English Language Proficiency Test : Rhetorical purpose of an excerpt

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Example Question #1 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

Passage adapted from "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" written and delivered by Frederick Jackson Turner during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

The American frontier is sharply distinguished from the European frontier  a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about the American frontier is, that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer margin of the ìsettled areaî of the census reports. This paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems which arise in connection with it.

In the settlement of America we have to observe how European life entered the continent, and how America modified and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Our early history is the study of European germs developing in an American environment. Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors. The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick, he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails. Little by little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome is not the old Europe, not simply the development of Germanic germs, any more than the first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic mark. The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American. As successive terminal moraines result from successive glaciations, so each frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it becomes a settled area the region still partakes of the frontier characteristics. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history. . .

Turner says that the term "frontier [...] is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need a sharp definition" primarily in order to _______________.

Possible Answers:

explain why his definition is different from one you might find in the dictionary

explain why he included "the Indian country" in his definition of the frontier

explain why his definition is so general

to explain why he did not want to specify what he considered "the frontier" to be

Correct answer:

explain why his definition is so general

Explanation:

Turner clearly gives his audience a dictionary-like definition of frontier ("In the census reports... mile."), and he also clarifies what he will describe as the frontier in his speech ("We shall consider... reports"), which is why neither "To explain why he did not want to specify what he considered 'the frontier' to be" nor "Explain why his definition is different from one you might find in the dictionary" are the correct answer. Instead, he mentions the frontier's "elastic" (changeable) definition to emphasize to the audience that there are many possible definitions of the frontier to explain why his definition of "frontier" will seem general or vague.

Example Question #2 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

Passage adapted from "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" written and delivered by Frederick Jackson Turner during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

The American frontier is sharply distinguished from the European frontier  a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about the American frontier is, that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer margin of the ìsettled areaî of the census reports. This paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems which arise in connection with it.

In the settlement of America we have to observe how European life entered the continent, and how America modified and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Our early history is the study of European germs developing in an American environment. Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors. The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick, he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails. Little by little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome is not the old Europe, not simply the development of Germanic germs, any more than the first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic mark. The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American. As successive terminal moraines result from successive glaciations,3 so each frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it becomes a settled area the region still partakes of the frontier characteristics. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history. . .

Why does Jackson say that, "Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors"?

Possible Answers:

Because very few Germans actually settled in America

Because America is made up of many different types of nationalities, not just Germans.

Because the Native Americans affected American culture much more than Europeans

Because he believes that the American factors were more important than the Germanic origins

Correct answer:

Because he believes that the American factors were more important than the Germanic origins

Explanation:

Jackson argues that America took the cultures that the Europeans, notably including people of Germanic descent, brought and changed those cultures significantly in the sentences just before this quote. Specifically, he says, "America modified and developed that [European] life and reacted on Europe."

Example Question #3 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

Passage adapted from "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" written and delivered by Frederick Jackson Turner during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

The American frontier is sharply distinguished from the European frontier  a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about the American frontier is, that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer margin of the ìsettled areaî of the census reports. This paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems which arise in connection with it.

In the settlement of America we have to observe how European life entered the continent, and how America modified and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Our early history is the study of European germs developing in an American environment. Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors. The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick, he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails. Little by little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome is not the old Europe, not simply the development of Germanic germs, any more than the first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic mark. The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American. As successive terminal moraines result from successive glaciations,3 so each frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it becomes a settled area the region still partakes of the frontier characteristics. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a steady growth of independence on American lines. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is to study the really American part of our history. . .

Turner describes the Germanic influence on America as a "germ" primarily in order to ______________.

Possible Answers:

None of these answers are correct

emphasize how many new diseases the Germanic peoples brought to America

emphasize their negative impact on America

emphasize that the Germanic influence on America was small

Correct answer:

emphasize that the Germanic influence on America was small

Explanation:

Turner uses the germ metaphor here primarily to show that the frontier and the personality of the land itself had a much greater effect on the country as a whole than the Europeans (specifically, the Germanic peoples) who came. Just like a cold leaves you relatively unchanged (besides a runny nose and a cough), the Germanic peoples who came left America relatively unchanged

Example Question #4 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

Passage adapted from Political Ideals by Bertrand Russell (1918)

...Security and liberty are only the negative conditions for good political institutions. When they have been won, we need also the positive condition: encouragement of creative energy. Security alone might produce a smug and stagnant society; it demands creativeness as its counterpart, in order to keep alive the adventure and interest of life, and the movement toward perpetually new and better things. There can be no final goal for human institutions; the best are those that most encourage progress toward others still better. Without effort and change, human life cannot remain good. It is not a finished Utopia that we ought to desire, but a world where imagination and hope are alive and active.

