AP English Literature : Claims and Argument

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #212 : Interpreting The Passage

Adapted from Coriolanus by William Shakespeare (III.iii.152-167)

 

You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate

As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize

As the dead carcasses of unburied men

That do corrupt my air, I banish you;

And here remain with your uncertainty!

Let every feeble rumor shake your hearts!

Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,

Fan you into despair! Have the power still

To banish your defenders; till at length

Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,

Making not reservations of yourselves,

Still your own foes, deliver you as most 

Abated captives to some nation

That won you without blows! Despising,

For you, the city, thus I turn my back:

There is a world elsewhere.

What does the speaker argue will ultimately result from the listeners' actions?

Possible Answers:

Fruitful exploration of foreign countries

The city government becoming tyrannical and cruel

A violent war with foreign enemies

Pestilence and disharmony in the city

 Uncertainty for the people in the city, and the eventual overthrow of the city itself

Correct answer:

 Uncertainty for the people in the city, and the eventual overthrow of the city itself

Explanation:

As a result of the listeners banishing the speaker, he argues that they will first fall into uncertainty, and eventually be overthrown.

He believes the city is already pestilential and dirty, and he thinks the government will become weak, not tyrannical and cruel. While he thinks enemies will invade, he thinks that the invaders will win "without blows." When he announces his plan to seek "a world elsewhere," he does so more from the perspective of "turn[ing] his back" on the city, rather than any positive expectation of the results of this action.

Example Question #2 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from Notes from the Underground (1864) in White Nights and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1919, trans. Garnett)

"Ha! ha! ha! But you know there is no such thing as choice in reality, say what you like," you will interpose with a chuckle. "Science has succeeded in so far analyzing man that we know already that choice and what is called freedom of will is nothing else than—"

Stay, gentlemen, I meant to begin with that myself. I confess, I was rather frightened. I was just going to say that the devil only knows what choice depends on, and that perhaps that was a very good thing, but I remembered the teaching of science . . . and pulled myself up. And here you have begun upon it. Indeed, if there really is some day discovered a formula for all our desires and caprices—that is, an explanation of what they depend upon, by what laws they arise, how they develop, what they are aiming at in one case and in another and so on, that is a real mathematical formula—then, most likely, man will at once cease to feel desire, indeed, he will be certain to. For who would want to choose by rule? Besides, he will at once be transformed from a human being into an organ-stop or something of the sort; for what is a man without desires, without free will and without choice, if not a stop in an organ? What do you think? Let us reckon the chances—can such a thing happen or not?

"H'm!" you decide. "Our choice is usually mistaken from a false view of our advantage. We sometimes choose absolute nonsense because in our foolishness we see in that nonsense the easiest means for attaining a supposed advantage. But when all that is explained and worked out on paper (which is perfectly possible, for it is contemptible and senseless to suppose that some laws of nature man will never understand), then certainly so-called desires will no longer exist. For if a desire should come into conflict with reason we shall then reason and not desire, because it will be impossible retaining our reason to be SENSELESS in our desires, and in that way knowingly act against reason and desire to injure ourselves. And as all choice and reasoning can be really calculated—because there will some day be discovered the laws of our so-called free will—so, joking apart, there may one day be something like a table constructed of them, so that we really shall choose in accordance with it. If, for instance, some day they calculate and prove to me that I made a long nose at someone because I could not help making a long nose at him and that I had to do it in that particular way, what FREEDOM is left me, especially if I am a learned man and have taken my degree somewhere? Then I should be able to calculate my whole life for thirty years beforehand. In short, if this could be arranged there would be nothing left for us to do; anyway, we should have to understand that. And, in fact, we ought unwearyingly to repeat to ourselves that at such and such a time and in such and such circumstances nature does not ask our leave; that we have got to take her as she is and not fashion her to suit our fancy, and if we really aspire to formulas and tables of rules, and well, even . . . to the chemical retort, there's no help for it, we must accept the retort too, or else it will be accepted without our consent. . . ."

What is meant by the claim that science might find a formula for our desires?

Possible Answers:

Our desires can be understood by sciences like psychology and sociology.

Even scientific laws have a certain beauty and therefore can be desired.

