In this session, we will be bringing you the updated answers for CommonLit The Man In The Well topic.
Table of Contents
The Man In The Well CommonLit Answer Key
Let us first read The Man In The Well passage and will answer at the end.
The Man In The Well
By Ira Sher(1995). She is a contemporary author who writes short fiction. In “The Man in the Well,” a group of children discovers someone trapped in a well and listen to his cries for help. As you read this short story, take notes on the motivations of the children and why they do what they do.
I was nine when I discovered the man in the well in an abandoned farm-lot near my home. I was with a group of friends, playing hide and go seek or something when I found the well, and then I heard the voice of the man in the well calling out for help.
I think it’s important that we decided not to help him. Everyone, like myself, was probably on the verge of fetching a rope or asking where we
could find a ladder, but then we looked around at each other and it was decided. I don’t remember if we told ourselves a reason why we couldn’t
help him, but we had decided then. Because of this, I never went very close to the lip of the well, or I only came up on my hands and knees, so that
he couldn’t see me; and just as we wouldn’t allow him to see us, I know that none of us ever saw the man in the well — the well was too dark for that, too deep, even when the sun was high up, angling light down the stone sides like golden hair.
I remember that we were still full of games and laughter when we called down to him. He had heard us shouting while we were playing, and he
had been hollering for us to come; he was so relieved at that moment. “God, get me out.
I’ve been here for days.” He must have known we were children because he immediately instructed us to “go get a ladder, get help.” At first afraid to disobey the voice from the man in the well, we turned around and actually began to walk toward the nearest house, which was Arthur’s. But along the way, we slowed down, and then we stopped, and after waiting what seemed like a good while, we quietly came back to the well. We stood or lay around the lip, listening for maybe half an hour, and then Arthur, after some hesitation, called down, “What’s your name?” This, after all, seemed like the most natural question.
The man answered back immediately, “Do you have the ladder?”
We all looked at Arthur, and he called back down, “No, we couldn’t find one.”
Now that we had established some sort of dialogue, everyone had questions he or she wanted to ask the man in the well, but the man wouldn’t stop speaking:
“Go tell your parents there’s someone in this well. If they have a rope or a ladder…” he trailed off. His voice was raw and sometimes he would cough. “Just tell your parents.”
We were quiet, but this time no one stood up or moved. Someone, I think little Jason, called down, “Hello. Is it dark?” and then, after a moment, “Can you see the sky?”
He didn’t answer but instead told us to go again.
When we were quiet for a bit, he called to see if we had gone.
After a pause, Wendy crawled right to the edge so that her hair lifted slightly in the updraft.
“Is there any water down there?”
“Have they gone for help?” he asked.
She looked around at us, and then she called down, “Yes, they’re all gone now. Isn’t there any water down there?” I don’t think anyone smiled at how easy it was to deceive him — this was too important.
“Isn’t there?” she said again.
“No,” he said. “It’s very dry.” He cleared his throat. “Do you think it will rain?” She stood up and took in the whole sky with her blue eyes, making sure. “No, I don’t think so.” We heard him coughing in the well, and we waited for a while, thinking about him waiting in the well. Resting on the grass and cement by the well, I tried to picture him.
I tried to imagine the gesture of his hand reaching to cover his mouth, each time he coughed. Or perhaps he was too tired to make that gesture, each time. After an hour, he began calling again, but for some reason, we didn’t want to answer. We got up and began running, filling up with panic as we moved until we were racing across the ruts of the old field. I kept turning, stumbling as I looked behind. Perhaps he had heard us getting up and running away from the well. Only Wendy stayed by the well for a while, watching us run as his calling grew louder and wilder, until finally, she ran, too, and then we were all far away.
The next morning we came back, most of us carrying bread or fruit or something to eat in our pockets.
Arthur brought a canvas bag from his house and a plastic jug of water.
When we got to the well we stood around quietly for a moment listening for him. “Maybe he’s asleep,” Wendy said.
We sat down around the mouth of the well on the old concrete slab, warming in the sun and coursing with ants and tiny insects. Aaron called down then when everyone was comfortable, and the man answered right away as if he had been listening to us the whole time.
“Did your parents get help?”
Arthur kneeled at the edge of the well and called “Watch out,” and then he let the bag fall after holding it out for a moment, maybe for the man to see. It hit the ground more quickly than I had expected; that, combined with a feeling that he could hear everything we said, made him suddenly closer as if he might be able to see us. I wanted to be very quiet so that if he heard or saw anyone, he would not notice me. The man in the well started coughing, and Arthur volunteered,
“There’s some water in the bag. We all brought something.”
We could hear him moving around down there. After a few minutes, he asked us, “When are they coming? What did your parents say?”
We all looked at each other, aware that he couldn’t address anyone in particular. He must have understood this, because he called out in his thin, groping voice, “What are your names?”
No one answered until Aaron, who was the oldest, said, “My father said he’s coming, with the police.
And he knows what to do.” We admired Aaron very much for coming up with this, on the spot.
“Are they on their way?” the man in the well asked. We could hear that he was eating. “My father said don’t worry, because he’s coming with the police.”
Little Jason came up next to Aaron, and asked, “What’s your name?” because we still didn’t know what to call him. When we talked among ourselves, he had simply become “the man.”
He didn’t answer, so Jason asked him how old he was, and then Grace came up too and asked him something, I don’t remember. We all asked such stupid questions, and he wouldn’t answer anyone.
Finally, we all stopped talking, and we lay down on the cement.
It was a hot day, so after a while, Grace got up, and then Little Jason and another young boy, Robert I think, we went to town to sit in the cool movie theater. That was what we did most afternoons back then. After an hour everyone had left except Wendy and me, and I was beginning to think I would go, too.
He called up to us all of a sudden. “Are they coming now?”
“Yes,” Wendy said, looking at me, and I nodded my head. She sounded certain: “I think they’re almost here. Aaron said his dad is almost here.”
As soon as she said it she was sorry because she’d broken one of the rules. I could see it on her face, eyes filling with space as she moved back from the well. Now he had one of our names.
She said “They’re going to come” to cover up the mistake, but there it was, and there was nothing to do about it.
The man in the well didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Then he surprised us again by asking, “Is it going to rain?”
Wendy stood up and turned around like she had done the other day, but the sky was clear. “No,” she said.
Then he asked again, “They’re coming, you said. Aaron’s dad,” and he shouted, “Right?” so that we jumped, stood up, and began running away, just as we had the day before.
…[CONTINUE READING FROM MAIN SITE ITSELF]
Let us now discuss CommonLit The Man In The Wall answers key to the questions asked:
Q. Which of the following best describes the main theme of the text?
Ans: People can act in cruel ways when they hold power over others.
Q. How does the narrator’s point of view influence how the events are described in the passage?
Ans: The narrator feels shame about what happened but still tried to tell the story in a truthful way.
Q. Part A: How do the children respond to the man’s initial cry for help?
Ans: They make their decision without talking, but why they choose not to help the man is left unclear.
Q. Part B: Which of the following quotes best supports the answer to Part A?
Ans: “Everyone, like myself, was probably on the verge of fetching a rope, or asking where we could find a ladder, but then we looked around at each other and it was decided.” (Paragraph 2)
Q. Which statement best describes the relationship between the children and the man in the well at the end of the story?
Ans: The children were embarrassed that they had treated the man poorly.
Q. How do the children’s interactions with the well reveal the theme of the text? use at least two pieces of evidence in your response?
Ans: The theme of the story ‘Man in the well’ emphasizes the terrible behavior of children to adults who are in danger. The children, when they are in a group, act strangely and forgive lesser. They do not understand if adults are in danger. The questions asked by the children to the man struck inside a well, instead of helping him clearly states that the children can be strange and terrible. Also, the man in the well exposes his fear by shouting and using harsh voices at children. His scary behavior might also be a reason for the children to not help him.
Discussion Questions with answer (The Man In The Well)
Q. Are the children’s actions in this story cruel? Explain your answer.
Ans: The children abandoning the man at the well is very cruel, the man had put his trust in them in hope that they will help save his life but they instead lie to him and later abandon him yet he had even become friends with them and known their names this establishes that he had trusted them but they betray him and leave him in utter misery.
Q. Why is Aaron upset that the man in the well knows his name? Why does the speaker hide his face from the man in the well? Explain your answer.
Ans: There are various possible reasons as to why Aarron became upset. One reason that is slightly hinted at during the story is that Aaron may have actually known the man. However, I think that Aaron was definitely uncomfortable with the fact that the man in the well knows his name.
Q. Why does the speaker never go back to the well after the night it rains? Explain your answer.
Ans: The man in the well had begged and pleaded with him and his friends to get anyone to help him but they had ignored him and stalled until that night it rained and definitely the man drowned in the water that must have filled the well and the speaker knew that it was their fault for being that cruel to him.
Q. Consider the actions and motivations of the children in the story and answer this question: Why do people do bad things?
Ans: In this case, the children’s actions and motivations are driven by the fact that they do not know the man in the well. Although the man knows the children’s names, he does not tell them this name, thus the relationship is not balanced. People with less data or information about others tend to act aggressive and can be cruel. After the children’s names were known to the man and the man did not know the names they felt threatened. They decided to quit and leave the man in the well.
Q. In the context of this story, how does power corrupt? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.
Good people do bad things because of the influence of their social environment which permits them to commit sinful deeds with little to no perceived negative implications and the emergence of hatred and superior notions over other groups of people. This is primarily due to the primal and psychological instincts of people which condones a “survival of the fittest and most adept” civilization.
This can be demonstrated in a variety of historical events. One such example of this would be how the British Raj, Dutch East India Company, and many other European colonial empires began restricted trade with their colonies to eventually use their largest colonies such as the Indian subcontinent and much of Africa and the Carribean as cash cows. In 1612, Britain got permission to establish factories in
Surat, as they were seeking to bring their goods into larger markets, particularly the Indian subcontinent and Qing Dynasty controlled China. However, the British Empire slowly began to assert its dominance in the regions as it had no negative implications and much of India and Africa were not unified (Africa had thousands of tribes and ethnicities while India had 3 major empires, with thousands of solitary
kingdoms). This was justified by the propagandistic notions instilled upon the British monarch and many British merchants and investors. As they had emerged as a “superior” race, they had looted, destroyed, and invaded several kingdoms within Africa and the Indian subcontinent, eventually making much of the colonized population slaves towards the British monarch. This continued well into the 20th century when most of the oppressed colonies gained their independence or became autonomous territories of Britain. A similar course of action is undertaken against the prisoners in the Stanford Prison experiment in which there is an awkward aura between the prisoners and the guards, but within a week, the guards torture and harass the prisoners with justification for doing so. A specific historical event that entails this notion would be when Winston Churchill directly led to the starvation of millions in the Bengal Famine, in which he had directed foreign aid away from the region while stockpiling on grain reserves with the justification that “the Indians breed like rabbits.”
Another factor that may influence good people to do bad things is the blinding effect of power, as seen in The Man in the Well. In the story, a group of children had all the power regarding the situation. The man’s life was in the hands of a few children. This combined with the fact that there were multiple healthy and energetic children with no other adults around them led to a situation in which as a group, the children weren’t able to reason what was ethically wrong with their actions. It was social conformity that enhanced these blinding effects of power.
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