LSAT Reading : Authorial Tone and Attitude in Humanities Passages

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Example Question #1 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

The name “Karen” is a term for over twenty sub-ethnic groups which constitute a minority group in Burma, a developing country in Southeast Asia suffering from the longest civil war in modern history. Many of the Karen people have been displaced and compelled to live as refugees in Thailand, where they lack citizenship and basic human rights.   Historically, violence in Burma forced the Karen people into the Eastern highlands of Burma, where many were persecuted for their belief in Christianity.  Some members of the Karen were subject to torture, while others were forced into slavery. Today, it is still a struggle for the Karen people to break free from their tumultuous history on many levels—including a linguistic one.

The origin of the word “Karen” is subject to dispute. The Oxford Dictionary denotes the origin of the word for “Karen” as being derived from the Burmese word “ka-reng,” meaning “wild, unclean man.”  However, it is ambiguous as to whether the Burmese word from which “Karen” was derived is “ka-reng,” or “kayin.”  According to Nick Cheesman, the foremost scholar on the Karen people, “Karen” is an Anglicization of the Burmese word “kayin,” the direct translation of which is unknown.  By one account, “kayin” means “aboriginal,” but by another account it means “wild cattle of the hills.” 

The Oxford Dictionary, rather than explaining the ambiguity that surrounds the etymology of “Karen,” instead provides inaccurate information. Its representation of the word “Karen” has been a source of pain for the Karen people, who resent the fact that they are associated with a description of “wild, unclean man.”  The Karen people have already been subject to much turmoil and oppression; the characterization of their identity’s origin only deepens their plight.

Given the uncertainty as to the origin of the word “Karen,” and the subsequent pain that the Oxford Dictionary is currently causing to the Karen people, some activists are urging the Oxford Dictionary to change the listed origin from “wild, unclean man,” to “aboriginal person.”  The term “aboriginal person” is equally accurate, if not more so, than “wild, unclean man,” and does not offend the populace it seeks to describe. However, instigating change is going to be a challenging endeavor. For the Oxford Dictionary to admit that it has erred in its definition could potentially subject it to scrutiny. However, between the two options of allowing the Karen people to continue to suffer, versus admitting a mistake, the latter is more benign. 

The author's tone is best described as:

Possible Answers:

dispassionate and educated

objective and balanced

zealous and defensive of the Karen people

critical and scrutinizing

passionate and overzealous

Correct answer:

zealous and defensive of the Karen people

Explanation:

The author's tone is passionate and takes on a defensive stance with respect to the Karen people. Therefore, the best answer choice would be:

zealous and defensive of the Karen people

While the tone is zealous, it is not overzealous. Additionally, while it is at time critical of the Oxford Dictionary, this tone does not define the entire text, but rather, parts of it. 

 

 

Example Question #2 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Last Man by Mary Shelley (1826)

I fulfilled my commission; I saw Karazza. He was somewhat surprised; he would see, he said, what could be done, but it required time, and Raymond had ordered me to return by noon. It was impossible to affect anything in so short a time. I must stay till the next day, or come back, after having reported the present state of things to the general. My choice was easily made. A restlessness, a fear of what was about to betide, a doubt as to Raymond's purposes, urged me to return without delay to his quarters. Quitting the Seven Towers, I rode eastward towards the Sweet Waters. I took a circuitous path, principally for the sake of going to the top of the mount before mentioned, which commanded a view of the city. I had my glass with me. The city basked under the noon-day sun, and the venerable walls formed its picturesque boundary. Immediately before me was the Top Kapou, the gate near which Mahomet had made the breach by which he entered the city. Trees gigantic and aged grew near; before the gate I discerned a crowd of moving human figures—with intense curiosity I lifted my glass to my eye. I saw Lord Raymond on his charger; a small company of officers had gathered about him, and behind was a promiscuous concourse of soldiers and subalterns, their discipline lost, their arms thrown aside; no music sounded, no banners streamed. The only flag among them was one which Raymond carried; he pointed with it to the gate of the city. The circle round him fell back. With angry gestures he leapt from his horse, and seizing a hatchet that hung from his saddle-bow, went with the apparent intention of battering down the opposing gate. A few men came to aid him; their numbers increased; under their united blows the obstacle was vanquished, gate, portcullis, and fence were demolished, and the wide sun-lit way, leading to the heart of the city, now lay open before them. The men shrank back; they seemed afraid of what they had already done, and stood as if they expected some Mighty Phantom to stalk in offended majesty from the opening. Raymond sprung lightly on his horse, grasped the standard, and with words which I could not hear (but his gestures, being their fit accompaniment, were marked by passionate energy), he seemed to adjure their assistance and companionship; even as he spoke, the crowd receded from him. Indignation now transported him; his words I guessed were fraught with disdain—then turning from his coward followers, he addressed himself to enter the city alone. His very horse seemed to back from the fatal entrance; his dog, his faithful dog, lay moaning and supplicating in his path—in a moment more, he had plunged the rowels into the sides of the stung animal, who bounded forward, and he, the gateway passed, was galloping up the broad and desert street.