Intelligent inquiry is possible even in the case of the study of human desires.

Scientific reasoning will be applied to our desires in order to help us understand some of their more puzzling aspects.

It might be discovered that our desires are as regular in their functioning as are physical laws.

Correct answer:

It might be discovered that our desires are as regular in their functioning as are physical laws.

Explanation:

The image of finding a formula for our desires is meant to evoke an equivalence between the study of human desires and the types of studies done in sciences like mathematical physics. The latter uses laws and formulas to define and predict the motions of bodies in space. The implication here is that it might be discovered some day that our emotions follow laws just like the physical ones.

Example Question #1 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)

"Dorian," cried Hallward, "that is not the question. England is bad enough I know, and English society is all wrong. That is the reason why I want you to be fine. You have not been fine. One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends. Yours seem to lose all sense of honor, of goodness, of purity. You have filled them with a madness for pleasure. They have gone down into the depths. You led them there. Yes: you led them there, and yet you can smile, as you are smiling now. And there is worse behind. I know you and Harry are inseparable. Surely for that reason, if for none other, you should not have made his sister's name a by-word."

"Take care, Basil. You go too far."

"I must speak, and you must listen. You shall listen. When you met Lady Gwendolen, not a breath of scandal had ever touched her. Is there a single decent woman in London now who would drive with her in the park? Why, even her children are not allowed to live with her. Then there are other stories—stories that you have been seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses and slinking in disguise into the foulest dens in London. Are they true? Can they be true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them now, and they make me shudder. What about your country-house and the life that is led there? Dorian, you don't know what is said about you. I won't tell you that I don't want to preach to you. I remember Harry saying once that every man who turned himself into an amateur curate for the moment always began by saying that, and then proceeded to break his word. I do want to preach to you. I want you to lead such a life as will make the world respect you. I want you to have a clean name and a fair record. I want you to get rid of the dreadful people you associate with. Don't shrug your shoulders like that. Don't be so indifferent. You have a wonderful influence. Let it be for good, not for evil. They say that you corrupt every one with whom you become intimate, and that it is quite sufficient for you to enter a house for shame of some kind to follow after. I don't know whether it is so or not. How should I know? But it is said of you. I am told things that it seems impossible to doubt. Lord Gloucester was one of my greatest friends at Oxford. He showed me a letter that his wife had written to him when she was dying alone in her villa at Mentone. Your name was implicated in the most terrible confession I ever read. I told him that it was absurd—that I knew you thoroughly and that you were incapable of anything of the kind. Know you? I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I should have to see your soul."

"To see my soul!" muttered Dorian Gray, starting up from the sofa and turning almost white from fear.

"Yes," answered Hallward gravely, and with deep-toned sorrow in his voice, "to see your soul. But only God can do that."

A bitter laugh of mockery broke from the lips of the younger man. "You shall see it yourself, tonight!" he cried, seizing a lamp from the table. "Come: it is your own handiwork. Why shouldn't you look at it? You can tell the world all about it afterwards, if you choose. Nobody would believe you. If they did believe you, they would like me all the better for it. I know the age better than you do, though you will prate about it so tediously. Come, I tell you. You have chattered enough about corruption. Now you shall look on it face to face."

There was the madness of pride in every word he uttered. He stamped his foot upon the ground in his boyish insolent manner. He felt a terrible joy at the thought that someone else was to share his secret, and that the man who had painted the portrait that was the origin of all his shame was to be burdened for the rest of his life with the hideous memory of what he had done.

At the end of the passage, what is Dorian claiming about Basil?

Possible Answers:

That Basil deserves the treatment he is receiving from Dorian

That Basil is utterly incapable of seeing the truth of this matter

That Basil is the person truly at fault for Dorian's moral decay

That Basil is the one who caused Dorian to become prideful

That Basil is the source of the problems facing Dorian's friends

Correct answer:

That Basil is the person truly at fault for Dorian's moral decay

Explanation:

This question requires a little bit of inference in order to see the claim that Dorian is making. Dorian speaks of Basil being shown his "handiwork." Likewise, it is said that he (Dorian) "felt a terrible joy at the thought that some one else was to share his secret, and that the man who had painted the portrait that was the origin of all his shame was to be burdened for the rest of his life with the hideous memory of what he had done." In fact, Basil had painted a portrait that helped, through some kind of preternatural intervention, to allow Dorian to continue living in iniquity without experiencing the effects of his actions (or aging in general). The claim that Dorian is making boils down to this: "Basil made that painting and now will see his guilt in this matter."

