Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze How Complex Characters Drive a Story: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3

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Example Question #1 : Analyze How Complex Characters Drive A Story: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.9 10.3

Adapted from Hung Lou Meng, Book I; or, The Dream of the Red Chamber: A Chinese Novel by Cao Xueqin, (c.1716–1763) (trans. H. Bencraft Joly, 1892–93)

[At this point in the novel, Tai-yü has left her father’s house and traveled to go live with her grandmother.]

Lin Tai-yü had often heard her mother recount how different was her grandmother's house from that of other people's; and having seen for herself how [extravagant] were already the attendants of the three grades, (sent to wait upon her,) in attire, in their fare, in all their articles of use, "how much more," she thought to herself, "now that I am going to her home, must I be careful at every step, and circumspect at every moment! Nor must I utter one word too many, nor make one step more than is proper, for fear lest I should be ridiculed by any of them!”

. . .

An entrance hall stood in the center, in the middle of which was a door-screen of Ta Li marble, set in an ebony frame. In the [courtyard] were five parlors, the frieze of the ceiling of which was all carved, and the pillars ornamented. In the side-rooms were suspended cages, full of parrots of every color, thrushes, and birds of every description.

Three or four [waiting maids] forthwith vied with each other in raising the door curtain, while at the same time was heard some one announce: "Miss Lin has arrived."

No sooner had she entered the room, than she espied two servants supporting a venerable lady, with silver-white hair, coming forward to greet her. Convinced that this lady must be her grandmother, she was about to prostrate herself and pay her obeisance, when she was quickly clasped in the arms of her grandmother, who held her close against her bosom; and as she called her "My liver! My flesh!" (My love! My darling!) she began to sob aloud.

The bystanders too, at once, without one exception, melted into tears; and Tai-yü herself found some difficulty in restraining her sobs. Little by little the whole party succeeded in consoling her, and Tai-yü at length paid her obeisance to her grandmother. Her ladyship thereupon pointed them out one by one to Tai-yü. "This," she said, "is the wife of your uncle, your mother's elder brother; this is the wife of your uncle, her second brother; and this is your eldest sister-in-law Chu, the wife of your senior cousin Chu."

Tai-yü bowed to each one of them with folded arms.

"Ask the young ladies in," dowager lady Chia went on to say. "Tell them a guest from afar has just arrived, one who comes for the first time; and that they may not go to their lessons."

Not long after three nurses and five or six waiting-maids were seen ushering in three young ladies. In their head ornaments, jewelry, and dress, the get-up of the three young ladies was identical.

Tai-yü speedily rose to greet them and to exchange salutations. After they had made each other's acquaintance, they all took a seat, whereupon the servants brought the tea. Their conversation was confined to Tai-yü's mother—how she had fallen ill, what doctors had attended her, what medicines had been given her, and how she had been buried and mourned. Dowager lady Chia was naturally again in great anguish.

"Of all my daughters," she remarked, "your mother was the one I loved best, and now in a twinkle, she has passed away, before me too, and I've not been able to so much as see her face. How can this not make my heart sore-stricken?"

And as she gave vent to these feelings, she took Tai-yü's hand in hers, and again gave way to sobs, and it was only after the members of the family had quickly made use of much exhortation and coaxing that they succeeded, little by little, in stopping her tears.

They all perceived that Tai-yü, despite her youthful years and appearance, was ladylike in her deportment and address, and that though with her delicate figure and countenance, she seemed as if unable to bear the very weight of her clothes, she possessed, however, a certain captivating air. And as they readily noticed the symptoms of a weak constitution, they went on in consequence to make inquiries as to what medicines she ordinarily took, and how it was that her complaint had not been cured.

Hardly had she finished [replying], when a sound of laughter was heard from the back courtyard. "Here I am too late!" the voice said, "and not in time to receive the distant visitor!"

"Every one of all these people," reflected Tai-yü, "holds her peace and suppresses the very breath of her mouth; and who, I wonder, is this coming in this reckless and rude manner?"

