Notes

This printable supports Common Core ELA Standards ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1, ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2, ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3, and ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5

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Introducing a Character (Grades 11-12)

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Introducing a Character

1. 
An excerpt from The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.

A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity—but that would be asking too much of fate!

Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.

Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?

John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.

John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.

John is a physician, and PERHAPS—(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)—PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster.

You see he does not believe I am sick!

And what can one do?

If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?

My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing.

So I take phosphates or phosphites—whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to "work" until I am well again.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.

Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

But what is one to do?

I did write for a while in spite of them; but it DOES exhaust me a good deal—having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition.

I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and

I confess it always makes me feel bad.

So I will let it alone and talk about the house.
A. 
This passage comes from the introduction of "The Yellow Wallpaper," a story about a young woman who ends up being destroyed by her station in life. Which statement best introduces why the author chooses to begin the story with this passage?
  1. To provide critical information about the character and her situation
  2. To add a bit of humor to an otherwise depressing story
  3. To show how the woman's condition started
  4. To summarize the broader message of the story
B. 
This short story was written at the height of the Women's Rights Movement and the author was a key player in that movement. How does the passage reflect that movement?



C. 
In this passage, what do we learn most about the narrator?
  1. She comes from an upper-middle-class and enjoys her wealth.
  2. She is independent and regularly breaks the rules in favor of making her own choices.
  3. She follows the guidance and rules of others despite the fact that she disagrees with them
  4. She serves as a model wife and keeper of the house.
D. 
What role does writing play in the narrator's life?



E. 
When this story was written, the "resting cure" was a popular treatment for depression. Based on the passage, do you think the resting cure was an effective treatment?



2. 
An excerpt from The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

IT was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.

"I beg your pardon."

A man's voice beside her made her start and turn. She had noticed the speaker more than once amongst the first-class passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him which had appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke to him he was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous way of looking over his shoulder with a swift, suspicious glance.

She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads of perspiration on his brow. He was evidently in a state of overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as the kind of man who would be afraid to meet death!

"Yes?" Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.

He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution.

"It must be!" he muttered to himself. "Yes—it is the only way." Then aloud he said abruptly: "You are an American?"

"Yes."

"A patriotic one?"

The girl flushed.

"I guess you've no right to ask such a thing! Of course I am!"

"Don't be offended. You wouldn't be if you knew how much there was at stake. But I've got to trust some one—and it must be a woman."

"Why?"

"Because of 'women and children first.'" He looked round and lowered his voice. "I'm carrying papers—vitally important papers. They may make all the difference to the Allies in the war. You understand? These papers have GOT to be saved! They've more chance with you than with me. Will you take them?"

The girl held out her hand.

"Wait—I must warn you. There may be a risk—if I've been followed. I don't think I have, but one never knows. If so, there will be danger. Have you the nerve to go through with it?"

The girl smiled.

"I'll go through with it all right. And I'm real proud to be chosen! What am I to do with them afterwards?"

"Watch the newspapers! I'll advertise in the personal column of the Times, beginning 'Shipmate.' At the end of three days if there's nothing—well, you'll know I'm down and out. Then take the packet to the American Embassy, and deliver it into the Ambassador's own hands. Is that clear?"

"Quite clear."

"Then be ready—I'm going to say good-bye." He took her hand in his. "Good-bye. Good luck to you," he said in a louder tone.

Her hand closed on the oilskin packet that had lain in his palm.

The Lusitania settled with a more decided list to starboard. In answer to a quick command, the girl went forward to take her place in the boat.
A. 
In the introduction to the book "The Secret Adversary," Agatha Christie dedicates the book "To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure".

How does this excerpt fulfill that dedication?



B. 
Which description of the young woman shows why the man picked her to help with his task?
  1. "One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest."
  2. "She was quite young, not more than eighteen."
  3. "She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead."
  4. She was a woman and women and children were put into lifeboats first.
C. 
What contradictions does the author use when describing the man in the passage?



D. 
What does the girl's response to the missions show about her feelings for her country?
  1. She is a very patriotic individual.
  2. She is not proud of her country.
  3. She feels an indifference toward her country.
  4. She pledges allegiance to another country.
E. 
When it came to carrying out the mission, would it have worked if the man picked a woman or child at random? Explain.



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