Example Question #2 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from Richard III by William Shakespeare, I.i.1-42

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up,
About a prophecy, which says that 'G'
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Clarence comes.

Which of the following, according to the speaker, is part of the reason why dogs bark at him?

Possible Answers:

He doesn’t have proper hygiene.

He often goes hunting and smells of fresh meat.

He has numerous large scars from battle.

He hates animals.

He was born prematurely.

Correct answer:

He was born prematurely.

Explanation:

Regarding why the dogs bark at him, the speaker says, 

“I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,

Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time

Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,

And that so lamely and unfashionable

That dogs bark at me as I halt by them . . .”

From this part of the passage, we can tell that the dogs bark at the speaker because of his appearance, making part of the reason why dogs bark at him “He was born prematurely,” as the speaker identifies this of the cause of his “deformed” appearance.

Example Question #1 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" in Leaves of Grass (1855)

1

Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.



2

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others. 

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
 

3

It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old,
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south,
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams . . .

Which of the following statements would the speaker of the poem most likely agree with?

Possible Answers:

Aesthetic appreciation precludes interpersonal connection.

Connecting with nature is more important than connecting with other people.

Conversation is the best way to feel close to another person.

Experiences can be meaningfully shared even if not concurrent.

Experience is intensely personal and informed by one’s own history.

Correct answer:

Experiences can be meaningfully shared even if not concurrent.

Explanation:

Repeatedly, the speaker expresses his conviction that shared experience connects people across time and distance. This might be most clear in the lines that begin the third stanza: "It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not, / I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence."

Example Question #4 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from Othello by William Shakespeare (1604)

Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still question'd me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, 
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field 
Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels' history:
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
It was my hint to speak,—such was the process;
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear 
Would Desdemona seriously incline:
But still the house-affairs would draw her thence:
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She'ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse: which I observing, 
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively: I did consent, 
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, ‘twas strange, 'twas passing strange, 
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd 
That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story. 
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used:
Here comes the lady; let her witness it. 

According to the passage as a whole, Desdemona reacts to the speaker’s stories in all of the following ways EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

by feeling sorry for the speaker because of his misfortunes

by claiming that she regrets having heard the speaker’s stories

by  insinuating that the speaker should woo her

by asking the speaker to tell his stories to her father

by asking the speaker to tell her more

Correct answer:

by asking the speaker to tell his stories to her father

Explanation:

The correct answer is “by asking the speaker to tell his stories to her father.” Desdemona’s “prayer” to the speaker is a request for him to tell her his story in full. She pities the speaker’s misfortunes (“’twas pitiful, ‘twas wondrous pitiful”), claims that she regrets having heard his stories (though she is clearly pleased at the same time), and implies that the speaker should woo her with his storytelling by suggesting that if another man told her the same stories she would welcome his attention. At no point does she ask the speaker to tell his stories to anyone else.

Example Question #5 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from "The Mouse’s Petition" in Poems by Anna Letitia Barbauld (1773)


Found in the trap where he had been confined all night by Dr. Priestley, for the sake of making experiments with different kinds of air

“To spare the humbled, and to tame in war the proud.” - Virgil

 

OH! hear a pensive captive's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the prisoner's cries.

For here forlorn and sad I sit,

Within the wiry grate;
And tremble at th' approaching morn,

Which brings impending fate.

If e'er thy breast with freedom glow'd,
And spurn'd a tyrant's chain,
Let not thy strong oppressive force
A free-born mouse detain.

Oh! do not stain with guiltless blood
Thy hospitable hearth;
Nor triumph that thy wiles betray'd
A prize so little worth.

The scatter'd gleanings of a feast
My scanty meals supply;
But if thine unrelenting heart
That slender boon deny,

The cheerful light, the vital air,
Are blessings widely given;
Let nature's commoners enjoy
The common gifts of heaven.

