Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts : Reading: Literature

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Example Question #1 : Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts

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.

All of the following statements about the passage are true. Which of the following provides the strongest evidence that Tai-yü has never before visited this particular setting?

Possible Answers:

Tai-yü does not become offended when asked about her weak physical condition.

Tai-yü initially thinks that by calling attention to her late arrival, her sister-in-law Lien is being rude.

Tai-yü does not dress in as extravagant a manner as her sister-in-law.

Tai-yü does not recognize the residents who are her relatives, including her grandmother.

Correct answer:

Tai-yü does not recognize the residents who are her relatives, including her grandmother.

Explanation:

The answer choices stating that Tai-yü does not dress in as extravagant a manner as her sister-in-law Lien, that she does not become offended when asked about her weak physical condition, and that she thinks Lien is being rude by calling attention to her late arrival do not directly relate to the idea that it is Tai-yü's first time visiting her grandmother's residence. Any of these events could have occurred regardless of this is Tai-yü's first time visiting to her grandmother's residence or she has visited many times before. 

The answer choice that provides evidence that this is in fact Tai-yü's first time visiting her grandmother's residence is, "Tai-yü does not recognize the residents who are her relatives, including her grandmother." Since the residence belongs to her grandmother, if Tai-yü had visited the residence before, it is likely that she would have met her grandmother or some of her relatives who live there. As we see in the passage, Tai-yü meets her grandmother and some of her other relatives for the first time. She initially does not recognize them. The fact that Tai-yü does not recognize her grandmother in the passage's setting, her grandmother's residence, serves as evidence suggesting that Tai-yü has never before visited her grandmother's residence.

Example Question #2 : Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts

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.

Considering what we learn in the passage, which of the following is most likely the reason Tai-yü has come to live at her grandmother's house?

Possible Answers:

Her mother has recently died.

She wants to challenge herself and live in a place that will require taxing physical exercise.

Her father has recently died.

She is ill, and her grandmother is a renowned physician.

Correct answer:

Her mother has recently died.

Explanation:

Only one of the answer choices is supported by information in the passage. Nothing is said about Tai-yü's father, so, "Her father has recently died" can't be the correct answer. We learn that Tai-yü has a peristent physical condition that leaves her weak. ("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.") So, it wouldn't make sense for Tai-yü to come live with her grandmother in order to live in "a place that will require taxing physical exercise." That wouldn't make sense given what we learn about the character, and there nothing in the passage suggests that Tai-yü will be expected to perform taxing physical exercise. "She is ill, and her grandmother is a renowned physician" may initially seem like the correct answer choice, because we do learn that Tai-yü has a persistent physical condition, so we could say that she is ill; however, we learn nothing that suggests that her grandmother is a renowned physician, so this isn't the correct answer.

The correct answer is that given the presented answer choices, it makes the most sense if Tai-yü has most likely come to live at her grandmother's house because "her mother has recently died." Evidence in support of this reading is present throughout the passage: Tai-yü and her grandmother start crying when they first meet, and Tai-yü's mother's death is the topic of conversation at tea, which causes her grandmother to start crying again. The fact that the passage contains evidence supporting this answer choice makes it the correct answer.

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 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.

Tai-yü nearly makes a social blunder in which of the following underlined paragraphs?

Possible Answers:

Paragraph 5

Paragraph 13

Paragraph 1

Paragraph 4

Correct answer:

Paragraph 4

Explanation:

Be careful! More than one paragraph has to do with social blunders in this passage. In Paragraph 1, Tai-yü is worried about potentially making a social blunder and being teased for it when living at her grandmother's residence; however, she does not "nearly make" a social blunder in this paragraph. She is simply worried about making one.

So, does she almost make a social error in Paragraph 4, Paragraph 5, or Paragraph 13?

In Paragraph 5, Tai-yü meets her grandmother, becomes emotional, is consoled by her relatives, and is introduced to them. The passage doesn't mention anything about her nearly making a social error. In Paragraph 13, it is not Tai-yü who makes a social blunder, but her sister-in-law Lien. Tai-yü interprets the fact that Lien shows up late to meet her as rude: (". . . who, I wonder, is this coming in this reckless and rude manner?"). The question is asking about Tai-yü, not Lien, so Paragraph 13 isn't the answer.

The correct answer is that Tai-yü nearly makes as social blunder in Paragraph 4. Here, we are told that Tai-yü thinks an elderly woman with silver-white hair must be her grandmother, and is about to "prostrate herself and pay her obeisance—that is, pay public respect to her as her grandmother—when her actual grandmother embraces her. This fits the question's description of "almost making a social blunder." If Tai-yü had mistaken another woman for her grandmother, it would have been a potentially embarrassing situation for her.

Example Question #1 : Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts

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.

Which of the following excerpts provides evidence that Tai-yü's sister-in-law Lien is concerned with the details of others' appearances, not only her own?

Possible Answers:

"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."

"[She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised 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."

"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!'"

"Her stature was elegant; her figure graceful; her powdered face like dawning spring, majestic, yet not haughty."

Correct answer:

"[She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised 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."

Explanation:

Lien is only introduced at the end of the passage, so this narrows the part of the passage we have to analyze. Let's consider her introduction now. Tai-yü is talking with her relatives who have arrived to meet her on time when Lien is introduced:

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. [She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised 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.

To answer this question correctly, you need to pay attention to what it is asking specifically. It is not asking for evidence that Lien is concerned with the details of her own appearance: it is asking for evidence that in addition to that, she is concerned with the details of others' appearances. If you misread the question and thought that it was asking for evidence that Lien is concerned with the details of her own appearance, "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." might seem like a potentially correct answer choice, as it describes the details of Lien's appearance and suggests that she has paid attention to these details; however, this is not the correct answer. Neither is the sentence describing Lien's laugh at arriving late to meet Tai-yü, nor is the answer choice describing Lien's stature and face. These have nothing to do with the appearances of others.

