possibility-of-evil-ireader

advertisement
The Possibility
a/Evil
BY SHIRLEY JACKSON
RELATED NON FICTIO
Are You Q Gossip?
How good are you at
'JUDG I N
people?
The main character in "The Possibility of
Evil" believes she can read into the hearts
of those around her. Do you think it is so
easy to judge people? Are you confident
that you would recognize evil if you came
face to face with it?
WEB IT With a group, fill in a description
wheel for the word evil. Then use the
ideas you have brainstormed to create a
definition of the word.
De !titif/011:
---
-------
ASSESSMENT GOALS
By the end of this lesson, you will be able to...
• identify character motivation in a short story
• use active reading strategies to comprehend text'
• identify audience and purpose in nonfiction text
• analyze a writing prompt and plan a fictional narrative
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
Sl
LEARN THE TER
S: ACADEMIC VOCABULA RY
Character Motivation
Miss Strangewor1 h, the main character in the story you are about to read, is a sweet and
gentle old lady- or is she? As you read the story, you willi gradually discover her main
character TRAITS .
To understand M iss Strangeworth, you will also need to analyze her MOTI VATIONwhy she acts a certain way. To figure out a character's motivation, you often have to
look for details in the story. As you read, consider the following:
• the narrator's direct comments about a character's motivation
• a character's actions, thoughts, and values
• your own understanding of human behavior
You can learn wh( a character acts the way he or she does through the way a writer
develops and cre,]tes the character's personal,ity. The way a writer shows what a
character is like known as CHARACTER IZATION . There are four basic methods of
characterization, shown in the graphic below. By examining these characterization
techniques, you can infer a character's traits, or qualities, such as insecurity or bravery.
METHODS OF CHARACTERIZATION
'*
1
52
UNIT 2
EXAMPLE
the author's direct
w mments about the
character
Enrique' active imagination often
gOt him into uouble.
tt e physical appearance
Sheri flashed a smile as bright as
her new red dres .
0 .:' t he
character
the character's own
thought s. speech. and
adions
"Am I the only one who knows how
to play this game?" Elena thought
critically.
o,ther characters' reactions
t o and comments about
the characte r
James's friends were shocked that the
quiet, upstanding man they knew
had plotted a,complex bank robbery.
THE
POSSIBILITY
-of
--
ARK IT UP
Use these marks to monitor
your reading:
* This is important.
? I don't understand.
This is a surprise.
SHIRLEY JACKSON
When you see this pencil "
you'll be asked to mark up
the text. You can also write in
this book in any way you find
useful.
BACKGROUND ''The Possibility of Evil" and
many of Shirley Jackson's other stories are
set in small American towns that seem
peaceful and friendly until their darker sides
are revealed. The idea that ordinary humans
are capable of great evil is a recurring theme
in Jackson's writing.
M
10
iss Adela Strangeworth stepped daintily along Main Street on her
way to the grocery. The sun was shining, the air was fresh and clear
after the night's heavy rain, and everything in Miss Strangeworth's little town
looked washed and bright. Miss Strangeworth took deep breaths, and
thought that there was nothing in the world like a fragrant summer day.
She knew everyone in town, of course; she was fond of telling
strangers-tourists who sometimes passed through the town and stopped
to admire Miss Strangeworth's roses-that she had never spent more than
a day outside this town in all her long life. She was seventy-one, Miss
Strangeworth told the tourists, with a pretty little dimple showing by her
lip, and she sometimes found herself thinking that the town belonged
to her. "My grandfather built the first house on Pleasant Street," she
would say, opening her blue eyes wide with the wonder of it. "This house,
right here. My family has lived here for better than a hundred years. My
grandmother planted these roses, and my mother tended them, just
as I do. I've watched my town grow; I can remember when Mr. Lewis,
Senior, opened the grocery store, and the year the river flooded out the
shanties l on the low road, and the excitement when some young folks
As the story begins,
you are introduced to
its main character, Miss
Strangeworth. As you
read, look for the methods
of characterization the
author uses to help you
learn about her and what
motivates her behavior.
1. shanties (shan'tez): roughly built cabins; shacks.
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
53
20
MAKE INFERENCES
How does Miss Strangeworth
feel about her town?
- - - - _.._ - - _._ - - -
30
Underline words and phrases
in the first two paragraphs
that support your answer. ,
MAKE INFERENCES
Why do you think Miss
Strangeworth stops to greet
so many people? Give two
reasons why she might enjoy
talking to everyone she sees.
/. -
40
- - - - -"_ .. _--_._.__. -------
z._______
50
wanted to move the park over to the space in front of where the new post
office is today. They wanted to put up a statue of Ethan Allen"2-Miss
Strangeworth would frown a little and sound stern-"but it should have
been a statue of my grandfather. There wouldn't have been a town here at
aU if it hadn't been for my grandfather and the lumber mill." ....
Miss Strangeworth never gave away any of her roses, although the
tourists often asked her. The roses belonged on Pleasant Street, and it
bothered Miss Strangeworth to think of people wanting to carry them
away, to take them into strange towns and down strange streets. When the
new minister came, and the ladies were gathering flowers to decorate the
church, Miss Strangeworth sent over a great basket of gladioli; when she
picked the roses at all, she set them in bowls and vases around the inside of
the house her grandfather had built.
Walking down Main Street on a summer morning, Miss Strangeworth
had to stop every minute or so to say good morning to someone or to
ask after someone's health. When she came into the grocery, half a dozen
people turned away from the shelves and the counters to wave at her or caU
out good morning. ....
