3) Christopher Columbus Reading Questions

1. Christopher columbus Journal

2. Christopher Columbus Reading Questions (WordPress)

Christopher Columbus

Revealing the Existence of the Americas to Europe

Vocabulary Development:

As you read the text, record five words you do not understand.  Below, write the word, the definition that goes along with it, and the sentence it was used with in the text. 

Word Definition Sentence from the Text
Shoals Shoals are land under the water that is near the surface. “We saw petrels, and a green reed close to the ship, and then a big green fish of a kind which does not stray far from the shoals.
Knots A knot is a type of measurement that is used to measure the speed of ships that translated to feet is 6076 ft per hour. “I resumed our original course westward, sailing at about nine knots.”
Dignified Dignified is an adjective to describe a person or a group that is thoughtful and full of grace and they seem like they deserve respect. “They are all the same size, of good stature, dignified and well formed.”
Haphazardly This is being all over the place and not being organized or having a plan. “They are built in the shape of a campaign tent, very large, and arranged not in streets but haphazardly, like tents in an army encampment.”
Leagues A league is a measurement or an unit that used to measure distance in Europe but it is not an official measurement now. The league is the distance that a human can walk in an hour. “The two men I sent inland to explore came back last night and told me they had gone twelve leagues when they reached a village of fifty houses.”


Comprehension Questions

Answer the following questions below.  You do not have to answer these in complete sentences; bullet format is fine.

Question Answer
1 Where was Columbus heading?
  • India (Columbus says “Indies”)
2 What signs did they have on October 11 that they were nearing land? Santa María (Ship Columbus was on):
  • Petrels
  • Green Reed
  • Green Fish that lives only near Shoals.


  • Cane and Stick
  • Peace of wood works with an iron tool
  • Piece of a cane
  • Plant that grows on land
  • Little board


  • Thorn branch with red fruits; newly cut

3What did Columbus promise the first man to see land?

  • Silk Doublet
  • 10,000 maravedis from the Majesties

4Which of Columbus’ ships spotted land first?

  • Santa María: Columbus Guessed land.
  • Pinta: because it was fast sighted land.

5What flags or banners did the crew carry onto the island first?

  • Christopher Columbus: Royal Standard
  • Captains: Banner with the Green Cross that the ships carry; with letters F and Y surmounted by crown.

6What did the Europeans give the islanders?

  • Red bonnets
  • Glass beads
  • Things of small value

7Describe the physical appearance of the men and women on the island.

  • Appear to be poor
  • Naked
  • All very young
  • Looked strong; well built
  • Thick hair like horses
  • Hair is short; some strands of hair hanging
  • Paint themselves different colors
  • Very broad
  • Wide foreheads
  • Big eyes

8Why did Columbus think the islanders were intelligent?

  • People from mainland come to take them as prisoners
  • Must be good servants
  • Quickly repeats everything said

9How many islanders did he want to take with him?  Why?How many?


  • Take six of them


  • Teach them Religion (Christianity)
  • Show them to the Majesties
  • Teach them Spanish

10How did the islanders travel out to the ship?

  • Made a long boat
  • Made of Tree Trunk
  • Biggest fit 40-50 people
  • Smallest fit one
  • Row with paddles

11What did the island look like geographically?

  • Large and flat
  • Lake in middle
  • No mountains

12What kind of animals did Columbus’ men see on the island?

  • Fish with different vibrant colors
  • Whales
  • On land only parrots and lizards
  • A big Snake
  • Birds
  • Tamed Dogs

13What was the weather like on the island?

  • Nights are neither hot or cold
  • Other islands are hot; flat
  • This island warm wind

14On November 6th, what kind of place did the Europeans find?

  • Village of fifty houses
  • Thousand inhabitants in village
  • Houses are visible
  • Land is very fertile

15What did the islander women do to the Europeans?  Why?What?

  • Kissed their hand and feet


  • To see if they were human
  • To see if they were real


Analysis Questions

Answer the following questions using complete sentences.  Use specific examples from the text.  This is practice for your coming summative task. 

Question Your Analysis
1 What evidence is there that Columbus was very religious? There are several evidences shown in the text that Columbus is religious. One example can be seen where he encourages his crew who were complaining how long the distance was. “I also told them that is was useless to complain; having set out for the Indies I shall continue this voyage until with God’s grace, I reach them”  (Columbus 321). This sentence shows that he will take god’s grace with him and one of the reasons why he was going to the indies without running out of strength was because of God and Religion.Another Example of Columbus being very religious can be depicted in this part of the journal, “I talked to the men about the grace which God had shown us by bringing us in safety, with fair winds and no obstacles, and by comforting us with sings which were more plentiful everyday” (Columbus 321). This was written in the part where the crew was all having their ‘Salve Regina’, which is a Christian Hymn. This quote tells us that Columbus us thankful for god for not giving them any problems and that he encouraged others to think that way as well during the religious singing of the hymn.Adding on, one other way that Columbus can be seen as religious is when he thinks of taking back some of the native people back to the majesty. “With God’s will, I will take six of them with me for Your Majesties when I leave this place, so that they may learn Spanish” (Columbus 323). This shows that he believes that it is God’s Will that he take back people from the islands which shows that some part of this thought was effected by the thought of religion and god. 

