AP English Language : Passage Organization and Order

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Language

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Example Questions

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Example Question #6 : Making Inferences In Humanities Passages

Adapted from “The Celebration of Intellect” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1861)

I cannot consent to wander from the duties of this day into the fracas of politics. The brute noise of cannon has, I know, a most poetic echo in these days when it is an instrument of freedom and the primal sentiments of humanity. Yet it is but representative and a far-off means and servant; but here in the college we are in the presence of the constituency and the principle itself. Here is, or should be, the majesty of reason and the creative cause, and it were a compounding of all gradation and reverence to suffer the flash of swords and the boyish strife of passion and the feebleness of military strength to intrude on this sanctity and omnipotence of Intellectual Law.

Against the heroism of soldiers I set the heroism of scholars, which consists in ignoring the other. You shall not put up in your Academy the statue of Caesar or Pompey, of Nelson or Wellington, of Washington or Napoleon, of Garibaldi, but of Archimedes, of Milton, of Newton. . . .

For either science and literature is a hypocrisy, or it is not. If it be, then resign your charter to the Legislature, turn your college into barracks and warehouses, and divert the funds of your founders into the stock of a rope-walk or a candle-factory, a tan-yard or some other undoubted conveniency for the surrounding population. But if the intellectual interest be, as I hold, no hypocrisy, but the only reality, then it behooves us to enthrone it, obey it, and give it possession of us and ours; to give, among other possessions, the college into its hand casting down every idol, every pretender, every hoary lie, every dignified blunder that has crept into its administration.

What would you expect Emerson to write after the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

Amusing remarks about the history of science.

A cold discussion of the history of military exploits and the woes arising from them.

A set of reflections on the many figures of humanistic and intellectual history.

A scathing critique of modern militarism.

A great exhortation to be scientific in mindset and outlook.

Correct answer:

A set of reflections on the many figures of humanistic and intellectual history.

Explanation:

This paragraph opens up with the clear structure of presenting a set of contrasts. "Against the heroism of soldiers" the author sets ("presents") "the heroism of scholars." He then lists such a set of contrasts. In the actual essay, he then goes on to discuss some figures at length, using them as images of the kind of intellectual culture he wishes to praise in this passage.

Example Question #1 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from “The Celebration of Intellect” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1861)

I cannot consent to wander from the duties of this day into the fracas of politics. The brute noise of cannon has, I know, a most poetic echo in these days when it is an instrument of freedom and the primal sentiments of humanity. Yet it is but representative and a far-off means and servant; but here in the college we are in the presence of the constituency and the principle itself. Here is, or should be, the majesty of reason and the creative cause, and it were a compounding of all gradation and reverence to suffer the flash of swords and the boyish strife of passion and the feebleness of military strength to intrude on this sanctity and omnipotence of Intellectual Law.

Against the heroism of soldiers I set the heroism of scholars, which consists in ignoring the other. You shall not put up in your Academy the statue of Caesar or Pompey, of Nelson or Wellington, of Washington or Napoleon, of Garibaldi, but of Archimedes, of Milton, of Newton. . . .

For either science and literature is a hypocrisy, or it is not. If it be, then resign your charter to the Legislature, turn your college into barracks and warehouses, and divert the funds of your founders into the stock of a rope-walk or a candle-factory, a tan-yard or some other undoubted conveniency for the surrounding population. But if the intellectual interest be, as I hold, no hypocrisy, but the only reality, then it behooves us to enthrone it, obey it, and give it possession of us and ours; to give, among other possessions, the college into its hand casting down every idol, every pretender, every hoary lie, every dignified blunder that has crept into its administration.

What is being compared and contrasted in the first paragraph of this essay?

Possible Answers:

The great wars of history and the great intellectual achievements of the past

None of the other answer choices is correct.

The loud blasts of war and the quiet of the humanist's study

The world of military concerns and that of intellectual undertakings

The idiocy of children and the calm wisdom of sages

Correct answer:

The world of military concerns and that of intellectual undertakings

Explanation:

The paragraph opens by trying to stay out of the "fracas" (noisy place of disturbances) of politics. It continually comes back to the fact that Emerson wishes to focus upon the life of the mind and not the "feebleness of military strength." The contrast is thus between the more militaristic life of the modern day and the life of the intellect with its own undertakings.

