Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze a Theme’s Development in Relation to Specific Details and Objectively Summarize a Text: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2

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Example Question #2 : Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts

Passage adapted from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

About four hours after we began our journey, I awaked by a very ridiculous accident; for the carriage being stopped a while, to adjust something that was out of order, two or three of the young natives had the curiosity to see how I looked when I was asleep; they climbed up into the engine, and advancing very softly to my face, one of them, an officer in the guards, put the sharp end of his half–pike a good way up into my left nostril, which tickled my nose like a straw, and made me sneeze violently; whereupon they stole off unperceived, and it was three weeks before I knew the cause of my waking so suddenly. We made a long march the remaining part of the day, and, rested at night with five hundred guards on each side of me, half with torches, and half with bows and arrows, ready to shoot me if I should offer to stir. The next morning at sun–rise we continued our march, and arrived within two hundred yards of the city gates about noon. The emperor, and all his court, came out to meet us; but his great officers would by no means suffer his majesty to endanger his person by mounting on my body.

At the place where the carriage stopped there stood an ancient temple, esteemed to be the largest in the whole kingdom; which, having been polluted some years before by an unnatural murder, was, according to the zeal of those people, looked upon as profane, and therefore had been applied to common use, and all the ornaments and furniture carried away. In this edifice it was determined I should lodge. The great gate fronting to the north was about four feet high, and almost two feet wide, through which I could easily creep. On each side of the gate was a small window, not above six inches from the ground: into that on the left side, the king's smith conveyed fourscore and eleven chains, like those that hang to a lady's watch in Europe, and almost as large, which were locked to my left leg with six–and–thirty padlocks. Over against this temple, on the other side of the great highway, at twenty feet distance, there was a turret at least five feet high. Here the emperor ascended, with many principal lords of his court, to have an opportunity of viewing me, as I was told, for I could not see them. It was reckoned that above a hundred thousand inhabitants came out of the town upon the same errand; and, in spite of my guards, I believe there could not be fewer than ten thousand at several times, who mounted my body by the help of ladders. But a proclamation was soon issued, to forbid it upon pain of death. When the workmen found it was impossible for me to break loose, they cut all the strings that bound me; whereupon I rose up, with as melancholy a disposition as ever I had in my life. But the noise and astonishment of the people, at seeing me rise and walk, are not to be expressed. The chains that held my left leg were about two yards long, and gave me not only the liberty of walking backwards and forwards in a semicircle, but, being fixed within four inches of the gate, allowed me to creep in, and lie at my full length in the temple.

When I found myself on my feet, I looked about me, and must confess I never beheld a more entertaining prospect. The country around appeared like a continued garden, and the enclosed fields, which were generally forty feet square, resembled so many beds of flowers. These fields were intermingled with woods of half a stang, and the tallest trees, as I could judge, appeared to be seven feet high. I viewed the town on my left hand, which looked like the painted scene of a city in a theatre.

I had been for some hours extremely pressed by the necessities of nature; which was no wonder, it being almost two days since I had last disburdened myself. I was under great difficulties between urgency and shame. The best expedient I could think of, was to creep into my house, which I accordingly did; and shutting the gate after me, I went as far as the length of my chain would suffer, and discharged my body of that uneasy load. But this was the only time I was ever guilty of so uncleanly an action; for which I cannot but hope the candid reader will give some allowance, after he has maturely and impartially considered my case, and the distress I was in. From this time my constant practice was, as soon as I rose, to perform that business in open air, at the full extent of my chain; and due care was taken every morning before company came, that the offensive matter should be carried off in wheel–barrows, by two servants appointed for that purpose. I would not have dwelt so long upon a circumstance that, perhaps, at first sight, may appear not very momentous, if I had not thought it necessary to justify my character, in point of cleanliness, to the world; which, I am told, some of my maligners have been pleased, upon this and other occasions, to call in question.

What is the purpose of the bolded and underlined section of the text?

