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Identity: reading creative fiction; The Assignment 6


Read the story, then answer the practice question.

The Assignment

  1. My stomach flipped as I finished pulling on my armor and turned to look at my reflection. A man seemed to stare back at me where, just a few minutes before, a too-thin boy of 13 had stood. I lifted my chin, surprised by how large and intimidating the pieces of fabric and metal made me look. From the outside, you could hardly see evidence of the real me hiding beneath. I narrowed my eyes and pulled in a deep, settling breath. This was no time to allow my nerves to be shaken. Today was the day I had been looking forward to—this was the day I would finally learn of my military assignment.
  2. I joined the ranks of my fellow recruits, the collective clinks of our armor-encased bodies echoing through the halls as we silently marched into the coliseum. Today would be a private ceremony, and I searched the small crowd as we entered, anxious to see my father’s reaction to seeing his only son in uniform. He was easy to see from his vantage spot well above most of the crowd. My family’s service to the Roman army had afforded us special privileges throughout the years, as the empire was especially indebted to those who raised their children with a desire for service, as my father and those before him had done for generations.
  3. I had known since birth that I would enter the Roman army. It was my heritage, as deeply interwoven a part of me as my green eyes or brown hair; it was simply who I was. I had waited for this day my entire life. As the legion commander approached to make his announcements, my breathing grew quick, my ears buzzing as my heart seemed to thump against the armored plating on my chest.
  4. “Recruit Valerius, assigned to aeneator.”
  5. Aeneator? This couldn’t be. Aeneator wasn’t a combat role—an aeneator was only used strategically during battle. There was only one assignment per battalion, and the aeneator carried a large horn and blew signal tones to alert the army of orders. Panicked, I searched the face of my father to gauge his reaction to my assignment, but his face was cold and stony.
  6. After the announcements were complete, my father approached me. I tried to step closer to him, but my feet felt as though they were made of lead. I lowered my eyes, dreading his words as he reached and placed a hand on my metal shoulder.
  1. “Aeneator. My son.” he said. “Your great-grandfather would be proud.”
  2. I looked up and met his eyes, my shoulders relaxing in relief as I saw the pride emanating from within him.
  3. “It’s a great honor to be charged with directing the century, as your great-grandfather did many years ago. It shows tremendous strength of mind. I know you’ll serve the position well. I’m very proud of you, Son.”
  4. I smiled and nodded. “I will serve the position with honor,” I said, now understanding the esteem of the legion commander’s choice. My chest swelled with pride.

Practice question

What does the narrator’s father say that best helps the reader understand his point of view on his son’s assignment?
Choose 1 answer: