Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze How Contrast Between Character and Reader Points of View Generates Effects: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.6

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Example Question #1 : Analyze How Contrast Between Character And Reader Points Of View Generates Effects: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.6

Adapted from "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity1. A wrong is unredressed2 when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation3.

He had a weak point — this Fortunato — although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself upon his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practice imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; — I was skillful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.

I said to him — “My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking today. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado? A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full AmonAftillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”

“Amontillado!”

“I have my doubts.”

“Amontillado!” 

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me ——”

“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry4.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

 

1. "Impunity," n. immunity from punishment
2. The verb "redress," not directly used in the passage, means to amend or rectify a wrong
3. "Immolation," n. utter destruction, esp. that of a sacrificial victim by being burned
4. "Sherry," n. a type of fortified wine

What does the reader learn in the first three paragraphs that creates suspense for the rest of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Fortunato is an expert on Italian wine.

Fortunato only pretends to be an expert on gems and paintings.

The narrator wants to punish Fortunato.

Fortunato insulted the narrator.

Both Fortunato and the narrator are experts on Italian wine.

Correct answer:

The narrator wants to punish Fortunato.

Explanation:

This story can be pretty confusing because of the way it dramatically shifts topics. For the first three paragraphs, the narrator tells the reader how he wants to get revenge on Fortunato because Fortunato went too far in insulting him somehow. (We never learn just what it is Fortunato did that made the narrator so mad at him.) The narrator calmly explains that he thinks the best revenge is total in nature ("I must not only punish but punish with impunity.") and that it takes place when the person taking revenge is revealed to the person receiving it ("It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.") We then learn that the narrator has given Fortunato no clue that he is seeking revenge against him. Readers get the idea that this revenge is going to be extremely severe when the author uses the word "immolation," a very strong word, to describe it: "I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation."

After this, the narrator explains that Fortunato has a weakness—he prides himself on being a wine expert. This is the "weak point" that the narrator will make use of in enacting his revenge. After this, we jump to the events of the story, during a carnival, when the narrator runs into Fortunato and tells him about a cask of amontillado he has obtained. So, what do we learn in the first three paragraphs that makes this interaction suspenseful? We're waiting to see how the narrator enacts his revenge, and if Fortunato can escape the narrator's plot or realize that the narrator has ulterior motives. "Fortunato insulted the narrator" might look like a good answer choice, but we wouldn't be reading a very long story if the narrator simply forgave Fortunato for insulting him. Instead, the narrator is out for revenge, and it's this realization that gives the suspenseful heft to the rest of the action that follows. If we didn't know this, we wouldn't be able to realize that the narrator isn't earnest in his interaction with Fortunato and has other plans in mind in order to get revenge. "The narrator wants to punish Fortunato" is the answer that encapsulates this.

Example Question #2 : Analyze How Contrast Between Character And Reader Points Of View Generates Effects: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.6

Adapted from "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity1. A wrong is unredressed2 when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation3.

He had a weak point — this Fortunato — although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself upon his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practice imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; — I was skillful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.

I said to him — “My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking today. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado? A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”

“Amontillado!”

“I have my doubts.”

“Amontillado!” 

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me ——”

“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry4.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

 

1. "Impunity," n. immunity from punishment
2. The verb "redress," not directly used in the passage, means to amend or rectify a wrong
3. "Immolation," n. utter destruction, esp. that of a sacrificial victim by being burned
4. "Sherry," n. a type of fortified wine

"Fortunato" means fortunate or lucky in Italian. Why is this an ironic choice of name for the character Fortunato in Poe's story?

Possible Answers:

Fortunato is not lucky because he has not been able to prove himself more intelligent than Luchesi. 

Fortunato is not lucky because he is oblivious to the grave danger that he is in.

Fortunato is lucky to run into the narrator at random during the carnival.

Only the audience knows that Fortunato is lucky; the narrator has no idea of this.

Fortunato is not lucky because it is the narrator, not he, who obtained the amontillado.

Correct answer:

Fortunato is not lucky because he is oblivious to the grave danger that he is in.