A sentence before the given quote also helps us detect that Christopher Columbus was religious. “I believe they would readily become Christians; it appeared to me that they have no religion” (Columbus 323). Some characteristics of religious people are that they want to spread their religion to different lands and people. Columbus shows this by thinking about teaching the Natives Christian to spread it.


Following were the reasons and examples why Columbus is religious.

2 What kind of leader does Columbus seem to be? There are a lot of characteristics that a leader should have. They should be courageous, intelligent, strong etc. What kind of leader is Columbus? According to the journal I would describe him to be an encouraging, intelligent, and sly leader.The first kind of leader Columbus was is an encouraging leader. This can be seen in various parts of the text. “I encouraged them as best I could, trying to raise their hopes of benefits they might gain from it” (Columbus 321). In this passage “they” are the crew. Columbus can be seen cheering the crew up who are giving up on actually making it to the Indies. He is a very positive and encouraging leader, which I believe is one of the reasons why they came to land fairly quickly.The second kind of leader Columbus was is an intelligent leader. When Columbus was outside at night he could see some light, which identified that there was land close by. “I was on the poop deck at then o’clock in the evening when I saw a light. It was so indistinct that I could not be sure it was land… the light appeared once or twice more, like a wax candle rising and falling…I was sure we were close to a landfall” (Columbus 322). A few paragraph after this, he states that he found land for sure. This identifies that Columbus is a very good observer and is very intelligent because his own eyes were better than some of the ships that he had or the crewmembers. 

The final kind of leader Columbus was is a sly leader. Leader’s characteristics don’t always have to be good because some do benefit that person. Columbus being sly can be shown when he goes to the Natives and gives them things and seems kind but he things about enslaving them and taking them back to Spain. “…I gave some of them red bonnets and glass beads which they hung around their necks, and many other things of small value, at which they were so delighted and eager to please us that we could not believe it… They must be very good servants, and intelligent… With God’s will, I will take six of them with me for Your Majesties when I leave this place, so that they may learn Spanish” (Columbus 322-323) With this we can analyze further that he looked to be nice to the Natives but he was actually very sly and thinking of what he should do with their intelligence.


These were some of the types of leaders Columbus was.

3 How did they ‘take possession’ of the land they first found? Columbus’s Crew was delighted to have reached the “Indies” and since it was their first land, they did a lot of things to prove that the land was “their” possession.Firstly, in the journal, Columbus writes that he brought flags from the of the royal standard and other flags of his country and his majesty. “I tool the royal standard, and the captains each took a banner with the Green Cross which each of my ships carries as a device, with the letters F and Y, surmounted by a crown, at each end of the cross” (Columbus 322).  This shows that Columbus tries to ‘take possession’ of the island by using something called symbolism, in this case the type of symbolism is the flags and banners that he brought. By bringing it and putting it on the island one will feel satisfied and if others come along they can say that they ‘own’ the island.There is one other way that Columbus and his crew took possession of the land they first found. “I called to the two captains to jump ashore with the rest, who included Rodrigo de Escobedo, secretary of the fleet, and Rodrigo Sánchez de Segovia, asking them to bear solemn witness that in the presence of them all I was taking possession of this island for their Lord and Lady the King and Queen, and I made the necessary declarations which are set down at greater length in the written testimonies” (Columbus 322). In this sentence we can see that did Columbus use symbolism by using the banners, he created witnesses and written proof that he was the one that gained the island and that this island was for the Majesty. 

These were two ways that Columbus tried to ‘take possession’ of the first island.