"And good morning to you, too, Mr. Lewis," Miss Strangeworth said
at last. The Lewis family had been in the town almost as long as the
Strangeworths; but the day young Lewis left high school and went to
work in the grocery, Miss Strangeworth had stopped calling him Tommy
and started calling him Mr. Lewis, and he had stopped calling her Addie
and started calling her Miss Strangeworth. They had been in high school
together, and had gone to picnics together, and to high school dances
and basketbaU games; but now Mr. Lewis was behind the counter in the
grocery, and Miss Strangeworth was living alone in the Strangeworth
house on Pleasant Street.
"Good morning," Mr. Lewis said, and added politely, "lovely day."
"It is a very nice day," Miss Strangeworth said as though she had only
just decided that it would do after all. "I would like a chop, please, Mr.
Lewis, a small, lean veal chop. Are those strawberries from Arthur Parker's
garden? They're early this year."
"He brought them in this morning," Mr. Lewis said.
"I shall have a box," Miss Strangeworth said. Mr. Lewis looked worried,
she thought, and for a minute she hesitated, but then she decided that he
surely could not be worried over the strawberries. He looked very tired
indeed. He was usually so chipper, Miss Strangeworth thought, and
2. Ethan Allen: a Revolutionary War hero who led a group of soldiers, called the
Green Mountain Boys, from what is now Vermont.
54
UNIT 2
, r
. I' . ,
•
"
J
•• ,
"-
...
,
IiV&lIfl •
almost commented, but it was far too personal a subject to be introduced
to Mr. Lewis, the grocer, so she only said, "And a can of cat food and, I
think, a tomato."
60
70
80
l
90
Silently, Mr. Lewis assembled her order on the counter and waited.
Miss Strangeworth looked at him curiously and then said, "It's Tuesday,
Mr. Lewis. You forgot to remind me."
"Did I? Sorry."
"Imagine your forgetting that I always buy my tea on Tuesday," Miss
Strangeworth said gently. "A quarter pound of tea, please, Mr. Lewis."
"Is that all, Miss Strangeworth?"
"Yes thank you, Mr. Lewis. Such a lovely day, isn't it?"
"Lovely," Mr. Lewis said.
Miss Strangeworth moved slightly to make room for Mrs. Harper at
the counter. "Morning, Adela," Mrs. Harper said, and Miss Strangeworth
said, "Good morning, Martha."
"Lovely day," Mrs. Harper said, and Miss Strangeworth said, "Yes,
lovely," and Mr. Lewis, under Mrs. Harper's glance, nodded.
"Ran out of sugar for my cake frosting," Mrs. Harper explained. Her
hand shook slightly as she opened her pocketbook. Miss Strangeworth
wondered, glancing at her quickly, if she had been taking proper care
of herself. Martha Harper was not as young as she used to be, Miss
Strangeworth thought. She probably could use a good, strong tonic. 3
"Martha," she said, "you don't look well."
''I'm perfectly all right," Mrs. Harper said shortly. She handed her
money to Mr. Lewis, took her change and her sugar, and went out without
Strangeworth shook her head
speaking again. Looking after her,
slightly. Martha definitely did not look well.
--Carrying her little bag of groceries, Miss Strangeworth came out of
the store into the bright sunlight and stopped to smile down on the Crane
baby. Don and Helen Crane were really the two most infatuated young
parents she had ever known, she thought indulgently, looking at the
delicately embroidered baby cap and the lace-edged carriage cover.
"That little girl is going to grow up expecting luxury all her life," she
said to Helen Crane.
Helen laughed. "That's the way we want her to feel," she said. "Like
a princess."
"A princess can be a lot of trouble sometimes," Miss Strangeworth said
dryly. "How old is her highness now?"
Reread the boxed text and
then write two words that
describe Miss Strangeworth's
character.
Which methods of
characterization has the
author used in this passage
to reveal Miss Strangeworth's
personality?
o
o
o
o
direct comments
physical description
character's thoughts,
words, and actions
other characters'
thoughts, words, and
actions in response to her
infatuated crn-fach'oo-a' Td)
adj. intensely f ond
TESTSMART
VOCABULARY
What does the word
indulgently mean in line 87?
®
CD
CD
angrily; harshly
®
guiltily
leniently, gently
kindly
TI P Use context clues to
figure out the best meaning
of an unfamiliar word.
In this case, reread lines
84-90 and notice that Miss
Strangeworth seems to be
fond of the young parents,
yet she warns the mother
against spoiling the baby.
3. tonic: a medicine for restoring and energizing the body.
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
55
rapt (rapt) adj. fully absorbed;
entranced
00
1. Is Miss 5trangeworth
too concerned with things
that are not her business?
Explain. EVALUATE
110
2. Reread lines "7-119. What
does this detail tell you
about Miss 5trangeworth's
character? DRAW CONCLUSIONS
- -- - -_. __...._- - -_.-
"Six months next Tuesday," Helen Crane said, looking down with rapt
wonder at her child. "I've been worrying, though, about her. Don't you
think she ought to move around more? Try to sit up, for instance?"
"For plain and fa'ncl worrying," Miss Strangeworth said, amused, "give
me a new mother every time."
"She just seems-slow," Helen Crane said.
"Nonsense. All babies are different. Some of them develop much more
quickly than others."
"That's what my mother says." Helen Crane laughed, looking a little bit
ashamed.
"I suppose you've got young Don aU upset about the fact that his
daughter is already six months old and hasn't yet begun to learn to dance?"
"I haven't mentioned it to him. I suppose she's just so precious that 1
worry about her all the time."
