made so that the product can appeal to shoppers.

As a result, shoppers have become less confident about all sustainability claims. There’s no way to tell from packaging and advertisements if a product is actually helping the environment or just claiming to do so. And it’s not easy to research products in the aisles of a supermarket or department store! It’s certainly extra work that many shoppers won’t do. Instead, they ignore “green” claims completely.

Competition and “greenwashing” have also encouraged companies to prioritize appearing green over actually being green. As a result, money is spent on making products appear to be something they are not instead of on actually improving the products and making them more sustainable.

So, what can we do? We need to start by regulating sustainability claims. This way, consumers can be confident that claims they see are true, since false claims would not be allowed on packaging. This will be a step in the right direction.

Passage 1 directly responds to an opposing argument by presenting which of the following points as evidence?

Possible Answers:

In some cases, money is being spent on making businesses appear to be more sustainable than they actually are.

Claims about sustainability need to be green in color and use a symbol associated with nature to be effective.

Consumers need to be encouraged to do more research about the products they buy.

Increased regulation will result in businesses reacting more slowly to market patterns.

“Greenwashing” businesses will take too long and not do much good.

Correct answer:

Increased regulation will result in businesses reacting more slowly to market patterns.

Explanation:

We can make this question a lot simpler if we first identify where in Passage 1 a counterargument is addressed. There is only one part of the entire passage in which the passage addresses an opposing argument: the third paragraph, shown below.

Some people want to regulate sustainability claims. This is a bad idea. Increased regulation would be an unnecessary burden on businesses. It would slow the time it takes them to adapt to trends. If every advertising decision had to be approved by a regulating body, a lot of time would be wasted. Just think how ridiculous it would be if you wanted to use a blue logo instead of a red one and had to fill out paperwork approving that decision! The threat of increased regulation is all the more reason to emphasize the greenness of your products today.

Let's analyze this paragraph a bit: the argument that the passage opposes is the regulation of sustainability claims. The paragraph presents the argument in its first sentence: "Some people want to regulate sustainability claims." After this, it immediately opposes this view, stating, "This is a bad idea." It is at this particular point that we need to look for the evidence that the passage presents as to why the claim it opposes is incorrect—that is, why it is a bad idea to regulate sustainability claims. The passage says, "Increased regulation would be an unnecessary burden on businesses. It would slow the time it takes them to adapt to trends." This is all we need to answer the question! These sentences present the idea summarized in the answer choice "Increased regulation will result in businesses reacting more slowly to market patterns." This is the correct answer!

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