Example Question #2 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries.

Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs be protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence, and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

What two kinds of “tyranny of the majority” are contrasted in the first paragraph?

Possible Answers:

One that is lethal to those disagreeing with it and one that is much softer in its effect

One that is surprising and one that is acceptable

One working through established power channels and one happening indirectly through the structures of society

One that is based on high culture and another based on raw power

One that is political in nature and one that is based mostly on literary fictions

Correct answer:

One working through established power channels and one happening indirectly through the structures of society

Explanation:

Mill first mentions a type of tyranny of the majority that works through the "public authorities." This is a kind of tyranny that operates through established and accepted channels. To this, he contrasts the situation occurring "when society is itself the tyrant"—that is, when the general structures of society become tyrannical.

Example Question #3 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from "The Poet" in Essays: Second Series by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1844)

Those who are esteemed umpires of taste, are often persons knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest remaining cold. Their knowledge of the fine arts is some study of rules and particulars, or some limited judgment of color or form, which is exercised for amusement or for show. It is a proof of the shallowness of the doctrine of beauty, as it lies in the minds of our amateurs, that men seem to have lost the perception of the instant dependence of form upon soul. There is no doctrine of forms in our philosophy. We were put into our bodies, as fire is put into a pan, to be carried about; but there is no accurate adjustment between the spirit and the organ, much less is the latter the germination of the former. So in regard to other forms, the intellectual men do not believe in any essential dependence of the material world on thought and volition. Theologians think it a pretty air-castle to talk of the spiritual meaning of a ship or a cloud, of a city or a contract, but they prefer to come again to the solid ground of historical evidence; and even the poets are contented with a civil and conformed manner of living, and to write poems from the fancy, at a safe distance from their own experience. But the highest minds of the world have never ceased to explore the double meaning, or, shall I say, the quadruple, or the centuple, or much more manifold meaning, of every sensuous fact: Orpheus, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Plato, Plutarch, Dante, Swedenborg, and the masters of sculpture, picture, and poetry. For we are not pans and barrows, nor even porters of the fire and torch-bearers, but children of the fire, made of it, and only the same divinity transmuted, and at two or three removes, when we know least about it. And this hidden truth, that the fountains whence all this river of Time, and its creatures, floweth, are intrinsically ideal and beautiful, draws us to the consideration of the nature and functions of the Poet, or the man of Beauty, to the means and materials he uses, and to the general aspect of the art in the present time.

The breadth of the problem is great, for the poet is representative. He stands among partial men for the complete man, and apprises us not of his wealth, but of the common-wealth. The young man reveres men of genius, because, to speak truly, they are more himself than he is. They receive of the soul as he also receives, but they more. Nature enhances her beauty, to the eye of loving men, from their belief that the poet is beholding her shows at the same time. He is isolated among his contemporaries, by truth and by his art, but with this consolation in his pursuits, that they will draw all men sooner or later. For all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.

The organization in paragraph one serves to shift the subject matter from what to what?

Possible Answers:

From an analysis of the specific poetic forms that inhibit poetic expression to a discussion of how to ameliorate poor poetic expression

From an analysis of the extraneous elements of contemporary poems to a reminiscence of prior poets and their apt use of language

From a discussion of the value of criticism to elaboration on why poets should critique one another's work

From a consideration of the banality of poetry that merely conveys experience and emotion to a discussion of why form is also important

From a discussion of those who focus only on form to a discussion of artists and poets who also focus on illustrating the aggregate of life experiences

Correct answer:

From a discussion of those who focus only on form to a discussion of artists and poets who also focus on illustrating the aggregate of life experiences

Explanation:

The shift that occurs in paragraph one primarily serves to change the topic from a discussion of poets restricted by form that fail to display human emotion and expression to a model of poets who encompass the entirety of the soul in their poetry. This transition occurs in the first paragraph when he lists authors and artists of the past, calling upon them as models of poetry that transcend simple poetic forms and display true beauty in their language.