The well-taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.

If mind, as ancient sages taught,
A never dying flame,
Still shifts thro' matter's varying forms,
In every form the same,

Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother's soul you find;
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.

Or, if this transient gleam of day
Be all of life we share,
Let pity plead within thy breast,
That little all to spare.

So may thy hospitable board
With health and peace be crown'd;
And every charm of heartfelt ease
Beneath thy roof be found.

So when unseen destruction lurks,
Which men like mice may share,
May some kind angel clear thy path,
And break the hidden snare.

Which of the following arguments is being made in the underlined stanzas?

Possible Answers:

If it is true that all life forms deserve freedom, then it stands to reason that all life forms share a fundamental basis of "matter."

If it is true that matter changes forms and that matter makes up all forms, then all forms of life possibly share important ethical and moral similarities.

If all human beings are seen as equal under the law, it only stands to reason that animals should be given equal status.

It is certain that matter changes forms and that matter makes up all forms, therefore all forms of life share important ethical and moral similarities.

If it is true that matter changes forms and that matter makes up all forms, then all forms of life deserve freedom.

Correct answer:

If it is true that matter changes forms and that matter makes up all forms, then all forms of life possibly share important ethical and moral similarities.

Explanation:

In the two stanzas highlighted, the speaker makes the argument that if it is true that matter changes forms and that matter makes up all forms, then all forms of life possibly share important ethical and moral similarities.

The "if" at the beginning of the passage, which is applied to the "ancient sages" theory that the mind is "a never dying flame" which "shifts through matter's varying forms," is key to this answer. It is vital to note when claims and arguments are being made outright, and when they are conditional on a claim that is not directly asserted. While it certainly stands to reason that the speaker believes this theory, in the two stanzas highlighted, the claim is presented as conditional on the truth of the ancient theory rather than as a certainty.

There is no mention of equality under the law. While the speaker likely would hold that all life forms deserve freedom, the assertion about shared matter does not follow from this assertion in the selected passage.

Example Question #8 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, III.i.1126-1185 (1623)

Enter Judges, Senators and Tribunes, with MARTIUS and QUINTUS, bound, passing on to the place of execution; TITUS going before, pleading

Titus Andronicus: Hear me, grave fathers! noble tribunes, stay! 
For pity of mine age, whose youth was spent 
In dangerous wars, whilst you securely slept; 
For all my blood in Rome's great quarrel shed; 
For all the frosty nights that I have watch'd;
And for these bitter tears, which now you see 
Filling the aged wrinkles in my cheeks; 
Be pitiful to my condemned sons, 
Whose souls are not corrupted as 'tis thought. 
For two and twenty sons I never wept, 
Because they died in honor's lofty bed. 
[Lieth down; the Judges, &c., pass by him, and Exeunt] 
For these, these, tribunes, in the dust I write 
My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears: 
Let my tears stanch the earth's dry appetite; 
My sons' sweet blood will make it shame and blush. 
O earth, I will befriend thee more with rain, 
That shall distill from these two ancient urns, 
Than youthful April shall with all his showers: 
In summer's drought I'll drop upon thee still; 
In winter with warm tears I'll melt the snow 
And keep eternal spring-time on thy face, 
So thou refuse to drink my dear sons' blood. 
[Enter LUCIUS, with his sword drawn] 
O reverend tribunes! O gentle, aged men! 
Unbind my sons, reverse the doom of death; 
And let me say, that never wept before, 
My tears are now prevailing orators.

Lucius: O noble father, you lament in vain: 
The tribunes hear you not; no man is by;
And you recount your sorrows to a stone.

Titus Andronicus: Ah, Lucius, for thy brothers let me plead. 
Grave tribunes, once more I entreat of you,—

Lucius: My gracious lord, no tribune hears you speak.

Titus Andronicus: Why, tis no matter, man; if they did hear,

They would not mark me, or if they did mark, 

They would not pity me, yet plead I must; 

And bootless unto them [—] 

Therefore I tell my sorrows to the stones; 

Who, though they cannot answer my distress, 

Yet in some sort they are better than the tribunes, 

For that they will not intercept my tale: 

When I do weep, they humbly at my feet 

Receive my tears and seem to weep with me; 

And, were they but attired in grave weeds,

Rome could afford no tribune like to these. 