Until this moment my soul had been in my eyes only. I had gazed with wonder, mixed with fear and enthusiasm. The latter feeling now predominated. I forgot the distance between us: "I will go with thee, Raymond!" I cried, but, my eye removed from the glass, I could scarce discern the pigmy forms of the crowd, which about a mile from me surrounded the gate; the form of Raymond was lost. Stung with impatience, I urged my horse with force of spur and loosened reins down the acclivity, that, before danger could arrive, I might be at the side of my noble, godlike friend. A number of buildings and trees intervened, when I had reached the plain, hiding the city from my view. But at that moment a crash was heard. Thunder-like it reverberated through the sky, while the air was darkened. A moment more and the old walls again met my sight, while over them hovered a murky cloud; fragments of buildings whirled above, half seen in smoke, while flames burst out beneath, and continued explosions filled the air with terrific thunders. Flying from the mass of falling ruin which leapt over the high walls, and shook the ivy towers, a crowd of soldiers made for the road by which I came; I was surrounded, hemmed in by them, unable to get forward. My impatience rose to its utmost; I stretched out my hands to the men; I conjured them to turn back and save their General, the conqueror of Stamboul, the liberator of Greece; tears, aye tears, in warm flow gushed from my eyes—I would not believe in his destruction, yet every mass that darkened the air seemed to bear with it a portion of the martyred Raymond. Horrible sights were shaped to me in the turbid cloud that hovered over the city; and my only relief was derived from the struggles I made to approach the gate. Yet when I affected my purpose, all I could discern within the precincts of the massive walls was a city of fire: the open way through which Raymond had ridden was enveloped in smoke and flame. After an interval the explosions ceased, but the flames still shot up from various quarters; the dome of St. Sophia had disappeared. Strange to say (the result perhaps of the concussion of air occasioned by the blowing up of the city), huge, white thunder clouds lifted themselves up from the southern horizon, and gathered overhead; they were the first blots on the blue expanse that I had seen for months, and amidst this havoc and despair they inspired pleasure. The vault above became obscured, lightning flashed from the heavy masses, followed instantaneously by crashing thunder; then the big rain fell. The flames of the city bent beneath it, and the smoke and dust arising from the ruins was dissipated.

Which one of the following best captures the narrator's attitude toward Raymond?

Possible Answers:

The narrator displays distress because the narrator does not agree with Raymond's actions.

The narrator is disinterested in Raymond.

The narrator sympathises with Raymond in his ongoing struggle.

The narrator shows affection for Raymond. 

The narrator is disproportionately despising of Raymond.

Correct answer:

The narrator shows affection for Raymond. 

Explanation:

The only statement that is fully supported by the passage is that there is a certain affectionate bond between the narrator and Raymond. As the passage's narrator states, “I forgot the distance between us: 'I will go with thee, Raymond!' I cried; but, my eye removed from the glass, I could scarce discern the pigmy forms of the crowd, which about a mile from me surrounded the gate; the form of Raymond was lost.” We cannot justify the statement that the narrator sympathizes with Raymond's struggle as there are no expressions of sympathy with his struggle. The narrator's affection drives his or her desire to assist Raymond. He or she is distressed that Raymond is carrying on unaided, not because they disagree with his actions.

Example Question #3 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from the Introduction to Letters from an American Farmer (Crèvecoeur; 1782) by Warren Barton Blake (1912)

Except by naturalization, the author of Letters from an American Farmer was not an American, and he was no ordinary farmer. Yet why quarrel with him for the naming of his book, or for his signing it "J. Hector Saint-John," when the "Hector" of his title-pages and American biographers was only a prenom de faintaisie? We owe some concessions to the author of so charming a book, to the eighteenth-century Thoreau. His life is certainly more interesting than the real Thoreau's—and would be, even if it did not present many contradictions. Our records of that life are in the highest degree inexact; he himself is wanting in accuracy as to the date of more than one event. The records, however, agree that Crèvecoeur belonged to the petite noblesse of Normandy. The date of his birth was January 31, 1735, the place was Caen, and his full name (his great-grandson and biographer vouches for it) was Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur. The boy was well enough brought up, but without more than the attention that his birth gave him the right to expect; he divided the years of his boyhood between Caen, where his father's town-house stood, and the College du Mont, where the Jesuits gave him his education. A letter dated 1785 and addressed to his children tells us all that we know of his school-days; though it is said, too, that he distinguished himself in mathematics. "If you only knew," the reminiscent father of a family exclaims in this letter, "in what shabby lodging, in what a dark and chilly closet, I was mewed up at your age; with what severity I was treated; how I was fed and dressed!" Already his powers of observation, that were so to distinguish him, were quickened by his old-world milieu.

