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The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

Vocabulary & Questions


Unburthen - To unburden; to unload.
Expound - to make a detailed statement; to explain;
interpret
Baroque - extravagantly ornate, florid, and convoluted in
character or style; irregular in shape
Rigorous - severely exact or accurate; precise: rigorous
research
Inscrutability - not easily understood; mysterious;
unfathomable
Swooning - to faint; lose consciousness
Stupefied - crazy, magnificent, unbelievable, amazing
Docility - easily managed or handled
Sagacious - having or showing acute mental discernment
and keen practical sense; shrewd
Tinctured - to imbue or infuse with something.

1. Describe the narrator as a child and compare it to his life as


an adult. Use text evidence to support your answer.
As a child, the narrator was very kind-hearted and
compassionate. He cared a lot for animals and was very
affectionate towards them. As an adult, he started to become
less kind, and eventually found compassion annoying. I grew,
day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the
feelings of others.
Pg #: 4
2. On what does he blame his evil ways? Use text evidence to
support your answer.
He blames his evil ways on alcohol. But my disease grew upon
me - for what disease is like Alcohol! - and at length even Pluto,

who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhat


peevish - even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill
temper.
Pg #: 5
3. Describe Pluto. How do the narrator and his wife initially
react to him? Use text evidence to support your answer.
Pluto is a big black cat. The narrator loves the pet, but the wife
is suspicious of him. This latter was a remarkably large and
beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing
degree. In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart
was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent
allusion to the ancient popular notion which regarded all black
cats as witches in disguise...Pluto - this was the cats name - was
my favorite pet and playmate.
Pg #: 4
4. A. What does the narrator first do to harm Pluto?Use t ext
evidence to support your answer.
The narrator gets angry at Pluto for avoiding him and then
scratching him, so he uses a knife to get Plutos eye out of his
socket. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a penknife, opened it,
grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one
of its eyes from the socket!
Pg #: 5
B. Why do you think he does this?
First of all, he was drunk so he could not think straight.
Additionally, he was mad at the cat for avoiding him. When he
picked the cat up and it bit his hand, that made him angry
enough to remove an eye.

C. How does Pluto react to him after this incident?Use t ext


evidence to support your answer.
After this incident, the cat acted pretty normal, except when
the narrator was around he ran. He went about the house as
usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my
approach.
Pg #: 5
5. How does the narrator rationalize killing Pluto? Use text
evidence to support your answer.
The narrator killed Pluto simply because he knew that it was the
wrong thing to do. Hung it
I knew that it had loved
me, and
I felt it had given me no reason or offence;
hung it
I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to
place it - if such a thing were possible - even beyond the reach
of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.
Pg #: 6
6. What happens the night after the narrator kills Pluto?
On the night of the day on which this most cruel deed was
done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire...the whole
house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a
servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration.
7. What does he discover the next morning? What do you think
this indicates?
I approached and saw, as if graven in
upon the white
surface, the figure of a gigantic
...There was a rope about
the animals neck. I think this indicates that the reason his
house burned down last night was a punishment for his sin
(karma) and the last wall standing is a reminder of it.

8. How does the new cat differ from Pluto? What do you think
this trait symbolizes? Use text evidence to support your
answer.
But this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white,
covering nearly the whole region of the breast. I think the
white symbolizes purity; this cat is different from Pluto because
it is a pure, it has not been harmed by the narrator like Pluto
had.
Pg #: 8
9. Explain the circumstances concerning the murder of the
narrators wife. Use text evidence to support your answer.
When the man was trying to kill his second black cat and his
wife stopped him, that made the man angry enough to kill his
wife. I aimed a blow at the animal, which, of course, would
have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But
this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife...I withdrew my
arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell
dead upon the spot without a groan.
Pg #: 11
10. Compare The Black Cat to The Tell Tale Heart. Identify 3
things that are similar between the two stories.
1. The narrator murders someone they love for a reason
that seems insane and nonsensical.
2. The narrators both taunt the police who search their
houses, believing that they are clever. But in reality, they were
making a rash decision that lead to them being caught.
3. Both narrators go crazy obsessing over completing their
goals.

RUBRIC
RL.8.3: Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the
action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
Not Yet Meeting

Approaching Standard

Meeting Standard

Exceeding Standard

Struggled to identify
where particular lines
of dialogue or events in
a story or drama propel
the action, reveal
aspects of a character,
or cause a certain
decision to be made

Identified where particular


lines of dialogue or events in
a story or drama propel the
action, reveal aspects of a
character, or cause a certain
decision to be made, but did
not explain how.

Explained how
particular lines of
dialogue or events in a
story or drama propel
the action, reveal
aspects of a character,
or cause a certain
decision to be made

Explained how particular


lines of dialogue or events in
a story or drama propel the
action, reveal aspects of a
character, or cause a certain
decision to be made AND
supported an argument for
how this is important to the
overall story

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