A stone is soft as wax,—tribunes more hard than stones; 

A stone is silent, and offendeth not, 

And tribunes with their tongues doom men to death.
[Rises]
But wherefore stand'st thou with thy weapon drawn?

Lucius: To rescue my two brothers from their death: 
For which attempt the judges have pronounced 
My everlasting doom of banishment.

Titus Andronicus: O happy man! they have befriended thee.
Why, foolish Lucius, dost thou not perceive 
That Rome is but a wilderness of tigers? 
Tigers must prey, and Rome affords no prey 
But me and mine: how happy art thou, then, 
From these devourers to be banished!

What is the main reason Titus Andronicus gives as justification for his right to be heard by the tribunes?

Possible Answers:

That as a sick, elderly man, he is owed charity by the tribunes

That his sons are innocent, and thus he is entitled to a day in court

That as a high priest, he is always entitled to the tribunes' attention

That he has provided years of esteemed military service protecting the tribunes

That as their peer and fellow tribune, he is owed loyalty and friendship

Correct answer:

That he has provided years of esteemed military service protecting the tribunes

Explanation:

The main reason Titus give for his right to be heard by the tribunes is that he has served honorably protecting them, that his whole "youth was spent / In dangerous wars, whilst [they] securely slept." While he states that his sons are "not [so] corrupted as is thought," he does not overtly argue for their outright innocence, and he does not cite this as a justification for his right to be heard. Titus specifically separates his societal role from that of the tribunes. While he asks for their pity, he does not cite illness on his part, merely age and sadness. 

Example Question #9 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, III.i.1126-1185 (1623)

Enter Judges, Senators and Tribunes, with MARTIUS and QUINTUS, bound, passing on to the place of execution; TITUS going before, pleading

Titus Andronicus: Hear me, grave fathers! noble tribunes, stay! 
For pity of mine age, whose youth was spent 
In dangerous wars, whilst you securely slept; 
For all my blood in Rome's great quarrel shed; 
For all the frosty nights that I have watch'd;
And for these bitter tears, which now you see 
Filling the aged wrinkles in my cheeks; 
Be pitiful to my condemned sons, 
Whose souls are not corrupted as 'tis thought. 
For two and twenty sons I never wept, 
Because they died in honor's lofty bed. 
[Lieth down; the Judges, &c., pass by him, and Exeunt] 
For these, these, tribunes, in the dust I write 
My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears: 
Let my tears stanch the earth's dry appetite; 
My sons' sweet blood will make it shame and blush. 
O earth, I will befriend thee more with rain, 
That shall distill from these two ancient urns, 
Than youthful April shall with all his showers: 
In summer's drought I'll drop upon thee still; 
In winter with warm tears I'll melt the snow 
And keep eternal spring-time on thy face, 
So thou refuse to drink my dear sons' blood. 
[Enter LUCIUS, with his sword drawn] 
O reverend tribunes! O gentle, aged men! 
Unbind my sons, reverse the doom of death; 
And let me say, that never wept before, 
My tears are now prevailing orators.

Lucius: O noble father, you lament in vain: 
The tribunes hear you not; no man is by;
And you recount your sorrows to a stone.

Titus Andronicus: Ah, Lucius, for thy brothers let me plead. 
Grave tribunes, once more I entreat of you,—

Lucius: My gracious lord, no tribune hears you speak.

Titus Andronicus: Why, tis no matter, man; if they did hear,

They would not mark me, or if they did mark, 

They would not pity me, yet plead I must; 

And bootless unto them [—] 

Therefore I tell my sorrows to the stones; 

Who, though they cannot answer my distress, 

Yet in some sort they are better than the tribunes, 

For that they will not intercept my tale: 

When I do weep, they humbly at my feet 

Receive my tears and seem to weep with me; 

And, were they but attired in grave weeds,

Rome could afford no tribune like to these. 