Explanation:

Much of this story's potency derives from its use of irony. Simply put, irony occurs when what the reader sees or is led to expect is very different from or the opposite of what turns out to be the case. In this case, the name "Fortunato" sounds like it should refer to a character who is in some way fortunate or lucky; however, the choice of name is ironic because that's not what we as readers get from the story. We can immediately knock out the answer choices "Only the audience knows that Fortunato is lucky; the narrator has no idea of this" and "Fortunato is lucky to run into the narrator at random during the carnival" because if we expect Fortunato to be lucky and he is lucky, that's not ironic at all. How is Fortunato not as lucky as we expect him to be in this story? Well, the narrator is out to get revenge on him, and he has absolutely no idea of this in the passage that we read. That's not very lucky at all! "Fortunato is not lucky because he has not been able to prove himself more intelligent than Luchesi" isn't correct because we have no evidence that this is true, and "Fortunato is not lucky because it is the narrator, not he, who obtained the amontillado" isn't correct either. This is a lack of luck, but we the irony is created by expecting good luck for the character and seeing him receive terrible luck. The narrator is out to get revenge on Fortunato, but Fortunato doesn't know that he's about to be a victim of the narrator's plotting. That's pretty terrible luck! "Fortunato is not lucky because he is oblivious to the grave danger that he is in" is the correct answer.

Example Question #3 : Analyze How Contrast Between Character And Reader Points Of View Generates Effects: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.6

Adapted from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlor next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to, only look up sudden and fierce and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. 

I was far less afraid of the captain than anybody else who knew him. There were nights when he would sometimes sit and sing his wicked, old, wild sea-songs, minding nobody; but sometimes he would call for glasses round and force all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear a chorus to his singing. His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were—about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main. By his own account he must have lived his life among some of the wickedest men upon the sea, and the language in which he told these stories shocked our plain country people almost as much as the crimes that he described. My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe his presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country life, and there was even a party of the younger men who pretended to admire him, calling him a "true sea-dog" and a "real old salt" and such like names, and saying there was the sort of man that made England terrible at sea.

What effect does the underlined selection have on the story?

Possible Answers:

It explains why the narrator's father likes the guest so much.

It introduces new details explaining why the narrator is eager to see the guest leave.

It introduces a new character.

It explains why the guest is so unlike the rest of the local population.

It allows the narrative to turn from a negative to a positive perspective on the guest's stay.

Correct answer:

It allows the narrative to turn from a negative to a positive perspective on the guest's stay.

Explanation:

The underlined excerpt is this:

My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe his presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country life . . .

This excerpt immediately follows the narrator's description of how the sailor staying at his family's inn would scare the other visitors by singing "wild sea-songs" or "forc[ing] all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear a chorus to his singing." We're told in specific that "his stories frightened people most of all." Then, after some detail about what the stories concerned, the excerpt appears. In it, the narrator's father sees the sailor's actions as a bad influence on the popularity of the inn. This is a negative way of looking at the stay of the sailor and his actions. The narrator's point of view is different, though: he disagrees, as we can see with the underlined sentence turning on the conjunction "but". The narrator thinks that "[the sailor's] presence did us good" because even though other patrons were scared of being around the sailor, "on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country life." 

The best answer can't be "It explains why the narrator's father likes the guest so much" because the underlined sentence tells us that the narrator's father does not like the sailor. Furthermore, the best answer can't be "It introduces new details explaining why the narrator is eager to see the sailor leave" because the narrator likes the excitement the sailor brings to the inn; we can't claim that he's eager to see him leave. The excerpt doesn't introduce a new character, nor does it "[explain] why the guest is so unlike the rest of the local population." This latter answer is a bit tricky, because the excerpt presents two perspectives on the fact that the sailor is so different from the local population; however, that's not what the excerpt is about, it's the subject of the sentences that come before the underlined one. The best answer is "It allows the narrative to turn from a negative to a positive perspective on the guest's stay." The underlined sentence presents the perspective of the narrator's father first, and he wants the sailor to leave because he's worried about other guests being driven away by his strange antics. That's the negative perspective; it then turns to the positive perspective of the narrator, who thinks the sailor's behavior is exciting.

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