Seeing

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On election day in the capital, it is raining so hard that no one has bothered to come out to vote. The politicians are growing jittery. Should they reschedule the elections for another day? Around three o’clock, the rain finally stops. Promptly at four, voters rush to the polling stations, as if they had been ordered to appear.

But when the ballots are counted, more than 70 percent are blank. The citizens are rebellious. A state of emergency is declared. But are the authorities acting too precipitously? Or even blindly? The word evokes terrible memories of the plague of blindness that hit the city four years before, and of the one woman who kept her sight. Could she be behind the blank ballots? A police superintendent is put on the case.

What begins as a satire on governments and the sometimes dubious efficacy of the democratic system turns into something far more sinister. A singular novel from the author of Blindness.

Curriculet Details
117 Questions
122 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 9th and 10th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining the motif of water, literary allusions to the Bible and historical events, and the use of metaphor. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about characterization and theme. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of plot, literary devices, and character motivation. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Seeing

As with Jose Saramago's other works, the author does not use traditional punctuation when writing dialogue. Pay attention to who is speaking, as without quotation marks it can get confusing. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What are the names of the three parties? 
Each of these words represents bodies of water in other countries. The Nile is a river in Egypt, Iguacu is a waterfall in Argentina, and Yangtse is a river in China. Water is a motif in this novel. Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation of motif.  (This annotation contains a video)
Note the sense of foreshadowing here. See the video below for a more detailed explanation of foreshadowing.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Which of the following is the best inference the reader could make about who might vote in a torrential downpour, based on this sentence? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What literary device is used in this highlighted sentence? 
Not only is this an oxymoron, or something that appears contradictory, it is a simile, or a comparison of two unlike things using like or as. It also furthers the water motif. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why might the secretary be considered a leader? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Which of the following is the closest summary of what the author says about modern leadership in this paragraph? 
This phrase, originally from Francis Bacon's Essays written in 1625, means that because they cannot achieve the goal they originally wanted, they will seek alternate routes. The government in this novel will always seek alternate means. 
This polling station stands as a synecdoche, where a part represents the whole. If this voting station has no voters, it is possible that all voting stations are standing empty of anyone who is not a politician. 
If you've never voted, the above description is a fairly typical one of the bureaucracy that exists when one votes. Below, see an image of a polling station.  (This annotation contains an image)
Note the personification of the storm here. See below for more information about personification.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Why has the election been "a terrible political failure"? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What effect does the very long run on sentence have on the rising action? 
The t.v. commentators, who have been waiting for something to happen, are compared to wolves hunting in this short section. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is unusual about this election? 
The anomaly of the blank ballots occurred in the capital only. 
What two things are being compared in this extended metaphor? 
In this sentence, it is important to determine just what "this . . . trump card" is referring to. It refers to the fact that the party on the right (p.o.t.r.) is currently in power. Thus, the party believes they will win because they are already controlling the government. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Many things were different from the first election. Which of the following was NOT different? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How can the reader infer that the government is controlling, based on the descriptions of the voting queue, or line? 
Pay attention to the various clues the author gives that the government seeks to control the city. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What mood does the structure of this text, that of dialogue and questions without punctuation, evoke in the reader? 
The imaginary interrogation adds to the mood of the story. Mood is based on the feelings evoked in the reader, created using writing techniques such as word choice. What emotion do you feel after reading this pretend interaction between a man and the government? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does the Minister of the Interior react to the fact that the voters refuse to talk about how they voted? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What effect does the repetition of the phrase "sip of water" have on passage? 
Consider what total silence might mean to the government officials. What might their silence foreshadow? Silence as treason is a theme in this novel. See below for a more detailed explanation of theme.  (This annotation contains a video)
This phrase is a biblical allusion to Luke 15:11, which refers to a parable about two sons. One son strayed from his father's side but was welcomed back and celebrated when he apologized. The second son, who had never strayed, was not celebrated.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
Which historical event seems to best match the situation in which the citizens find themselves? 
Here again is a foreshadowing of doom.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Why might the Minister of Defense use words like 'pestilence' and 'gangrene' in his metaphor to describe the capital? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Throughout this novel, much as his other novel, Blindness, characters do not have specific names. Which minister seems the most practical so far? 
"Ab ovo" is a reference to the myth of Leda and the swan. Leda, a Greek woman, was raped by Zeus while he was in the shape of a swan. From this rape, Helen of Troy was born. Helen was the purported reason that the Trojan war was started.  