Example Question #4 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from "The Social Compact" in Social Contract & Discourses by Jean Jaques Rousseau (1913 ed.)

I suppose men to have reached the point at which the obstacles in the way of their preservation in the state of nature show their power of resistance to be greater than the resources at the disposal of each individual for his maintenance in that state. That primitive condition can then subsist no longer, and the human race would perish unless it changed its manner of existence.

But, as men cannot engender new forces but only unite and direct existing ones, they have no other means of preserving themselves than the formation, by aggregation, of a sum of forces great enough to overcome the resistance. These they have to bring into play by means of a single motive power and cause to act in concert.

This sum of forces can arise only where several persons come together; but, as the force and liberty of each man are the chief instruments of his self-preservation, how can he pledge them without harming his own interests and neglecting the care he owes to himself? This difficulty, in its bearing on my present subject, may be stated in the following terms:

"The problem is to find a form of association that will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before." This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution.

The clauses of this contract are so determined by the nature of the act that the slightest modification would make them vain and ineffective; so that, although they have perhaps never been formally set forth, they are everywhere the same and everywhere tacitly admitted and recognized, until, on the violation of the social compact, each regains his original rights and resumes his natural liberty, while losing the conventional liberty in favor of which he renounced it.

These clauses, properly understood, may be reduced to one—the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole community; for, in the first place, as each gives himself absolutely, the conditions are the same for all; and, this being so, no one has any interest in making them burdensome to others.

Moreover, the alienation being without reserve, the union is as perfect as it can be, and no associate has anything more to demand; for, if the individuals retained certain rights, as there would be no common superior to decide between them and the public, each, being on one point his own judge, would ask to be so on all; the state of nature would thus continue, and the association would necessarily become inoperative or tyrannical.

Finally, each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and as there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself, he gains an equivalent for everything he loses, and an increase of force for the preservation of what he has.

Which of the following best describes the purpose of the passage?

Possible Answers:

It denies the reality of a common myth.

It instructs the reader in a specific skill.

It introduces and explains a scientific concept.

It makes a judgment about the goodness of mankind.

It enumerates the difficulties of a theoretical sociopolitical issue and then offers a solution.

Correct answer:

It enumerates the difficulties of a theoretical sociopolitical issue and then offers a solution.

Explanation:

We can immediately ignore the answer choices that suggest that the passage's purpose is to "[introduce] and explains a scientific concept," "[deny] the reality of a common myth," or "[instruct] the reader in a specific skill," as no scientific concept, common myth, or specific skill are mentioned in it. This leaves us with two remaining answer choices: "It enumerates the difficulties of a theoretical political issue and then offers a solution," and "It makes a judgment about the goodness of mankind." While the passage does discuss mankind in general terms, it does not make any judgments about the goodness or badness of mankind; instead, it describes some of the problems around the association of individuals, then introduces the idea of the social contract; in other words, it "enumerates the difficulties of a theoretical sociopolitical issue and then offers a solution."

Example Question #5 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from Volume 1 of History of Woman Suffrage by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1887)

Change is a law of life, and the development of society a natural growth. Although to this law we owe the discoveries of unknown worlds, the inventions of machinery, swifter modes of travel, and clearer ideas as to the value of human life and thought, yet each successive change has met with the most determined opposition. Fortunately, progress is not the result of pre-arranged plans of individuals, but is born of a fortuitous combination of circumstances that compel certain results, overcoming the natural inertia of mankind. There is a certain enjoyment in habitual sluggishness; in rising each morning with the same ideas as the night before; in retiring each night with the thoughts of the morning. This inertia of mind and body has ever held the multitude in chains. Thousands have thus surrendered their most sacred rights of conscience. In all periods of human development, thinking has been punished as a crime, which is reason sufficient to account for the general passive resignation of the masses to their conditions and environments.