"From my earliest youth," he wrote in 1803, "I had a passion for taking in all the antiques that I met with: moth-eaten furniture, tapestries, family portraits, Gothic manuscripts (that I had learned how to decipher) had for me an indefinable charm. A little later on, I loved to walk in the solitude of cemeteries, to examine the tombs and to trace out their mossy epitaphs. I knew most of the churches of the canton, the date of their foundation, and what they contained of interest in the way of pictures and sculptures."

The boy's gift of accurate and keen observation was to be tested soon by a very different class of objects; there were to be no crumbling saints and canvases of bed-chamber grooms for him to study in the forests of America, no reminders of the greatness of his country's past, and the honor of his family.

From school, the future woodsman passed over into England. A distant relative was living near Salisbury; for one reason or another the boy was sent thither to finish his schooling. From England, with what motives we know not, he set out for the New World, where he was to spend his busiest and happiest days. In the Bibliotheca Americana Nova Rich makes the statement that Crèvecoeur was but sixteen when he made the plunge, and others have followed Rich in this error. The lad's age was really not less than nineteen or twenty. According to the family legend, his ship touched at Lisbon on the way out; one cannot decide whether this was just before or immediately after the great earthquake. Then to New France, where he joined Montcalm. Entering the service as cadet, he advanced to the rank of lieutenant; was mentioned in the Gazette; shared in the French successes; drew maps of the forests and block-houses that found their way to the king's cabinet; served with Montcalm in the attack upon Fort William Henry. With that the record is broken off: we can less definitely associate his name with the humiliation of the French in America than with their brief triumphs. Yet it is quite certain, says Robert de Crèvecoeur, his descendant, that he did not return to France with the rag-tag of the defeated army. Quebec fell before Wolfe's attack in September 1759; at some time in the course of the year 1760 we may suppose the young officer to have entered the British colonies, to have adopted his family name of "Saint John" (Saint-Jean), and to have gradually worked his way south, probably by the Hudson. The reader of the Letters hardly supposes him to have enjoyed his frontier life; nor is there any means of knowing how much of that life it was his fortune to lead. In time, he found himself as far south as Pennsylvania. He visited Shippensburg and Lancaster and Carlisle; perhaps he resided at or near one of these towns. Many years later, when his son Louis purchased a farm of two hundred acres from Chancellor Livingstone, at Navesink, near the Blue Mountains, Crèvecoeur the elder was still remembered, and it may have been at this epoch that he visited the place. During the term of his military service under Montcalm, Crèvecoeur saw something of the Great Lakes and the outlying country; prior to his experience as a cultivator, and, indeed, after he had settled down as such, he "travelled like Plato," even visited Bermuda, by his own account. Not until 1764, however, have we any positive evidence of his whereabouts; it was in April of that year that he took out naturalization papers at New York. Some months later, he installed himself on the farm variously called Greycourt and Pine-Hill, in the same state; he drained a great marsh there, and seems to have practiced agriculture upon a generous scale. The certificate of the marriage of Crèvecoeur to Mehitable Tippet, of Yonkers is dated September 20, 1769, and of this union three children were the issue. And more than children: for with the marriage ceremony once performed by the worthy Tetard, a clergyman of New York, formerly settled over a French Reformed Church at Charleston, South Carolina, Crèvecoeur is more definitely than ever the "American Farmer"; he has thrown in his lot with that new country; his children are to be called after their parent's adopted name, Saint-John; the responsibilities of the adventurer are multiplied; his life in America has become a matter more easy to trace and richer, perhaps, in meaning.

Which one of the following best captures the author's attitude toward Crèvecoeur becoming an American citizen?

Possible Answers:

The author thinks that Crèvecoeur's citizenship was detrimental to the records of his early life.

The author is envious of Crèvecoeur's ability to join American frontier life so quickly.

The author believes that Crèvecoeur's settling in America made his life more significant.

The author is ambivalent towards Crèvecoeur's citizenship but praises his decision to raise a family in America.

The author is pleased that Crèvecoeur became an American citizen and did not return to Europe.

Correct answer:

The author believes that Crèvecoeur's settling in America made his life more significant.

Explanation:

In the last half of the final paragraph, the author talks about Crèvecoeur's citizenship and how he settled in America. The author does not immediately praise the decision to become naturalized but, after discussing biographical details, states that “[Crèvecoeur] has thrown in his lot with that new country . . . his life in America has become a matter more easy to trace and richer, perhaps, in meaning.” From this we can state that the author is of the opinion that Crèvecoeur's decision to become an American citizen “made his life more significant” (richer). We can also tell that the author believes that Crèvecoeur's life is easier to trace due to his becoming an American citizen. We can say the author is pleased Crèvecoeur stayed in America, but the sentence that best captures his attitude is that Crèvecoeur's life became more significant due to the information given in the last sentence.

