Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts : Reading: Literature

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

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Example Question #1 : Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from Pinocchio by Carl Collodi (1883)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Stop! you are tickling me all over!"

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

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

 

Why was Master Cherry scared?

Possible Answers:

Master Cherry was scared because of the storm. 

Master Cherry was scared because he is old. 

Master Cherry was scared because he didn't know who was talking. 

Master Cherry was scared because the wood was talking.

Correct answer:

Master Cherry was scared because the wood was talking.

Explanation:

There are two main parts of the passage that tells us why Master Cherry was scared:

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

and

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

If we look at the text around these parts of the passage, they all come after Master Cherry realizes that the wood is talking; thus, the correct answer is that Master Cherry was scared because the wood was talking. 

Example Question #2 : Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from Pinocchio by Carl Collodi (1883)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Stop! you are tickling me all over!"

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

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

 

What was Master Cherry doing that was tickling the piece of wood?

Possible Answers:

Polishing the wood 

Sanding the wood 

Cutting the wood 

Shaving the wood 

Correct answer:

Polishing the wood 

Explanation:

The answer to this question is a detail from the text. This answer can be found in the text, near the end of the passage. 

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

"Stop! you are tickling me all over!"'

"Polishing the wood" is the correct answer. 

Example Question #1 : Cite Strongest Evidence To Support Textual Analysis And Inferences: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.1

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

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

Which of the following excerpts serves as the strongest evidence that the astronomer is using math to study the stars?

Possible Answers:

“where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room” (Line 4)

"When I was shown the charts and diagrams" (Line 3)

“How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick” (Line 5)

“to add, divide, and measure them” (Line 3)

“were ranged in columns before me” (Line 2)

Correct answer:

“to add, divide, and measure them” (Line 3)

Explanation:

To answer this question correctly, you need to pick out the answer choice that best demonstrates that the astronomer is using math in his studies. Scanning over the first few lines of the poem, a few words might stick out to you as potentially having to do with math: "columns" (Line 2) might have to do with math; "charts and diagrams" (Line 3) could also have to do with math, but they could also have to do with other subjects. After all, diagrams and charts refer to general explanatory images that may or may not have to do with math. You could draw a chart of stars' locations in the night sky or a diagram of how an engine works that each would have little to do with math. The best evidence that the astronomer is specifically using math that is mentioned in the answer choices is "to add, divide, and measure them” (Line 3). Adding and dividing are actions that are very specifically related to math, as they're mathematical operations. The narrator is being shown things to add, divide, and measure in the context of interacting with the astronomer, and this functions as very good evidence that the astronomer is using math to study the stars.

Example Question #1 : Analyze A Theme’s Development In Relation To A Text’s Elements And Objectively Summarize A Text: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.2

Adapted from "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity1. A wrong is unredressed2 when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation3.

He had a weak point — this Fortunato — although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself upon his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practice imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; — I was skillful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.

I said to him — “My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking today. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado? A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”

“Amontillado!”

“I have my doubts.”

“Amontillado!” 

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me ——”

“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry4.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

 

1. "Impunity," n. immunity from punishment
2. The verb "redress," not directly used in the passage, means to amend or rectify a wrong
3. "Immolation," n. utter destruction, esp. that of a sacrificial victim by being burned
4. "Sherry," n. a type of fortified wine

Which of the following provides the strongest evidence that Fortunato is shocked by and interested in the narrator's purchasing of the amontillado?

Possible Answers:

Fortunato insults Luchresi's knowledge of amontillado.

Upon hearing he news, Fortunato immediately asks how the narrator acquired the amontillado.

Fortunato repeats "Amontillado!" three times.

The story takes place during a carnival.

The narrator states, "In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere."

Correct answer:

Fortunato repeats "Amontillado!" three times.

Explanation:

Many of the answer choices to this question present evidence that Fortunato is shocked by and interested in the narrator's amontillado, but we're looking for the strongest piece of evidence. The narrator's statement comes well before Fortunato learns about the narrator having obtained the amontillado, so it's probably not the strongest evidence of his reaction to learning about it. The fact that Fortunato immediately asks how the narrator obtained the amontillado demonstrates his interest, but doesn't really attest to his shock. Fortunato's comment about Luchresi has nothing to do with him being shocked by the news that the narrator has obtained a cask of amontillado, either. The fact that the story takes place during the carnival doesn't attest to Fortunato's particular reaction. The best answer is that Fortunato repeats "Amontillado!" three times; this shows that he is shocked by and interested in the narrator's purchasing of it.

Example Question #1 : Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlor next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to, only look up sudden and fierce and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. 

I was far less afraid of the captain than anybody else who knew him. There were nights when he would sometimes sit and sing his wicked, old, wild sea-songs, minding nobody; but sometimes he would call for glasses round and force all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear a chorus to his singing. His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were—about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main. By his own account he must have lived his life among some of the wickedest men upon the sea, and the language in which he told these stories shocked our plain country people almost as much as the crimes that he described. My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe his presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country life, and there was even a party of the younger men who pretended to admire him, calling him a "true sea-dog" and a "real old salt" and such like names, and saying there was the sort of man that made England terrible at sea.

Which of the following best summarizes the passage?

Possible Answers:

The captain watches the surrounding area for other sailors.

