Friday, June 1, 2018

Hail Hydra

This is it.  For better or for worse, the forces of evil have us now. Take a deep breath.  Remember your training.  Serve you well, it could.  Good luck everyone!  If you need some last minute tips, try here:

Hail Hydra!

See you next year!

What? You still want a final question?  O.K., in the opening lines of this post, there is a reference to what Yoda told Luke Skywalker right before he left to fight Vader for the first time.  What do we call those references?

a. hyperbole
b. allusion
c. symbolism
d. archetype

Scroll down for the answer.

The answer is b. allusion of course!

And for you nerds out there (no offense meant as I am one obviously myself), I know I mixed Marvel and Star Wars references in this post, but since Disney owns them both, I figure it's fair.  Now, if we could just convince Disney to buy out the NC State Testing Service....

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Why Did I Ever Teach This Book?

Read these opening paragraphs of The Scarlet Letter:

A throng of bearded men, in sad-coloured garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.

The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognised it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison. In accordance with this rule it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison-house somewhere in the Vicinity of Cornhill, almost as seasonably as they marked out the first burial-ground, on Isaac Johnson'out his grave, which subsequently became the nucleus of all the congregated sepulchres in the old churchyard of King's Chapel. Certain it is that, some fifteen or twenty years after the settlement of the town, the wooden jail was already marked with weather-stains and other indications of age, which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front. The rust on the ponderous iron-work of its oaken door looked more antique than anything else in the New World. Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of the street, was a grass-plot, much overgrown with burdock, pig-weed, apple-pern, and such unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilised society, a prison. But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-hush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.

What is the most likely reason that Nathanial Hawthorne opened his novel with a description of a door?

a. to show off the fine workmanship and artistic nature of the Puritans
b. to make a comparison that prisons are essentially the grave yards of society.
c. because Hawthorne doesn't understand what it means to write a passage with an interesting theme
d. to show how a place is not a utopia if it has to have a prison

This is the best student project I ever received.  It is from Billy Fowler in 1997 back in the days I thought teaching this horrible book was a good idea.  Billy has since become quite an artist and has his own studio.  Check him out at:

Scroll down for the answer.

a. is incorrect.  This is a bad answer as the author said it was ugly.
b. is incorrect.  Sounds good, doesn't it?
c. while a true statement, does not properly answer the question.  It is incorrect.
d. is correct.  A utopia is a perfect society.  Perfect societies would not have to have a prison.

The danger in this question lies in the length of the passage.  Do not despair when the state gives you a long passage.  They want you to give up on it.  Fight back! ~

Thanks to for the opening page of The Scarlet Letter.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!

Read this quote by Charlie Brown from the holiday special Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!  It occurs right after Lucy asks Charlie Brown if he would kick the football she is holding.

"Ha! You'll pull it away and I'll land flat on my back and kill myself!"

What literary term is Charlie Brown using to make his point?

a. simile
b. verbal irony
c. hyperbole
d. rhetoric device

Scroll down for the answer.

c. hyperbole is the correct answer

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Poseidon's Ticked - or Is It Hypnos?

Read the statement below:

What storms then shook the ocean of my sleep.

This is an example of which literary term?

a. idiom
b. simile
c. metaphor
d. personification
e. imagery
f. rhetorical device

Scroll down for the answer.

The answer here is c. metaphor.  Sleep is being compared to an ocean and whatever is troubling the narrator and keeping him/her from sleeping is being compared to storms.  Metaphors are often difficult to spot since they do not advertise the comparison, like similes do.  If you are reading on the state test and something doesn't seem to make sense, then perhaps you missed a metaphor and are trying to read the comparison literally instead of figuratively.

Friday, May 25, 2018


Which of the following quotes taken from a movie is an example of an idiom?

a. from: The Avengers
Loki: I am a god, dull creature, and I will NOT be bullied by a ...

b. from: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Kirk: If we play our cards right, we may be able to find out when those whales are being released.
Spock: How will playing cards help?

c. from: Clash of the Titans
Perseus: If I do this, I do it as a man.
Draco: But you are NOT just a man.

d. from: Taken
Bryan: I have a daughter who wants to be a singer. I was wondering if you have any tips for her.
Sheerah: Yeah, I do. Tell her pick another career.

Scroll down for the answer.

To get this question right, you need to know the definition of idiom:
The term refers to a set expression or a phrase comprising two or more words. An interesting fact regarding the device is that the expression is not interpreted literally. The phrase is understood as to mean something quite different from what individual words of the phrase would imply. Alternatively, it can be said that the phrase is interpreted in a figurative sense. Further, idioms vary in different cultures and countries.

For all of these, the only one that has a set expression is when Kirk is talking to Spock and says, "play our cards right," so the correct answer is b. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Burn Baby Burn

Read the following excerpt from Fahrenheit 451.  This is a book written in the 1950s that takes place in our future.

The little mosquito-delicate dancing hum in the air, the electrical murmur of a hidden wasp snug in its special pink warm nest. The music was almost loud enough so he could follow the tune.

Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of the tomb, her eyes fixed in the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty. Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea, had not gladly gone down in it for the third time.

What is the purpose of the metaphor in this passage?

a. to explain how Mildred drowned
b. to show that Mildred cannot swim
c. to explain how Mildred listens to music
d. to show Mildred's unique fashion sense

Scroll down for the answer.

This is a typical NCFinal three part question. Part one, do you know what a metaphor is?  Part two, can you find the metaphor?  Part three do you understand what the metaphor means?  

The ocean is a metaphor showing how distant Mildred is when she uses the "seashell" radio.  Basically Ray Bradbury is envisioning ear buds way back in the 1950s.  Know that you know that, the other metaphor, the mosquito, makes more sense as well and adds to the understanding.  
C. is the correct answer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Flowers for Algernon

In the short story, "Flowers for Algernon," by Daniel Keyes, Charlie, a man with cognative disabilities, is being experimented on by some scientists to see if they can make him smart. At this point in the story, Charlie is telling us about his friends:

"Sometimes somebody will say hey look at Joe or Frank or George he really pulled a Charlie Gordon. I dont know why they say that but they always laff. This morning Amos Borg who is the 4 man at Donnegans used my name when he shouted at Ernie the office boy. Ernie lost a packige. He said Ernie for godsake what are you to be a Charlie Gordon. I dont understand why he said that.
"Their really my friends and they like me."

This is an example of:
a. verbal irony
b. dialect
c. unreliable narrator
d. 2nd person point of view

Scroll down for the answer


a. is incorrect - although Charlie says many things that he doesn't understand, he does mean everything he says. Verbal irony is saying one thing but meaning something else.
b. is incorrect - there are several misspellings, but this is not to show how he is pronouncing them, he just doesn't know how to spell very well.
c. is correct - Charlie is unreliable because he doesn't realize that he is not correct. These guys are making fun of him and are not his friends, but he doesn't understand this.
d. is incorrect - 2nd person point of view uses "you" as the narrator and is rarely seen.