Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts : Reading: Literature

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Example Question #1 : Reading: Literature

Passage adapted from Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798)

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist:
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could not laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered,
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossameres!

Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman's mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
"The game is done! I've won! I've won!"
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea.
Off shot the spectre-bark.

Which of the given options is the best evidence for the claim that the narrator and his shipmates have been at sea for a long time?

Possible Answers:

The use of archaic diction

The repeated mentions of the sun's relative position in the sky

None of these

The repetition of "weary" in the opening stanzas 

Correct answer:

The repetition of "weary" in the opening stanzas 

Explanation:

This question asks you to find the best textual evidence in the passage to support the given claim that the narrator and his shipmates have been at sea for a long time.

Since the potential evidence is given to us as examples, let's start by checking out all of our options.

Firstly, the passage does, indeed, use archaic diction (archaic diction means old-fashioned language), but does archaic diction alone suggest that the seamen have been out a long time? Not really, within the fictional world of the poem old-fashioned language does nothing to suggest the amount of time that has passed for the characters.

The relative position of the sun in the sky is, indeed, a way to tell if time is passing, but there's not suggestion of the sun's relative position, meaning we don't see it start in one spot and move, which is how you tell time using the sun. Not to mention, the sun is obscured by the end of the passage.

So, having eliminated these options we're left with either "none of these" or "the repetition of 'weary'" as our options. Well, the very word "weary" suggests that enough time has passed for the sailors to have become extremely tired. The specific repletion of this word, which carries the implication of time passing, certainly acts as solid evidence to support the claim that a great deal of time has passed for the sailors at sea.

Example Question #1 : Reading: Literature

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 is the best evidence to support the claim that the author uses an insistent tone throughout the text?

Possible Answers:

The heavy use of irony

The use of the second person

The heavy use of rhetorical questions

The heavy use of classical reference and analogy

Correct answer:

The heavy use of rhetorical questions

Explanation:

This is an evidence question; it starts with an assertion about the text's tone and then asks you to select, from the given options, the textual element that BEST supports the claim. The claim given in the answer choices, which you are being asked to support, its that the author's tone is "insistent." So, the first thing you need to establish is a clear understanding of what an "insistent tone" would actually entail. To "insist" on something is to ask for something repeatedly and forcefully. An insistent tone is one that presses a point.

So, looking at our options, the use of the second person and repeated rhetorical questions could all, in theory, signal an insistent tone in a text. The use of classical references (referring to Ancient Greek and Roman mythology and culture) has little to do with a tone of this kind. This poem is quite sincere, as opposed to ironic, and in either case irony has little to do with insistence.

Now, let's turn our attention to the actual passage: are repetition, rhetorical questions, and the second person all in use? "Thou" stands for "you," so there is direct address at play, and we see many, many rhetorical questions. The repetition of the question structure, and the density with which those questions are delivered in the first stanza of the text clearly form the best evidence of an insistent tone.

Example Question #1 : Reading: Literature

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

To highlight the narrator's unfamiliar perspective using visual details

To provide a metaphor for the narrator's captivity

To highlight the narrator's exalted status in the community

Correct answer:

To highlight the narrator's unfamiliar perspective using visual details

Explanation:

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:

Syllogism

Analogy

Rhetorical questions

None of these

Correct answer:

Rhetorical questions

Explanation:

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!

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

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.

Based on the content of the passage, which of the following statements about the narrator is true?

Possible Answers:

He is extremely small relative to the natives

He is a giant

He is a criminal

He is extremely large relative to the natives

Correct answer:

He is extremely large relative to the natives

Explanation:

To solve this question, you must act like a textual detective, combing through the passage looking for clues, whether they be direct or indirect. Since three of our 4 answer options pertain to the narrator's size or relative size, a key clue to look for in order to solve this question is the use of any specific measurements in the passage. The first significant time that measurements are given is in the second paragraph of the passage. Here the narrator remarks on the "edifice" in which his captors choose to keep him. The entrance of this "edifice" referred to as a "great gate fronting to the north," but curiously, this supposedly "great" (meaning large in this context) is only "about four feet high, and almost two feet wide." Immediately thereafter we receive a direct hint as to the narrator's own size as he tells us that he could "easily creep" through this gate. Meaning, he can fit through it, and does so easily, but is forced to "creep" to do so. This means that our narrator is probably about the size of a normal, adult male (of the 18th century, when people were, on average, slightly smaller than they are today), and it allows us to eliminate one of our options, since we know he isn't a giant.