"Well, apologize to her right now," Miss Strangeworth said. "She is
probably worrying about why you keep jumping around all the time."
Smiling to herself and shaking her old head, she went on down the sunny
street, stopping once to ask little Billy Moore why he wasn't out riding
in his daddy's shiny new car, and talking for a few minutes outside the
library with Miss Chandler, the librarian, about the new novels to be
ordered, and paid for by the annual library appropriation. Miss Chandler
seemed absentminded and very much as though she were thinking about
something else. Miss Strangeworth noticed that Miss Chandler had
not taken much trouble with her hair that morning, and sighed. Miss
Strangeworth hated sloppiness.
PAUSE & REFLECT
it
(Dacus
So far, you have learned
about Miss 5trangeworth
from the author's
descriptions of her, from
other characters' reactions
to her, and from what she
says and thinks. Read on
find out what her actions
reveal about her character
traits and her motivation.
120
130
Many people seemed disturbed recently, Miss Strangeworth thought.
Only yesterday the Stewarts' fifteen-year-old Linda had run crying down
her own front walk and all the way to school, not caring who saw her.
People around town thought she might have had a fight with the Harris
boy, but they showed up together at the soda shop after school as usual,
both of them looking grim and bleak. Trouble at home, people concluded,
and sighed over the problems of trying to raise kids right these days.
From halfway down the block Miss Strangeworth could catch the
heavy scent of her roses, and she moved a little more quickly. The perfume
of roses meant home, and home meant the Strangeworth House on
Pleasant Street. Miss Strangeworth stopped at her own front gate, as she
always did, and looked with deep pleasure at her house, with the red and
4. plain and fancy: every kind of.
56
UNIT 2
140
150
pink and white roses massed along the narrow lawn, and the rambler 5
going up along the porch; and the neat, the unbelievably trim lines of the
house itself, with its slimness and its washed white look. Every window
sparkled, every curtain hung stiff and straight, and even the stones of the
front walk were swept and clear. People around town wondered how old
Miss Strangeworth managed to keep the house looking the way it did, and
there was a legend about a tourist once mistaking it for the local museum
and going all through the place without finding out about his mistake.
But the town was proud of Miss Strangeworth and her roses and her house.
They had all grown together. ...
Miss Strangeworth went up her front steps, unlocked her front door
with her key, and went into the kitchen to put away her groceries. She
debated having a cup of tea and then decided that it was too close to
midday dinnertime; she would not have the appetite for her little chop if
she had tea now. Instead she went into the light, lovely sitting room, which
still glowed from the hands of her mother and her grandmother, who
had covered the chairs with bright chintz6 and hung the curtains. All the
furniture was spare and shining, and the round hooked rugs on the floor
had been the work of Miss Strangeworth's grandmother and her mother.
Miss Strangeworth had put a bowl of her red roses on the low table before
the window, and the room was full of their scent.
Miss Strangeworth went to the narrOw desk in the corner, and
unlocked it with her key. She never knew when she might feel like
writing letters, so she kept her notepaper inside, and the desk locked.
Miss Strangeworth's usual stationery was heavy and cream-colored,
with "Strangeworth House" engraved across the top, but, when she felt
like writing her other letters, Miss Strangeworth used a pad of variouscolored paper, bought from the local newspaper shop. It was almost a
town joke, that colored paper, layered in pink and green and blue and
yellow; everyone in town bought it and used it for odd, informal notes
and shopping lists. It was usual to remark, upon receiving a note written
on a blue page, that so-and-so would be needing a new pad soon-here
she was, down to the blue already. Everyone used the matching envelopes
for tucking away recipes, or keeping odd little things in, or even to hold
cookies in the school lunch boxes. Mr. Lewis sometimes gave them to the
children for carrying home penny candy. ...
Although Miss Strangeworth's desk held a trimmed quill pen, which
had belonged to her grandfather, and a gold-frost fountain pen, which
MAKE INFERENCES
Reread the highlighted
sentence. What does
this description of Miss
Strangeworth's home tell you
about her character?
-------
160
5. rambler: a rose plant that grows upward like a vine, by clinging to a support.
6. chintz: a colorful printed cotton fabric.
MONITOR & PREDICT
Underline details in the boxed
text that let you know that
Miss Strangeworth's usual
stationery is unique. Double
underline details that let you
know that the colored paper is
common. ,
For what kind of writing do
you think Miss Strangeworth
will use the colored paper?
Che.ck all that apply.
o
o
o
o
writing a letter to the
newspaper editor
writing a letter to a
neighbor or friend
writing a grocery list
writing a complaint to the
town librarian
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
57
170
The letters help characterize
Miss Strangeworth by
showing that she is
GD wise
CD
CD
careless
®
funny
cruel
TI P Since the question
refers to Miss Strangeworth's
letters, you should first find
and draw a star next to the
text from each letter. '
180
Then use what you know
from real life and the
content of the letters to
make an inference about
Miss Strangeworth's
character.
negotiable (nY-go'sha-bal) adj.
able to be bargained with
00
Reread the boxed text.
Underline the two reasons
that explain why Miss
Strangeworth writes her
letters. '
had belonged to her father, Miss Strangeworth always used a dull stub
of pencil when she wrote her letters, and she printed them in a childish
block print. After thinking for a minute, although she had been phrasing
the letter in the back of her mind all the way home, she wrote on a pink
sheet: DIDN'T YOU EVER SEE AN IDIOT CHILD BEFORE? SOME
PEOPLE JUST SHOULDN'T HAVE CHILDREN, SHOULD THEY?
