Analyzing a Character (Grades 11-12)

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Analyzing a Character

1. 
Billy Ray Cobb was the younger and smaller of the two rednecks. At twenty-three he was already a three-year veteran of the state penitentiary at Parchman. Possession, with intent to sell. He was a lean, tough little punk who had survived prison by somehow maintaining a ready supply of drugs that he sold and sometimes gave to the blacks and the guards for protection. In the year since his release he had continued to prosper, and his small-time narcotics business had elevated him to the position of one of the more affluent rednecks in Ford County. He was a businessman, with employees, obligations, deals, everything but taxes. Down at the Ford place in Clanton he was known as the last man in recent history to pay cash for a new pickup truck. Sixteen thousand cash, for a custom-built, four-wheel drive, canary yellow, luxury Ford pickup.
A. 
Why does the author include the details about Billy Ray Cobb's pickup truck?
  1. To provide more details about Billy Ray Cobb as a character
  2. To provide more details about his status in the town
  3. To provide more details about the setting of the story
  4. All of the above
B. 
What type of person is Billy Ray Cobb? Cite at least one example from the passage.



C. 
Which word best describes Billy Ray Cobb?
  1. Redneck
  2. Cunning
  3. Dull-witted
  4. Criminal
D. 
The word AFFLUENT as used in the passage means...
  1. immoral
  2. wealthy
  3. lazy
  4. poor
E. 
What effect did prison have on Billy Ray Cobb's life?



2. 
An excerpt from "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett

Half a mile from home, at the farther edge of the woods, where the land was highest, a great pine-tree stood, the last of its generation. Whether it was left for a boundary mark, or for what reason, no one could say; the woodchoppers who had felled its mates were dead and gone long ago, and a whole forest of sturdy trees, pines and oaks and maples, had grown again. But the stately head of this old pine towered above them all and made a landmark for sea and shore miles and miles away. Sylvia knew it well. She had always believed that whoever climbed to the top of it could see the ocean; and the little girl had often laid her hand on the great rough trunk and looked up wistfully at those dark boughs that the wind always stirred, no matter how hot and still the air might be below...

There was the huge tree asleep yet in the paling moonlight, and small and silly Sylvia began with utmost bravery to mount to the top of it, with tingling, eager blood coursing the channels of her whole frame, with her bare feet and fingers, that pinched and held like a bird's claws to the monstrous ladder reaching up, up, almost to the sky itself.

First she must mount the white oak tree that grew alongside, where she was almost lost among the dark branches and the green leaves heavy and wet with dew; a bird fluttered off its nest, and a red squirrel ran to and fro and scolded pettishly at the harmless housebreaker. Sylvia felt her way easily. She had often climbed there, and knew that higher still one of the oak's upper branches chafed against the pine trunk, just where its lower boughs were set close together. There, when she made the dangerous pass from one tree to the other, the great enterprise would really begin.
A. 
Which word best describes Sylvia's spirit?
  1. Adventurous
  2. Quiet
  3. Bubbly
  4. Restrained
B. 
A synonym of the word WISTFULLY as used in the first paragraph would be...
  1. Excitedly
  2. Fearfully
  3. Adoringly
  4. Longingly
C. 
In paragraph 2, how does Sylvia compare to the tree?



D. 
In the second paragraph, how does the author use a simile to describe Sylvia as she climbs the tree?
  1. Her hands are compared to a bird's feet on a ladder.
  2. Her hands are compared to those of a warrior in battle.
  3. Her hands are compared to those of a small, innocent child.
  4. Her hands are compared to the rough trunk of the tree.
E. 
Do you think Sylvia will be successful at climbing the tree?



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