Two of our other options query the narrator's size in relation to the natives with whom he is staying. So, how big are they? The size of the building is another hint, as it was built by the natives, and is thus reflective of what their notion of a "great" structure is. That structure is small relative to a normal human man, with a turret of only "five feet," in addition to there being windows that "not above six inches from the ground." Also, it bears noting that one of the officers has "put the sharp-end of his half-pike (a war instrument) a good way into [the narrator's] nostril." A human-sized half-pike put up a man's nose would kill him. It certainly seems, especially by the time the narrator is looking over the entire city just from standing, that the natives are extremely tiny relative to the narrator. And lo and behold, the answer that he is relatively large compared to the natives is available.

While he is being held captive, there is no indication in the passage that the narrator has committed any crime.

Example Question #2 : Reading: Literature

Adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)

Upon my return to the United States a few months ago, after the extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, of which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and who were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, some of which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person but myself; others not so much so.

One consideration which deterred me was that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the appearance of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative faculties.

Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated were of a nature so positively marvellous that, unsupported as my assertions must necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, and he a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family, and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my veracity-the probability being that the public at large would regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious fiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless, one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with the suggestions of my advisers.

Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interest in my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of it which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger," a monthly magazine, published by Mr. Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me, among others, to prepare at once a full account of what I had seen and undergone, and trust to the shrewdness and common-sense of the public-insisting, with great plausibility, that however roughly, as regards mere authorship, my book should be got up, its very uncouthness, if there were any, would give it all the better chance of being received as truth.

Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind to do as he suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not stir in the matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own words, a narrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts afforded by myself, publishing it in the "Southern Messenger" under the garb of fiction. To this, perceiving no objection, I consented, stipulating only that my real name should be retained. Two numbers of the pretended fiction appeared, consequently, in the "Messenger" for January and February (1837), and, in order that it might certainly be regarded as fiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to the articles in the table of contents of the magazine.

The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at length to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had been so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appeared in the "Messenger" (without altering or distorting a single fact), the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, and several letters were sent to Mr. P.'s address, distinctly expressing a conviction to the contrary. I thence concluded that the facts of my narrative would prove of such a nature as to carry with them sufficient evidence of their own authenticity, and that I had consequently little to fear on the score of popular incredulity.

This exposé being made, it will be seen at once how much of what follows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understood that no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were written by Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the "Messenger," it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion ends and my own commences; the difference in point of style will be readily perceived.

 

-A.G Pym

Within the logic of the passage, Edgar Allen Poe functions as _______________.

Possible Answers:

the narrator of passage

a character with whom the narrator has had a dispute

a character whom the narrator uses as an example of honest dealing and positivity

None of these

Correct answer:

a character with whom the narrator has had a dispute

Explanation:

This question queries your fundamental understanding of the internal narrative logic of a work of fiction. In real life, Edgar Allen Poe is the author of this piece, and it is a work of fiction. Within the logic of the piece, however, the character of Arthur Gordon Pym is functioning as the narrator and author of the work, while Poe functions as a character within that work. This can be a bit confusing, but think about it: the passage is written in the first person, and Edgar Allen Poe is referred to in the third person; he cannot be the narrator.

So, the only question left for us here is to ascertain how Poe is characterized. The answer is to be found in the 5th paragraph, which firmly establishes that Pym believes that Poe betrayed their agreement by putting his own name on the account of seafaring adventures. Poe is thus a character with whom the narrator has had a dispute.

Example Question #2 : Reading: Literature

Passage adapted from Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798)

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist:
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could not laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered,
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossameres!

Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman's mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
"The game is done! I've won! I've won!"
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea.
Off shot the spectre-bark.

The use of nautical language, like "tacked and veered" and "keel," is used to suggest that the narrator is ____________.

Possible Answers:

the ship's medic

the ship's captain

speaking from beyond the grave

a sailor

Correct answer:

a sailor

Explanation:

This question starts with the assertion that the author uses nautical language in the text, and that the use of this kind of diction and jargon gives us an implication about the narrator. It is important to note here that this assertion is a given in answering this question and should be trusted as an accurate analytic statement about the text. 