4 What was Columbus’ main intention with the islanders who he (they) met? The main intention with the islanders who he (they) met was to trade with the islanders. One must remember that the main reasons that Columbus wanted to reach the Indies to get goods and trade. This can be seen in various parts of Columbus’ journal.The first place where this can be seen is when he is communicating with the islanders. “I kept my eyes open and tried to find out if there was any gold… I gathered from their signs that if one goes south, or around the south side of the island, there is a king with great jars full of it… I tried to persuade them to go there, but I saw that the idea was not to their liking” (Columbus 323-324).  In this we can see that Columbus wants to get gold from the island, which indicates that gold is one of the reasons that he came to the islands.The trading comes in after Columbus thinks about gold. “But they will give whatever they have for anything one gives them; they even bargained for pieces of broken plate and broken glasses. I saw them take three Portuguese ceotís, the equivalent of one Castilian blanca, for sixteen balls of cotton…” (Columbus 324). One can infer that this piece of text indicates that Columbus was trading with the islanders, although it might have not been fair. Which then again comes to the main reason that Columbus came to the islands, to trade and to gain different goods.
5 What were Columbus’ first impressions of the character of the islanders? (See the October 11 entry) Since it was the first time that Columbus was visiting the island he must have had some first impressions of the character of the islanders. Some of these are listed in his journal.One thing that he must have thought about was how to treat these islanders depending on their character. “I could see that they were people who would be more easily converted to our Holy Faith by love than by coercion and wishing them to look in us with friendship I gave some of them… many other things of small values” (Columbus 322). In this passage he thinks that the islanders would not fall for violence or force and will be better handled and persuaded if he treats them better and with love. One can infer that one of Columbus’ first impressions of the islanders was that they needed love more than to be treated with force.There is another point that Columbus mentioned as well. “…they appeared to me to be a very poor people in all respects… they go about as naked as the day they were born…” (Columbus 323) Columbus is trying to say that one of his first impressions of the islanders was that they were poor just because unlike him and his crew, they weren’t wearing any clothes. This identifies that Columbus thought that the islanders were lower of power because he was ‘richer’ than them.
6 In the journal entry for October 14th, what do you think Columbus is most interested in? In the journal entry for October 14th, Columbus does a lot of things that show or hint what Columbus is interested in.One thing that he was interested in is a jewel, most specifically gold. “I could not swear to this, and the gold they wear hanging from their noses is also from the island…” (Columbus 324). From this one can see that even though he is travelling, he is still thinking of ways that he could obtain the gold that the islanders had.If gold was the side of what he was interested about, this was the one that he was most interested about. “I saw them take three Portuguese ceotís, the equivalent of one Castilian blanca, for sixteen balls of cotton which must have contained more than an arroba of thread. I had forbidden anyone to take this, except that I had given order to take it all for Your Majesties…” (Columbus 324). In this we can see that because he had obtained great amounts of cotton, he was interested and he wanted to take it to the Majesty to get praised. 

Overall, you can say that the things that Columbus was most interested in were cotton and gold.

7 What particularly impresses Columbus about the islands? There were a lot of things that impressed Columbus about the islands. They were mostly about the nature.One example can be seen when he lands on a new island. “This island is large and very flat, with green trees and plenty of water… and everything is green and a delight to the eye” (Columbus 324). From this we can see that Columbus appreciates the green nature of the islands and it impresses him a lot because he describes the island very thoroughly.Another example can be seen about the animals. “The fish here show amazing differences from our own. Some are like cocks, with the handsomest colouring in the world… No man could look at them without amazement and delight, the colors are so beautiful” (Columbus 324). This means that because he doesn’t have amazing fish in his own country, he is fascinated and impressed with the animals. 

Overall, I can depict that Columbus is impressed with things that are not usually found in in his home country.

8 How are the Europeans treated by the islanders? (November 6) In some of the previous questions, I have talked about how the Europeans treated the islanders. However, I have never talked about the islanders treating the Europeans.If the Europeans treated the islander with a motive, the islanders were kind and wanted the Europeans to feel welcomed. “They were given food… The Indian who was with my men told them about our way of life, saying that we were good people” (Columbus 326). In this one can infer that the islanders thought of the Europeans as good people since there were given food and words of hospitality.Another way that the islanders treated the Europeans was that they were treated like superior beings. “The people kept touching them and kissing their hands and feet in amazement, thinking they had come from Heaven…” (Columbus 326) In this sentence we can infer that by the actions of the islanders that they think of Europeans as higher than them because you wouldn’t kiss the feet or hands of a person who were lower or of the same level as you are.



Answer the following questions in one paragraph by using at least three quotations from the text.  Highlight each quotation in your answer so I can easily identify it.  

What was Columbus’ attitude toward the islanders?  In other word: How exactly did Columbus view the islanders?  Did they impress him?  Does he respect them?  Is the critical of them?  What are his motives for being there?
 Columbus perceived the Native Americans by…. Columbus had a lot of thought on the Native Americans. He had a lot of different opinions on the Native Americans but they all lead up to similar themes. First of all, let us look at the first example in Columbus’ journal. “However, they appeared to me to be a very poor people in all respects. “…They appeared to me to be a very poor people in all respects… they go about as naked as the day they were born…” (Columbus 323). In this clip of the journal one can say that Columbus thought of the Native Americans as lesser beings just because they had a tradition of not wearing clothes. This was one of the first impressions that Columbus had about the Native Americans. Another example can be seen when the Native Americans and Columbus’ crew are talking to each other. “They must be good servants, and intelligent, for I can see that they quickly repeat everything said to them… I will take six of them with me for Your Majesties when I leave this place…” (Columbus 323). One can depict that the language and the tone of writing Columbus is using is not the usual tone that he uses for humans. It is as if he is writing about how to train a slave or a lesser being. Even though they are smart, these are the only thoughts that Columbus thinks about. We can also see that his true motives are to take things and trade things on the island. One last example of how Columbus perceived the Native Americans can be seen when they are trading with each other, “…exchanging them for such objects as glass beads and hawk bells. They took anything and gave willingly whatever they had” (Columbus 322). This does not show directly how Columbus thought about the Native Americans trading for small things, however we can tell through his actions. He did not trade for things of the same value and left the Native Americans to trade for small things.Overall, I think that Columbus thought of the Native Americans as poor and even though they were smart that didn’t change is motive or first impressions of them.



3. Christopher columbus Reading Questions (Crocodoc/ Microsoft Word)