Example Question #4 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Heroes and Hero Worship (1841) by Thomas Carlyle.

The Hero as Divinity, the Hero as Prophet, are productions of old ages, not to be repeated in the new. They presuppose a certain rudeness of conception, which the progress of mere scientific knowledge puts an end to. There needs to be, as it were, a world vacant, or almost vacant of scientific forms, if men in their loving wonder are to fancy their fellow-man either a god or one speaking with the voice of a god. Divinity and Prophet are past. We are now to see our Hero in the less ambitious, but also less questionable, character of Poet; a character which does not pass. The Poet is a heroic figure belonging to all ages; whom all ages possess, when once he is produced, whom the newest age as the oldest may produce;—and will produce, always when Nature pleases. Let Nature send a Hero-soul; in no age is it other than possible that he may be shaped into a Poet.

Hero, Prophet, Poet—many different names, in different times, and places, do we give to Great Men; according to varieties we note in them, according to the sphere in which they have displayed themselves! We might give many more names, on this same principle. I will remark again, however, as a fact not unimportant to be understood, that the different sphere constitutes the grand origin of such distinction; that the Hero can be Poet, Prophet, King, Priest, or what you will, according to the kind of world he finds himself born into. I confess, I have no notion of a truly great man that could not be all sorts of men. The Poet who could merely sit on a chair, and compose stanzas, would never make a stanza worth much. He could not sing the Heroic warrior, unless he himself were at least a Heroic warrior too. I fancy there is in him the Politician, the Thinker, Legislator, Philosopher—in one or the other degree, he could have been, he is all these. So too I cannot understand how a Mirabeau, with that great glowing heart, with the fire that was in it, with the bursting tears that were in it, could not have written verses, tragedies, poems, and touched all hearts in that way, had his course of life and education led him thitherward. The grand fundamental character is that of Great Man; that the man be great. Napoleon has words in him which are like Austerlitz Battles. Louis Fourteenth's Marshals are a kind of poetical men withal; the things Turenne says are full of sagacity and geniality, like sayings of Samuel Johnson. The great heart, the clear deep-seeing eye: there it lies; no man whatever, in what province soever, can prosper at all without these. Petrarch and Boccaccio did diplomatic messages, it seems, quite well; one can easily believe it; they had done things a little harder than these! Burns, a gifted songwriter, might have made a still better Mirabeau. Shakespeare—one knows not what he could not have made, in the supreme degree.

True, there are aptitudes of Nature too. Nature does not make all great men, more than all other men, in the self-same mold. Varieties of aptitude doubtless, but infinitely more of circumstance, and far oftenest it is the latter only that are looked to. But it is as with common men in the learning of trades. You take any man, as yet a vague capability of a man, who could be any kind of craftsman, and make him into a smith, a carpenter, a mason; he is then and thenceforth that and nothing else. And if, as Addison complains, you sometimes see a street-porter, staggering under his load on spindle-shanks, and near at hand a tailor with the frame of a Samson handling a bit of cloth and small Whitechapel needle, it cannot be considered that aptitude of Nature alone has been consulted here either! The Great Man also, to what shall he be bound apprentice? Given your Hero, is he to become Conqueror, King, Philosopher, Poet? It is an inexplicably complex controversial calculation between the world and him! He will read the world and its laws; the world with its laws will be there to be read. What the world, on this matter, shall permit and bid is, as we said, the most important fact about the world.

Poet and Prophet differ greatly in our loose modern notions of them. In some old languages, again, the titles are synonymous; “Vates” means both Prophet and Poet; and indeed at all times, Prophet and Poet, well understood, have much kindred of meaning. Fundamentally indeed they are still the same; in this most important respect especially, that they have penetrated both of them into the sacred mystery of the Universe; what Goethe calls "the open secret." "Which is the great secret?" asks one. "The open secret,” open to all, seen by almost none! That divine mystery, which lies everywhere in all Beings, "the Divine Idea of the World, that which lies at the bottom of Appearance," as Fichte styles it; of which all Appearance, from the starry sky to the grass of the field, but especially the Appearance of Man and his work, is but the vesture, the embodiment that renders it visible. This divine mystery is in all times and in all places; veritably is. In most times and places it is greatly overlooked; and the Universe, definable always in one or the other dialect, as the realized Thought of God, is considered a trivial, inert, commonplace matter—as if, says the Satirist, it were a dead thing, which some upholsterer had put together! It could do no good, at present, to speak much about this, but it is a pity for every one of us if we do not know it, live ever in the knowledge of it. Really a most mournful pity—a failure to live at all, if we live otherwise!

Which one of the following best captures the author's attitude toward poets?

Possible Answers:

They owe their influence to the adoration of others.