So, what is a reasonable inference to take from the use of seafaring jargon? Firstly, it is not medical jargon, so it's not reasonable to assume from the use of nautical language that the narrator is specifically a ship's doctor. Similarly, the use of nautical language is not in any way an indicator, and certainly not a direct indicator, that our narrator is speaking from the grave.

So, the last question we have to settle is whether or not the use of nautical language specifically tells us that the narrator is the not merely a sailor but the ship's captain as well. The use of nautical terms is not this specific, however, it signals that the narrator is a sailor, not in a position of authority.

Example Question #1 : Determine Figurative And Connotative Word Meanings And Analyze Cumulative Effects Of Word Choice: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.9 10.4

Adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)

Upon my return to the United States a few months ago, after the extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, of which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and who were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, some of which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person but myself; others not so much so.

One consideration which deterred me was that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the appearance of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative faculties.

Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated were of a nature so positively marvellous that, unsupported as my assertions must necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, and he a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family, and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my veracity-the probability being that the public at large would regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious fiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless, one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with the suggestions of my advisers.

Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interest in my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of it which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger," a monthly magazine, published by Mr. Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me, among others, to prepare at once a full account of what I had seen and undergone, and trust to the shrewdness and common-sense of the public-insisting, with great plausibility, that however roughly, as regards mere authorship, my book should be got up, its very uncouthness, if there were any, would give it all the better chance of being received as truth.

Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind to do as he suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not stir in the matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own words, a narrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts afforded by myself, publishing it in the "Southern Messenger" under the garb of fiction. To this, perceiving no objection, I consented, stipulating only that my real name should be retained. Two numbers of the pretended fiction appeared, consequently, in the "Messenger" for January and February (1837), and, in order that it might certainly be regarded as fiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to the articles in the table of contents of the magazine.

The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at length to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had been so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appeared in the "Messenger" (without altering or distorting a single fact), the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, and several letters were sent to Mr. P.'s address, distinctly expressing a conviction to the contrary. I thence concluded that the facts of my narrative would prove of such a nature as to carry with them sufficient evidence of their own authenticity, and that I had consequently little to fear on the score of popular incredulity.

This exposé being made, it will be seen at once how much of what follows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understood that no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were written by Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the "Messenger," it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion ends and my own commences; the difference in point of style will be readily perceived.

 

-A.G Pym

In the context of this passage, the bolded and underlined word "garb" is being used to mean ________________.

Possible Answers:

shirt

label

unclear jargon

clothing

Correct answer:

label

Explanation:

Literally, the word "garb" is used as a noun to refer to (usually spectacular) clothing or as a verb to refer to the act of dressing or adorning oneself in a particular way. The meaning, then, in this passage is not literal. The passage is in no way concerned with fashion, nor even physical appearances (note that there is no visual imagery in this passage).

So, let's look at the passage to help us figure out what the figurative meaning at play in this case might be. The author uses the word to refer to his story being published "under the garb of fiction." If we extend our thinking a little here, we can think of a true story (like the one Arthur Pym is claiming he told to Edgar Allen Poe) being "dressed up" as fiction. Thus, the true story would be labelled a fiction, putting the fancy clothes of a genre on Pym's life story!

Example Question #2 : Reading: Literature

Passage adapted from Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798)

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist:
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could not laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered,
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossameres!

Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman's mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
"The game is done! I've won! I've won!"
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea.
Off shot the spectre-bark.

Introducing the figure of "LIFE IN DEATH" as a far-off "speck" the author _____________.

Possible Answers:

None of these

creates dramatic irony

builds narrative tension

begins the passage in media res

Correct answer:

builds narrative tension

Explanation:

The given in this question is that the figure of "LIFE IN DEATH" is first identified as a far-off "speck," before gradually coming into the full view of the crew. Before we jump too far into this question, let's make sure we understand all of the terms used in our potential answer choices.

To begin a narrative "in media res" is to start that narrative in the middle of the action, with no exposition. An example of an in media res opening is: "A shot rang out. The door slammed. A girl screamed." We don't know which girl, nor even which door, but already we've heard a shot!