What is the conclusion of the passage's argument?

Possible Answers:

On top of safeguarding liberties, the best political institutions also promote creativity

There is a final goal for human institutions

Security is all that is needed in a Utopia

Security and liberty are the negative conditions for good political institutions

Security keeps alive the adventure and interest of life

Correct answer:

On top of safeguarding liberties, the best political institutions also promote creativity

Explanation:

The author argues that security is not enough. According to the author, the best societies "are those that most encourage progress toward others still better." Furthermore, he claims that "security alone might produce a smug and stagnant society; it demands creativeness as its counterpart, in order to keep alive the adventure and interest of life, and the movement toward perpetually new and better things."

Example Question #5 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

Passage adapted from Principia Ethica by G.E. Moore (1903)

It is very easy to point out some among our every-day judgments, with the truth of which Ethics is undoubtedly concerned. Whenever we say, So and so is a good man, or That fellow is a villain; whenever we ask What ought I to do? or Is it wrong for me to do like this?; whenever we hazard such remarks as Temperance is a virtue and drunkenness a vice—it is undoubtedly the business of Ethics to discuss such questions and such statements; to argue what is the true answer when we ask what it is right to do, and to give reasons for thinking that our statements about the character of persons or the morality of actions are true or false. In the vast majority of cases, where we make statements involving any of the terms virtue, vice, duty, right, ought, good, bad, we are making ethical judgments; and if we wish to discuss their truth, we shall be discussing a point of Ethics.

So much as this is not disputed; but it falls very far short of defining the province of Ethics. That province may indeed be defined as the whole truth about that which is at the same time common to all such judgments and peculiar to them. But we have still to ask the question: What is it that is thus common and peculiar? And this is a question to which very different answers have been given by ethical philosophers of acknowledged reputation, and none of them, perhaps, completely satisfactory.

What is the purpose of the passage?

Possible Answers:

To point out that giving examples of judgments that are ethical nature is insufficient to determine the province of Ethics

To point out that it is still an open question what the province of Ethics is

To definitively determine what the province of Ethics is

To provide uncontroversial examples of judgments that are ethical in nature

To suggest that temperance is a virtue and that drunkenness is a vice

Correct answer:

To point out that it is still an open question what the province of Ethics is

Explanation:

The first paragraph provides examples of judgments that are ethical in nature. In the beginning of the second paragraph, the author claims that giving such examples does not suffice to define the province of Ethics. Yet, this is not the purpose of the excerpt. In the second half of the second paragraph, the author points out that the philosophers of the past have various different answers to the question of what Ethics is. Given how the excerpt leads up to this claim, the purpose of the excerpt was to suggest that it is still a controversial matter what the province of Ethics is.

Example Question #6 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

What literary technique appears in Sentence 2?

Possible Answers:

parallelism

allusion

metaphor

epiphany

alliteration

Correct answer:

allusion

Explanation:

In Sentence 2, the author is making a reference to a specific type of artwork: paintings “in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters.” Allusion is just such a reference to another specific thing, place, or event. Alliteration is the repetition of similar sounds at the beginning of multiple words (e.g. “two torn tulips”). Epiphany is a sudden realization, often experienced by a character at the end of a short story, that changes someone’s life. Parallelism is the use of clauses with identical grammatical patterns, syntax, or meter. Metaphor is a comparison that does not employ “like” or “as.”

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #7 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

1 Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. 2 Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters…

3 Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. 4 The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. 5 Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

Which sentence in this passage contains an example of litotes?

Possible Answers:

Sentence 5

Sentence 4

Sentence 3

Sentence 1 

Sentence 2

Correct answer:

Sentence 2

Explanation:

Litotes is a literary technique that employs dramatic understatement or the use of double negatives. This technique can be found in the phrase “not less bare of style” in Sentence 2. It is often used in order to convey an idea in a mild or humorous manner.

Passage adapted from George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871)

Example Question #8 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

1 "Camelot—Camelot," said I to myself. 2 "I don't seem to remember hearing of it before… Name of the asylum, likely."

3 It was a soft, reposeful summer landscape, as lovely as a dream, and as lonesome as Sunday.  4 The air was full of the smell of flowers, and the buzzing of insects, and the twittering of birds, and there were no people, no wagons, there was no stir of life, nothing going on.  5 The road was mainly a winding path with hoof-prints in it, and now and then a faint trace of wheels on either side in the grass—wheels that apparently had a tire as broad as one's hand.