Poets are the new prophets.

They must constantly change to remain in their position as unobjectionable heroes.

They are heroes which do not lose influence over time. 

They can only be found in certain countries.

Correct answer:

They are heroes which do not lose influence over time. 

Explanation:

The primary discussion of poets filters through the passage, however the largest part of this is in the first paragraph. The author states that "We are now to see our Hero in the less ambitious, but also less questionable, character of Poet; a character that does not pass. The Poet is a heroic figure belonging to all ages; whom all ages possess, when once he is produced, whom the newest age as the oldest may produce—and will produce, always when Nature pleases. Let Nature send a Hero-soul; in no age is it other than possible that he may be shaped into a Poet.” Simply, we now have lofty heroes replaced with poets who are an enduring form of hero. They do not lose influence over time as they are “a character that does not pass.” Granted, poets probably owe their influence to the adoration of others, but this is not the author's attitude.

Example Question #5 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Heroes and Hero Worship (1841) by Thomas Carlyle.

The Hero as Divinity, the Hero as Prophet, are productions of old ages, not to be repeated in the new. They presuppose a certain rudeness of conception, which the progress of mere scientific knowledge puts an end to. There needs to be, as it were, a world vacant, or almost vacant of scientific forms, if men in their loving wonder are to fancy their fellow-man either a god or one speaking with the voice of a god. Divinity and Prophet are past. We are now to see our Hero in the less ambitious, but also less questionable, character of Poet; a character which does not pass. The Poet is a heroic figure belonging to all ages; whom all ages possess, when once he is produced, whom the newest age as the oldest may produce;—and will produce, always when Nature pleases. Let Nature send a Hero-soul; in no age is it other than possible that he may be shaped into a Poet.

Hero, Prophet, Poet—many different names, in different times, and places, do we give to Great Men; according to varieties we note in them, according to the sphere in which they have displayed themselves! We might give many more names, on this same principle. I will remark again, however, as a fact not unimportant to be understood, that the different sphere constitutes the grand origin of such distinction; that the Hero can be Poet, Prophet, King, Priest, or what you will, according to the kind of world he finds himself born into. I confess, I have no notion of a truly great man that could not be all sorts of men. The Poet who could merely sit on a chair, and compose stanzas, would never make a stanza worth much. He could not sing the Heroic warrior, unless he himself were at least a Heroic warrior too. I fancy there is in him the Politician, the Thinker, Legislator, Philosopher—in one or the other degree, he could have been, he is all these. So too I cannot understand how a Mirabeau, with that great glowing heart, with the fire that was in it, with the bursting tears that were in it, could not have written verses, tragedies, poems, and touched all hearts in that way, had his course of life and education led him thitherward. The grand fundamental character is that of Great Man; that the man be great. Napoleon has words in him which are like Austerlitz Battles. Louis Fourteenth's Marshals are a kind of poetical men withal; the things Turenne says are full of sagacity and geniality, like sayings of Samuel Johnson. The great heart, the clear deep-seeing eye: there it lies; no man whatever, in what province soever, can prosper at all without these. Petrarch and Boccaccio did diplomatic messages, it seems, quite well; one can easily believe it; they had done things a little harder than these! Burns, a gifted song-writer, might have made a still better Mirabeau. Shakespeare—one knows not what he could not have made, in the supreme degree.

True, there are aptitudes of Nature too. Nature does not make all great men, more than all other men, in the self-same mold. Varieties of aptitude doubtless, but infinitely more of circumstance, and far oftenest it is the latter only that are looked to. But it is as with common men in the learning of trades. You take any man, as yet a vague capability of a man, who could be any kind of craftsman, and make him into a smith, a carpenter, a mason; he is then and thenceforth that and nothing else. And if, as Addison complains, you sometimes see a street-porter, staggering under his load on spindle-shanks, and near at hand a tailor with the frame of a Samson handling a bit of cloth and small Whitechapel needle, it cannot be considered that aptitude of Nature alone has been consulted here either! The Great Man also, to what shall he be bound apprentice? Given your Hero, is he to become Conqueror, King, Philosopher, Poet? It is an inexplicably complex controversial calculation between the world and him! He will read the world and its laws; the world with its laws will be there to be read. What the world, on this matter, shall permit and bid is, as we said, the most important fact about the world.

