The Tell-Tale Heart

Identifying Cause and Effect

A cause is a reason for an action. An effect is an outcome, or result, of the action. Suppose that several people you work with have colds. A week later, you also come down with a cold. The likely cause is that you caught a cold virus from a-coworker. What effects would you suffer as a result of the cold? If you are like most people, you would have a stuffy nose, irritated eyes, and a headache.

To find the cause of an action, ask yourself, “Why did this happen?” To find the effect, ask, “What happened as a result?”

Questions on the GED test ask you to analyze cause and effect relationships.


True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses-not destroyed - not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily-how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain: but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture-a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees-very gradually I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart”

  1. The speaker obsesses about killing the old man because the
  • old man insulted him
  • old man threatened him
  • speaker wants the old man’s money
  • speaker is possessed by demons
  • speaker hates the old man’s eye
  1. The speaker suffers from which of the following effects of his disease?
  • deafness
  • greed
  • insanity
  • dulled senses
  • vengefulness