She was pleased with the letter. She was fond of doing things exactly
right. When she made a mistake, as she sometimes did, or when the letters
were not spaced nicely on the page, she had to take the discarded page to
the kitchen stove and burn it at once. Miss Strangeworth never delayed
when things had to be done.
After thinking for a minute, she decided that she would like to write
another letter, perhaps to go to Mrs. Harper, to follow up the ones
she had already mailed. She selected a green sheet this time and wrote
quickly: HAVE YOU FOUND OUT YET WHAT THEY WERE ALL
LAUGHING ABOUT AFTER YOU LEFT THE BRIDGE CLUB ON
THURSDAY? OR IS THE WIFE REALLY ALWAYS THE LAST ONE
TO KNOW? ...
Miss Strangeworth never concerned herself with facts; her letters all
dealt with the more negotiable stuff of suspicion. Mr. Lewis would never
have imagined for a minute that his grandson might be lifting petty cash7
from the store register if he had not had one of Miss Strangeworth's letters.
Miss Chandler, the librarian, and Linda Stewart's parents would have
gone unsuspectingly ahead with their lives, never aware of possible evil
lurking nearby, if Miss Strangeworth had not sent letters to open their eyes.
Miss Strangeworth would have been genuinely shocked if there had been
anything between Linda Stewart and the Harris boy, but, as long as evil
existed unchecked in the world, it was Miss Strangeworth's duty to keep
her town alert to it. It was far more sensible for Miss Chandler to wonder
what Mr. Shelley's first wife had really died of than to take a chance on
not knowing. There were so many wicked people in the world and only
one Strangeworth left in town. Besides, Miss Strangeworth liked writing
her letters. ...
She addressed an envelope to Don Crane after a moment's thought,
wondering curiously if he would show the letter to his wife, and using
a pink envelope to match the pink paper. Then she addressed a second
envelope, green, to Mrs. Harper. Then an idea came to her and she
selected a blue sheet and wrote: YOU NEVER KNOW ABOUT
DOCTORS. REMEMBER THEY'RE ONLY HUMAN AND NEED
7. petty cash: a small fund of money kept handy for miscellaneous expenses.
58
UNIT 2
,
,
210
220
MONEY LIKE THE REST OF US. SUPPOSE THE KNIFE SLIPPED
ACCIDENTALLY. WOULD DOCTOR BURNS GET HIS FEE AND
A LITTLE EXTRA FROM THAT NEPHEW OF YOURS?
She addressed the blue envelope to old Mrs. Foster, who was having
an operation next month. She had thought of writing one more letter, to
the head of the school board, asking how a chemistry teacher like Billy
Moore's father could afford a new convertible, but all at once she was tired
of writing letters. The three she had done would do for one day. She could
write more tomorrow; it was not as though they all had to be done at once.
She had been writing her letters-sometimes two or three every
day for a week, sometimes no more than one in a month-for the past
year. She never got any answers, of course, because she never signed her
name. If she had been asked, she would have said that her name, Adela
Strangeworth, a name honored in the town for so many years, did not
belong on such trash. The town where she lived had to be kept clean and
sweet, but people everywhere were lustful and evil and degraded, and
needed to be watched; the world was so large, and there was only one
Strangeworth left in it. Miss Strangeworth sighed, locked her desk, and
put the letters into her big, black leather pocketbook, to be mailed when
she took her evening walk.
PAUSE & REFLECT
I
1\'-
.
C
.
"
"
_,/ .
degraded (dY-gra'did) adj.
corrupted, depraved
I
PAUSE & REflECT
1. Why do you think Miss
Strangeworth does not sign
her name to the letters?
MAKE INFERENCES
2. What do Miss Strangeworth's
actions reveal about her
character? ORA W CONCLUSIONS
I
230
240
She broiled her little chop nicely, and had a sliced tomato and good cup
of tea ready when she sat down to her midday dinner at the table in her
dining room, which could be opened to seat twenty-two, with a second
table, if necessary, in the hall. Sitting in the warm sunlight that came
through the tall windows of the dining room, seeing her roses massed
outside, handling the heavy, old silverware and the fine, translucent
china, Miss Strangeworth was pleased; she would not have cared to be
doing anything else. People must live graciously, after all, she thought, and
sipped her tea. Afterward, when her plate and cup and saucer were washed
and dried and put back onto the shelves where they belonged, and her
silverware was back in the mahogany silver chest, Miss Strangeworth went
up the graceful staircase and into her bedroom, which was the front room
overlooking the roses, and had been her mother's and her grandmother's.
Their Crown Derby dresser setS and furs had been kept here, their fans
and silver-backed brushes and their own bowls of roses; Miss Strangeworth
kept a bowl of white roses on the bed table.
As Miss Strangeworth
prepares to mail her letters,
something unexpected
occurs. Read to find out
how Miss Strangeworth's
past actions affect her.
translucent (trans-loa'sent)
adj. allow ing light to shi ne
thro ugh
8. Crown Derby dresser set: a hairbrush, comb, and hand mirror made offine china.
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
59
TEST5MART
What does the phrase "she
had always made a point
of mailing her letters very
secretly" in line 265 suggest
about Miss Strangeworth?
®
She does not want to
talk to her neighb"lrs.
®
She worries that
people will not take
the letters seriously.
CD
She feels proud of her
role in improving the
town.
®
She knows her
messages will be
upsetting.
25 0
. 1 60
TI P When a question
includes a quotation from
the story, first locate and
reread the paragraph
in which the quotation
appears. If the answer is
not directly stated in the
text, you may have to use
what you know to infer the
answer.
