Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts : Determine Figurative and Connotative Word Meanings and Analyze Cumulative Effects of Word Choice: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.4

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All Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #3 : Reading: Literature

Adapted from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it, and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile, and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot—say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance—literally to astonish his son's weak mind.

In which of the passage's paragraphs is the narrator's particular voice and perspective most apparent?

Possible Answers:

Paragraph 1

Paragraph 3

Paragraph 4

Paragraph 2

Correct answer:

Paragraph 2

Explanation:

This passage is presented in first-person perspective from the point-of-view of a narrator who uses the pronoun "I." The narrator's particular voice and perspective is conveyed throughout the passage, but most strongly in the second paragraph, where he follows a tangent about the use of the phrase "dead as a door-nail" at the end of the first paragraph.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile, and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

This tangent emphasizes the narrator's authorial perspective, in that he is discussing the reasons behind his use of the phrase "dead as a door-nail" and not some other phrase, despite his thoughts on the phrase. ("I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade"). Because the second paragraph focuses on the narrator's perspective and reasoning behind his use of a certain phrase, the correct answer is that it is the second paragraph in which the narrator's particular voice and perspective are most apparent.

Example Question #4 : Reading: Literature

Adapted from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it, and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile, and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot—say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance—literally to astonish his son's weak mind.

Which of the following does NOT accurately describe the effect(s) of the author's choice and sequence of words in the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

The repetition emphasizes the fact that Scrooge was really the only person with whom Marley associated over a long period of time.

The author's word choice suggests that Scrooge and Marley were involved in business, legal, and/or financial pursuits together.

The order in which the sentence presents its options suggests that Scrooge valued his role as Marley's sole mourner more than his business associations with Marley.

The sequence of the underlined sentence, at the end of the sentence, redirects the reader's attention to Marley's death.

Correct answer:

The order in which the sentence presents its options suggests that Scrooge valued his role as Marley's sole mourner more than his business associations with Marley.

Explanation:

The author has chosen with case the order in which he presents various descriptors in the indicated sentence:

Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain.

To make this question more complex, three of its answer choices are true statements about the effect of the author's choice and sequence of words, and it's your job to pick out the one answer choice that is not correct. Let's consider each of them:

"The sequence of the underlined sentence, at the end of the sentence, redirects the reader's attention to Marley's death." - This is true. The author concludes the repetition of "his sole _____" noun phrases with "sole mourner," which redirects the reader to consider Marley's death. This acts as a transition into the next sentence, which describes how Scrooge reacted to Marley's death. This statement is true, so this answer choice isn't the correct one.

"The author's word choice suggests that Scrooge and Marley were involved in business, legal, and/or financial pursuits together." - This statement is also true. The author uses terms like "executor," "administrator," "assign," and "residuary legatee." This very specific language conveys to the reader that Scrooge and Marley were involved in business, legal, and/or financial pursuits together.

"The repetition emphasizes the fact that Scrooge was one of the only people, if not the only person Marley was moderately close to." - This is another accurate statement. Scrooge's roles in relation to Marley span from legal and business jargon terms to his only friend as well as his only mourner. The author's choice to present this information in the form of a repeating list emphasized the word "sole," and conveys that Scrooge was one of the only people if not the only person Marley was moderately close to.

"The order in which the sentence presents its options suggests that Scrooge valued his role as Marley's sole assign more than his status as Marley's sole residuary legatee." - This answer choice is not accurate, so it is the correct answer. The sentence states that Scrooge was Marley's "sole mourner" at the end, whereas it states his business associations first. Scrooge's status as Marley's "sole mourner" is emphasized because it appears at the end of the sentence, and Scrooge's status as Marley's friend is emphasized because it does not employ jargon like the four preceding phrases do; however, nothing about the sentence order suggests that Scrooge values one of the roles related with jargon above any of the other roles related with jargon.

Example Question #5 : Reading: Literature

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.

Based on the way in which the bolded and underlined word "obeisance" is used in the fourth and fifth paragraphs, it is closest in meaning to which of the following?

Possible Answers:

a bill charged to an entire family

a favor

respects

a debt of tangible money

Correct answer:

respects

Explanation:

It's ok if you don't know what the word "obeisance" means when you first read this question. Your prior knowledge of the word's meaning isn't what the question is testing. Instead, it is testing whether you can figure out what "obeisance" has to mean based on the specific way in which it is used in the passage. In order to figure this out, you'll need to use context clues. "Context" refers to the specific situation in which something is interpreted or located. In this case, the "context" of a word is its surrounding sentences and paragraphs.

The paragraph in which "obeisance" is first used appears just after Tai-yü is announced:

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.

Even seeing how the word is used in the sentence, you may be able to come up with several potentially correct answers on your own; however, only four answer choices are presented to you. It's your job to pick out which one of those potential meanings makes sense as the meaning of the word. Nothing in the passage mentions anything about Tai-yü carrying any money with her; plus, we can infer that since Tai-yü mistakes another woman for her grandmother initially, she does not know her. It would be somewhat unlikely that she owes her grandmother money when she has never met her. Based on this evidence, "obeisance" probably does not mean "a debt of tangible money." Similarly, no context is provided that would support the answer choice "a bill charged to an entire family."

"A favor" could potentially make sense as a meaning of obeisance in this sentence if it were more specific. As is, nothing is mentioned about Tai-yü doing her grandmother a favor; in addition, this is highly unlikely, as it seems the two of them are meeting for the first time in the passage.

This leaves us with one remaining answer choice: "respects." Note the specific sentence in which "obeisance" is first used:

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 . . .

Look at what precedes "pay her obeisance": "she was about to prostrate herself." "Prostrate" means flatten oneself on the ground to show respect. If "pay[ing] her obeisance" involves "prostrat[ing] herself," then "obeisance" likely means something like "respects." This answer choice gains additional support in that we are told that Tai-yü bows to each of her relatives upon meeting them. ("Tai-yü bowed to each one of them (with folded arms).") This scene seems to be entirely about the formal paying of respects, making "respects" the correct answer choice. Indeed, "obeisance" means respect or homage.

All Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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