HiSET: Language Arts - Reading : Drawing conclusions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HiSET: Language Arts - Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Drawing Conclusions

Savages we call them, because their Manners differ from ours, which we think the Perfection of Civility. They think the same of theirs.

Perhaps if we could examine the Manners of different Nations with Impartiality, we should find no People so rude as to be without Rules of Politeness, nor any so polite as not to have some Remains of Rudeness.

The Indian Men when young are Hunters and Warriors; when old, Counsellors; for all their Government is by Counsel of the Sages; there is no Force there are no Prisons, no Officers to compel Obedience, or inflict Punishment.—Hence they generally study Oratory; the best Speaker having the most Influence. The Indian Women till the Ground, dress the Food, nurse and bring up the Children, & preserve & hand down to Posterity the Memory of public Transactions. These Employments of Men and Women are accounted natural & honorable, Having few artificial Wants, they have abundance of Leisure for Improvement by Conversation. Our laborious Manner of Life compar’d with theirs, they esteem slavish & base; and the Learning on which we value ourselves, they regard as frivolous & useless.

Adapted from Benjamin Franklin's "Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America" (1784)

What is Benjamin Franklin's attitude towards the "savages"? 

Possible Answers:

He feels that they are practical and respects their moderation

He feels that their society is much more violent and lawless

He feels that they have poor manners and lack civility

He feels that they have superior schooling due to experienced orators

Correct answer:

He feels that they are practical and respects their moderation

Explanation:

The best answer is he feels that they are practical and respects their moderation. The lines that support this answer include "Having few artificial wants, they have abundance of leisure for improvement by conversation." This shows that he thinks they lack superficial desires and make room for good conversation. He also spends a large part of the passage describing the practical tasks of men and women "the "women till the ground, dress the food, nurse and bring up the children..." etc. Although they do not have prisons, he does not believe that this makes them lawless or more violent; indeed, he probably believes the opposite. Franklin does not suggest that the savages have better education, and he does not believe that their manners are inferior, only different.

Example Question #2 : Drawing Conclusions

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

6Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

7In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labour out of the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him from his work, and every different want call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune would be death, for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.

Adapted from Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)

What is the meaning of the phrase: "were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver"?

Possible Answers:

One of the many costs of government is the loss of conscience among the citizens

If people always acted according to their consciences, government would not be necessary to safeguard the rights of citizens

It is clear that obeying one's conscience is a moral imperative

Religion should be the true lawmaker

People do not need laws to tell them how to act; they have their consciences, which guide them infallibly

Correct answer:

If people always acted according to their consciences, government would not be necessary to safeguard the rights of citizens

Explanation:

The author is saying that if people obeyed their sense of what is right and wrong all the time, no government would be necessary. He goes on to state that since people do not always behave according to conscience, government is necessary. As stated in the first paragraph, it is people's "wickedness" (i.e. their tendencies not to act according to conscience) that make a government a necessity. 

Example Question #3 : Drawing Conclusions

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.

Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”

Passage adapted from Moby Dick, Herman Melville (1851)

Melville specifically mentions sharks as beautiful, “remorseless tribes.” What does this mean?

Possible Answers:

Dangerous forces can exist naturally

Sharks are the most dangerous creatures in the sea

Sharks are cannibals

The force of sharks can be seen as dainty

Sharks are hidden and dangerous

Correct answer:

Dangerous forces can exist naturally

Explanation:

Sharks, like danger, can exist without reference to anything else. Sharks are by nature predatory creatures and they prey on other creatures naturally. Sharks should be avoided. Danger warns people of what should be avoided.

Example Question #4 : Drawing Conclusions

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

Passage adapted from Moby Dick, Herman Melville (1851)

What does being at sea offer the speaker?

Possible Answers:

Moral principles

New adventures

Freedom

Avoidance of funerals and coffins

Respite from being among other people

Correct answer:

Respite from being among other people

Explanation:

Ahab, the speaker, is describing a feeling of profound uneasiness that prompts anti-social behavior and intensifies unless he manages to hold himself in check. Matters of the everyday social world irritate him and when he is at sea his time is taken up with matters of weather and the sailing vessel. Sea-based subjects are comfortable to him, and while at sea he doesn’t have to hold himself in check to avoid poor behavior.

Example Question #5 : Drawing Conclusions

"As the days went by, the evolution of like into love was accelerated.  White Fang [the wolf] himself began to grow aware of it, though in his consciousness he knew not what love was.  It manifested itself to him as a void in his being—a hungry, aching, yearning void that clamoured to be filled.  It was a pain and an unrest; and it received easement only by the touch of the new god’s presence.  At such times love was joy to him, a wild, keen-thrilling satisfaction.  But when away from his god, the pain and the unrest returned; the void in him sprang up and pressed against him with its emptiness, and the hunger gnawed and gnawed unceasingly. "

Adapted from White Fang by Jack London (1906)

Does White Fang know he's fallen in love?

Possible Answers:

Feelings confuse him

Although he can develop love for a person, he can’t identify those feelings as love

Love is less than being hungry to him

Love doesn't concern him

He can’t experience love

Correct answer:

Although he can develop love for a person, he can’t identify those feelings as love

Explanation:

As his liking for a person develops into love, the wolf begins to base his life around this person. When the person is near, the wolf is satisfied. When the person is away, the wolf is in pain and he looks forward to having the person near again. Although the wolf is in fact is experiencing love and is aware of that, his consciousness does not identify the emotion as love.

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