270
reprehensible
(rep'r'f-hen'se-b31) adj.
deserving blamE! and criticism
60
UNIT 2
280
She drew the shades, took the rose-satin spread from the bed, slipped
out of her dress and her shoes, and lay down tiredly. She knew that no
doorbell or phone would ring; no one in town would dare to disturb Miss
Strangeworth during her afternoon nap. She slept, deep in the rich smell
of roses.
After her nap she worked in her garden for a little while, sparing
herself because of the heat; then she came in to her supper. She ate
asparagus from her own garden, with sweet-butter sauce, and a softboiled egg, and, while she had her supper, she listened to a late-evening
news broadcast and then to a program of classical music on her small
radio. After her dishes were done and her kitchen set in order, she took
up her hat-Miss Strangeworth's hats were proverbial in the town;
people believed that she had inherited them from her mother and her
grandmother-and, locking the front door of her house behind her, set
off on her evening walk, pocketbook under her arm. She nodded to Linda
Stewart's father, who was washing his car in the pleasantly cool evening.
She thought that he looked troubled.
There was only one place in town where she could mail her letters,
and that was the new post office, shiny with red brick and silver letters.
Although Miss Strangeworth had never given the matter any particular
thought, she had always made a point of mailing her letters very secretly;
it would, of course, not have been wise to let anyone see her mail them.
Consequently, she timed her walk so she could reach the post office just
as darkness was starting to dim the outlines of the trees and the shapes
of people's faces, although no one could ever mistake Miss Strangeworth,
with her dainty walk and her rustling skirts.
There was always a group of young people around the post office, .
the very youngest roller-skating upon its driveway, which went all ,the
way around the building and was the only smooth road in town; and
the slightly older ones already knowing how to gather in small groups
and chatter and laugh and make great, excited plans for going across the
street to the soda shop in a minute or two. Miss Strangeworth had never
had any self-consciousness before the children. She did not feel that any
of them were staring at her unduly or longing to laugh at her; it would
have been most reprehensible for their parents to permit their children
to mock Miss Strangeworth of Pleasant Street. Most of the children
stood back respectfuHy as Miss Strangeworth passed, silenced briefly in
her presence, and some of the older children greeted her, saying soberly,
"Hello, Miss Strangeworth."
Miss Strangeworth smiled at them and quickly went on. It had been a
long time since she had known the name of every child in town. The mail
,.
,
I'
290
300
310
310
slot was in the door of the post office. The children stood away as Miss
Strangeworth approached it, seemingly surprised that anyone should want
to use the post office after it had been officially closed up for the night
and turned over to the children. Miss Strangeworth stood by the door,
opening her black pocketbook to take out the letters, and heard a voice
which she knew at once to be Linda Stewart's. Poor little Linda was crying
again, and Miss Strangeworth listened carefully. This was, after all, her
town, and these were her people; if one of them was in trouble, she ought
to know about it.
"I can't tell you, Dave," Linda was saying-so she was talking to the ----""\
Harris boy, as Miss Strangeworth had supposed-"I just can't. It's just nasty."
"But why won't your father let me come around anymore? What on
earth did 1 do?"
"I can't tell you. 1 just wouldn't tell you for anything. You've got to have
a dirty dirty mind for things like that."
"But something's happened. You've been crying and crying, and your
father is all upset. Why can't I know about it, too? Aren't 1 like one of
the family?"
"Not anymore, Dave, not anymore. You're not to come near our house
again; my father said so. He said he'd horsewhip you. That's all 1 can tell
"
you: Yiou 're not to come near our h
ouse anymore.
"But 1 didn't do anything."
"Just the same, my father said ..."
Miss Strangeworth sighed and turned away. There was so much evil
in people. Even in a charming little town like this one, there was still so
much evil in people.
She slipped her letters into the slot, and two of them fell inside. The
third caught on the edge and fell outside, onto the ground at Miss
Strangeworth's feet. She did not notice it because she was wondering
whether a letter to the Harris boy's father might not be of some service in
wiping out this potential badness. Wearily Miss Strangeworth turned to go
home to her quiet bed in her lovely house, and never heard the Harris boy
calling to her to say that she had dropped something.
"Old lady Strangewordl's getting deaf," he said, looking after her and
holding in his hand the letter he had picked up.
"Well, who cares?" Linda said. "Who cares anymore, anyway?"
"It's for Don Crane," the Harris boy said, "this letter. She dropped a
letter addressed to Don Crane. Might as well take it on over. We pass his
house anyway." He laughed. "Maybe it's got a check or something in it and
he'd be just as glad to get it tonight instead of tomorrow."
" ",
•
...
'-
MAKE INFERENCES
How can you tell that Miss
Strangeworth has spread lies
and caused trouble between
Linda and Dave? Circle clues in
the boxed text. ,
en-w"l-Zi'
Does Miss Strangeworth
have an accurate view of her
actions? Mark your answer
on the scale below. Place an X
near the number 1 if you think
her view is very inaccurate or
near the number 5 if you think
she sees herself clearly.
2
3
4
5
I
I
I
I
VERY
INACCURATE
VERY
ACCURATE
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
61
i
,
....",.
p-
,
,
•
-
I
PAUSE & REFLECT
1. What happens to Miss
Strangeworth at the end
ofthe story? Circle a clue in
the text that supports your
answer. ' CLARIFY
2. Are the actions taken
against Miss Strangeworth
fair? Explain why or why
not. EVALUATE
Yt.S, be.CA.l.ISe
No, because
Big Question
?
Whom or what might Miss
Strangeworth consider evil?
Whom or what might the
townspeople consider evil?
Explain your answers.
62
UNIT 2
"Catch old lady Strangeworth sending anybody a check," Linda said.
"Throw it in the post office. Why do anyone a favor?" She sniffed. "Doesn't
seem to me anybody around here cares about us," she said. "Why should
we care about them?"
no
''I'll take it over, anyway," the Harris boy said. "Maybe it's good news for
them. Maybe they need something happy tonight, too. Like us."
Sadly, holding hands, they wandered off down the dark street, the
Harris boy carrying Miss Strangeworth's pink envelope in his hand.
Miss Strangeworth awakened the next morning with a feeling of
intense happiness and, for a minute, wondered why, and then remembered
that this morning three people would open her letters. Harsh, perhaps, at
first, but wickedness was never easily banished, and a clean heart was a
scoured heart. She washed her soft, old face and brushed her teeth, still
sound in spite of her seventy-one years, and dressed herself carefully in her
340 sweet, soft clothes and buttoned shoes. Then, going downstairs, reflecting
that perhaps a little waffle would be agreeable for breakfast in the sunny
dining room, she fou!ld the mail on the hall floor, and bent to pick it up.
A bill, the morning paper, a letter in a green envelope that looked oddly
familiar. Miss Strangeworth stood perfectly still for a minute, looking
down at the green envelope with the penciled printing, and thought: It
looks like one of my letters. Was one of my letters sent back? No, because
no one would know. where to send it. How did this get here?
Miss Strangeworth was a Strangeworth of Pleasant Street. Her hand
did not shake as she opened the envelope and unfolded the sheet of green
350 paper inside. She began to cry silently for the wickedness of the world
when she read the words: LOOK OUT AT WHAT USED TO BE YOUR
ROSES.
PAUSE & REflECT
Ii
Reading Comprehension
DIRECTIONS Answer these questions about "The Possibility ofEvil" by
filling in the correct ovals.
1. At the beginning of the story, Miss
Strangeworth is characterized as
®
CD
5. Miss Strangeworth uses the pad of variouscolored paper for her letters because she is
forgetful
a confused elderly lady
®
®
CD
a humorous elderly lady
CD
stingy
®
a respected elderly lady
®
sneaky
an un"friendly elderly lady
2. Why are Miss Strangeworth's roses
important to her?
®
They remind her that she is important
in the town.
artistic
6. Which word best describes how Miss
Strangeworth feels at the end of the story?
®
hurt
CD
revengeful
CD
She enjoys sharing them.
CD
proud
CD
A friend planted them.
®
guilty
®
She mails them in her letters.
3. How is the setting important to the story?
®
It is a town in which history is
important to everyone.
CD
It is a small town, so most people
know one another.
CD
It is a recently-settled town, so most
people are newcomers.
®
It is a town that draws a lot of
tourists, so people work together to
make it attractive.
4. In line 93, when Miss Strangeworth
says, CIA princess can be a lot oftrouble
sometimes," she shows that she is
®
CD
sympathetic
CD
opinionated
®
gracious
7. What does the word disturbed mean in
line 120?
®
interrupted
CD
distant
CD
upset
®
hurried
8. From its use in line 337, you can tell that
banished means
®
punished severely
CD
denied
CD
forgotten
®
driven away
self-absorbed
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
63
For help, use the Test-Tllk,r'.
Toolkit below.
Responding in
9. Short Response Write a paragraph that tells which method of characterization
you found to be most effective in this story, and how that method affected your
understanding of the character. 3e sure to cite specific examples from the story to
support your response.
TEST-TAKER'S TOOLKIT
I
ACADEMIC VOCABULARY Remember there are four main methods of characterization: an author's
direct comments about the character; the character's physical appearance; the character's words,
thoughts; and actlons; or other characters' reactions to the character.
GRAPHIC ORGANIZER USE the chart below to help you plan your response. Look back at the story
to find specific details to support your response.
Method of Characterization
Examples From the Story
What I Learn About
Miss Strangeworth
-
!
I
64
UNIT 2
,
I
I
I
I
I
I
What's the Connection?
The central character in "The Possibility of Evil" spreads gossip by writing and
sending cruel notes to people in her community. In the magazine article "Are You
a Gossip?" the author quizzes readers about their own feelings about gossip, and
presents advice on how to handle gossiping.
CHART IT Is gossip always good or always bad? With a partner, complete the chart
to explore your thoughts about gossip. First, work together to define what gossip
means. Then list positive and negative aspects of gossip and gossiping.
Use with "The Po sibility
of Evil, P.50
Gossip MUllS
Positive aspects:
Nctja.tive aspects:
/.
/.
Z.
Z.
3.
3.
LEARN THE SKILL: IDENTlfV PURPOSE AND AUDIENCE
The author's purpose is the reason the author has for writing a particular work.
The audience is the people who will read the work. When you .read nonfiction,
look for clues about the author's purpose for writing and about the audience for
which the piece was intended.
• Determine the type of text. Is it a newspaper article for a general audience,
or does it appear in a special-interest magaZine? The type of writing will
provide clues to both the audience and purpose.
• Scan the title, any subheadings or other text features, and the introductory
paragraph to get a general sense of what the text is about.
• As you read, pay attention to the author's choice of words. Can you tell
whether the piece was written to inform, entertain, persuade, or express
thoughts and feelings?
For more on author's purpose, see the Nonfiction Skills Handbook, beginning
on page R2.
RELATED NONFICTION
65
SET A PURP OSE
pVr'pose for' r'eaL/fltg is
- - - -_
..
