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The Piece of String

A peasant in 19th-century France is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. The harder he tries to clear his name, the less people believe him. But does he get what he deserves? Our adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s classic story makes a great characterization activity.
Teaching Objectives:

to make inferences about a character in literature, to evaluate themes, to explore reputations and why they can be important

Featured Skill:

Other Key Skills: inference, theme, author’s craft, mood, cause and effect


Quizzes and Activity Sheets

You may print and copy the activity or have students complete it on their computers or tablets. Click here for instructions for using writable and interactive PDFs.

Analyze Hauchecorne: Making Inferences

Students explore indirect characterization and make inferences about the play’s protagonist.

Close-Reading and
Critical-Thinking Questions

For printing or projecting. These questions also appear in the
lesson plan.


A list of tricky words that appear in the play. Includes definitions and example sentences as well as a practice activity to reinforce understanding. Click here to learn more about Scope Vocabulary.

Interactive Reading-Comprehension Quiz

A test-prep essential! We formed these multiple-choice and constructed-response questions based on state and PARCC assessments. Need help with interactive PDFs? Visit our FAQ page.

Noninteractive Reading-Comprehension Quiz

A printable version of the quiz above.

Identifying Literary Elements
and Devices

Students explore character, elements of plot, and more in this self-guided activity. Includes higher-level-thinking questions. Use this activity with our Glossary of Literary Terms—a terrific resource that your students can use all year!

Contest Entry Form

Why didn’t the people of Goderville believe Hauchecorne was innocent? Did he get what he deserved? Students answer these questions in two to three paragraphs. Click here to learn more about our contests.

Answer Keys

Answers to these activities as well as the other activities in the issue.


Download all activities
for this play.
Get them all in one click!


Scope Audio

The French character names in Maupassant’s story sure are tricky! Never fear—our handy pronunciation guide will help. Click here to find more audio articles.


Essential Questions

How are reputations built?

Should you care what others think about you?

Are we really considered innocent until proven guilty?

Complexity Factors


Literature Connection


Skills and Standards


Extra Resource