How Resilience Works Commonlit Answers

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  • 11th Grade
  • Lexile: 1120

Source: How Resilience Works by Diane Coutu

Assessment Answers

PART A: Which TWO sentences best identify the author’s main claims about resilience?D. Resilience involves approaching reality bravely and with a sense of possibility, as well as finding meaning in the challenges one encounters.

E. Companies with strong value systems are more likely to be resilient and survive the hardships they may encounter along the way.
PART B: Which TWO sections from the text support the answer to Part A?“The fact is, when we truly stare down reality, we prepare ourselves to act in ways that allow us to endure and survive extraordinary hardship. We train ourselves how to survive before the fact.” (Paragraph 21)

“Since finding meaning in one’s environment is
such an important aspect of resilience, it should
come as no surprise that the most successful
organizations and people possess strong value
systems.” (Paragraph 28)
PART A: How does Coutu’s discussion of the Holocaust contribute to the text?It provides an example of how people were able to survive severe conditions.
PART B: Which quote from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“In the concentration camps, for example, resilient inmates knew to pocket pieces of string or wire whenever they found them. The string or wire might later become useful.” (Paragraph 33)
PART A: What connection does Coutu draw between bricolage and resilience?Bricolage allows people to use resources creatively to overcome difficult challenges.
PART B: Which section from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“Bricoleurs are always tinkering — building radios from household effects or fixing their own cars. They make the most of what they have, putting objects to unfamiliar uses.” (Paragraph 33)

What evidence does Coutu use to support her claim that resilience requires improvisation?

While Coutu mentions the importance of improvisation throughout the text, she doesn’t provide a single, dedicated piece of evidence directly labeled as “proof.” Instead, she builds her case through various examples and observations:

1. Holocaust survivors:

  • Paragraph 33 mentions concentration camp inmates “pocketing pieces of string or wire… The string or wire might later become useful,” showcasing improvisation with limited resources for potential future needs.

2. Viktor Frankl’s story:

  • Paragraph 13 describes Frankl creating “some concrete goals for himself” by imagining a lecture, demonstrating adaptation and improvisation in a dire situation to maintain purpose.

3. Paul, a resilient individual:

  • Paragraph 15-16 mentions him facing personal and professional challenges and “improvising his recovery.” While not explicitly stated, it implies improvisation as a key part of his resilience.

4. UPS during disaster:

  • Paragraph 36-37 details them “sorting packages at a diversion site and making deliveries” even in challenging conditions, demonstrating improvisation to adapt and fulfill their function.

5. Businesses and the recession:

  • Paragraph 25 highlights companies needing to “improvise solutions from thin air” during the recession, showcasing improvisation as a key response to overcome unexpected challenges.

These examples, combined with the overall message of resourcefulness and adapting to situations, paint a picture where improvisation emerges as a crucial element of resilience. They don’t function as a single piece of evidence, but rather as multiple puzzle pieces contributing to the overall argument.

Building a strong argument often involves weaving various elements together rather than relying on a single, isolated point.

Discussion Answers

Do you consider yourself resilient? Why or why not?

As an 11th grader, figuring out my own “resilience” can be pretty tough. On one hand, I definitely face challenges – from balancing schoolwork and activities to dealing with social pressures and figuring out my future. Sometimes I get stressed out or overwhelmed, and maybe even feel like giving up. But then I bounce back, find new ways to cope, and keep moving forward.

Here’s what makes me think I might be somewhat resilient:

Adaptability: I can adjust to new situations and learn from my mistakes. For example, if I bomb a test, I try different study strategies next time. Problem-solving: I can brainstorm solutions to overcome obstacles, even if it means thinking outside the box. Like, when my group project hits a snag, I suggest creative ways to move forward. Positive outlook: I try to stay optimistic, even when things are tough. This doesn’t mean ignoring problems, but finding the silver lining and believing I can get through it. Support system: Having friends, family, and teachers who believe in me helps me bounce back from setbacks. They offer encouragement and remind me of my strengths.

However, I’m still growing and learning. Sometimes I struggle with self-doubt or get discouraged easily. There are definitely areas where I can improve my resilience, like:

Managing stress: I could develop better coping mechanisms for dealing with pressure and anxiety, like meditation or exercise. Building self-compassion: Sometimes I’m too hard on myself when I make mistakes. Learning to be kinder to myself could boost my resilience. Seeking help: I don’t always reach out for help when needed. Recognizing when to ask for support from others would be a big step.

Overall, I think I’m on the journey of becoming more resilient. It’s an ongoing process, but I can keep learning and growing by reflecting on my strengths and weaknesses.

In the context of the text, what do tragic events such as the Holocaust and terrorist attacks teach us about resilience? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

While tragic events like the Holocaust and terrorist attacks bring unimaginable suffering, they can also offer powerful lessons about human resilience. Drawing from the text “How Resilience Works” and broader contexts, here’s what these events teach us:

1. The human spirit’s extraordinary capacity to endure: The Holocaust survivors mentioned in the text, despite facing unimaginable horrors, developed “a plastic shield” of humor, connection, and inner strength. This exemplifies the immense capacity humans have to find meaning and hope even in the darkest times. Viktor Frankl’s story in “Man’s Search for Meaning” further emphasizes this, showcasing how finding purpose can fuel resilience even in concentration camps.

2. The power of community and support: The text mentions resilient inner-city youth who leverage their ability to connect with others for support. Similarly, the Holocaust saw countless examples of communities banding together for survival, sharing resources, and offering emotional support. This highlights the crucial role of social connection in fostering resilience.

3. Resourcefulness and improvisation: The text’s concept of “bricolage” – making do with limited resources – resonates with stories of survivors using their ingenuity to survive. From hiding valuables to creating escape plans, these acts demonstrate the remarkable human ability to adapt and overcome challenges with limited means.

4. The importance of meaning-making: The text mentions how resilient people “devise constructs about their suffering to create meaning.” This aligns with historical examples like Anne Frank’s diary or art created by Holocaust survivors. Finding meaning in suffering can serve as a powerful motivator to persevere and rebuild.

5. Growth through adversity: While tragic events inflict unimaginable pain, they can also lead to personal growth and increased resilience. Studies show that survivors often develop greater empathy, compassion, and appreciation for life. This aligns with the concept of post-traumatic growth, where individuals emerge from adversity stronger and more resilient.

Personal experiences and other examples:

  • While I don’t have personal experiences of such tragedies, I can relate to overcoming challenges that tested my resilience. Facing academic setbacks or personal loss taught me valuable lessons about perseverance, finding support, and adapting to difficult situations.
  • Literature like Elie Wiesel’s “Night” offers a harrowing yet powerful portrayal of resilience in the Holocaust. Similarly, Malala Yousafzai’s story of advocating for education despite being shot by the Taliban demonstrates the unwavering spirit in the face of adversity.

Tragic events, while devastating, hold within them profound lessons about resilience. They showcase the human ability to endure suffering, find meaning, adapt, and emerge stronger. Remembering these lessons and drawing inspiration from survivors’ stories can equip us to navigate our own challenges and build our own resilience.

Remember, this is just one possible response. You can personalize it further by adding specific examples from your own experience or other literature/history that resonate with you.

In the context of the text, how does fear drive action? How does fear play a role in resilience? How does it contribute to a person’s survival? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

The text “How Resilience Works” touches on the complex relationship between fear and resilience, showcasing both its potential to drive action and its need for management to foster true survival. Here’s a breakdown of its roles:

Fear as a Motivator:

  1. “Fight or Flight” Response: The text doesn’t explicitly mention it, but fear triggers the primal “fight or flight” response, prompting immediate action in the face of perceived danger. This can be crucial for survival, motivating individuals to escape threats, defend themselves, or seek help.
  2. Heightened Awareness: Fear sharpens our senses and focus, making us more vigilant to potential dangers and increasing our chances of avoiding them. This can be seen in historical accounts of survivors escaping perilous situations due to their heightened fear-driven awareness.

Fear as a Hindrance:

  1. Paralysis: Sometimes, fear can be overwhelming, leading to inaction or poor decision-making. The text mentions resilient people “confronting reality,” implying they don’t let fear paralyze them. However, historical examples like “deer in headlights” scenarios showcase how fear can hinder survival.
  2. Tunnel Vision: Intense fear can narrow our focus, making it difficult to see alternative solutions or broader consequences. This can be detrimental in complex situations requiring strategic thinking and adaptability.

Fear and Resilience: Finding Balance:

  1. Managing Fear: The text doesn’t delve into specific techniques, but overcoming fear often involves acknowledging it, understanding its source, and developing coping mechanisms. Resilient individuals likely learn to manage their fear effectively, using it as a motivator without succumbing to its paralyzing effects.
  2. Finding Meaning: As the text mentions, resilient people “devise constructs about their suffering to create meaning.” Framing fear as a necessary step towards a larger goal can help reduce its power and increase motivation. For example, soldiers facing fear in battle might find meaning in protecting their comrades or upholding their values.

Personal Experiences and Examples:

  • Public speaking anxiety: While not life-threatening, the fear of public speaking can be debilitating. Overcoming it involves recognizing the fear, practicing relaxation techniques, and focusing on the message rather than the fear itself.
  • Literature: In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” Cassius uses fear to manipulate Brutus into joining the conspiracy, highlighting how fear can be used both positively and negatively.


Fear is a complex emotion with a significant role in resilience. It can be a powerful motivator and heighten awareness, but it can also lead to paralysis and poor decision-making. Recognizing both sides and learning to manage fear effectively is crucial for building resilience and navigating challenging situations.

By understanding the nuances of fear, we can harness its power while avoiding its pitfalls, ultimately contributing to our own survival and growth.

In the context of the text, how does a person overcome adversity? How does resilience help people overcome difficult circumstances? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

The text “How Resilience Works” offers valuable insights into overcoming adversity through resilience. By exploring personal experiences and historical examples, we can gain a deeper understanding of this multifaceted concept.

Resilience as a Toolkit:

  • Finding Meaning: The text mentions resilient individuals “devising constructs about their suffering to create meaning.” This echoes Viktor Frankl’s message in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” where finding purpose in suffering fosters resilience. Similarly, Malala Yousafzai’s fight for education despite the Taliban’s threats demonstrates the power of meaning in overcoming adversity.
  • Adaptability and Resourcefulness: “Bricolage” – making do with limited resources – emerges as a key theme. From Holocaust survivors using their ingenuity to escape to UPS workers improvising deliveries after a disaster, resourcefulness empowers individuals to navigate challenges creatively. Similarly, Odysseus’ cunning solutions in his journey home in “The Odyssey” showcase the importance of adaptability.
  • Social Support: The text highlights the role of “adult choice” and community support in fostering resilience. This aligns with research showing strong social connections buffer against adversity. Anne Frank’s diary, written while in hiding with her family, exemplifies the solace and strength found in community during challenging times.

Applying Resilience in Personal Experiences:

While I don’t have personal experiences of major tragedies, I can reflect on overcoming challenges like academic setbacks or personal loss. These experiences taught me the value of:

  • Maintaining a positive outlook: Finding the silver lining and believing in my ability to overcome helped me persevere.
  • Seeking support: Reaching out to friends, family, or mentors provided emotional strength and guidance.
  • Learning from mistakes: Reflecting on setbacks helped me adapt and grow, building resilience for future challenges.

Remember, resilience is a journey, not a destination. It’s about developing a set of skills and mindsets that enable you to bounce back from adversity. By drawing from the lessons in the text, personal experiences, and historical examples, we can equip ourselves with this invaluable tool for navigating life’s challenges.

Other Commonlit Answers

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Avery L. Mitchell
Avery L. Mitchell
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Avery L. Mitchell is a literary enthusiast with a passion for classic literature and its enduring themes. Holding a Master's degree in English Literature from the University of Eldenbridge, Avery has spent over a decade analyzing and writing about timeless literary works. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for storytelling, Avery brings stories to life with insightful commentary and engaging narratives. When not immersed in books, Avery enjoys hiking, photography, and exploring hidden cafes in her hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

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