Poet and Prophet differ greatly in our loose modern notions of them. In some old languages, again, the titles are synonymous; “Vates” means both Prophet and Poet; and indeed at all times, Prophet and Poet, well understood, have much kindred of meaning. Fundamentally indeed they are still the same; in this most important respect especially, that they have penetrated both of them into the sacred mystery of the Universe; what Goethe calls "the open secret." "Which is the great secret?" asks one. "The open secret,” open to all, seen by almost none! That divine mystery, which lies everywhere in all Beings, "the Divine Idea of the World, that which lies at the bottom of Appearance," as Fichte styles it; of which all Appearance, from the starry sky to the grass of the field, but especially the Appearance of Man and his work, is but the vesture, the embodiment that renders it visible. This divine mystery is in all times and in all places; veritably is. In most times and places it is greatly overlooked; and the Universe, definable always in one or the other dialect, as the realized Thought of God, is considered a trivial, inert, commonplace matter—as if, says the Satirist, it were a dead thing, which some upholsterer had put together! It could do no good, at present, to speak much about this, but it is a pity for every one of us if we do not know it, live ever in the knowledge of it. Really a most mournful pity—a failure to live at all, if we live otherwise!

Which one of the following statements describes an example of the author's image of a hero?

Possible Answers:

A woman who defies all other assumptions of heroics

A person who displays some prowess in a certain culturally relevant sphere

A man who follows an innate sense of how to be great

A multi-talented person who works to please the masses

A person of nobility who uses their position to gain popularity in a specific field

Correct answer:

A person who displays some prowess in a certain culturally relevant sphere

Explanation:

We can learn quite quickly how the author defines a hero, as in the second paragraph it is stated that “Hero, Prophet, Poet—many different names, in different times, and places, do we give to Great Men, according to varieties we note in them, according to the sphere in which they have displayed themselves!” Whilst the author only ever refers to the great as “men,” we can assume that this encompasses women also. There is little talk of class in the passage, and it is important to note that the area in which a person defines his or her greatness is relevant to his or her time and/or culture.

Example Question #5 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Walking" by Henry David Thoreau (1862) in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived from "idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer—a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of our enemies.

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new, or rather an old, order—not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters or riders, but Walkers, a still more ancient and honorable class, I trust. The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker—not the Knight, but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.

We have felt that we almost alone hereabouts practiced this noble art; though, to tell the truth, at least, if their own assertions are to be received, most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence, which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit. Some of my townsmen, it is true, can remember and have described to me some walks which they took ten years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods; but I know very well that they have confined themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may make to belong to this select class. No doubt they were elevated for a moment as by the reminiscence of a previous state of existence, when even they were foresters and outlaws.

"When he came to grene wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the notes small
Of byrdes mery syngynge.

"It is ferre gone, sayd Robyn,
That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donne dere."

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them—as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.

Which one of the following best captures the author's attitude toward people with 9 am to 5 pm jobs?

Possible Answers:

Understated empathy

Bitter contempt

Humorous sympathy

Profound regret

Deep ambivalence

Correct answer:

Humorous sympathy

Explanation:

The author predominantly talks about people who work long hours in the final paragraph. He says, “I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.” This is obviously “humorous sympathy," as he feels sorry for them while simultaneously making light of their situation in relation to his own. We cannot call it “empathy,” as it does not show a level of relation to their predicament, only pity for it.

Example Question #7 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532; trans. W. K. Marriott 1908)

Considering the difficulties which men have had to hold to a newly acquired state, some might wonder how, seeing that Alexander the Great became the master of Asia in a few years, and died whilst it was scarcely settled (whence it might appear reasonable that the whole empire would have rebelled), nevertheless his successors maintained themselves, and had to meet no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves from their own ambitions.

I answer that the principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favor and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turkish Monarchy and the King of France. The entire monarchy of Turkey is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into Sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the Turkish Kingdom are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above, for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turkish must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turkish ruler has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.

Now if you will consider what was the nature of the government of Darius, you will find it similar to the Turkish Kingdom, and therefore it was only necessary for Alexander first to overthrow him in the field, and then to take the country from him. After which victory, Darius being killed, the state remained secure to Alexander, for the above reasons. And if his successors had been united they would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no tumults raised in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves.

But it is impossible to hold with such tranquility states constituted like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will marvel at the ease with which Alexander held the Empire of Asia, or at the difficulties which others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more; this is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the conqueror, but by the want of uniformity in the subject state.

The author’s tone in this passage is primarily __________.

Possible Answers:

optimistic and educational

instructive and humorous

recalcitrant and commanding

pompous and disparaging

authoritative and edifying

Correct answer:

authoritative and edifying

Explanation:

The author speaks at all times with a certainty and assuredness that could best be described as “authoritative,” or perhaps as “commanding.” You can infer this because he does not second guess himself, but rather states every piece of argument as if it were simple fact. From there, it is a simple matter of determining whether the tone can be better described as “recalcitrant” or “edifying.” Seeing as the author´s primary purpose seems to be educating, rather than defying, the best option is definitely “edifying.”