It may be helpful to create a graphic organizer that lists the various ministers and their outlook on the election. It is possible that these ministers represent satire. The author may be mocking bureaucracy and government. See below for a more detailed explanation of satire.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Which of the following literary devices best represents how the official describes censorship? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What will the citizens "begin to see"? 
Recall that this book is called Seeing. What might the citizens begin to see in this novel? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
Why did the author repeat questions about such items as the salt or the white shirt? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Which minister suggests that they detain and continue to interrogate the 500 citizens? 
As the spies pick apart the words of the citizens who voted. Pay attention to the repetition. Each time, the "simple, ordinary expressions" spoken by the citizen are picked apart and questioned differently. Writers use repetition to emphasize a point. What point is the author trying to make here? 
The people being interrogated were afraid, and they lied to the interrogators.  
Every one of the citizens that are not interrogated and imprisoned say the exact same thing. How might the p.o.t.r., who is in power, interpret such an action? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What has changed about the speech of the people? 
By describing him as almost touching the sun and then drowning, the author is alluding to Icarus and Daedalus. In this Greek myth, Daedalus creates wooden and wax wings so that he and his son, Icarus, can escape. Icarus flies too close to the sun, melting the wax, and drowns in the sea. Here is an image of what that might have looked like. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Which of the following moods is evoked in the mind of the reader after reading this description of the polygraph? 
Here again is another allusion to Greek mythology. An allusion is a reference to another literary work. The Dardanelles are a very dangerous strait north of Greece. It is this strait that Leander had to swim to reach Hero. Below is a map of the strait. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
This challenge, issued by someone considered a "mata hari," can only have one outcome. What is it? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
To which literary text is this referring? 
Mata Hari was a German spy during World War I. She was extremely beautiful and was executed in 1917. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is the difference between how they will treat the capital and how they will treat the rest of the country? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Which minister points out that the citizens were not doing anything illegal by casting blank ballots? 
The Minister of the Interior, who first suggested that they interrogate the citizens, wants to remain in favor, even though his suggested technique has not worked. What will he do next? 
Because the author does not punctuate dialogue or break the story into paragraphs, it is very important for the reader to pay attention to who is speaking. This speech, by the Minister of the Interior, is designed to help him distance himself from the bad decisions he suggested.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Describe the character of the Prime Minister, based on what he says and does in this selection. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Why does the author repeat the image of the Prime Minister and the water glass? 
Recall earlier in the story, when the prime minister sipped water again and again. Here, the motif of water is repeated. What does the water help the Prime Minister to do? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Which citizens are the most worried about the siege at this point in the story? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Why will the siege be unsuccessful? 
By distancing itself from the responsibility of allowing outsiders into the capital, the foreshadowing of the government's distancing itself from the responsibility of the siege is clear. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What two things does the metaphor of the fruit compare? 
This is a simile, which compares the interrogations of the citizens as though the citizens are somehow equal to their interrogators. 
Notice the point of view evidenced so far in the story. The narrator is outside the story and seemly all knowing. This is third person omniscient point of view.  
This passage echoes Saramago's earlier work, Blindness, in that the government sought to isolate the citizens who became blind, as blindness was a contagious disease. This isolation ultimately failed, with the entire country becoming blind. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What might this passage foreshadow? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
What point of view is evident in this passage? 
A theme of this novel is that bureaucracy is inefficient. As you can see, there are twenty-seven different plans that were created, in order to confuse the population. 
Both Hypnos and Thanatos are Greek gods, Hypnos of sleep and Thanatos of death. This is another example of allusion. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What theme in evident in the procedure the Prime Minister must complete in order to talk to the President? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What motif is evident here? 
For the first time, the author explains that this country is the same as that of Blindness, his earlier novel. 
By lighting their path, the citizens are helping them to see, but also emphasizing the theme that blankness is treasonous. 
This word, in French, means "twist." 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What literary device is used in this highlighted phrase? 
Everyone questioned about voting replies in this way. The theme of "secrecy/blankness is treasonous" is developed here. The captain, therefore, could be perceived as part of the "rebellion." The promise that "perhaps we'll see each other again sometime soon" takes on an ominous feeling. 
The narrator is leaving the reader in doubt as to what will happen, now that the government has left. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What is the effect of the repetition of the word "truth" throughout this speech and especially in this sentence? 
The nobility of the speech is punctured by the comment of the oldest member of the family, deliberately lessening the impact of the speech. 
Watch for the president's use of rhetoric in this speech. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, wrote of three rhetorical devices, ethos, pathos and logos. In this passage, the president evokes a sense of pathos, or emotional appeal. He also uses repetition to emphasize his point. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How do the majority of the citizens react to the President's speech? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What did the editorialist suggest would "cure [the] desperate disease" of casting a blank ballot? 