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience is aware of something that the characters are not. Thus, when we watch the characters acting obliviously to knowledge we, the audience, have it creates dramatic irony. For instance, if one knows that Romeo and Juliet are doomed to die at the end of the play, all of their actions throughout the play create dramatic irony, as they are acting without that knowledge.

Narrative tension can be roughly defined as suspense. It is tension created by the withholding of information from the audience.

The passage does NOT begin in media res, as the very first thing that happens is waiting ("pass[ing] a weary time")! Nor is dramatic irony created, as the audience is equally in the dark about what the far-off speck is as are the characters. So, the question we must settle now is simple. Does starting the figure of "LIFE IN DEATH" as an obscure far-away object that must be guessed at before finally being revealed create narrative tension, or not?

The answer is that it does. Because the object is obscure to the narrator, the other characters, and the audience, a feeling of suspense is created as we, and the characters, must guess as the object slowly approaches, rather than knowing exactly what the object is the whole time.

Example Question #1 : Analyze How Textual Structure, Order Of Events, And Timelines Create Meaning: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.9 10.5

Adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)

Upon my return to the United States a few months ago, after the extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, of which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and who were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, some of which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person but myself; others not so much so.

One consideration which deterred me was that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the appearance of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative faculties.

Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated were of a nature so positively marvellous that, unsupported as my assertions must necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, and he a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family, and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my veracity-the probability being that the public at large would regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious fiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless, one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with the suggestions of my advisers.

Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interest in my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of it which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger," a monthly magazine, published by Mr. Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me, among others, to prepare at once a full account of what I had seen and undergone, and trust to the shrewdness and common-sense of the public-insisting, with great plausibility, that however roughly, as regards mere authorship, my book should be got up, its very uncouthness, if there were any, would give it all the better chance of being received as truth.

Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind to do as he suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not stir in the matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own words, a narrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts afforded by myself, publishing it in the "Southern Messenger" under the garb of fiction. To this, perceiving no objection, I consented, stipulating only that my real name should be retained. Two numbers of the pretended fiction appeared, consequently, in the "Messenger" for January and February (1837), and, in order that it might certainly be regarded as fiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to the articles in the table of contents of the magazine.

The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at length to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had been so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appeared in the "Messenger" (without altering or distorting a single fact), the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, and several letters were sent to Mr. P.'s address, distinctly expressing a conviction to the contrary. I thence concluded that the facts of my narrative would prove of such a nature as to carry with them sufficient evidence of their own authenticity, and that I had consequently little to fear on the score of popular incredulity.

This exposé being made, it will be seen at once how much of what follows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understood that no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were written by Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the "Messenger," it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion ends and my own commences; the difference in point of style will be readily perceived.

 

-A.G Pym

What event inspired the narrator to write the passage? 

Possible Answers:

The repeated requests of several members of Richmond's high society

His return from sea

Poe's request that he write his adventures for "The Southern Literary Messenger"

Poe's publication of a fictionalized version of his adventures

Correct answer:

Poe's publication of a fictionalized version of his adventures

Explanation:

This question asks you to accurately understand the order and causal relationship of events described in the passage. Here, you need to display an understanding of the basic chronology of the events described in addition to a nuanced ability to distinguish how this chronology mutually influences the actions of the narrator and other characters.

The first step to answering this question is also the exact same question you should, and naturally will, ask yourself when encountering any text: What happened? The basic events of this story must be ascertained before you can move on to assessing in what order they happened and which events influenced which other events.

The first thing that happened was that the narrator, Arthur Pym, had an "extraordinary series of adventures in the South Seas and elsewhere," about which he was, in spite of his reluctance, encouraged to share with the public in the form of a "memoir." From there, Pym resisted the calls to write down his narrative both out of embarrassment about the quality of his own writing and his concern that the events, to which he was the only witness, would not be believed. Ultimately, Edgar Allen Poe convinced Pym to orally tell him about his adventures, and fictionalized them under his own name. Readers, however, saw through the subterfuge and believed the events recounted. It was at that Pym decided to write down his own version of events.

So, the correct answer is that Poe's publication of a fictionalized version of Pym (the narrator)'s adventures motivated his telling of events in the given passage. 

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