How to Answer Literary Questions. How to Begin Answering Literary Questions. Identify what the question is specifically asking you to prove with textual evidence.
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How to Answer Literary Questions
PROVIDE TEXTUAL EVIDENCE
Select apt words and phrases that prove the answer. Single words or groups of 3-5 words woven into your own writing are more powerful than using longer quotes that would result in writing that is more the text’s author’s than your own.
Weave the chosen apt words and phrases into sentences that are original, meaning most of the words are yours and not the text’s author’s.
Introduce the chosen apt words/phrases with your own words. One good way to do this is to begin your sentence by referring to a specific event in the story or text. Ex. When the scorpion bites Coyotito, “….”
After the scorpion bites Coyotito, “….”
Ellipses are to be used when you omit a word or words of an author’s that you are quoting.
Use 3 dots (…) for words omitted in the middle of an author’s sentence.
Use 4 dots (….”) for words omitted at the end of an author’s sentence.
Using Brackets [ ]
Use brackets [ ] around words and endings and beginnings of words
to indicate that you have changed the author’s words to write your sentences grammatically correctly, being certain to always write about literature in present tense.
To change a letter from a capital to a lower case or from lower case to a capital, put brackets around only the one letter.
Ex. Change [t]he to [T]he
To change an entire word to conform to present tense, put brackets around the entire word.
Ex. Change did to [does]
To change an ending of a word to conform to present tense, put brackets around only the ending.
Ex. Prepared to prepare[s]
In “A Horse for Matthew,” what do Matthew and Sundance have in common? Explain your answer and support it with evidence from the selection.
In “A Horse for Matthew,” Matthew and Sundance both share tragic pasts with ironic parallels. Matthew is injured by his horse, to the point that “[h]e won’t even go near a horse,” while Sundance, “mistreated” by former caretakers, “bolt[s] madly” at the “mere sight of a rope” when anyone attempts to “get close to her.” It is their common previous devastating experiences that bring them together, at first, Matthew “as apprehensive of [Sundance] as she of him,” until, finally, the horse-injured Matthew “treats…the wounds” of the human-injured Sundance.
What did the author of “Hello, Old Paint” learn from her experience? Explain your answer and support it with evidence from the selection.
The author of “Hello, Old Paint” learns two lessons, one superficial yet practical, the other deeper with emotionally satisfying effects. On the surface, the reader easily sees that the author learns that doing business with strangers can result in repercussions as the “check bounc[es],” marked “Insufficient funds” for the sale of two animals, a sale that she begins to “[regret] almost as soon as the sale is made.” On a deeper level, the reader must surmise that the author learns the meaning of friendship, whether between humans or between humans and animals, that friendships are not “just meant to end” but rather that “friendships take work” to keep them from “[fading]” as hers with Billy and Cricket and Sassy almost does had not she learned to work at nourishing those relationships.
How is the bond between humans and animals important between “A Horse for Matthew” and “Hello, Old Paint”? Support your answer with evidence from both selections.
The common bonds of friendship between humans and animals in both “A Horse for Matthew” and “Hello, Old Paint” are ones that cannot be created nor maintained without nurturing. At first, Matthew keeps a safe distance from Sundance, but gradually begins to understand and empathize with her, “lingering behind, closely studying” her, eventually “treat[ing]” her “wounds,” thereby, each gaining the other’s friendship through much effort. Similarlarly, the author of “Hello, Old Paint” at first regards Cricket and Sassy as “friendships…meant to end,” as she regretfully sells them, but comes to realize, through her friendship with Billy, though “fading,” that “[f]riendships take work” and are not meant to “fade.”
In “The Snob,” which character do you think is the snob? Explain your answer and support it with textual evidence.
In “The Snob,” ironically, John’s own insecurity evokes the characteristics of a snob, as he jealously attacks Grace, her family’s stature much different than his family’s “plainness.” With misplaced pride and a façade of diffidence, John assumes that Grace “should be delighted to be with him,” yet he does not want to introduce her to his slovenly-dressed father standing nearby in the bookstore. He accuses Grace of not liking “simple, honest people,” who have “no pretensions,” people like his father and unlike him. John’s thoughts and actions reveal his own dishonest pretensions in his “resolve to make Grace’s people admire him,” dooming him to “ever think” of the shameful way he treats his father.
In “Common Threads,” Ana Veciana-Suarez juxtaposes her initial “embarrassment [of her father] from a teenage recruit’s point of view” to an epiphany of respect and pride that her father evokes in her, regardless of his “ridiculous outfit.” Remembering the assault of the many embarrassing “mortifications of the past” of her “well-meaning, but clueless parents,” Ana worries that her family of immigrants will do the “wrong thing” at her nephew’s graduation from Marine basic training. She realizes that her father’s mismatched attire represents his immigrant status, a “stranger in a strange land” who has endured much “sacrifice and risk” and, therefore, deserves her respect and pride rather than shame, regardless of his appearance.
Do John in “The Snob” and the author of “Common Threads” share a similar concern? Explain you answer and support it with evidence from both selections.
John, in “The Snob” and Ana Veciana-Suarez, author of “Common Threads” share an embarrassment of their fathers’ attire, though each arrive at antithetical epiphanies. John’s epiphany results from his decision not to introduce Grace to his misclad father, an action that prompts the accompanying “humiliation” to “sick[en]” him as he “wait[s] and [does] nothing,” forever remembering the shameful way he treats his more-deserving father. Ana, on the other hand, realizes that her father’s attire, “[t]acky…not even a touch of red” for the occasion matters not as he has always “managed to soldier on bravely.”