The headlines that follow seem to reinforce the idea that this is a satire. Each one is exaggerated and seems to mock the situation. Note the comment that the citizens would not even have to read the articles in order to know the position of the newspaper reporter. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Which of the following literary devices best describes the highlighted sentence? 
And now the motivation of the citizens who voted a blank ballot becomes clear. They were only trying to communicate their disillusion to the government. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why might the refuse collectors decide to help the women with the cleaning of the community? 
By having the women come spontaneously out of their houses at the same time to clean, in direct contrast to the newspaper editor's predictions of disaster, the author is using situational irony, where what happens is the the opposite of what is expected.  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz 1 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Based on context clues, what might "esprit de corps" mean in this passage? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Whose idea was the strike? 
By repeating this motif of the blank ballot, a theme is emerging. Anyone who voted a blank ballot is considered a traitor by the p.o.t.r. The theme developed by "blank ballots" here is that secrecy is treasonous. Anyone who, when asked "did you cast a blank vote," refuses to respond will be considered a traitor. 
Note the motif of the blankness with the ballot paper here. 
The Minister of the Interior here again demonstrates his tyrannical nature by insisting that the refuse collectors go on strike. Remember, he was the minister who instituted the siege to begin with. 
The leader of the city council stands in contrast to the Minister of the Interior, as he points out the reality of what the government is doing. It can only be he that is speaking in the sentence. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
What allusion is used in this sentence? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
The author says it is "far more important to observe the anxious lines furrowing the brow of the council leader." Why is it more important to describe the people's reactions as opposed to the physical environment of the council? 
Much like in the earlier novel Blindness, the author has not named his characters. Here, the omniscient narrator points out that he has deliberately hidden from view what has happened to the majority of the people in the story. Because the p.o.t.r. seemly knows nothing about its citizens, as evidenced by the incident where they had to call family members to see if they were coming out to vote, the author leaves a vague cloud over the citizens, leaving the reader in the dark. 
Because the secretary can reveal the truth about how he voted, his blank vote is not treasonous.  
Again, the council leader shows how different he is than the ministers of the government. When he wants to know the mindset of the people, he will go out of his office himself, while the government officials would not go out. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What might this highlighted passage foreshadow? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Based on context clues and past usage of the word "blank," what connotation does "blanker" most probably have? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why might the council leader be a person deserving of trust? 
Although the council leader expects to encounter disaster, at this point everything seems normal. 
The caliph described here is an allusion to the Arabian Nights. The caliph wandered Baghdad at night, disguised, in order to learn what the common man thought. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How is the town council leader different from those of the central government? 
Now the foreboding feeling the council leader has felt all day is finally revealed to be truth. But who set the bomb?  
In place of meaningless words, the town council leader puts actions first. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is the town leader implying here? 
Because he refuses to tell the truth, now it is the Minister of the Interior who is treasonous. Who, exactly, is government for? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Who is it that may have told the newspapers the truth? 
In the story of the sorcerer's apprentice, after the sorcerer gives a task to the apprentice, the apprentice tries to find a shortcut. The shortcut backfires, and disaster ensues. If you'd like to see a Disney version of this tale, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
The humor in this statement adds to the idea that this is a satire. The government denies anything that might actually be effective. 
Although the ex-town council leader believed the Minister of the Interior to be guilty, the newspapers attribute the bomb to be the people who voted blank ballots, blankers. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why are the dead of the right-wing families considered the only innocent dead by their families? 
The narrator is right in that white is a sign of mourning to the Chinese. 
The journalists' language seems designed to whip readers into a fever pitch. What will happen? What might these predictions of the future foreshadow? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Why might the signal to the cameraman signify both a recording and a beating? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How did the journalists expect the demonstrators to react? 
Both the government in power and the journalists think there is a plot to overthrow the government. The ex-town council leader, much like the rest of the citizens in the capital, believes that there is no organization involved. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
The citizens who were not blankers were positive that  
Xenophon was a Greek writer. One of his works, Anabasis, describes the retreat of 10,000 mercenaries after their leaders were killed. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does the Prime Minister convince the Minister of Defense to allow the people to leave? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What does the Prime Minister's solution reveal about his character? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
"Threw us to the lions" is a reference to the Bible. What literary device is represented here? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does the media portray the convoy? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does the Minister of the Interior say to convince the people to return to the capital? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Thinking back to who actually holds the power, who must have said these words? 
Sodom and Gomorrah were two biblical towns that God destroyed because they were so very wicked. One family was spared, but Lott's wife, who turned to look back, was turned into a pillar of salt. 
