GED Language Arts (RLA) : Other Inferences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Language Arts (RLA)

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Other Inferences

It was rumoured of him once that he [Dorian Gray] was about to join the Roman Catholic communion, and certainly the Roman ritual had always a great attraction for him. The daily sacrifice, more awful really than all the sacrifices of the antique world, stirred him as much by its superb rejection of the evidence of the senses as by the primitive simplicity of its elements and the eternal pathos of the human tragedy that it sought to symbolize. He loved to kneel down on the cold marble pavement and watch the priest, in his stiff flowered dalmatic, slowly and with white hands moving aside the veil of the tabernacle, or raising aloft the jewelled, lantern-shaped monstrance with that pallid wafer that at times, one would fain think, is indeed the "panis caelestis," the bread of angels, or, robed in the garments of the Passion of Christ, breaking the Host into the chalice and smiting his breast for his sins. The fuming censers that the grave boys, in their lace and scarlet, tossed into the air like great gilt flowers had their subtle fascination for him. As he passed out, he used to look with wonder at the black confessionals and long to sit in the dim shadow of one of them and listen to men and women whispering through the worn grating the true story of their lives.


But he never fell into the error of arresting his intellectual development by any formal acceptance of creed or system, or of mistaking, for a house in which to live, an inn that is but suitable for the sojourn of a night, or for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in travail. Mysticism, with its marvellous power of making common things strange to us, and the subtle antinomianism that always seems to accompany it, moved him for a season; and for a season he inclined to the materialistic doctrines of the Darwinismus movement in Germany, and found a curious pleasure in tracing the thoughts and passions of men to some pearly cell in the brain, or some white nerve in the body, delighting in the conception of the absolute dependence of the spirit on certain physical conditions, morbid or healthy, normal or diseased. Yet, as has been said of him before, no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself. He felt keenly conscious of how barren all intellectual speculation is when separated from action and experiment. He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

What one word would appropriately replace (in the passage above): “the true story of their lives”?

Possible Answers:

None of these

[Their] “sins”

[Their] “meaning”

[Their] “background”

Correct answer:

[Their] “sins”


“[Their] sins” is the correct answer. This question is entirely dependent on your understanding of context clues (unless you have an independent working knowledge of the Catholic sacrament of Confession). At any rate, “confession” means to admit or state fault or guilt. Thus, it’s entirely reasonable to believe that someone in a confessional would be admitting to some sort of fault or guilt. Religiously speaking, it would be more proper to call that “sin” (and, since the passage is set in a church, the religious meaning is most appropriate). Thus, “sins" is the correct answer.

Example Question #2 : Other Inferences

Dorian said nothing, but rose from the table, and passing into the next room, sat down to the piano and let his fingers stray across the white and black ivory of the keys. After the coffee had been brought in, he stopped, and looking over at Lord Henry, said, "Harry, did it ever occur to you that Basil was murdered?"

Lord Henry yawned. "Basil was very popular, and always wore a Waterbury watch. Why should he have been murdered? He was not clever enough to have enemies. Of course, he had a wonderful genius for painting. But a man can paint like Velasquez and yet be as dull as possible. Basil was really rather dull. He only interested me once, and that was when he told me, years ago, that he had a wild adoration for you and that you were the dominant motive of his art."

"I was very fond of Basil," said Dorian with a note of sadness in his voice. "But don't people say that he was murdered?"

"Oh, some of the papers do. It does not seem to me to be at all probable. I know there are dreadful places in Paris, but Basil was not the sort of man to have gone to them. He had no curiosity. It was his chief defect."

"What would you say, Harry, if I told you that I had murdered Basil?" said the younger man. He watched him intently after he had spoken.

"I would say, my dear fellow, that you were posing for a character that doesn't suit you. All crime is vulgar, just as all vulgarity is crime. It is not in you, Dorian, to commit a murder. I am sorry if I hurt your vanity by saying so, but I assure you it is true. Crime belongs exclusively to the lower orders. I don't blame them in the smallest degree. I should fancy that crime was to them what art is to us, simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations."

"A method of procuring sensations? Do you think, then, that a man who has once committed a murder could possibly do the same crime again? Don't tell me that."

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

What is one way that Lord Henry thinks the “lower classes” procure extraordinary sensations?

Possible Answers:

By playing Chopin

By committing murder

By viewing art

By writing letters 

Correct answer:

By committing murder


“By committing murder” is the correct answer. This is an odd question, and a fairly difficult one at that. Regardless, Lord Henry draws a somewhat insulting and very strange parallel in between entertainment for the wealthy, and murder for the poor. In other words, Lord Henry says that the lower class (the poor) commit murder much in the same way that the upper class looks at art—in order to “procure extraordinary sensations,” to entertain, in other words.