A stone is soft as wax,—tribunes more hard than stones; 

A stone is silent, and offendeth not, 

And tribunes with their tongues doom men to death.
[Rises]
But wherefore stand'st thou with thy weapon drawn?

Lucius: To rescue my two brothers from their death: 
For which attempt the judges have pronounced 
My everlasting doom of banishment.

Titus Andronicus: O happy man! they have befriended thee.
Why, foolish Lucius, dost thou not perceive 
That Rome is but a wilderness of tigers? 
Tigers must prey, and Rome affords no prey 
But me and mine: how happy art thou, then, 
From these devourers to be banished!

Which of the following is NOT a claim Titus makes about the tribunes relative to rocks?

Possible Answers:

Rocks do not interrupt him when he tries to tell them his story, as opposed to the tribunes.

Rocks are more empathetic and caring than the tribunes.

Stones are softer than wax, and tribunes are harder, or less caring, than rocks.

Rocks would be prohibitively expensive, as compared to the tribunes, if they were dressed or decorated slightly more ornately.

Rocks are silent and inoffensive, while tribunes are able to speak and to doom men with their words.

Correct answer:

Stones are softer than wax, and tribunes are harder, or less caring, than rocks.

Explanation:

All of the provided answers are claims Titus makes about rocks as compared to tribunes except the claim that rocks are softer than wax and tribunes are harder and less caring than rocks. While Titus does think that tribunes are harder and less caring than rocks, he says that "a stone is soft as wax," not softer.

Example Question #6 : Claims And Argument

Adapted from Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1848)

I know that the tune I am piping is a very mild one (although there are some terrific chapters coming presently), and must beg the good-natured reader to remember that we are only discoursing at present about a stockbroker's family in Russell Square, who are taking walks, or luncheon, or dinner, or talking and making love as people do in common life, and without a single passionate and wonderful incident to mark the progress of their loves. The argument stands thus—Osborne, in love with Amelia, has asked an old friend to dinner and to Vauxhall—Jos Sedley is in love with Rebecca. Will he marry her? That is the great subject now in hand.

We might have treated this subject in the genteel, or in the romantic, or in the facetious manner. Suppose we had laid the scene in Grosvenor Square, with the very same adventures—would not some people have listened? Suppose we had shown how Lord Joseph Sedley fell in love, and the Marquis of Osborne became attached to Lady Amelia, with the full consent of the Duke, her noble father: or instead of the supremely genteel, suppose we had resorted to the entirely low, and described what was going on in Mr. Sedley's kitchen—how the servant was in love with the cook (as indeed he was), and how he fought a battle with the coachman on her behalf; how the knife-boy was caught stealing a cold shoulder of mutton, and Miss Sedley's new femme de chambre refused to go to bed without a wax candle; such incidents might be made to provoke much delightful laughter, and be supposed to represent scenes of "life." Or if, on the contrary, we had taken a fancy for the terrible, and made the lover of the new femme de chambre a professional burglar, who bursts into the house with his band, slaughters the servant at the feet of his master, and carries off Amelia in her night-dress, not to be let loose again till the third volume, we should easily have constructed a tale of thrilling interest, through the fiery chapters of which the reader should hurry, panting. But my readers must hope for no such romance, only a homely story, and must be content with a chapter about Vauxhall, which is so short that it scarce deserves to be called a chapter at all. And yet it is a chapter, and a very important one too. Are not there little chapters in everybody's life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?

In the underlined conclusion of paragraph two, what intent can be inferred from the author's discussion of "chapters"?

Possible Answers:

The author addresses problematic practices in the book publishing industry regarding the accepted length of chapters.

The author, valuing reader engagement above all else, promises the reader a series of action-packed chapters.

The author argues for the coherence of novels' plots by pushing for clear relationships between chapters.

The author uses chapters as a metaphor for the events in one's life, and he argues that even the small ones are important.

The author expresses regret that some of the novel's chapters are particularly dull.

Correct answer:

The author uses chapters as a metaphor for the events in one's life, and he argues that even the small ones are important.

Explanation:

In the concluding sentence of the passage, Thackeray asks rhetorically, "Are not there little chapters in everybody's life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?" From this, we can infer that he values even the small incidents in life as potentially significant.

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