These two sentences, short and to the point, serve to emphasize the foreshadowing of some awful event. 
In other words, the military, tasked to keep the population from leaving the city, will look upon this exodus and try to stop it. 
Imagine the chaos if tanks started to attack the people lined up to leave. The words "they almost all came back" take on ominous meaning here. 
Remember that this speech must be given by the Minister of the Interior. If the Prime Minister gives the speech, he may be guilty in the eyes of the population if the retreat goes poorly. 
Although the government and the media were convinced that violence would ensue, peace rains supreme. 
From the exchange between the Prime Minister and the President, it is clear that the Prime Minister holds more power and is the one "in charge" of the government. 
Notice the metaphors here, where the exhaust is transformed into sacrificial smoke for the gods. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why do the blankers treat their returned neighbors with kindness? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How do the ministers feel about the President's plan? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
If the Prime Minister refuses to believe in unspoken things, he is furthering 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What secret does the Minister of Culture reveal as he leaves the room? 
Rather than immediate action, the creation of a commission to study the proposal adds to the theme that bureaucracy is unnecessarily complex. 
Judge them based on their actions. Which group, the blankers or the government, seem to be fair and just? 
Note the metaphor here, comparing the President to a compass. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is the Minister of the Interior's plan? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What literary device is used here? 
The Prime Minister takes the bull by the horns and uses the media to deliver the message that the Minister of the Interior wanted to dramatically drop from the sky. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What technique is the author using here? 
Note the metaphor here, comparing his help with a lantern. Having trouble identifying the metaphors? See this video below for more information.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does the exchange between the President and the man demonstrate the President's lack of power? 
Remember that to keep silent, to refuse to speak, is treasonous.  
Quiz 2 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What is the difference between the Prime Minister's treatment of the petition and the Minister of the Interior's? 
To the government, speech can be treasonous.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What does the Prime Minister think the Minister of the Interior will do? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What does this brief interjection of humor do for the text? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Summarize in your own words what the two men are saying. Note that what they are saying is a key to understanding this novel. 
Because the petition is being talked about, no one can say exactly how the information came to be disseminated. It could be from eavesdropping on the President and the Prime Minister's conversations. 
There is very little descriptive language in this novel, making this small piece of imagery stand out. See below for more information about imagery.  (This annotation contains a video)
Sherlock Holmes and Poirot are both famous fictional detectives. Here, their names are used as adjectives. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why did the Superintendent get dressed so early? 
Note the foreshadowing here. What impossibility will occur next? 
This is another biblical reference, from both the books of Mathew and Mark, referring to when Jesus explained that taxes should go to Rome, because money was not important. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
These cities are found in the Old Testament of the Bible in the book of Hosea. Why might the narrator mention these cities? 
The Sergeant is still too lowly to have the problems of his superiors. He still speaks his mind, free from the vagueness of his superiors.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why would the Sergeant say, "Don't worry, I'm just a sergeant"? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why did the man divorce his wife? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Based on textual evidence, where are the three policemen going next? 
What follows is a summary of the events of the novel Blindness, also by Jose Saramago. 
This is significant to those readers who have first read the novel Blindness. In that novel, as in this one, there were no names, only descriptions of people. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How is the Sergeant different from the other police officers? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What theme is advanced in this highlighted segment? 
The police do not respect the man who sent the letter. What will they do with the doctor's wife? 
Silence confirms treason, a theme of the novel. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What literary device is this? 
What consequences will the curiosity of the garage attendant foreshadow? 
Note the hint here that hiding things is dangerous. This is related to the theme that silence is treasonous.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does the doctor suspect? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Based on what you know so far of the Minister of the Interior, does the Superintendent have a preconceived idea of the answers or not? 
Alekhine, the fourth World Chess Champion, is considered by some to be the greatest chess player ever. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why do they no longer associate with the first blind man? 
The Superintendent is starting to change. He does not want to be dismissed from the house of the doctor and his wife. 
She is honest, more than the other people of the novel so far. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What type of literary device is used here? 
This question, which adds to the rising action of the plot, is troubling because it means the garage attendant thinks they are strangers. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
As he speaks to the old man and his wife, which of the following does the Inspector find to be "pure horror"? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What do the Inspector and the Sergeant suspect? 
This way of describing women is consistent with Saramago's other novel, Blindness. All women are defined as the wife of someone and not important in their own right. Note, though, that the protagonist of the prior novel was a woman.  
And now the reader knows who the Sergeant was talking to - the wife of the first blind man. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is the Minister of the Interior suggesting here? 