The attire of this person bore no similarity to that of the young ladies. In all her splendor and luster, she looked like a fairy or a goddess. On her person, she wore a tight-sleeved jacket, of dark red flowered satin, covered with hundreds of butterflies, embroidered in gold, interspersed with flowers. Her stature was elegant; her figure graceful; her powdered face like dawning spring, majestic, yet not haughty.

Tai-yü eagerly rose and greeted her. She was just at a loss how to address her, when all her cousins informed Tai-yü, that this was her sister-in-law Lien.

Tai-yü lost no time in returning her smile and saluting her with all propriety, addressing her as "my sister-in-law." [Lien] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinized her, for a while, from head to foot, after which she led her back next to dowager lady Chia, where they both took a seat.

Which of the following excerpts provides evidence that Tai-yü's sister-in-law Lien is concerned with the details of others' appearances, not only her own?

Possible Answers:

"Hardly had she finished [replying], when a sound of laughter was heard from the back courtyard. 'Here I am too late!" the voice said, "and not in time to receive the distant visitor!'"

"Her stature was elegant; her figure graceful; her powdered face like dawning spring, majestic, yet not haughty."

"[She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised her, for a while, from head to foot; after which she led her back next to dowager lady Chia, where they both took a seat."

"On her person, she wore a tight-sleeved jacket, of dark red flowered satin, covered with hundreds of butterflies, embroidered in gold, interspersed with flowers."

Correct answer:

"[She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised her, for a while, from head to foot; after which she led her back next to dowager lady Chia, where they both took a seat."

Explanation:

Lien is only introduced at the end of the passage, so this narrows the part of the passage we have to analyze. Let's consider her introduction now. Tai-yü is talking with her relatives who have arrived to meet her on time when Lien is introduced:

Hardly had she finished [replying], when a sound of laughter was heard from the back courtyard. "Here I am too late!" the voice said, "and not in time to receive the distant visitor!"

"Every one of all these people," reflected Tai-yü, "holds her peace and suppresses the very breath of her mouth; and who, I wonder, is this coming in this reckless and rude manner?"

The attire of this person bore no similarity to that of the young ladies. In all her splendor and luster, she looked like a fairy or a goddess. On her person, she wore a tight-sleeved jacket, of dark red flowered satin, covered with hundreds of butterflies, embroidered in gold, interspersed with flowers. Her stature was elegant; her figure graceful; her powdered face like dawning spring, majestic, yet not haughty.

Tai-yü eagerly rose and greeted her. She was just at a loss how to address her, when all her cousins informed Tai-yü, that this was her sister-in-law Lien.

Tai-yü lost no time in returning her smile and saluting her with all propriety, addressing her as my sister-in-law. [She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised her, for a while, from head to foot; after which she led her back next to dowager lady Chia, where they both took a seat.

To answer this question correctly, you need to pay attention to what it is asking specifically. It is not asking for evidence that Lien is concerned with the details of her own appearance: it is asking for evidence that in addition to that, she is concerned with the details of others' appearances. If you misread the question and thought that it was asking for evidence that Lien is concerned with the details of her own appearance, "On her person, she wore a tight-sleeved jacket, of dark red flowered satin, covered with hundreds of butterflies, embroidered in gold, interspersed with flowers." might seem like a potentially correct answer choice, as it describes the details of Lien's appearance and suggests that she has paid attention to these details; however, this is not the correct answer. Neither is the sentence describing Lien's laugh at arriving late to meet Tai-yü, nor is the answer choice describing Lien's stature and face. These have nothing to do with the appearances of others.

The only answer choice that provides evidence that Lien cares about the details of others' appearances is "[She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised her, for a while, from head to foot; after which she led her back next to dowager lady Chia, where they both took a seat." In this sentence, Lien "minutely scrutiniz[es]" Tai-yü; that is, she considers the details of her appearance very carefully. This could serve as evidence supporting the claim that Lien cares about the details of others' appearances.

All Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 19 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
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