Again, "subjection to the powers that be" has been the lesson of both church and state, throttling science, checking invention, crushing free thought, persecuting and torturing those who have dared to speak or act outside of established authority. Anathemas and the stake have upheld the church, banishment and the scaffold the throne, and the freedom of mankind has ever been sacrificed to the idea of protection. So entirely has the human will been enslaved in all classes of society in the past, that monarchs have humbled themselves to popes, nations have knelt at the feet of monarchs, and individuals have sold themselves to others under the subtle promise of "protection"—a word that simply means release from all responsibility, all use of one's own faculties—a word that has ever blinded people to its true significance. Under authority and this false promise of "protection," certain beliefs have been inculcated, certain crimes invented, in order to intimidate the masses. Hence, the church made free thought the worst of sins, and the spirit of inquiry the worst of blasphemies; while the state proclaimed her temporal power of divine origin, and all rebellion high treason alike to God and the king, to be speedily and severely punished. In this union of church and state mankind touched the lowest depth of degradation.

All these influences fell with crushing weight on woman; more sensitive, helpless, and imaginative, she suffered a thousand fears and wrongs where man did one. Lecky, in his "History of Rationalism in Europe," shows that the vast majority of the victims of fanaticism and witchcraft, burned, drowned, and tortured, were women. Society, including our systems of jurisprudence, civil and political theories, trade, commerce, education, religion, friendships, and family life, have all been framed on the sole idea of man's rights. Hence, he takes upon himself the responsibility of directing and controlling the powers of woman, under that all-sufficient excuse of tyranny, "divine right."

The people who demand authority for every thought and action, who look to others for wisdom and protection, are those who perpetuate tyranny. The thinkers and actors who find their authority within, are those who inaugurate freedom. Obedience to outside authority to which woman has everywhere been trained, has not only dwarfed her capacity, but made her a retarding force in civilization, recognized at last by statesmen as a dangerous element to free institutions. Hence, in the scientific education of woman, in the training of her faculties to independent thought and logical reasoning, lies the hope of the future.

Which of these represents the central idea of the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Subjugating people to the established authority of church and state has stifled the growth of individual liberty in mankind.

Emancipation from the authority of church and state is necessary in order for women to achieve true equality in human society.

The combined efforts of the church and state have done little to improve the condition of mankind.

The “natural inertia” of mankind hinders our ability to progress and improve ourselves.

Without the protective interests of the medieval church, mankind would have been unlikely to reach its current zenith of productivity and personal freedom.

Correct answer:

Subjugating people to the established authority of church and state has stifled the growth of individual liberty in mankind.

Explanation:

The author uses the second paragraph to introduce her argument that the primary responsibility for the degradation of mankind rests at the feet of the combined efforts of church and state. After determining that this is the function of the second paragraph, it might be reasonable to say that the correct answer is that the combined efforts of the church and state have done little to improve the condition of mankind. But, the language and implication here is not strong enough; it is more correct to infer that the author is stating that the church and state have had an extremely negative effect, rather than just one that is not wholly positive.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Sequence, Organization, And Structure In Social Science Passages

Adapted from “Introductory Remarks” in The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (trans. 1913)

In attempting to discuss the interpretation of dreams, I do not believe that I have overstepped the bounds of neuropathological interest. For, when investigated psychologically, the dream proves to be the first link in a chain of abnormal psychic structures whose other links—the hysterical phobia, the obsession, and the delusion—must interest the physician for practical reasons. The dream can lay no claim to a corresponding practical significance; however, its theoretical value is very great, and one who cannot explain the origin of the content of dreams will strive in vain to understand phobias, obsessive and delusional ideas, and likewise their therapeutic importance.

While this relationship makes our subject important, it is responsible also for the deficiencies in this work. The surfaces of fracture, which will be frequently discussed, correspond to many points of contact where the problem of dream formation informs more comprehensive problems of psychopathology which cannot be discussed here. These larger issues will be elaborated upon in the future.