Example Question #3 : Other Inferences

As he [Dorian Gray] thought of Hetty Merton, he began to wonder if the portrait in the locked room had changed. Surely it was not still so horrible as it had been? Perhaps if his life became pure, he would be able to expel every sign of evil passion from the face. Perhaps the signs of evil had already gone away. He would go and look.


 . . .


He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom, and dragged the purple hanging from the portrait. A cry of pain and indignation broke from him. He could see no change, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome—more loathsome, if possible, than before—and the scarlet dew that spotted the hand seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilled. Then he trembled. Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or the desire for a new sensation, as Lord Henry had hinted, with his mocking laugh? Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these? And why was the red stain larger than it had been? It seemed to have crept like a horrible disease over the wrinkled fingers. There was blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped—blood even on the hand that had not held the knife. Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess? To give himself up and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was monstrous. Besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him? There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything belonging to him had been destroyed. He himself had burned what had been below-stairs. The world would simply say that he was mad. They would shut him up if he persisted in his story.... Yet it was his duty to confess, to suffer public shame, and to make public atonement. There was a God who called upon men to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. Nothing that he could do would cleanse him till he had told his own sin. His sin? He shrugged his shoulders. The death of Basil Hallward seemed very little to him. He was thinking of Hetty Merton. For it was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at. Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his renunciation than that? There had been something more. At least he thought so. But who could tell? ... No. There had been nothing more. Through vanity he had spared her. In hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness. For curiosity's sake he had tried the denial of self. He recognized that now.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

To what does the “thing” refer?

Possible Answers:

The curtains

 The feeling of the room

The [subject of the] painting

None of these

Correct answer:

The [subject of the] painting


“The [subject of the] painting” is the correct answer. This is a relatively simple question. Even if you were unaware of the premise of the book—that Dorian Gray’s portrait ages rather than him—the sentence construction lends itself to the answer. In fact, the previous sentence says that he “dragged the curtain away from the portrait” and then goes on to describe the lack of change in the portrait (referring to it as the “thing”).

Example Question #4 : Other Inferences

On the 24th of February, 1815, the look-out at Notre-Dame de la Garde signalled the three-master, the Pharaon from Smyrna, Trieste, and Naples.

As usual, a pilot put off immediately, and rounding the Chateau d'If, got on board the vessel between Cape Morgion and Rion island.

Immediately, and according to custom, the ramparts of Fort Saint-Jean were covered with spectators; it is always an event at Marseilles for a ship to come into port, especially when this ship, like the Pharaon, has been built, rigged, and laden at the old Phocee docks, and belongs to an owner of the city.

The ship drew on and had safely passed the strait, which some volcanic shock has made between the Calasareigne and Jaros islands; had doubled Pomegue, and approached the harbor under topsails, jib, and spanker, but so slowly and sedately that the idlers, with that instinct which is the forerunner of evil, asked one another what misfortune could have happened on board. However, those experienced in navigation saw plainly that if any accident had occurred, it was not to the vessel herself, for she bore down with all the evidence of being skilfully handled, the anchor a-cockbill, the jib-boom guys already eased off, and standing by the side of the pilot, who was steering the Pharaon towards the narrow entrance of the inner port, was a young man, who, with activity and vigilant eye, watched every motion of the ship, and repeated each direction of the pilot.

The vague disquietude which prevailed among the spectators had so much affected one of the crowd that he did not await the arrival of the vessel in harbor, but jumping into a small skiff, desired to be pulled alongside the Pharaon, which he reached as she rounded into La Reserve basin.

When the young man on board saw this person approach, he left his station by the pilot, and, hat in hand, leaned over the ship's bulwarks.

He was a fine, tall, slim young fellow of eighteen or twenty, with black eyes, and hair as dark as a raven's wing; and his whole appearance bespoke that calmness and resolution peculiar to men accustomed from their cradle to contend with danger.

"Ah, is it you, Dantes?" cried the man in the skiff. "What's the matter? and why have you such an air of sadness aboard?"

"A great misfortune, M. Morrel," replied the young man,—"a great misfortune, for me especially! Off Civita Vecchia we lost our brave Captain Leclere."

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Which of the following most closely approaches the meaning of the underlined phrase?

Possible Answers:

 The ship approached the harbor with its sails raised

The harbor was unsafe for approach

The ship careened into the harbor irresponsibly fast

The crew on the ship took down the sails

Correct answer:

 The ship approached the harbor with its sails raised


“The ship approached the harbor with its sails raised” is the correct answer. This is a relatively simple question that tests your ability to use context clues to piece together an answer from unknown words. “Topsails, jibs, and spankers” are all types of sails on a ship. None of the other answers make any sense given the context: clearly the ship did not “careen . . . irresponsibly fast,” as the passage mentions that it moved “slowly and sedately.” Clearly, the harbor was not unsafe for approach—nothing in the passage leads to any inference that it was. The remaining answer is incorrect because the ship approached the harbor “under sail” meaning “with sails raised.”