Example Question #8 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Of Discourse" in Essays, Civil And Moral by Francis Bacon (1625) in Volume III, Part 1 of The Harvard Classics (1909-14)

Some, in their discourse, desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought. Some have certain common places and themes wherein they are good and want variety, which kind of poverty is for the most part tedious, and when it is once perceived, ridiculous. The most honorable part of talk is to give the occasion, and again to moderate, and pass to somewhat else, for then a man leads the dance. It is good, in discourse and speech of conversation, to vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest; for it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say now, to jade, anything too far. As for jest, there be certain things that ought to be privileged from it, namely religion, matters of state, great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any case that deserves pity. Yet there be some who think their wits have been asleep, except they dart out something that is piquant and to the quick. That is a vein which would be bridled:

Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortius utere loris. ("Boy, spare the whip and grasp the reins more firmly." (Ovid))

And generally, men ought to find the difference between saltiness and bitterness. Certainly, he that has a satirical vein, as he makes others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory. He that questions much shall learn much and content much, but especially if he applies his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asks; for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge. But let his questions not be troublesome; for that is fit for a poser. And let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak. No, if there be any who would reign and take up all the time, let him find means to take them off, and to bring others on, as musicians do with those that dance too long galliards. If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought at another time to know that you know not. Speech of a man's self ought to be seldom, and well chosen. I knew one was wont to say in scorn, "He must needs be a wise man, he speaks so much of himself." There is but one case wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pretended. Speech of touch towards others should be sparingly used, for discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any man. I knew two noblemen of the west part of England whereof the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his house; the other would ask, of those that had been at the other's table, "Tell truly, was there never a flout or dry blow given?" To which the guest would answer, "Such and such a thing passed. The lord would say, 'I thought he would mar a good dinner.'" Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words, or in good order. A good continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness, and a good reply or second speech, without a good settled speech, shows shallowness and weakness. As we see in beasts, that those that are weakest in the course are yet nimblest in the turn, as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare. To use too many circumstances, ere one come to the matter, is wearisome; to use none at all is blunt.

Which one of the following best captures the author's attitude toward satirists?

Possible Answers:

He thinks they should fear for their lives.

He is indifferent toward their contribution to a discourse.

He thinks they should be wary of others seeking vengeance.

He is unsure if they should be classed as good or bad people.

He thinks their contributions to a discourse are to be criticized.

Correct answer:

He thinks they should be wary of others seeking vengeance.

Explanation:

The author discusses satirists in the second half of the passage and says: “Certainly, he that has a satirical vein, as he makes others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory.” He is warning them that they should be wary lest someone gain vengeance by turning their satirical humor back on themselves. If we bully people with our “wit” they are likely to bear grudges against us.

Example Question #6 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Of Discourse" in Essays, Civil And Moral by Francis Bacon (1625) in Volume III, Part 1 of The Harvard Classics (1909-14)

Some, in their discourse, desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought. Some have certain common places and themes wherein they are good and want variety, which kind of poverty is for the most part tedious, and when it is once perceived, ridiculous. The most honorable part of talk is to give the occasion, and again to moderate, and pass to somewhat else, for then a man leads the dance. It is good, in discourse and speech of conversation, to vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest; for it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say now, to jade, anything too far. As for jest, there be certain things that ought to be privileged from it, namely religion, matters of state, great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any case that deserves pity. Yet there be some who think their wits have been asleep, except they dart out something that is piquant and to the quick. That is a vein which would be bridled:

Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortius utere loris. ("Boy, spare the whip and grasp the reins more firmly." (Ovid))

And generally, men ought to find the difference between saltiness and bitterness. Certainly, he that has a satirical vein, as he makes others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory. He that questions much shall learn much and content much, but especially if he applies his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asks; for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge. But let his questions not be troublesome; for that is fit for a poser. And let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak. No, if there be any who would reign and take up all the time, let him find means to take them off, and to bring others on, as musicians do with those that dance too long galliards. If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought at another time to know that you know not. Speech of a man's self ought to be seldom, and well chosen. I knew one was wont to say in scorn, "He must needs be a wise man, he speaks so much of himself." There is but one case wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pretended. Speech of touch towards others should be sparingly used, for discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any man. I knew two noblemen of the west part of England whereof the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his house; the other would ask, of those that had been at the other's table, "Tell truly, was there never a flout or dry blow given?" To which the guest would answer, "Such and such a thing passed. The lord would say, 'I thought he would mar a good dinner.'" Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words, or in good order. A good continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness, and a good reply or second speech, without a good settled speech, shows shallowness and weakness. As we see in beasts, that those that are weakest in the course are yet nimblest in the turn, as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare. To use too many circumstances, ere one come to the matter, is wearisome; to use none at all is blunt.

Which one of the following statements describes the author's attitude about talking the practice of talking about oneself in a discourse?

Possible Answers:

People who do this are selfish and misunderstand good discourse.

It is a most ungracious thing to do in unknown company.

It makes for interesting discourse.

The only time it is acceptable is when you talk about yourself praising another.

