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In the Classroom > Picturing America Lessons > Paul Revere's Ride

Back to Paul Revere's Ride: the Story, the Hero, the Truth

Suggested Answers for "Paul Revere's Ride: the Story, the Hero, the Truths" Questions

Answers to Examining Expressive Content Questions

Where do you look first on this painting? Why? What did the artist do to make you want to look there first?

Most people probably look first at the church. It is the biggest, brightest thing in the painting.

Where is the action happening? What did the artist do to draw your eye to those spots? What are all of the humans doing?

The action is happening on the road in front of the church. The artist purposely placed it there because he knew our eyes would be drawn to the big, bright, white church and would move down the brightly lit steeple to the figures below. One human is riding a horse and the others are watching him and talking to each other.

What ties the scene together and helps your eye to see all parts of the picture?

The road

Does the story take place during the day or at night? What did the artist do to let you know that?

The story takes place at night. The artist made the background dark, there are lights on in houses, and you can see those lights reflected on the ground. Even a tree and roofs of some houses are reflected in moonlight. People watching the rider have on their nightshirts and nightgowns.

Did the story take place a long time ago or in modern times? How can you tell?

The story took place a long time ago. We don't see cars or modern houses or streetlights.

What do you think is going on? Why might the rider be riding through town so fast? How do you know that he is riding so fast?

Someone is riding his horse through town very fast and he must be making some noise because people are coming out of their houses and looking out of their windows to see and hear what is going on. Something important or an emergency must have happened to make the rider go so fast and to make people run outside in their nightshirts. We can tell that he is riding fast because the horse's mane and tail are streaming out behind him and all of his feet appear to be in the air.

What looks real? What doesn't look very real? What did Mr. Wood do to make the picture look that way?

Some students might say that the horse, people, and buildings look real. The trees, cliffs, and road don't look real and the lighting isn't very realistic either. Mr. Wood used very clear lines and didn't include a lot of detail. Some say that the image looks dreamlike and others say it looks like a scene made with children's building blocks.

Answers to Teaching Plan Questions

1. What more do you know about the story now?

Paul Revere made the ride on April 18, 1775; a friend hung two lanterns in the church tower to let him know that the British were approaching by sea; Revere then rode through towns and past farms yelling to warn people that the British were coming to attack them; because he did this, the people were ready to fight and were successful in beating back the British.

What did Mr. Longfellow mean when he said the following? "The fate of a nation was riding that night; / and the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, / kindled the land into flame with its heat."

He meant that if Revere hadn't warned people, the British might have attacked and killed a lot of them and things might have turned out very differently. The spark was a symbol for getting people "fired up" to take action and fight.

The story and poem give us information about a very big important event that was about to start. What was it?

The Revolutionary War

2. Longfellow might have known these parts of the story when he wrote his poem but if so, he chose not to include them. Why might he have decided to make it seem as if Paul Revere made the ride and delivered the warnings without anyone else's help?

Revere would seem braver if he had made the ride alone. Longfellow wanted Revere to be a hero and with this poem he succeeded, even though he changed the story a bit to do so.

Look at the painting again. Now that you know the story behind it, what more might you say about why Mr. Wood wanted his painting to look like a dream?

He might have wanted the viewer to see a story close to how he imagined it when he was a child- to imagine the story of Paul Revere's ride as a child might do so.

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