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“The Pardoner’s Tale” from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Reading Strategy: Reread for Clarification
Rereading can often help clarify characters’ identities and relationships, the sequence or
cause of events, unfamiliar language, and other puzzling information. Often, earlier passages
provide the key to understanding the puzzling information. Study this example:
They made their bargain, swore with appetite,
These three, to live and die for one another
As brother-born might swear to his born brother.
Puzzling Detail
What bargain did the three men make?
Reread Earlier Passage
Hold up your hands, like me, and we’ll be brothers
In this affair, and each defend the others,
And we will kill this traitor Death, I say!
They made a bargain to kill Death.
DIRECTIONS: For each item below, reread earlier passages of “The Pardoner’s Tale” to clarify the
possibly puzzling information about which the question asks. On the lines provided, write the
details that clarify the information.
1. In line 102, the publican tells the rioters, “Be on your guard with such an adversary.” What
adversary is he talking about?
2. In lines 174–175, one rioter tells the old man, “I heard you mention, just a moment gone, /
A certain traitor Death. . . .” What did the old man say earlier about Death?
3. In line 213, one of the rioters says that they must bring the gold back at night. What reason did he give earlier for doing this?
4. In lines 260–262, the Pardoner tells us that the youngest rioter “Kept turning over, rolling
up and down / Within his heart the beauty of those bright / New florins. . . .” Does the
rioter have any florins with him? If not, what does this passage mean?
5. In lines 304–305, the Pardoner tells us, “Exactly in the way they’d planned his death/They
fell on him and slew him. . . .” What was the plan?
Unit 1 Resources: From Legend to History
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