CCA 8th Language arts

To the Top

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.”

-Samuel Johnson
Have you ever wanted to give up on something before you even started? That’s how Raja felt as he squinted up at the looming mountain crowned in clouds. Then he looked back at the group of boys behind him.

“Are you all ready?” one of their leaders, Max’s dad, shouted.All the boys turned to him and yelled, “Yeah!” Raja yelled too, but inside his stomach turned. He picked up his pack. When he swung it over his shoulder, the weight nearly toppled him to the ground. He looked quickly around to make sure no one had noticed him stumble. He saw several of his friends staggering under the weight of their packs.

“It takes some getting used to,” Leon’s dad chuckled, “but by tomorrow you’ll be expert backpackers. Okay, who wants to be first to lead us on the trail? Raja, why don’t you start out as the leader? Here’s the map. We’re following the green trail to the top of the mountain. That’s where we’ll camp for the night.”

Raja didn’t want to lead; he wasn’t even sure he could walk with the heavy pack. But he also didn’t want the other boys to think he was weak.

“Okay,” he managed, taking the map and turning toward the trail.

By noon Raja’s shoulders ached. When they stopped by a small waterfall for lunch, he let his pack fall to the ground and sat down heavily. Raja was so tired that he didn’t even want to eat. But Max and Leon’s dads cheerfully handed out sandwiches and drew the boys into a circle.

“Let’s talk about this morning’s hike,” Leon’s dad began. “Who has a comment?”

“It was long,” Leon piped up.

“It was hard,” Max agreed.

I’m tired. Do we have to hike all the way up the mountain?” whined Juan. Raja thought he was the only one whose muscles ached. He smiled to discover that all the boys had similar complaints.

“Well, we don’t have to hike all the way up. There’s a campground halfway. Are you all too tired to make it? Should we adjust our goal?” Max’s dad looked around the circle.

“I’m tired too,” Raja spoke up quietly, “but I think we can make it to the top. I didn’t think we could this morning, but now I see how far we’ve come.” Raja had never said so much in front of a large group. He didn’t know what gave him the confidence now.

“Who agrees with Raja?” Leon’s dad asked.

“I do,” Max shrugged.

“Yeah, I guess we shouldn’t give up now,” said Felipe.

The boys shouldered their packs again. This time Raja didn’t stumble. Somehow, the pack felt lighter. Or was he somehow stronger? Raja wondered this to himself as he followed the others past the waterfall and on up the mountain.

23. How is the setting related to the conflict in this story?

24. What change happens after the conversation on the mountain, and how is the conflict resolved?

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