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The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart

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The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:—It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness—until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears. No doubt I now grew very pale;—but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased—and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound—much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. Literary Device I gasped for breath—and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly—more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key Literary Device and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men—but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed—I raved—I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder—louder—louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!—no, no! They heard!—they suspected!—they knew!—they were making a mockery of my horror!—this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now—again!—hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed!—tear up the planks! here, here!—It is the beating of his hideous heart!" Stop and Think! Resources

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Choose the best summary, the one that captures the most important ideas in the passage. Click on the coaches for help.


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Summarize

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Create your own summary. Use the Key Points list below or use the Text Help toolbar to highlight and collect key points you choose from the text. Then write a summary in your own words. You could also try sketching your summary.

Key Points

1. The narrator hears a ticking noise that grows louder.

2. He believes it is the sound of the dead man's heart.

3. He tries unsuccessfully to drown out the noise.

4. The policemen chat calmly.

5. The narrator thinks the policemen must hear and recognize the noise.

6. The narrator confesses the murder.

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Or use the Text Help toolbar above to highlight and collect the key events you want to use. Paste your notes into a word processor and write, sketch, or share your summary by email.


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MontyHaliPedro


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Choose one of the strategies you've practiced here—visualize, summarize, predict, or question. Pick one that works well for you and is suited to the passage.

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Use the Text Help toolbar located above to highlight and collect the words and phrases. Paste them into your word processor and write, sketch, or discuss your response.


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Monty's Thoughts

I thought this was a complex passage. I wanted my summary to explain the main points of what happens in the narrator's mind, so that it would be clear why the narrator confesses at the end.



Monty's Response

The narrator hears a ticking sound that grows louder and louder and thinks it is the sound of the dead man's heart. Thinking the policemen can hear it too, and are making fun of his anguish, the narrator is overcome with hopelessness and admits to killing the old man.

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Hali's Thoughts

When I think about summarizing, I try to focus on the main points someone would need to know in order understand what the passage is really about.



Hali's Response

The narrator hears a sound he thinks is coming from the old man's heart. In distress, he tries to cover up the sound, but he cannot. Even though the policemen are chatting calmly, the narrator believes they must hear the noise and know its source. He thinks they've remained casual in order to mock his pain. He reaches such a state of anguish that he confesses the murder.

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Pedro's Self Check

To check your summary, ask yourself if your summary—

Captures the main ideas and key information.

Has the right amount of detail (not too much, not too little).

Combines several ideas or facts into one statement.

Paraphrases, or explains in your own words.

Includes information from text and images.

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Monty's Thoughts

I thought this was a complex passage. I wanted my summary to explain the main points of what happens in the narrator's mind so that it would be clear why he confesses at the end.

Close Window

Hali's Thoughts

When I think about summarizing, I try to focus on the main points someone would need to know in order understand what the passage is really about.

Close Window


Pedro's Self Check

To check your summary, ask yourself if your summary—

Captures the main ideas and key information.

Has the right amount of detail (not too much, not too little).

Combines several ideas or facts into one statement.

Paraphrases, or explains in your own words.

Includes information from text and images.

Close Window

Monty's Thoughts

One thing I think about when I write summaries is that it's important to use my own words. That way, I know I understand what I'm writing, rather than just copying the author's words.

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Hali's Thoughts

If I find I'm having trouble understanding what's happening in a scene, I like to think of some questions to help clarify things. Sometimes I ask myself, 'Why did the character do this?' or, 'What does the author mean in this sentence?' Before I try to answer, I use the Glossary to make sure I understand the meanings of all the words.