Use Inference and Extrapolation to Answer Questions about a Text on Literature

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Being able to make inferences based on available information is an invaluable skill and part of thinking critically. Follow the link below to a text and series of questions that require you to use inference and extrapolation to provide answers. For each question, identify the most correct answer and provide a brief explanation (1-3 sentences) explaining why. Provide your answers in a separate document.

Module 08 Written Assignment - Use Inference and Extrapolation to Answer Questions about a Text on Literature

Smiley, Jane. (2005). In Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature. Retrieved from Credo Reference Database.

Jane Smiley goes straight to Middle America in its geographical, economic, and familial landscape. Nearly all of her novels are set in the Midwest in middle-upper-class rural communities in which she renders more often than not a discontented vision. What is evocative about her work is her love and knowledge of the land and her piercing portraits of the families that inhabit it; what is absent from her work is all traces of race and poverty issues. Nevertheless, she is a writer who with each turn unravels the cataclysmic within the so-called ordinary human life. Her academic background in medieval literature-seen in her epic novel, The Green-landers (1988), of 14th-c. Scandinavian frontiers people, affixes a brutality to her characters’ worlds, depicting personal and everyday adversity-lack of communication, unmet desire, and ambivalence within the family unit-as a force that shapes morality. In Barn Blind (1980), it is a mother's unnerving control over her children that leads to disaster; in The Age of Grief (1987), it is a husband trying to accept his wife's infidelity; in Ordinary Love (1989), it is a mother knowing that she has reshaped her children's lives by following her passion; in At Paradise Gate (1981), it is a woman reassessing the sacrifices she has made as a mother; in A Thousand Acres (1991), it is a family falling apart after the father gives his land to his three daughters. S.'s other work, Duplicate Keys (1984), set in New York, is a suspense story; her novel Moo (1995) is a dark comedy exposing the hypocrisy of academic life.

Instructions: In a separate document, answer each of the following questions based on the above provided text. For each question, identify the most correct answer and provide a brief explanation (1-3 sentences) of why it is the most correct.

1.  How would you identify Jane Smiley?

a.  A scholar of medieval literature and author of short stories concerned with uncovering the trials and drama of medieval Scandinavian life.

b.  An author deeply concerned with the Midwestern family

c.  Writer concerned with chronicling the underlying tensions and morality of rural, upper-middle-class families of middle America.

d.  Writer with a deep love for the geography of the Midwest who uses rural, upper-middle-class characters to explore place.

2.  What is the common thread connecting her body of non-period literature?

a.  Familial dysfunction that manifests itself in physical abuse.

b.  The shaping of everyday morality through failures in addressing adversity.

c.  Adversity and hypocrisy as the defining influences of the human experience.

d.  The cataclysmic effect of the geography of middle America upon the each novels main characters.

3.  Which statement most agrees with what is said in the excerpt about Jane Smiley?

a.  S., a writer and scholar, has a greater concern with the internal struggles of people than the external struggles that might arise from issues of diversity.

b.  Though her body of work primarily encompasses the upper-middle-class of middle America, S.’s greatest works are to be found in her period novel Green-landers and the novels Duplicate Keys and Moo.

c.  Though a writer by trade, S.’s true passion lies with investigating the relationship of the hero and community within Medieval Scandinavian Literature.

d.  Has made it her life’s work to expose for consideration the dysfunctions and difficulties inherent in moral thinking within the modern American family.

4.  An academic who studied medieval literature, how is this reflected in Smiley’s work?

a.  This is reflected through the depictions of numerous manifestations of brutality within the worlds of S.’s characters that influences how they address challenges.

b.  It is best depicted in her representation of Scandinavian peoples as they manifest throughout her novels.

c.  S.’s deep knowledge of the places her characters inhabits is a direct result of her study of medieval literature, which is deeply tied to place and geography.

d.  The internal distress of relationships resulting in the disintegration of the family unit is representative of a similar trend in medieval literature and the failure of frontier settlements.

5.  What does Smiley reveal about the lives of her characters that is of interest to readers?

a.  The effect of place on people’s actions is greater than that of morality or family.

b.  She reveals that too much control on the part of the mother will lead to disaster for her children.

c.  S. shows the moral complexity and peril present in every day life.

d.  Ambivalence an un-met desire held by one or more of the members of a family will always result in disaster.

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