SAFETY Of NUMBERS CommonLit Answers 2024 [Free Access]

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SAFETY Of NUMBERS CommonLit Answers key

Discussion Questions & Answers

Following are our answers based on the questions provided:

Q.1. In the story, the narrator wonders “at what point did [her mother] become so small in her living of life?” What do you think it means to be “small” or “big” in the living of life? Do you think living the way she does makes the narrator’s mother happy? Why do you think the narrator is so critical of the way her mother lives her life?
Ans: The narrator in the story is reflecting on her mother’s way of living and wonders why her perspective on life seems so narrow and small. The narrator believes that living “small” or “big” in the living of life refers to one’s perspective. Living “small” means focusing only on mundane tasks and day-to-day activities, without considering the bigger picture or having a broader view of the world. On the other hand, living “big” means having a macro view of life, considering larger goals, beliefs, and experiences.
Based on the narrator’s observations, she believes that her mother’s small way of living does not make her happy. This conclusion is drawn from comparing her mother’s current lifestyle to how she used to live when she was younger. The narrator mentions that her mother lived a life filled with risk-taking and fighting for beliefs that were bigger than herself. However, as her mother grew older and faced challenges like losing friends, she realized that she could no longer live such a risky life.
The narrator is critical of her mother’s way of living because she is still a child who has yet to experience the fragility of life. Children often feel invincible and believe that they can do no wrong because they haven’t fully grasped the consequences their actions can have in shaping their future selves. The narrator fails to understand this concept at present but may come to realize it as she grows older.
Overall, the meaning behind being “small” or “big” in the living of life refers to one’s perspective on life – whether they focus solely on mundane tasks or consider larger goals and experiences. The narrator believes that her mother’s small way of living does not bring happiness but fails to understand this due to being young and inexperienced with life’s complexities yet.

Q.2. Why do you think the story is titled “Safety of Numbers”? How does the title help you understand the mother’s motivation? Do you think safety should always be someone’s first concern? Why or why not?
Ans: The story is titled “Safety of Numbers” because it highlights the importance of numbers, specifically test scores, in guaranteeing a position in society. In the story, the young girl’s future is dependent on her SAT score, which will determine whether she can attend a prestigious school and ultimately lead to success and social acceptance. The title helps us understand that the mother’s motivation is for her daughter to achieve the highest SAT score possible as a means of securing her position in society and becoming a successful American.
Regarding whether safety should always be someone’s first concern, it is subjective. While safety is important, focusing solely on safety can have drawbacks. For example, prioritizing safety by solely focusing on achieving high test scores may result in neglecting other aspects of life such as social interactions or pursuing passions outside academics. Sometimes taking risks and pursuing ambitious goals can lead to a more fulfilling life even if there are potential risks involved. It ultimately depends on an individual’s values and priorities.

Q.3. How would you describe the shift between childhood and adulthood? Which of the narrator’s actions in “Safety of Numbers” are childlike? What does the narrator learn that helps propel her into adulthood? What do you predict the narrator will do with her new independence?
Ans: The shift between childhood and adulthood is often characterized by increased responsibilities, self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of the world and its complexities. In “Safety of Numbers”, the narrator’s childlike actions include her initial lack of understanding of her mother’s past and her fear of getting into trouble. However, as she learns about her mother’s past and the sacrifices she made, she begins to understand the importance of courage and standing up for what one believes in. This realization propels her into adulthood. It’s predicted that the narrator will use her newfound understanding to navigate her future, possibly taking more risks and standing up for her beliefs, just like her mother did.
The transition from childhood to adulthood is often marked by significant personal growth and understanding. In the story, the narrator initially exhibits childlike behavior, such as fearing punishment and not fully understanding her mother’s actions and motivations. However, as she learns more about her mother’s past and the sacrifices she made, she gains a deeper understanding of the world and her place in it. This newfound understanding and maturity signify her transition into adulthood. It’s likely that this understanding will influence her future actions, possibly leading her to take more risks and stand up for her beliefs, reflecting the courage her mother exhibited in her past.

Q.4. In the end of the story, the narrator takes a risk that she thinks is worth the consequences. Have you ever taken a risk that was worth the potential consequences? If so, describe the risk and why you decided to take it. What was the outcome?
Ans: Through this story the narrator wants their readers to be more adventurous and take up risks that they think are worth the consequences. Everyone takes risks in their everyday life. In real life, we too have taken many risks that we thought were worth the potential consequences. In fact, taking risks can actually lead you to a better life.
Here’s a personal example of risk-taking that can change your perspective:
I am a person who is terrified of heights. So when I was asked to skydive by a group of friends I felt like killing myself. I refused so many times but eventually, I found myself on the plane ready to take the leap. My heart was in my mouth the whole time not knowing what to expect. There were a million things running around in my mind. There were multiple risks, but there came a moment when I stopped thinking. The clouds in my head disappeared. I took the jump. I decided to take it because I realized that my fear was merely transient. I started thinking about the happiness and pride that I would have had I taken the jump.
The feeling of freely falling may not seem like much but the feeling you have cannot be described. It is absolutely wonderful. It takes bravery to overcome the fear of uncertainty and to take a risk in order to attain a goal. We develop through the process and become more resilient and self-assured regardless of the outcome. Even better, developing those talents encourages taking more risks and increases the likelihood of reaching future objectives.


Assessment Questions & Answers

Following are our answers based on the questions provided:

Q.1. What judgment is the narrator making when she observes that her mother has “become so small in her living of life”? (Paragraph 28)
Ans: The narrator thinks less of her mother because she is too rigid and does not take risks.

Q.2. In paragraphs 19-29, how does the narrator’s conversation with her dad influence the way she views her mother?
Ans: The conversation causes her to be curious about how her mother changed from fearless to fearful.

Q.3. How does the Tiananmen Square experience affect the way the narrator’s mother lives her life? (Paragraphs 58-64)
Ans: It causes her to follow the rules in an attempt to stay safe.

Q.4. Which detail from the story best demonstrates how learning about her mother’s past affects the narrator?
Ans: “Cat keeps reminding me how much trouble I’ll be in when we get back, but I’m not scared of getting in trouble. What I’m scared of is growing up to be scared.” (Paragraph 82)

Q.5. In paragraph 78, the narrator says about her mother: “If it will make her happy, I will play by these rules.” What motivates the narrator to “play by the rules” on the day of the SAT? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Ans: The Narrator is motivated to play by the rules since, as said ” The SAT is to my future as my future is to Mom’s past. The outcome of the first will inform how we feel about the second, even though these Connection seem tenuous at its best”. Therefore the narrator gets a motivation that will be best for the future, regarding the mom’s past. The narrator was willing to suffer the securities and rules to make Mom happy.


You can find answer keys for other grade 10 topics below:



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In CommonLit, “SAFETY Of NUMBERS” is one of the students’ favorite short stories authored by Lucy Tan for grade 10 students.

In this short story, a daughter learns some surprising information about her mother’s past.


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