Example Question #5 : Other Inferences

"How could that bring me into trouble, sir?" asked Dantes; "for I did not even know of what I was the bearer; and the emperor merely made such inquiries as he would of the first comer. But, pardon me, here are the health officers and the customs inspectors coming alongside." And the young man went to the gangway. As he departed, Danglars approached, and said,—

"Well, it appears that he has given you satisfactory reasons for his landing at Porto-Ferrajo?"

"Yes, most satisfactory, my dear Danglars."

"Well, so much the better," said the supercargo; "for it is not pleasant to think that a comrade has not done his duty."

"Dantes has done his," replied the owner, "and that is not saying much. It was Captain Leclere who gave orders for this delay."

"Talking of Captain Leclere, has not Dantes given you a letter from him?"

"To me?—no—was there one?"

"I believe that, besides the packet, Captain Leclere confided a letter to his care."

"Of what packet are you speaking, Danglars?"

"Why, that which Dantes left at Porto-Ferrajo."

"How do you know he had a packet to leave at Porto-Ferrajo?"

Danglars turned very red.

"I was passing close to the door of the captain's cabin, which was half open, and I saw him give the packet and letter to Dantes."

"He did not speak to me of it," replied the shipowner; "but if there be any letter he will give it to me."

Danglars reflected for a moment. "Then, M. Morrel, I beg of you," said he, "not to say a word to Dantes on the subject. I may have been mistaken."

At this moment the young man returned; Danglars withdrew.

"Well, my dear Dantes, are you now free?" inquired the owner.

"Yes, sir."

"You have not been long detained."

"No. I gave the custom-house officers a copy of our bill of lading; and as to the other papers, they sent a man off with the pilot, to whom I gave them."

"Then you have nothing more to do here?"

"No—everything is all right now."

"Then you can come and dine with me?"

"I really must ask you to excuse me, M. Morrel. My first visit is due to my father, though I am not the less grateful for the honor you have done me."

What does the underlined phrase mean?

Possible Answers:

Dantes is expressing thanks for M. Morrel’s dinner invitation, but Dantes had to graciously decline, as he must see his father first

M. Morrel is regrets his decision to invite Dantes to dinner

Dantes is ungrateful for M. Morrel’s dinner invitation, and Dantes is disgusted by the fact that he must see his father first

M. Morrel is extremely angry by Dantes’ impudence, and dislikes Dantes’ father

Correct answer:

Dantes is expressing thanks for M. Morrel’s dinner invitation, but Dantes had to graciously decline, as he must see his father first


“Dantes is expressing thanks for M. Morrel’s dinner invitation . . .” is the correct answer. This is a relatively simple question as it asks you to draw a fairly obvious inference from the sentence. Essentially, although M. Morrel is Dantes’ social superior (and “boss” after a fashion)—thus making a dinner invitation from him of singular importance—Dantes had to decline it to see his father, who he had not seen in months.

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Example Question #6 : Other Inferences

1 That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and begun to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Mr. Samuel Pickwick burst like another sun from his slumbers, threw open his chamber window, and looked out upon the world beneath. 2 Goswell Street was at his feet, Goswell Street was on his right hand—as far as the eye could reach, Goswell Street extended on his left; and the opposite side of Goswell Street was over the way. 3 'Such,' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'are the narrow views of those philosophers who, content with examining the things that lie before them, look not to the truths which are hidden beyond. 4 As well might I be content to gaze on Goswell Street for ever, without one effort to penetrate to the hidden countries which on every side surround it.' 5 And having given vent to this beautiful reflection, Mr. Pickwick proceeded to put himself into his clothes, and his clothes into his portmanteau. 6 Great men are seldom over scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire; the operation of shaving, dressing, and coffee-imbibing was soon performed; and, in another hour, Mr. Pickwick, with his portmanteau in his hand, his telescope in his greatcoat pocket, and his note-book in his waistcoat, ready for the reception of any discoveries worthy of being noted down, had arrived at the coach-stand in St. Martin's-le-Grand.

7 'Cab!' said Mr. Pickwick.

8 'Here you are, sir,' shouted a strange specimen of the human race, in a sackcloth coat, and apron of the same, who, with a brass label and number round his neck, looked as if he were catalogued in some collection of rarities. 9 This was the waterman.

This passage most likely serves as the opening to what type of story?

Possible Answers:

Political satire





Correct answer:



In the passage, Mr. Pickwick announces his intentions to go traveling. Through that hint and through process of elimination we can conclude that the novel will be a travelogue. (In fact, it is a story about Mr. Pickwick’s travels around England.) And, although the tone is comical, the topic is not politics, so we can rule out satire.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’ The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837)

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: