Was It a Dream? Commonlit Answers

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  • 9th Grade
  • Lexile: 1060

Source: Was It a Dream? by Guy de Maupassant

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
PART A: What is the primary tone of the narrator throughout the story?frantic despair
PART B: Which TWO phrases from the text best support the answer to Part A?“She was buried! Buried! She! In that hole!” (paragraph 7) and “I sprang on to the neighboring tomb, and saw, yes, I distinctly saw the stone which I had just quitted rise upright. Then the dead person appeared, a naked skeleton, pushing the stone back with its bent back.” (paragraph 19).
PART A: What does the interaction between the narrator and the priest in paragraph 5 reveal?It reveals that the priest is empathetic and willing
to share in the narrator’s grief.
PART B: Which detail from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“and it seemed to me as if he were insulting her.” (Paragraph 5).
PART A: Which of the following best describes a theme of the story?Love can cause people to believe the best about
others and often masks the truth.
PART B: Which section from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“They were all writing at the same time, on the threshold of their eternal abode, the truth, the terrible and the holy truth of which everybody was ignorant, or pretended to be ignorant, while they were alive.” (Paragraph 22)

Explain how the author uses an ironic twist to create surprise at the end of the story.

The author uses an ironic twist at the end of the story to create a surprising and unsettling conclusion. The narrator, who has been struggling with grief and loss, believes that his deceased lover is pure and innocent. However, when he sees the dead rising from their graves and correcting the lies that have been told about them, he is shocked to discover that his lover was not as perfect as he had thought.

This revelation is ironic because it contradicts the narrator’s idealized image of his lover. He has been so consumed by his grief and love that he has been blind to her flaws. The ironic twist forces the narrator to confront the truth about his lover, which is painful but ultimately necessary for his healing.

The author’s use of irony is also effective in creating surprise. The narrator’s hallucination is unexpected and jarring, and it leaves the reader feeling unsettled and questioning what they have just read. This surprise reinforces the story’s themes about love, grief, and the nature of truth.


How does Maupassant develop the narrator’s character over the course of the story?

Maupassant develops the narrator’s character over the course of the story through a gradual and subtle process, revealing his emotional state, perception of reality, and evolving understanding of love and truth.

Initially, the narrator is portrayed as deeply in love with his deceased lover, idealizing her and finding solace in her memory. He is consumed by grief, unable to accept her death and struggling to cope with the loss. This is evident in his desperate attempt to spend the night at her grave and his hallucinations of the dead rising from their graves to correct the lies that have been told about them.

As the story progresses, the narrator’s grief intensifies, leading to a distorted perception of reality. He is unable to distinguish between his memories and hallucinations, believing that the dead are actually rising from their graves to set the record straight. This suggests that his grief has clouded his judgment and made him susceptible to delusion.

The climax of the story occurs when the narrator sees the graves opening and the dead emerging, revealing their true nature. This shocking revelation shatters his idealized image of his lover, forcing him to confront the truth about her.

In the aftermath of this revelation, the narrator’s character undergoes a significant transformation. He becomes more introspective, questioning his own perceptions and the nature of love and truth. He realizes that his idealized image of his lover was based on illusion and that he must learn to accept her flaws and move on.

Throughout the story, Maupassant employs a variety of literary techniques to develop the narrator’s character. He uses vivid imagery to convey the narrator’s emotional state, such as his description of the graveyard as a “city of the dead” and the dead rising from their graves “like shadows.” He also uses symbolism, such as the narrator’s hallucination of the dead writing the truth on their tombstones, to represent the narrator’s confrontation with reality.

By gradually revealing the narrator’s emotional state, perception of reality, and evolving understanding of love and truth, Maupassant creates a complex and compelling character study. The narrator’s journey from grief-stricken idealism to a more nuanced understanding of love and acceptance is a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche.

Discussion Answers

How does love affect the way we see people? What imagery from the text helps illustrate that the narrator’s judgment is compromised?

Love can have a profound impact on the way we see others. When we are in love, we tend to idealize our partner, seeing only their positive qualities and overlooking their flaws. This is because love is often based on intense emotions and feelings, which can cloud our judgment and make it difficult to see things objectively.

The imagery in the text that helps illustrate that the narrator’s judgment is compromised includes:

  • The narrator’s description of his lover as “pure and innocent,” even though she is dead and can no longer defend herself against such accusations. This suggests that the narrator is so blinded by his love that he is unable to see her flaws.
  • The narrator’s hallucination of the dead rising from their graves to correct the lies that have been told about them. This suggests that the narrator is so desperate to maintain his idealized image of his lover that he is willing to believe anything, even if it is not true.
  • The narrator’s description of the cemetery as a “city of the dead” and the dead as “shadows.” This imagery suggests that the narrator is losing touch with reality and that his grief is overwhelming him.

