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Incorporate narrative nonfiction into the English Language Arts classroom and help high school students practice their close reading analysis skills with this set of rigorous questions covering an excerpt titled “Loophole of Retreat” from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. This text addresses an enslaved woman’s paradoxically empowering decision to hide from her master in a confined space. An answer key and copy of the public domain text are included. Additionally, a bonus PowerPoint providing more context on the author’s background is provided. Materials are delivered in printable Word Document and PDF formats. By completing this close reading activity, students will:

  • Summarize key details from the text
  • Use context to make logical inferences about the author’s beliefs
  • Explore the symbolism attached to an object (the gimlet)
  • Apply knowledge of various literary devices including invective, metaphor, paradox, and more
  • Examine nuances in words with similar meanings in order to choose the most appropriate synonym for a given term
  • Make logical inferences about the author’s intent based on stylistic choices
  • Discern the tone of a given passage
  • Support claims and ideas with relevant textual details
  • Write ideas with clarity, accuracy, and precision