There is no excuse for it except when you do it humbly.

Correct answer:

The only time it is acceptable is when you talk about yourself praising another.

Explanation:

The author states in the last paragraph that “there is but one case, wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another.” Thus, to successfully commend yourself, you must be reminiscing about praising another person or actually personally praising another person. Whilst some of the other points may on the whole be true, they do not fit with what is overtly stated in the passage.

Example Question #7 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Humanities Passages

Adapted from an article in The New Statesman by Bertrand Russell (May 24th, 1913)

Science, to the ordinary reader of newspapers, is represented by a varying selection of sensational triumphs, such as wireless telegraphy, airplanes, radio-activity, and the marvels of modern alchemy. It is not of this aspect of science that I wish to speak. Science, in this aspect, consists of detached up-to-date fragments, interesting only until they are replaced by something newer and more up-to-date, displaying nothing of the systems of patiently constructed knowledge out of which, almost as a casual incident, have come the practically useful results which interest the man in the street. The increased command over the forces of nature which is derived from science is undoubtedly an amply sufficient reason for encouraging scientific research, but this reason has been so often urged and is so easily appreciated that other reasons, to my mind quite as important, are apt to be overlooked. It is with these other reasons, especially with the intrinsic value of a scientific habit of mind in forming our outlook on the world that I shall be concerned in what follows.

From the point of view of training the mind, of giving that well-informed, impersonal outlook which constitutes culture in the good sense of this much-misused word, it seems to be generally held indisputable that a literary education is superior to one based on science. Even the warmest advocates of science are apt to rest their claims on the contention that culture ought to be sacrificed to utility. Those men of science who respect culture, when they associate with men learned in the classics, are apt to admit, not merely politely, but sincerely, a certain inferiority on their side, compensated doubtless by the services which science renders to humanity, but none the less real. And so long as this attitude exists among men of science, it tends to verify itself: the intrinsically valuable aspects of science tend to be sacrificed to the merely useful, and little attempt is made to preserve that leisurely, systematic survey by which the finer quality of mind is formed and nourished.

But even if there be, in present fact, any such inferiority as is supposed in the educational value of science, this is, I believe, not the fault of science itself, but the fault of the spirit in which science is taught. If its full possibilities were realized by those who teach it, I believe that its capacity of producing those habits of mind which constitute the highest mental excellence would be at least as great as that of literature, and more particularly of Greek and Latin literature. In saying this I have no wish whatever to disparage a classical education. One defect, however, does seem inherent in a purely classical education—namely, a too exclusive emphasis on the past. By the study of what is absolutely ended and can never be renewed, a habit of criticism towards the present and the future is engendered. The qualities in which the present excels are qualities to which the study of the past does not direct attention, and to which, therefore, the student of Greek civilization may easily become blind. In what is new and growing there is apt to be something crude, insolent, even a little vulgar, which is shocking to the man of sensitive taste; quivering from the rough contact, he retires to the trim gardens of a polished past, forgetting that they were reclaimed from the wilderness by men as rough and earth-soiled as those from whom he shrinks in his own day. The habit of being unable to recognize merit until it is dead is too apt to be the result of a purely bookish life, and a culture based wholly on the past will seldom be able to pierce through everyday surroundings to the essential splendor of contemporary things, or to the hope of still greater splendor in the future.

The tone of this passage could best be described as __________.

Possible Answers:

optimistic yet realistic

pessimistic but inquisitive

defensive and optimistic

defensive but accommodating

derisive and pessimistic

Correct answer:

defensive but accommodating

Explanation:

The primary tone of this passage is "defensive." The author clearly feels that among the common man, and people who study the classics, there is a misconception about the importance of scientific inquiry and education. Evidence of the defensive tone can be found in the opening paragraph, where the author condemns the approach of the common man to scientific inquiry, saying that many of its benefits are “apt to be overlooked.” In the next paragraph, the author says that the word "culture "is a “much-misused word.” And, finally, in the concluding paragraph, the author says, “But even if there be, in present fact, any such inferiority as is supposed in the educational value of science, this is, I believe, not the fault of science itself, but the fault of the spirit in which science is taught.” This is a clear attempt to defend scientific inquiry by identifying with whom blame should actually lie.

After determining this, it is a matter of figuring out whether the tone is more "accommodating" or "optimistic." Based on the manner in which the author frames his debate, it is more reasonable to call it "accommodating," than it is to call it "optimistic." The author is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, focusing on what he believes is the correct way of thinking, rather than what he believes is going to change. He is accommodating in that although he argues against the worth of a classical education when compared to a scientific education, he does not focus on disparaging a classical education. Most notably, he says, “In saying this I have no wish whatever to disparage a classical education.” The overall conclusions he reaches suggest that he believes a classical education ought to be balanced with a scientific education, rather than simply replacing one with the other.

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