American Literature MOY Assessment
from Out of the Dust
By Karen Hesse

Finding a Way

started talking
about planting
the rest of the acres in wheat,
5 but then said, No,
let's just go with what we've got right now.

And I've
been playing
a half hour
10 every day,
making the skin stretch,
making the scars stretch.

The way I see it, hard times aren't only
about money,
15 or drought,
or dust.
Hard times are about losing spirit,
and hope,
and what happens when dreams dry up.

20 The tractor's busted,
we don't have the cash to fix it,
but there's nothing saying Daddy can't do the work
by hand.
It can't be any harder than digging a hole
25 forty by sixty by six feet deep.

Daddy bought a second mule with Louise's help.
Her betrothal gift to him.
He walks behind the team,
step by step, listing the fields to fight the wind.
30 Maybe the tractor lifted him above the land,
maybe the fields didn't know him anymore,
didn't remember the touch of his feet,
or the stroke of his hand,
or the bones of his knees,
35 and why should wheat grow for a stranger?
Daddy said he'd try some sorghum,
maybe some cotton,
admitting as how there might be something
to this notion of diversification folks were
40 talking about,
and yes, he'd bring the grass back
like Ma wanted,
where he wasn't planting anything else.
He'd make new sod.
45 And I'm learning, watching Daddy, that you can stay
in one place
and still grow.

I wipe dust out of the roasting pan,
I wipe dust off Ma's dishes,
50 and wait for Daddy to drive in with Louise,
hoping she'll stay a little later,
a little longer,
waiting for the day when she stays for good.

She wears a comical hat, with flowers,
55 in December,
and when she smiles,
her face is
full enough of springtime, it makes
her hat seem just right.
60 She brings apples in a sack,
perfect apples she arranges
in a bowl on the shelf,
opposite the book of poetry.
Sometimes, while I'm at the piano,
65 I catch her reflection in the mirror,
standing in the kitchen, soft-eyed, while Daddy
finishes chores,
and I stretch my fingers over the keys,
and I play.

December 1935

What is your last name? *
Your answer
What is your first name? *
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Class Identifier *
Choose from the list below your teacher and period number.
Item 1 RL.11.4 (Vocab) *
Part A Question: In the excerpt entitled “Finding a Way” from Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, what does the author’s use of the figure of speech “…there might be something/to this…” (38-39) indicate about Daddy’s opinion of diversification?
Part B Question: Which of the following quotations provides the best support for the answer to Part A?
Item 2 RL.11.2 (Theme) *
Part A Question: In “Finding a Way,” how does Hesse structure lines 26-35 to add meaning to the essay?
Part B Question: Which quotation from the chapter best supports the answer to Part A?
Item 3 RL11.3 (Character Development) *
Part A Question: In Out of the Dust, what do the lines “The way I see it, hard times aren’t only/about money,/or drought,/or dust./Hard times are about losing spirit,/and hope,/and what happens when dreams dry up” (13-19) from the chapter most suggest about the speaker?
Part B Question: From the list below, select one quote that provide additional evidence to support the answer to Part A.
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