Although this bell might be in reference to the bell that rings during a boxing match, it might also be an allusion to Hemingway's novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which says that the ringing bell signifies the death of the one who hears it. 
Note the extended metaphors in this passage. The government is described as birds, while six of the people saved by the doctor's wife are described as fish. The birds are predators of the fish named. The doctor's wife is not a fish, but rather a bird. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
What literary work is this phrase echoing? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Based on previous information revealed about the Superintendent, what will he do when he finds the five people he is looking for? 
By revealing the thoughts and emotions of the Superintendent, the author is reinforcing the use of third person omniscient point of view. Also, what the Superintendent reveals demonstrates that he will not betray the doctor's wife. 
The reader should pay attention to this statement. The Superintendent, who has covered up the truth and refused to speak it, now is openly admitting who he is and why they are they are in the capital. This change makes the superintendent not treasonous, but also a dynamic character. See below for a more detailed explanation of dynamic characters.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What is the significance of calling the five a 'gang' rather than a 'group'? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What purpose might this dream serve? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Based on the context surrounding this word, which of the following is the best definition? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What is unusual about this sentence? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
There are many differences between the Superintendent's first interrogation of the doctor's wife and this one. Which of the following is NOT a difference? 
There are two ways to look at language, one is descriptive, which looks at language as it currently is used, and one is prescriptive, which insists that language should not change.  (This annotation contains a video)
The Superintendent's lack of words is directly connected to his rank. He is too advanced in rank to be as honest and direct as the sergeant. 
Note the power here of saying words out loud versus simply thinking them or worse, refusing to say them. 
Note the repeated use of 3 a.m. as a time of wakefulness. The government left at 3, the voters tried to flee at 3, and now the Superintendent is awake. 
Note the significance of the name. No other character in the novel has an actual name, said out loud. The reader should ask, why Constant? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why might the Superintendent insist that the Sergeant not say "ex-prostitute"? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Which events does the Inspector say are connected? 
As he has advanced in rank, the Inspector has learned that truth should not be spoken aloud. This adds to the theme that keeping silent is treasonous.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What effect does the repetition of "perfectly honest" have on the conversation between the Superintendent and the Minister? 
The Minister is suggesting that the Superintendent is a traitor and in league with the conspiracy.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
To what is the Superintendent most probably referring in this highlighted sentence? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why might the Sergeant and the Inspector wish they could have met the doctor's wife? 
On some level, the Superintendent knows he will never see them again. What might this foreshadow? 
Because they are at the top, they will never say their reasons. Because silence is treasonous, they are the ultimate traitors. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What literary device is used here? 
Could this be the reason behind the Prime Minister and the President's sips of water? Don't forget the motif of water in the novel. 
The government uses absurdities, rather than truth.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does the Superintendent suspect he will see in the newspapers? 
For those who have read Blindness, the doctor's wife had to observe some of the worst atrocities possible. She desperately wished that she had been blind. 
The author uses indirect characterization to show that the Superintendent is anxious or upset. Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation of how characters develop.  (This annotation contains a video)
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What do the Superintendent's thoughts most probably foreshadow? 
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What might this figure of speech most probably mean, based on what the reader knows about the Superintendent? 
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What is the "bomb in his pocket"? 
The taxi driver does not believe women have power, but this is in direct contrast to the way women were portrayed in the previous novel, Blindness. 
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What type of conflict is evident in this passage? 
The man's name is obviously not Providential, which means lucky, and is the name of the company the police pretend to work for. 
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Why might this statement stop the Superintendent from going to the apartment of the doctor's wife? 
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Because the Director is the head of the newspaper and therefore the highest of ranks in the paper, he will most probably 
By telling the truth, the Superintendent is remaining true to his soul and rejecting the lies of the traitors. 
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Why might the Superintendent feel light and serene? 
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Why might the newspaper not "be on sale at the kiosks all day"? 
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What does the Superintendent see clearly? 
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Why does the Superintendent suspect he will be killed? 
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What motif is in evidence here? 
This sentence directly refers to the great detective stories, such as that of Sherlock Holmes, where the detective solved crimes by making logical deductions. 
Samarra and Baghdad are two cities close to each other in the Middle East. See below for a map which shows their locations.  (This annotation contains an image)
The Superintendent is now on the run. 
The Superintendent has been victorious in his pursuit of the truth. The people have somehow found out that the doctor's wife is innocent. 
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What type of irony is this? 
Here again is the importance of water, a motif in this story. 
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Why is the Prime Minister firing the Minister of the Interior? 
Note the short, declarative statements, which indicate a sense of urgency. What will these new police do to the doctor and his wife? 
Final Quiz 
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What does the silencer symbolize?