The captain arrives at the narrator's home, an inn.

The narrator describes his family's inn.

The captain tells scary stories to a group of guests.

The narrator describes the mannerisms of the captain and the interactions the narrator has had with him.

Correct answer:

The narrator describes the mannerisms of the captain and the interactions the narrator has had with him.

Explanation:

In order to summarize the passage, the correct answer choice has to reflect each part of the passage's events. It should somehow specifically relate to each paragraph, not just one of them, and it shouldn't be too general. For example, "The captain tells scary stories to a group of guests." is not correct because it only refers to events that happen in the second paragraph. It says nothing about the first paragraph, so it misses part of the passage and isn't the best summary. "The narrator describes his family's inn" and "The captain arrives at the narrator's home, an inn" simply don't accurately describe what happens in the passage. "The captain watches the surrounding area for other sailors" only describes the last line of the first paragraph. The best answer is "The narrator describes the mannerisms of the captain and the interactions the narrator has had with him." This statement applies to both paragraphs.

Example Question #1 : Analyze A Theme’s Development In Relation To A Text’s Elements And Objectively Summarize A Text: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.8.2

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

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

Which of the following statements best summarizes the theme of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Everyone should take time to go star-gazing.

Mathematics is far more interesting than astronomy since it is more abstract.

You can appreciate nature without studying it mathematically.

Only by understanding the scientific laws governing the natural world can you truly appreciate nature. 

Astronomers should give more entertaining lectures.

Correct answer:

You can appreciate nature without studying it mathematically.

Explanation:

Before we consider the answer choices, let's consider what actually happens in the poem, line by line. Doing this is a good first step in working our way from the specific events that take place to understanding the more abstract general theme of the poem.

The narrator relates how he heard an astronomer talk (Lines 1–4). The poem is a bit repetitive here. Part of the poem takes place in a lecture room, where people applaud the astronomer (Line 4). Then, the narrator becomes "tired and sick" (Line 5) until he goes outside into nature (Lines 6–7) and looks at the stars by himself (Line 8).

What can we make out of that? The narrator doesn't seem to get much out of listening to the astronomer. The astronomer may be very "learn'd"—that is, well-studied—but the narrator seems to prefer looking at the stars on his own than listening to all of the mathematical details about astronomy. 

Now let's look over the answer choices and see which one fits with our observations. "Everyone should take time to go star-gazing" could be the correct answer, but the narrator never urges the reader to do anything; he just recounts his personal experience. "Astronomers should give more entertaining lectures" is another general takeaway that doesn't really fit our observations. A lot more seems to be going on in this poem; the best answer needs to connect what happens in the first part of the poem (the narrator listening to the astronomer) with the second part (the narrator looking at the stars), and neither of the two answer choices we have considered do that. "Mathematics is far more interesting than astronomy since it is more abstract" isn't the case, as this is not what the poem suggests at all. At no point does the narrator contrast mathematics against astronomy. 

This leaves us with "Only by understanding the scientific laws governing the natural world can you truly appreciate nature" and "You can appreciate nature without studying it mathematically." Which of these is the poem arguing? The narrator doesn't seem to rely on anything he learned from the astronomer at the end of the poem; he's just looking up at the stars on his own, without specific mathematical knowledge of them. The best answer is "You can appreciate nature without studying it mathematically," as this reflects the narrator's experience.

Example Question #3 : Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from Pinocchio by Carl Collodi (1883)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Stop! you are tickling me all over!"

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

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

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

Possible Answers:

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

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

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

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

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

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

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

Example Question #4 : Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity1. A wrong is unredressed2 when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation3.

He had a weak point — this Fortunato — although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself upon his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practice imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; — I was skillful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.

I said to him — “My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking today. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado? A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”

“Amontillado!”

“I have my doubts.”

“Amontillado!” 

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me ——”

“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry4.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

 

1. "Impunity," n. immunity from punishment
2. The verb "redress," not directly used in the passage, means to amend or rectify a wrong
3. "Immolation," n. utter destruction, esp. that of a sacrificial victim by being burned
4. "Sherry," n. a type of fortified wine

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

Possible Answers:

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

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

Fortunato desires to prove himself more knowledgeable than Luchresi.

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

Fortunato wants to meet Luchresi and learn from him.

Correct answer:

Fortunato desires to prove himself more knowledgeable than Luchresi.

Explanation:

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

 

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”

“Amontillado!”

“I have my doubts.”

“Amontillado!” 

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me ——”

“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry4.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

 

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

Example Question #1 : Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

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

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

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

Possible Answers:

It makes him feel better instead of tired and sick.

It makes him feel tired and sick.

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

It makes him lose interest in the stars altogether.

It makes him very happy.

Correct answer:

It makes him feel better instead of tired and sick.

Explanation:

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

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

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

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

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

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

Example Question #5 : Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from Pinocchio by Carl Collodi (1883)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Stop! you are tickling me all over!"

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

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

 

Based on the text, what does "petrified" mean?

Possible Answers:

To be tired

To be scared

To be happy 

To be worried

Correct answer:

To be scared

Explanation:

To answer this question, we can look at context clues from the surrounding sentences where the word "petrified" is located: 

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

Based on these sentences from the passages, we can infer that "petrified" means to be scared. 

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