Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze the Point of View of a Work of World Literature: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.6

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Example Questions

Example Question #9 : Reading: Literature

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The underlined selection provides evidence that __________ was/were likely an important part of Chinese culture in the era this work portrays.

Possible Answers:

The presentation of gifts upon first meeting members of one's extended family

Public demonstrations of respect for one's older family members

Public expressions of anger in response to bad things happening to one's family

The withholding and control of one's emotions

Correct answer:

Public demonstrations of respect for one's older family members


In the underlined section of the passage, Tai-yü nearly mistakes an older woman for her grandmother, but before she can act on this assumption, her grandmother embraces her. The two cry and are consoled by other relatives. Tai-yü "pays obeisance" to her grandmother—that is, she bows on the ground to show respect., and then Tai-yü's grandmother introduces her to other relatives. Tai-yü bows to each of her relatives as she meets them.

There are no gifts mentioned in the underlines selection (or in the entire passage), so "the presentation of gifts upon first meeting members of one's extended family" is not correct. Since Tai-yü and her grandmother cry upon first meeting one another, "the withholding and control of one's emotions" isn't the best answer choice. We don't see any "public expression of anger in response to bad things happening to one's family" in this selection, either. Both Tai-yü and her grandmother start crying and have to be consoled; nothing about this response suggests anger. 

The best answer choice is that the selection provides evidence that "public demonstrations of respect for one's older family members" were likely an important part of Chinese culture in the era this work portrays. In the indicated part of the passage, Tai-yü "pays obeisance" to her grandmother—that is, she pays respect to her grandmother. In addition, she bows to each of her other family members after meeting them. These are public demonstrations of respect directed toward relatives who all seem to be older than Tai-yü.

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