6 Presently a fair slip of a girl, about ten years old, with a cataract of golden hair streaming down over her shoulders, came along. … 7 The circus man paid no attention to her; didn't even seem to see her.  8 And she—she was no more startled at his fantastic make-up than if she was used to his like every day of her life. 9 She was going by as indifferently as she might have gone by a couple of cows; but when she happened to notice me, then there was a change! 10 Up went her hands, and she was turned to stone; her mouth dropped open, her eyes stared wide and timorously, she was the picture of astonished curiosity touched with fear. 11 And there she stood gazing, in a sort of stupefied fascination, till we turned a corner of the wood and were lost to her view. 12 That she should be startled at me instead of at the other man, was too many for me; I couldn't make head or tail of it.

What is the purpose of Sentence 2?

Possible Answers:

To imply that the main character is forgetful

To hint that the main character might not be in his right mind

To introduce a flashback for the main character

To create sympathy for the main character in the minds of the reader

To elaborate upon the personality presented in Sentence 1

Correct answer:

To hint that the main character might not be in his right mind

Explanation:

If you read the rest of the passage, you will soon see the main character call his own sanity into question. He sees fantastical sights that he can’t explain, and he encounters strange people who perplex him. Thus, the mention of the asylum in Sentence 2 isn’t coincidental; it’s a hint that the main character is experiencing something surreal.

Passage adapted from Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)

Example Question #9 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

1 "Camelot—Camelot," said I to myself. 2 "I don't seem to remember hearing of it before… Name of the asylum, likely."

3 It was a soft, reposeful summer landscape, as lovely as a dream, and as lonesome as Sunday.  4 The air was full of the smell of flowers, and the buzzing of insects, and the twittering of birds, and there were no people, no wagons, there was no stir of life, nothing going on.  5 The road was mainly a winding path with hoof-prints in it, and now and then a faint trace of wheels on either side in the grass—wheels that apparently had a tire as broad as one's hand.

6 Presently a fair slip of a girl, about ten years old, with a cataract of golden hair streaming down over her shoulders, came along. … 7 The circus man paid no attention to her; didn't even seem to see her.  8 And she—she was no more startled at his fantastic make-up than if she was used to his like every day of her life. 9 She was going by as indifferently as she might have gone by a couple of cows; but when she happened to notice me, then there was a change! 10 Up went her hands, and she was turned to stone; her mouth dropped open, her eyes stared wide and timorously, she was the picture of astonished curiosity touched with fear. 11 And there she stood gazing, in a sort of stupefied fascination, till we turned a corner of the wood and were lost to her view. 12 That she should be startled at me instead of at the other man, was too many for me; I couldn't make head or tail of it.

In Sentence 6, what does “a fair slip of a girl” describe?

Possible Answers:

A slender, pretty girl

A morally insubstantial girl

An intellectually inferior girl

A just, kind girl

A scrappy, rebellious girl

Correct answer:

A slender, pretty girl

Explanation:

If we read the other descriptions of this young girl, we see that she has pretty golden hair. “Fair” can mean just, but it can also mean blonde and pretty, and this is the meaning suggested by the context. A “slip” can be thought of as something small and slight.

Passage adapted from Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)

Example Question #10 : Rhetorical Purpose Of An Excerpt

1 "Camelot—Camelot," said I to myself. 2 "I don't seem to remember hearing of it before… Name of the asylum, likely."

3 It was a soft, reposeful summer landscape, as lovely as a dream, and as lonesome as Sunday.  4 The air was full of the smell of flowers, and the buzzing of insects, and the twittering of birds, and there were no people, no wagons, there was no stir of life, nothing going on.  5 The road was mainly a winding path with hoof-prints in it, and now and then a faint trace of wheels on either side in the grass—wheels that apparently had a tire as broad as one's hand.

6 Presently a fair slip of a girl, about ten years old, with a cataract of golden hair streaming down over her shoulders, came along. … 7 The circus man paid no attention to her; didn't even seem to see her.  8 And she—she was no more startled at his fantastic make-up than if she was used to his like every day of her life. 9 She was going by as indifferently as she might have gone by a couple of cows; but when she happened to notice me, then there was a change! 10 Up went her hands, and she was turned to stone; her mouth dropped open, her eyes stared wide and timorously, she was the picture of astonished curiosity touched with fear. 11 And there she stood gazing, in a sort of stupefied fascination, till we turned a corner of the wood and were lost to her view. 12 That she should be startled at me instead of at the other man, was too many for me; I couldn't make head or tail of it.

What emotion is conveyed by the line “was too many for me” (Sentence 12)?

Possible Answers:

Gratitude

Hostility

Consternation

Exasperation

Animosity

Correct answer:

Consternation

Explanation:

The main character is expressing consternation and surprise. He is doing so in reaction to the fact that the young girl reacts with shock to him but not the far more outrageous circus man. This reading is supported by the rest of Sentence 12: “I couldn't make head or tail of it.”

Passage adapted from Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)

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