Peculiarities in the material I have used to elucidate the interpretation of dreams have rendered this publication difficult. The work itself will demonstrate why all dreams related in scientific literature or collected by others had to remain useless for my purpose. In choosing my examples, I had to limit myself to considering my own dreams and those of my patients who were under psychoanalytic treatment. I was restrained from utilizing material derived from my patients' dreams by the fact that during their treatment, the dream processes were subjected to an undesirable complication—the intermixture of neurotic characters. On the other hand, in discussing my own dreams, I was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of my psychic life than I should like, more so than generally falls to the task of an author who is not a poet but an investigator of nature. This was painful, but unavoidable; I had to put up with the inevitable in order to demonstrate the truth of my psychological results at all. To be sure, I disguised some of my indiscretions through omissions and substitutions, though I feel that these detract from the value of the examples in which they appear. I can only express the hope that the reader of this work, putting himself in my difficult position, will show patience, and also that anyone inclined to take offense at any of the reported dreams will concede freedom of thought at least to the dream life.

The author discusses a topic that he plans to pursue in future work __________.

Possible Answers:

in the last sentence of the passage

in the second paragraph of the passage

nowhere in the passage

in the first and last paragraphs of the passage

in the first sentence of the passage

Correct answer:

in the second paragraph of the passage

Explanation:

In the second paragraph of the passage, the author says, “The surfaces of fracture, which will be frequently discussed, correspond to many points of contact where the problem of dream formation informs more comprehensive problems of psychopathology which cannot be discussed here. These larger issues will be elaborated upon in the future.” This the only point in the passage where the author refers to the topic of future work, so “in the second paragraph of the passage” is the correct answer.

Example Question #1 : Locating Details In Argumentative Humanities Passages

Adapted from the Advertisement to Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth (1798)

It is the honorable characteristic of Poetry that its materials are to be found in every subject which can interest the human mind. The evidence of this fact is to be sought, not in the writings of Critics, but in those of Poets themselves.

The majority of the following poems are to be considered as experiments. They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure. Readers accustomed to the gaudiness and inane phraseology of many modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to its conclusion, will perhaps frequently have to struggle with feelings of strangeness and awkwardness: they will look round for poetry, and will be induced to enquire by what species of courtesy these attempts can be permitted to assume that title. It is desirable that such readers, for their own sakes, should not suffer the solitary word Poetry, a word of very disputed meaning, to stand in the way of their gratification; but that, while they are perusing this book, they should ask themselves if it contains a natural delineation of human passions, human characters, and human incidents; and if the answer be favorable to the author's wishes, that they should consent to be pleased in spite of that most dreadful enemy to our pleasures, our own pre-established codes of decision.

Readers of superior judgement may disapprove of the style in which many of these pieces are executed it must be expected that many lines and phrases will not exactly suit their taste. It will perhaps appear to them, that wishing to avoid the prevalent fault of the day, the author has sometimes descended too low, and that many of his expressions are too familiar, and not of sufficient dignity. It is apprehended, that the more conversant the reader is with our elder writers, and with those in modern times who have been the most successful in painting manners and passions, the fewer complaints of this kind will he have to make.

An accurate taste in poetry, and in all the other arts, Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed, is an acquired talent, which can only be produced by severe thought, and a long continued intercourse with the best models of composition. This is mentioned not with so ridiculous a purpose as to prevent the most inexperienced reader from judging for himself; but merely to temper the rashness of decision, and to suggest that if poetry be a subject on which much time has not been bestowed, the judgement may be erroneous, and that in many cases it necessarily will be so.

The third paragraph establishes all of the following EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

those familiar with ancient writers will not react in the same way as other readers

some readers may not like the poems due to their language and style

the phraseology of the poems may be too informal for some

the poet has tried to escape the faults of his contemporaries

the poet does not care about his readers' opinions

Correct answer:

the poet does not care about his readers' opinions

Explanation:

If there is one thing we can fully ascertain from the third paragraph, and indeed the passage, it is that the author is worried about the reception of the poems that are to follow this introduction. The third paragraph therefore does not establish that the author does not care, rather it establishes which readers may not react well to the poems and why the author thinks they will not react well.

Example Question #6 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Which of the following best describes the function of the last sentence of the passage?

Possible Answers:

A contrasting viewpoint

An antithetical statement

A sincere underscoring of the author's plea for action.