_-- - - -
AUTHOR'S PURPOSE
Scan the text and notice how
it is organized. Place a check
mark next to the type of
writing it is.
o
o
o
Are you spreading rumors like wildfire? Or do you ptefer
to stamp out gossip before it sparks up? Take our quiz
to gauge your gossip groove.
brochure for a general
audience
article from a teen
magazine
excerpt from a book on
parenting
AUDIENCE
Notice the phrases "gossip
mags" (line S) and "caf chat"
(line 6) in the first paragraph.
What do these phrases tell
you about the audience for
whom the article is written?
10
Gossip is pretty impossible to avoid. Stand in line at the checkout of
any grocery store, and what do you see? Gossip mags- everywhere! Sit
at the lunch table with your buds and chances are most of the caf chat is
gossip. Gossiping is a natural way of communicating with your peers and,
in most cases, is harmless.
But it's crucial to realize constant gabbing and spreading false rumors
can backfire. People .can get hurt, friends can become enemies and reps
can be tarnished by bogus gossip. Nobody says you've got to keep your lips
totally zipped. But could your motor mouth be running on overdrive?
1. You overhear Hannah from homeroom tell the guidance counselor
about her folks fighting. She's way upset. Would you tell your buds?
Underline other words and
phrases in the first two
paragraphs that support your
answer. ,
66
UNIT 2
20
(a) No. You don't really know Hannah, and it'd be creepy to spread
her bad news.
(b) Well ... maybe you'd tell your closest girls and swear them to
secrecy.
(c) Sure. Good dirt is good dirt.
(d) Why would you be even remotely interested in invading Hannah's
privacy?
2. Your locker is next to the teachers' lounge. You're stashing a book
when you overhear your problem math teacher bragging that he's
springing a killer pop quiz on your class tomorrow. You
30
(a) make sure to put your math notes in your backpack-you'll need
to study hard tonight
(b) pass the word along to your best buds only, so they'll have an
edge
(c) freak out and then run through the halls warning every classmate
you see
(d) resolve to do your best on the quiz. You're not going to cram, and
you're not going to tell anyone either. It would defeat the point of
a pop qUIZ.
3. Your girl Maria is totally happy with her BF Adam. One afternoon,
you're picking up some shampoo at the drug store. You spy Adam
near the magazine racks, holding hands with agirl who is definitely
not Maria! Do you tell anyone?
40
(a) Not a chance. You don't want to be involved in anyone's breakup.
(b) You might tell Maria privately. You're not sure how she will react,
but her feelings count the most.
(c) Of course, you tell Maria in front of the crew. She and everyone
else need to know Adam's a loser!
(d) No way. You wouldn't touch such a tawdry situation with a lO-foot
pole.
AUDIENCE
Read Question 3 carefully.
Is this article written for a
female or a male audience?
Circle one.
female
male
Underline clues that support
your response. ,
4. Psst ... can you be trusted with a secret?
50
(a) You're so not into secrets. You'd rather not even hear them in the
first place.
(b) Sometimes. If it's a really close bud's secret, you can keep it totally
to yourself.
(c) No. You've tried, but you just can't keep your big mouth shut.
(d) You bet. You pride yourself on keeping all secrets securely under
your cap.
5. You receive a nasty e-mail chain letter with mean stuff about some
popular girls you don't like. What do you do?
(a) Read it once, feel kinda yucky and delete it.
(b) Read it and send it to your BFF only.
(c) Read it over and over, laughing like crazy, and forward it to your
entire address book.
(d) Stop reading it after the second sentence and trash it.
RELATED NONFICTION
67
160
·itLi"
rtiil
(a) Why? Word has spread so fast already, kids three towns over know
about it.
(b) No, but you might chime in if it comes up.
(c) Why not? It was only the funniest thing you've ever seen.
(d) Are you kidding? That would be cruel.
'
Reread lines 71-77- Circle
words and phrases that show
that the author is writing for a
teenaged audience. ,
What clues about author's
purpose do you get from the
author's choice of words?
SCORING
70
80
Circle the word dish in
line 85. '
You may know that dish is a
slang word that is a synonym
for gossip. Slang words are
words or phrases that have
special meaning for the
members of a particular group.
In this case, teenagers are the
group who would most likely
know the meaning of dish. List
other slang words the author
uses that are synonyms for
gossip or gossipping. WORD
ANALYSIS
68
UNIT 2
6. Today, your gym teacher made everyone run an obstacle course.
This geek Conrad got his foot caught in a tire and, when he tried
to shake Loose, he fell flat on his face. The class burst out Laughing.
Would you teLL the kids on your bus what happened?
ZIPPED LIPS: MOSTLY A's
Gossip just isn't your bag. Frankly, you might not be all that into the
whole social scene thing altogether. Let's just say you're not exactly what
would be referred to as a people person. It's not like you're a freaky hermit
who's isolated herself from the whole world or anything. You're just hyperfocused on the things that matter in your life, like maintaining your
straight-A average, acing piano or training for cross-country. Why worry
about what's going on in everybody else's world? Well ... ..
As long as the gabbing doesn't get ugly, it's fun to spill about such-andsuch's new-and-improved makeover or listen to the nitty-gritty details
of last night's double date. Don't let your reclusive tendencies shut you
out of the loop entirely. You could be losing out on a lot of major girlbonding time. Sometimes, it's good to be in the know rather than Little
Miss Solo.
