Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze How Plot Incidents Drive a Story: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.3

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All Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyze How Plot Incidents Drive A Story: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.3

Adapted from Pinocchio by Carl Collodi (1883)

There was once upon a time a piece of wood in the shop of an old carpenter named Master Antonio. Everybody, however, called him Master Cherry, on account of the end of his nose, which was always as red and polished as a ripe cherry.

No sooner had Master Cherry set eyes on the piece of wood than his face beamed with delight, and, rubbing his hands together with satisfaction, he said softly to himself:

"This wood has come at the right moment; it will just do to make the leg of a little table."

He immediately took a sharp axe with which to remove the bark and the rough surface, but just as he was going to give the first stroke he heard a very small voice say imploringly, "Do not strike me so hard!"

He turned his terrified eyes all around the room to try and discover where the little voice could possibly have come from, but he saw nobody! He looked under the bench—nobody; he looked into a cupboard that was always shut—nobody; he looked into a basket of shavings and sawdust—nobody; he even opened the door of the shop and gave a glance into the street—and still nobody. Who, then, could it be?

"I see how it is," he said, laughing and scratching his wig, "evidently that little voice was all my imagination. Let us set to work again."

And, taking up the axe, he struck a tremendous blow on the piece of wood.

"Oh! oh! you have hurt me!" cried the same little voice dolefully.

This time Master Cherry was petrified. His eyes started out of his head with fright, his mouth remained open, and his tongue hung out almost to the end of his chin, like a mask on a fountain. As soon as he had recovered the use of his speech he began to say, stuttering and trembling with fear:

"But where on earth can that little voice have come from that said 'Oh! oh!'? Is it possible that this piece of wood can have learned to cry and to lament like a child? I cannot believe it. This piece of wood is nothing but a log for fuel like all the others, and thrown on the fire it would about suffice to boil a saucepan of beans. How then? Can anyone be hidden inside it? If anyone is hidden inside, so much the worse for him. I will settle him at once."

So saying, he seized the poor piece of wood and commenced beating it without mercy against the walls of the room.

Then he stopped to listen if he could hear any little voice lamenting. He waited two minutes—nothing; five minutes—nothing; ten minutes—still nothing!

"I see how it is," he then said, forcing himself to laugh, and pushing up his wig; "evidently the little voice that said 'Oh! oh!' was all my imagination! Let us set to work again."

Putting the axe aside, he took his plane, to plane and polish the bit of wood; but whilst he was running it up and down he heard the same little voice say, laughing:

"Stop! you are tickling me all over!"

This time poor Master Cherry fell down as if he had been struck by lightning. When he at last opened his eyes he found himself seated on the floor.

His face was changed, even the end of his nose, instead of being crimson, as it was nearly always, had become blue from fright.

Why did everyone refer to Master Antonio as "Master Cherry"?

Possible Answers:

Master Antonio was called "Master Cherry" because his nose was always red.

Master Antonio was called "Master Cherry" because his cheeks were always red. 

Master Antonio was called "Master Cherry" because his favorite color was red. 

Master Antonio was called "Master Cherry" because he liked ripe cherries. 

Correct answer:

Master Antonio was called "Master Cherry" because his nose was always red.

Explanation:

We are introduced to Master Antonio in the first paragraph in the passage, and we learn how he received his nickname: 

"There was once upon a time a piece of wood in the shop of an old carpenter named Master Antonio. Everybody, however, called him Master Cherry, on account of the end of his nose, which was always as red and polished as a ripe cherry."

Example Question #2 : Analyze How Plot Incidents Drive A Story: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.3

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

Why, after the narrator mentions Luchesi, does Fortunato agree to go with the narrator?

Possible Answers:

Fortunato desires to prove himself more knowledgeable than Luchresi.

Fortunato wants to meet Luchresi and learn from him.

Fortunato wants to make Luchresi look foolish by drawing attention to a mistake Luchesi made.

Fortunato wants to make sure Luchresi doesn't know that the narrator purchased the amontillado.

Fortunato wants to make sure that Luchresi does not get to enjoy the carnival.

Correct answer:

Fortunato desires to prove himself more knowledgeable than Luchresi.

Explanation:

Let's take a look at the moment in the story at which this exchange takes place. The narrator has told Fortunato about having acquired "a pipe of what passes for Amontillado."

 

“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.”

 

Remembering one more detail from earlier in the story helps to ground this conversation: at the start of the third paragraph, we're told by the narrator, "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." What meaning does all of this allow us to make from the above conversation, specifically about how Fortunato reacts to hearing Luchresi mentioned? Well, the narrator is talking about not being sure that the amontillado he has purchased is actually amontillado. He mentions that he "was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter." This tells us a few things: real amontillado is expensive, and the narrator would normally have consulted Fortunato before purchasing amontillado. Why is that? Presumably to make sure that he's purchasing real amontillado. After this part of the conversation, the narrator adds, "As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he." Here, we see that the narrator has turned to Luchresi for help in identifying if the amontillado is real or not. To this, Fortunato replies, "Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry." After insulting Luchresi's expertise, Fortunato tells the narrator that they are going to the narrator's vaults, presumably to ascertain the authenticity of the amontillado. What would motivate Fortunato to do this? We know that he "pride[s]" himself on his knowledge of wine, so hearing the narrator say that he is going to rely on someone else's expertise is enough to make Fortunato defensive. He wants to be the expert the narrator consults, so he jumps in and interrupts the narrator's working with Luchresi. Based on this reasoning, we can confidently answer that "Fortunato desires to prove himself more knowledgeable than Luchresi."

Example Question #3 : Analyze How Plot Incidents Drive A Story: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.3

Adapted from “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” in Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1865; 1900)

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

According to what the poem directly states, what effect does the narrator’s going to look at the stars have on him?

Possible Answers:

It makes him want to go back to the lecture-room.

It makes him feel better instead of tired and sick.

It makes him lose interest in the stars altogether.

It makes him very happy.

It makes him feel tired and sick.

Correct answer:

It makes him feel better instead of tired and sick.

Explanation:

This question requires you to read the poem very carefully. It actually focuses on one particular word! As you start to answer it, you need to orient yourself in the poem: where should you look for the answer? You're being asked about the effect of the narrator's going out to look at the stars, so you know that the answer will be found in the latter part of the poem, not in the first part where the narrator is interacting with the astronomer. After the narrator listens to the astronomer,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

The narrator relates how he feels "tired and sick" in line 5, so our answer has to come after that, since it's the cause and the answer is the effect. The narrator certainly doesn't give any indication that he wants to return to the lecture-room, and he doesn't lose interest in the stars altogether. It's listening to the astronomer that seems to have made him feel "tired and sick," not going out to look at the stars, so that's not the correct answer either. Does looking at the stars make the narrator very happy? You might expect this, but the poem doesn't say anything of the sort, and we need to stick to what the poem actually says, as per the question stem. You can identify the correct answer by noticing the word "Till" that begins line 6. "Till" is another way of saying "until." The narrator tells us that he felt tired and sick until he went out to look at the stars by himself. This allows us to infer that looking at the stars helps the narrator feel better (less tired and sick), which is the correct answer.

All Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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