Possible Answers:

To highlight the narrator's exalted status in the community

To highlight the narrator's unfamiliar perspective using visual details

To provide a justification for the narrator's claims in the first paragraph

To provide a metaphor for the narrator's captivity

Correct answer:

To highlight the narrator's unfamiliar perspective using visual details


Here, you're being asked to analyze a highlighted paragraph of the text, and being asked to account not only for the purpose of that text, but also the manner in which it attempts to fulfill that purpose.

The best thing to do in order to answer this question is to read the paragraph over again very carefully, and decide for yourself what is happening, and what noteworthy narrative or literary techniques are being used. So, the main thing you should notice in this sentence is that it is descriptive, and that this description is rendered from the narrator's perspective. Thus, the nature and description of the visual details with which we are presented are both revealing of the setting and the narrator's relationship to that setting. The key here is the underlying thread of new-ness and wonder the narrator brings to his surroundings, suggested by word choice and phrase choices like: "I never beheld a more entertaining prospect." The long description of the town from the narrator's perspective serves to highlight his foreigners in the environment.

Example Question #1 : Analyze A Theme’s Development In Relation To Specific Details And Objectively Summarize A Text: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.9 10.2

Adapted from John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, 
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, 
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape 
       Of deities or mortals, or of both, 
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, 
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; 
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And, happy melodist, unwearied, 
         For ever piping songs for ever new; 
More happy love! more happy, happy love! 
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, 
                For ever panting, and for ever young; 
All breathing human passion far above, 
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, 
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 
Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
         To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 
         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? 
What little town by river or sea shore, 
         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 
                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
And, little town, thy streets for evermore 
         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return. 
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede 
         Of marble men and maidens overwrought, 
With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought 
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 
         When old age shall this generation waste, 
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all 
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Which of the following rhetorical tools appears in the first stanza of the poem?

Possible Answers:



None of these

Rhetorical questions

Correct answer:

Rhetorical questions


In reading passages and analyzing them, it extremely important to be aware of and capable of identifying then rhetorical tools that the author chooses to use in order to make their point. Remember, even non-informational texts like works of poetry or fiction will have a central point they are trying to make, and will employ the tools of rhetoric to make them.

First, let's start by making sure that we understand each of the given terms and if all of those terms are: A) real terms, and if they are B) applicable or logical terms for this text. After we've done this, we can then read the passage carefully, searching our remaining answer options in the text itself.

A "syllogism" is a structured logical argument in which a larger truth is logically applied to a particular situation. An example of a syllogism is as follows: "All Canadians are attractive. I am a Canadian, therefore I am attractive." So, is there any reason, in theory, that a syllogism could not be a major tool used in this passage? No, there isn't, we'll have to look through the passage to see if there are any syllogisms and how major a role they play if they are present.

An "analogy" is a comparison between two things, generally made in order to reveal a fundamental structural similarity. For instance, I could use an analogy about dogs who, having lived in one household their whole lives, are transplanted to a new home as an analogy for my experience as a Canadian relocating to the United States. Again, there is no reason to believe, out of hand, that this structure could not be a major one in the passage.

"Rhetorical questions" are questions whose intention is to make a point or support an argument, rather than to gain information or answers from the addressee. An example of this would be asking a child if it was nice of them to knock over a planter after the child had just done so. Here, you're trying to make the point that their actions were, in fact, not nice, you're not earnestly asking if vandalism is a kind gesture.

Right away, having read the passage you should have noted the abundant use of question marks in the first stanza of this poem; the last four lines all end in questions, and two of those lines contain two questions each! Now, are these questions sincere or are they rhetorical? (See what I did there?) Are we supposed to think that the speaker is really just asking us "what men or gods are these? What maidens loth?...What wild ecstasy?" or is he merely trying to convey a sense of wonder and curiosity by using this rhetorical tool?

The pure abundance of questions and their fairly straightforward rhetorical function makes "rhetorical questions" a safe (and correct) choice, even before you re-read the passage and see that the other options do not appear!

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