A sudden shift in tone.

Sarcastically underscoring the article's overall satirical point, and more acutely directing the ire towards the author's satirical target.

Correct answer:

Sarcastically underscoring the article's overall satirical point, and more acutely directing the ire towards the author's satirical target.

Explanation:

The last sentence sarcastically underscores the passage's overall point, as well as making more clearly directing the essay's criticism towards landlords, specifically. The use of "devoured" effectively makes clear, even through the sarcasm of the rest of the passage, that the author's target is not babies, but the landlords that he feels have facilitated the deprivation and poverty in his country.

Example Question #7 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume (1748)

1. Moral philosophy, or the science of human nature, may be treated after two different manners, each of which has its peculiar merit and may contribute to the entertainment, instruction, and reformation of mankind. The one considers man chiefly as born for action and as influenced in his measures by taste and sentiment, pursuing one object and avoiding another according to the value that these objects seem to possess and according to the light in which they present themselves. As virtue, of all objects, is allowed to be the most valuable, this species of philosophers paint her in the most amiable colors, borrowing all helps from poetry and eloquence and treating their subject in an easy and obvious manner and such as is best fitted to please the imagination and engage the affections. They select the most striking observations and instances from common life; place opposite characters in a proper contrast; and alluring us into the paths of virtue by the views of glory and happiness, direct our steps in these paths by the soundest precepts and most illustrious examples. They make us feel the difference between vice and virtue; they excite and regulate our sentiments; and so they can but bend our hearts to the love of probity and true honor, they think, that they have fully attained the end of all their labors.

2. The other species of philosophers considers man in the light of a reasonable rather than an active being, and endeavors to form his understanding more than cultivate his manners. They regard human nature as a subject of speculation, and with a narrow scrutiny examine it in order to find those principles that regulate our understanding, excite our sentiments, and make us approve or blame any particular object, action, or behavior. They think it a reproach to all literature that philosophy should not yet have fixed, beyond controversy, the foundation of morals, reasoning, and criticism, and should forever talk of truth and falsehood, vice and virtue, beauty and deformity, without being able to determine the source of these distinctions. While they attempt this arduous task, they are deterred by no difficulties, but proceeding from particular instances to general principles, they still push on their enquiries to principles more general, and rest not satisfied ‘till they arrive at those original principles, by which, in every science, all human curiosity must be bounded. Though their speculations seem abstract, and even unintelligible to common readers, they aim at the approbation of the learned and the wise, and think themselves sufficiently compensated for the labor of their whole lives if they can discover some hidden truths that may contribute to the instruction of posterity.

3. It is certain that the easy and obvious philosophy will always, with the generality of mankind, have the preference above the accurate and abstruse, and by many will be recommended, not only as more agreeable, but more useful than the other. It enters more into common life; molds the heart and affections; and, by touching those principles which actuate men, reforms their conduct, and brings them nearer to that model of perfection that it describes. On the contrary, the abstruse philosophy, being founded on a turn of mind, which cannot enter into business and action, vanishes when the philosopher leaves the shade, and comes into open day; nor can its principles easily retain any influence over our conduct and behavior. The feelings of our hearts, the agitation of our passions, the vehemence of our affections, dissipate all its conclusions, and reduce the profound philosopher to the mere plebeian.

Which of the following critiques could most reasonably be made against this text?

Possible Answers:

The author's definition of "reason" is too narrow and does not allow for multiple valid points of view.

The argument relies on a particular framing of two opposing schools of thought without supporting evidence or examples.

The argument is based on an obvious, inherently logically flawed premise.

The prose is overly basic in its diction, and is thus rendered unclear.

The author relies on a series of ad hominem attacks on his intellectual opponents rather than addressing the specifics of their arguments.

Correct answer:

The argument relies on a particular framing of two opposing schools of thought without supporting evidence or examples.

Explanation:

Of the critiques provided, the most valid is that the author relies on his own framing of "two different manners" of thinking about moral philosophy; however, the author does not provide specific quotations or examples of either school of philosophy, instead outlining these schools of thought in his own words. 

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