The only answer choice that provides evidence that Lien cares about the details of others' appearances is "[She] laid hold of Tai-yü's hand, and minutely scrutinised 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." In this sentence, Lien "minutely scrutiniz[es]" Tai-yü; that is, she considers the details of her appearance very carefully. This could serve as evidence supporting the claim that Lien cares about the details of others' appearances.

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 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

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

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

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

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

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

Possible Answers:

Paragraph 4

Paragraph 2

Paragraph 1

Paragraph 3

Correct answer:

Paragraph 2

Explanation:

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

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

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

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

Adapted from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

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

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

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

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

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

Possible Answers:

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

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

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

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

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example Question #3 : Determine Figurative And Connotative Word Meanings And Analyze Cumulative Effects Of Word Choice: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.9 10.4

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possible Answers:

a debt of tangible money

respects

a bill charged to an entire family

a favor

Correct answer:

respects

Explanation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Convinced that this lady must be her grandmother, she was about to prostrate herself and pay her obeisance, when she was quickly clasped in the arms of her grandmother . . .

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

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

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.

What can we infer from the content and placement of the underlined paragraph in the context of the entire passage?

Possible Answers:

Tai-yü’s grandmother was poor for most of her life, but recently and suddenly became very wealthy.

This story takes place in an environment in which it is often cold and inhospitable outdoors, forcing people to remain inside.

This is likely the first time that this setting has been introduced in the story.

Each resident owns exactly one caged bird.

Correct answer:

This is likely the first time that this setting has been introduced in the story.

Explanation:

The underlined paragraph is the second paragraph in the passage. In the paragraph that precedes it, the audience is informed about Tai-yü's concern that she will make some sort of social misstep while living at her grandmother's residence. Then, a paragraph break occurs, and the underlined paragraph begins the next section of the text:

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.

The underlined paragraph provides visual detail about the setting in which the rest of the passage takes place. It mentions several things that are opulent and we can infer would cost a lot of money: a door-screen made of marble and ebony; many parlors with carved ceilings and ornamented pillars, and pet birds. 

Nothing about this description allows us to infer that each resident owns exactly one caged bird. While multiple people seem to live at this location, the birds are described in general terms: we don't learn of an exact number of them that we could associate with an exact number of residents, and nothing is mentioned to make this connection without data. It's also not reasonable to infer that the story's location is one where the weather forces people to remain inside, since we are told that the area includes a "courtyard," which is an outdoor area. We also don't learn anything that would support the idea that Tai-yü's grandmother suddenly became very wealthy. While the descriptions of items we can infer are expensive suggest that she is wealthy at the time the passage's events take place, we don't learn anything about her past, so we can't claim that she suddenly became very wealthy; she may have been wealthy all her life.

The only remaining answer choice is the correct one: "This is likely the first time that this setting has been introduced in the story." The paragraph consists of extensive description of the setting, and this description would not be necessary if the reader were already familiar with the details of the location. Furthermore, we know that this is the first time that Tai-yü is visiting this location, and the passage begins by focusing on her as the main character.

 

Example Question #6 : Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts

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 first paragraph has which of the following effects on the rest of the passage?

Possible Answers:

It allows the reader to infer that Tai-yü is only pretending to be the granddaughter of the woman she is going to visit and is not actually related to her.

It adds tension by informing the audience that Tai-yü is afraid of embarrassing herself at her grandmother's residence before she arrives there.

It emphasizes how Tai-yü initially assumes that her grandmother's house will be similar to her mother's.

It suggests that Tai-yü has never before been in a formal social situation that demands good manners, and that she is not aware that her behavior will be judged.

Correct answer:

It adds tension by informing the audience that Tai-yü is afraid of embarrassing herself at her grandmother's residence before she arrives there.

Explanation:

In the first paragraph, we learn that Tai-yü is expecting her grandmother's house to be very different from any house in which she's lived. Seeing how extravagant her grandmother's attendants are prompts Tai-yü to worry about making a social mistake and embarrassing herself in this new milieu. After this paragraph, there is a paragraph break, and then the rest of the paragraph begins. Tai-yü's grandmother's house is described, and then her entrance is announced. 

The first paragraph works in a specific way to influence how readers understand the rest of the material that follows after the paragraph break. It does not "[emphasize] how Tai-yü initially assumes that her grandmother's house will be similar to her mother's." We learn that Tai-yü assumes the opposite: that her grandmother's house will be very different from other people's. Furthermore, it does not "[suggest] that Tai-yü has never before been in a formal social situation that demands good manners, and that she is not aware that her behavior will be judged." She is very aware that her behavior will be judged, to the point where she is concerned about making a social error. Finally, it does not "[allow] the reader to infer that Tai-yü is only pretending to be the granddaughter of the woman she is going to visit and is not actually related to her." Nothing in the passage suggests that this is the case.

The correct answer is that the first paragraph "adds tension by informing the audience that Tai-yü is afraid of embarrassing herself at her grandmother's residence before she arrives there." The placement of the paragraph as the first one in the passage allows the reader to understand how Tai-yü is feeling about traveling to live with her grandmother. This insight into her thoughts and feelings in the first paragraph adds another layer of interpretation to the rest of the passage: the reader understands that as Tai-yü interacts with her grandmother and relatives, she is nervous about embarrassing herself.

Example Question #2 : Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts

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

The withholding and control of one's emotions

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

Correct answer:

Public demonstrations of respect for one's older family members

Explanation:

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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