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.11-12.4

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Analyzing a Short Story (Grades 11-12)

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Analyzing a Short Story

Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the street at Salem village; but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons on her cap while she called to Goodman Brown.

“Dearest heart,” whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, “prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she’s afeard of herself sometimes. Pray tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year.”

“My love and my Faith,” replied young Goodman Brown, “of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done ’twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married?”

“Then God bless you!” said Faith, with the pink ribbons; “and may you find all well when you come back.”

“Amen!” cried Goodman Brown. “Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee.”

So they parted; and the young man pursued his way until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting- house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.

“Poor little Faith!” thought he, for his heart smote him. “What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought as she spoke there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done to-night. But no, no; ’twould kill her to think it. Well, she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.”

With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose. He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

"There may be an Indian behind every tree,” said Goodman Brown to himself; and he glanced fearfully behind him as he added, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!”

His head being turned back, he passed a crook of the road, and, looking forward again, beheld the figure of a man, in grave and decent attire, seated at the foot of an old tree. He arose at Goodman Brown’s approach and walked onward side by side with him.

“You are late, Goodman Brown,” said he. “The clock of the Old South was striking as I came through Boston, and that is full fifteen minutes agone.”

“Faith kept me back a while,” replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected.
Since the journey Young Goodman Brown is taking must be done at night, what can you infer he must be doing?

The author says his wife is aptly named Faith. How does her name contradict what Young Goodman Brown is going to do?

How does Young Goodman Brown justify the evil he's about to do?
  1. He says his wife will help him get to Heaven.
  2. He says it'll be for the greater good of the world.
  3. He says it's a very important mission related to the health of his wife.
  4. He says he's an adult and can do as he pleases.
How does the author add suspense to the story?
  1. He brings in the devil.
  2. He shows Faith worried about her husband.
  3. He paints the path as gloomy and narrow.
  4. Both b and c
In the story, the author alludes to the fact that the person Young Goodman Brown meets at the end of the passage is...
  1. His father
  2. The devil
  3. An angel
  4. A ghost
“Poor little Faith!” thought he, for his heart smote him.

The word SMOTE most likely means...
  1. Hurt
  2. Hit hard
  3. Filled with love and longing
  4. Smoked
Is Faith selfish for wanting her husband to stay home? Explain.

Which word best describes Faith?
  1. Clingy
  2. Irate
  3. Innocent
  4. Frustrating
Why does the author draw attention to Faith's pink ribbons?
  1. They make her look silly.
  2. They show her lack of fashion sense.
  3. They represent her desire for children.
  4. They help show her innocence.
How does the story deal with the theme of good vs. evil?

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