The name of this short story is “Was It a Dream?” After reading the story, do you think it was a dream? Why or why not?

The ending of the story is ambiguous, and it is up to the reader to decide whether or not the narrator was dreaming. There is evidence to support both interpretations.

On the one hand, the narrator’s hallucinations are very vivid and real-seeming. He describes the dead rising from their graves, removing their tombstones, and writing the truth about their lives on the stones. This suggests that he is experiencing a very powerful dream.

On the other hand, the narrator’s hallucinations are also very disturbing and upsetting. He is clearly distressed by what he sees, and he is afraid for his own sanity. This suggests that his hallucinations may be a manifestation of his grief and trauma.

Ultimately, the reader must decide for themselves whether or not the narrator was dreaming. The ambiguity of the ending leaves room for interpretation and allows the reader to connect with the story on a personal level.

Here are some additional factors to consider when deciding whether or not the narrator was dreaming:

  • The narrator’s emotional state. The narrator is deeply in love with his deceased lover and is struggling to come to terms with her death. This grief could make him more susceptible to hallucinations.
  • The narrator’s desire to see his lover again. The narrator is desperate to be reunited with his lover, and this desire could have manifested in his hallucinations.
  • The symbolism of the dead rising from their graves. The dead rising from their graves could be seen as a metaphor for the narrator’s own inner turmoil. He is struggling to confront his grief and the truth about his lover.

The ambiguity of the ending allows the reader to explore these themes and draw their own conclusions about the story. It is a powerful and thought-provoking story that leaves a lasting impression.


Why do societies and individuals tend to glorify the dead? What can we gain from honoring the dead? What might we lose?

Why do people glorify the dead?

People glorify the dead to honor their memory and respect their contributions to society. They also do it to cope with grief and loss. When someone we love dies, it can be difficult to accept their passing. Glorifying them can help us to remember their positive qualities and maintain a connection with them, even though they are no longer physically present.

What can we gain from honoring the dead?

Honoring the dead can bring us closer together as a community. When we come together to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have passed, we build a sense of shared history and identity. We also learn from the mistakes and successes of the past, which can help us to make better choices for the future.

What might we lose from glorifying the dead?

Glorifying the dead can sometimes create an unrealistic image of them. We may focus on their strengths and achievements and forget about their flaws and shortcomings. This can make it difficult to see them as real people with complex personalities.

Additionally, glorification can lead to a sense of complacency. We may think that the dead have already done all the hard work, so we don’t need to bother trying to make the world a better place. This can hinder our own progress and prevent us from creating positive change.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to glorify the dead is a personal one. There are both benefits and drawbacks to consider, and each individual must decide what is right for them.


Is the narrator better off knowing what he discovers in the end, or would it have been better for him to remain ignorant?

Whether or not the narrator is better off knowing what he discovers in the end is a complex question that is open to interpretation.

On the one hand, the narrator’s discovery shatters his idealized image of his lover, and it is clear that this is a painful experience for him. He is forced to confront the fact that she was not the perfect person he believed her to be, which can lead to anger, betrayal, and despair.

On the other hand, the narrator’s discovery may also be a necessary step in his healing process. By facing the truth about his lover, he is able to let go of his idealized image and begin to move on from his grief. He may also be able to learn from his experience and avoid repeating the same mistakes in future relationships.

Ultimately, whether or not the narrator is better off knowing what he discovers is a decision that he must make for himself. There is no easy answer, and the outcome will depend on a variety of factors, including the narrator’s individual personality and circumstances.

Here are some additional things to consider:

  • The narrator’s emotional state. The narrator is already in a fragile state of mind due to his grief. Learning the truth about his lover may make his grief worse and make it more difficult for him to cope.
  • The narrator’s need for closure. Some people may need to know the truth, even if it is painful, in order to find peace and closure. Others may prefer to remain ignorant and maintain their idealized image of the deceased.
  • The narrator’s ability to forgive. If the narrator can forgive his lover for her imperfections, he may be able to find peace and move on. However, if he is unable to forgive her, he may continue to be haunted by his grief and regret.

The narrator’s journey of discovery is a powerful and moving one, and it is ultimately up to each reader to decide whether or not he is better off knowing what he discovers in the end.

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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth
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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth is a seasoned linguist and literacy educator with over 7 years of experience in the field. Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the prestigious Harvard University, Evelyn has dedicated her career to exploring the intricacies of language acquisition and promoting literacy among diverse learner populations.

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