RUMOR REALIST: MOSTLY B's
90
OK, you're the first to admit it-when it comes to dish, you're only
human. So sure, your ears perk up when you catch wind of a meaty morsel
of information. The cool thing about you is that you're sympathetic when
it comes to gossip. You wouldn't rip on the girl who sits behind you in
homeroom ifshe came in one morning with a bad perm. Causing real pain
for another person is the last thing you want to do. ...
We know how tempting it can be to indulge in listening to or passing
along a juicy rumor. But being a rumor realist means you totally understand
why gossip can be so irresistible at times. It also means you're truthful
about the consequences harsh gossip can bring and that you respect other
people's feelings. Your empathy is admirable, so remember to zip the lip
when necessary.
BIG-TIME BUSYBODY: MOSTLY ('s
100
110
Oh, man. Are you ever up in other people's business! You love talking
trash-who dumped whom ... who failed what ... who is wearing the worst
outfit ever! If it's goin' on, you're on it! You've been caught passing off your
wild assumptions as cold, hard facts. Check the source? Who has time?
If you don't spread the word, the news could be cold by Tuesday-and a
girl's got to stay on top of things. Though you'd probably be a fantastic
asset to the National Enquirer's editorial staff, you need to downshift that
motor mouth.
A little gossip is OK. And everyone has blabbed a rumor or two. But
your obsession with gossip is trouble. You need to consider some pretty
tricky stuff about yourself before your secret-spilling gets you in major
hot water.
Not only will people not trust you, confide in you or believe you-they
might ditch you. Instead of searching for attention by exploiting people or
putting them down to elevate your esteem, a far better way to feel good
about yourself is to get involved in your own thing. Since you love the
spotlight, why not audition for the school play instead ofmocking the girls
on your soccer team? From now on, vow to spread only good news.
TESTSMART
What is the main idea of the
text under the subheading
"Big-Time Busybody:
Mostly C's?"
CD
You enjoy harmless
gossip now and then.
®
Your tendency to
gossip not only harms
others, but it may hurt
you, too.
©
You may need to
loosen up and
occasionally enjoy
harmless gossip.
®
Don't allow your
dislike for gossip
to isolate you from
others.
MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY: MOSTLY D's
120
You consider yourself to be on higher ground-miles above petty
rumors. Your desire to avoid hurtful gab is admirable. Just make sure you
don't come across with a 'tude, like you're superior to other people because
you don't partake in gossip sessions or approve of the discussion. Nobody
appreciates a moral lashing from a pal, especially if it's over insignificant
Hollywood rumors or other trite stuff.
Also, remember harmless gossip can be fun. So keep those ears perked,
and feel free to let a juicy little morsel roll off the tip of your tongue. You
can learn to love the power of positive dish! As long as you're not spreading
false rumors, lying or spilling personal stuff, it's OK. The great thing about
you is you don't need to rip on some poor popstar's pink-feathered tutu
to feel good about yourself. So ... a little feel-good gossip might make
your day! It's the gift of gab.
TIP When a question asks
you to return to a particular
section of the text, be
certain that you locate and
reread the right section.
Then read the choices and
determine which response
best restates the section's
main idea.
RELATED NONFICTION
69
Reading Comprehension
Answer these questions about the two selections in this
filling in the correct ovals.
DIRECTIONS
lesson
1. According to "Are You a Gossip?" gossiping is
®
®
alway; harmful
CD
a way to make people feel better
®
not wrong if the information is true
hard to avoid
2. With whic 1 statement would the author of
"Are You a Gossip?" most likely agree?
®
Mos': people can spot a false rumor.
®
People should refrain from gossiping.
CD
is usually spread by people
whc are socially isolated.
®
Peo Ie should be careful not to
spn:ad gossip that harms others.
3. The author's purpose in writing "Are You a
Gossip?" is most likely to
®
®
CD
enlertain and give advice
®
in':orm readers about how people
hc,ve been harmed by gossip
5. Which statement from "Are You a Gossip?"
reflects the plot events in Jackson's Story?
®
"Gossiping is a natural way of
communicating with your peers and,
in most cases, is harmless." (lines 7-8)
®
"People can get hurt, friends can
become enemies and reps can be
tarnished by bogus gossip." (lines 10-11)
CD
"Why worry about what's going on in
everybody else's world?" (lines 76-77)
®
"Causing real pain ... is the last thing
you want to do." (lines 89-90)
6. Which tip from "Are You a Gossip?" would
have helped Miss Strangeworth?
®
80-81)
CD
"Your empathy is admirable, so
remember to zip the lip when
necessary." (lines 95-96)
CD
"You need to consider some pretty
tricky stuff about yourself before
your secret-spilling gets you in major
hot water." (lines 107-109)
®
"So keep those ears perked, and feel
free to let a juicy little morsel roll off
the tip of your tongue." (lines 123-124)
•
pe 'suade people not to gossip
ex:>lain her feelings about gossip
4. Accord ' ng to "Are You a Gossip?" a "rumor
realist" is someone who
®
will not spread a rumor until he or
s le has checked out its truthfulness
CD
70
UNIT 2
"Don't let your reclusive tendencies
shut you out ofthe loop ... " (lines
coesn't care whether a rumor is true
end can't resist passing it on
CD
knows the difference between
harmful and harmless gossip
®
Jrefers not to spread gossip and
:lvoids it at all costs
7. A word that means nearly the same thing
as bogus (line 11 of "Are You a Gossip?") is
®
enjoyable
CD
minor
CD
untrue
®
harmful
8. In line 91 of the article,
indulge means
®
to share
CD
to move beyond
®
to point out
®
to give into
Download
Related flashcards
Create flashcards