Entry-Level Assessment (RL.9-10.1-2)
by Luigi Ebrahimi
| 4 Questions
Read the question and the passage. Then answer the question.

"Vera went behind the curtain and Bigger heard her trying to comfort his mother. He shut their voices out of his mind. He hated his family because he knew that they were suffering and that he was powerless to help them. He knew that the moment he allowed himself to feel to its fullness how they lived, the shame and misery of their lives, he would be swept out of himself with fear and despair. So he held toward them an attitude of iron reserve; he lived with them, but behind a wall, a curtain. And toward himself he was even more exacting. He knew that the moment he allowed what his life meant to enter fully into his consciousness, he would either kill himself or someone else. So he denied himself and acted tough."

Which of the following choices best determines the central idea behind the passage above?
A. The passage illustrates the way Bigger ignores his family and refuses to help them out of selfishness and irresponsibility. Instead of comforting his mother, helping his family and getting a job, he "shuts their voices out of his mind," which goes to show that Bigger has no interest in helping his family. He simply chooses to do whatever he wants, no matter how much his family will suffer in turn.
B. Bigger has a strong hatred for his family and his only wish is to be completely free of them. He longs for his own room with privacy so that he can live a normal life. The curtained wall he put up shows that he wants separation from them, but they are still too close. The lack of privacy affects his mental health by making him feel angry; angry enough to "kill himself or someone else."
C. Though Bigger is powerless to change the way his family lives, his entire identity is shaped by it. He feels guilt, remorse, fear, and shame altogether when he thinks about it—but he refuses to dwell on it because that would make life unbearable. It is his very powerlessness that makes him feel guilt and shame.
D. The passage begins with Bigger's family crying. This causes Bigger to shut their voices out of his mind. The narrator reveals that Bigger feels resentment or hatred toward his family because he knew he was not able to help them. Bigger knows that fully understanding the misery behind his life and his family's will only make things worse by hurting his feelings yet more. So he keeps a distance from them and from his own self, knowing that if he allowed the full picture of their reality to hit him, he would kill himself or kill somebody else.
Bigger Thomas is on trial for murder. Imagine yourself in court at his trial. If you were asked to share a statement on Bigger Thomas to the jury and explain whether or not he deserves our sympathy, what would you say? Please be as clear and thoughtful as possible.
What might be a quote(s) from the novel Native Son that you would use to explain your position on Bigger Thomas to the jury? Please copy down the quote(s) and cite the page number.
Lastly, explain how the quote you cited above supports your position on Bigger Thomas. How does the quote prove that what you're saying is valid? How does it demonstrate that Bigger truly deserves sympathy? Be as detailed as possible when breaking down the quote for the courtroom.
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