New SAT Reading : New SAT Reading

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : New Sat Reading

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

The narrator's tone in the underlined description of "the man in cream-colors" is best described as _________________.

Possible Answers:

distant and precise

vague and reserved

mocking and incisive

romantic and deeply emotional

distant and vague

Correct answer:

distant and precise

Explanation:

The narrator gives us a great deal of detail about the physical appearance of the man ("his cheek was fair...") and gives a matter of fact assessment of how he looks, what he is carrying, and who he is with (no one). There are no literary devices, nor flowery, romantic, aggressive, or particularly emotional language. So the best description of the tone is, "distant but precise."

Example Question #1 : New Sat

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

What is the best evidence of the narrator's tone, as assessed in the preceding question?

Possible Answers:

"His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap."

"He was unaccompanied by friends."

"a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis"

"He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel."

"it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger"

Correct answer:

"His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap."

Explanation:

The correct characterization of the author's tone in describing the "man in cream-colors" was "distant and precise." So, we need to find evidence both of the narrator's detachment and precision in this description. The unemotional tone is evident from the lack of any emotionally charged language or literary devices. Rather, the author simply describes, in precise terms and detail, the man's physical appearance and the way the crowd reacts to him. So, the long description of the man's features and clothing ("His cheek was fair...") is the best evidence of both the narrator's detachment and precsion in describing the man. The description of what the man was carrying ("neither trunk valise...") is unemotional, but less precise than the acute description of his physical features and dress. The description of the crowd's reaction to the man ("it was plain...") is not best evidence of the author's acute but distant description of the man because it mostly describes how other's react to the man, rather than describing the man himself. The statements that he was simply "a man in cream-colors" arriving in St. Louis is far less precise than the longer description of his appearance, as is the simple assertion that he was "unaccompanied by friends."

Example Question #421 : Prose Fiction

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

Based on the way it is used in the passage, which of the following is the meaning of the underlined phrase “ex-officio” in the third paragraph?

Possible Answers:

related to

as opposed to

refusing to interact with

having once been

in the role of

Correct answer:

in the role of

Explanation:

“Ex-officio” is likely a phrase that you have never encountered before, but you can figure out what it means by carefully considering the way it is used in the passage’s second paragraph: 

“. . . during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards . . . ”

You can figure out the answer by substituting each answer choice into the sentence where “ex-officio” is used. It doesn’t make sense to say that one man bought a money-belt from another who was “opposed to” a peddler of money-belts, nor does “refusing to interact with” make sense, for the same reason. “Having once been” doesn’t work either, as the man being described is clearly acting as a peddler of money-belts, as he sells one. “Related to” doesn’t add any important information to the sentence, but “in the role of” makes sense: one man purchases a money belt from another, who is acting in the role of a peddler of money-belts.

Example Question #2 : New Sat

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

What is the purpose of the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

To offer further description of the "man in cream-colors" and to introduce the sheriff as a character

To offer further description of the "man in cream-colors" and to introduce the idea that a fugitive con man has arrived in the city

To set the scene for the upcoming arrival of the fugitive con man

To introduce the idea that a fugitive con man has arrived in the city, and to directly and unequivocally state that the "man in cream-colors" is that con man

To describe the crowd of people in great detail

Correct answer:

To offer further description of the "man in cream-colors" and to introduce the idea that a fugitive con man has arrived in the city

Explanation:

The underlined sentence further describes the way that the stranger "in cream-colors" moves "with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard" through the crowd. The later part of the sentence then introduces the idea that a "mysterious imposter" who was an "original genius in his vocation" (that being impersonating and conning people), and had "recently arrived from the East." Certainly, the idea that the poster only "purported" to be "a careful description of" the con man, mentioned while the stranger is standing right next to the poset strongly implies that the stranger is the con man, this is far from stated directly.

Example Question #3 : New Sat

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

The steamship in the passage is traveling from __________ to __________.

Possible Answers:

New Orleans . . . Minneapolis

Baton Rouge . . . St. Louis

New Orleans . . . St. Louis

St. Louis . . . Baton Rouge

St. Louis . . . New Orleans

Correct answer:

St. Louis . . . New Orleans

Explanation:

In the first paragraph, we are told that the man in cream-colors arrives “at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.” He boards the steamboat in the next paragraph, so we can infer that the steamboat is traveling from St. Louis to somewhere else. This allows us to narrow our answer choices to just those beginning with “St. Louis,” so we need to figure out if the steamboat is going to New Orleans or Baton Rouge. This information is provided at the beginning of the second paragraph: “In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans.” So, the correct answer is that the steamboat was traveling from St. Louis to New Orleans.

Example Question #4 : New Sat

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

What is the best evidence of the path of the steamship, as assessed in the previous question?

Possible Answers:

"The Thugs of the Green River country" . . . "in Kentucky"

"at the water side in the city of St. Louis" . . . "in Kentucky"

"on the point of starting for New Orleans" . . . "the bandit of Ohio"

"at the water side in the city of St. Louis" . . . "on the point of starting for New Orleans"

"the bandit of Ohio" . . . "the pirate of the Mississippi"

Correct answer:

"at the water side in the city of St. Louis" . . . "on the point of starting for New Orleans"

Explanation:

In the first paragraph, we are told that the man in cream-colors arrives “at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.” He boards the steamboat in the next paragraph, so we can infer that the steamboat is traveling from St. Louis to somewhere else. This allows us to narrow our answer choices to just those beginning with “St. Louis,” so we need to figure out if the steamboat is going to New Orleans or Baton Rouge. This information is provided at the beginning of the second paragraph: “In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans.” So, the correct answer is that the steamboat was traveling from St. Louis to New Orleans.

Example Question #151 : Language In Literary Fiction Passages

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

Which of the following is the most obvious demonstration of the narrator's subjective opinion?

Possible Answers:

"it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger."

"earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats"

"Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other."

"quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given"

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

Correct answer:

"it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger."

Explanation:

In this passage the narrator offers mostly factual descriptions and assertions, and little in the way of opinion; however, in the option "it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger," the narrator offers an subjective judgement both of how the crowd perceives the man, and also, importantly, what was "plain" or obvious about the scene. The other options are either simply factual descriptions. "Charity thinketh no evil" is not even a statement made by the narrator, but rather a phrase written on a placard.

Example Question #34 : Extrapolating From The Text In Literary Fiction Passages

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

What is the author implying in his discussion of wolves and foxes at the end of the third paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Adjusting the balance of a natural ecosystem can have numerous unintended effects on the environment.

Wolves are typically only killed off well after humans have settled in an area.

Con men are like wolves, whereas citizens of the general public are like foxes.

If wolves are found in an area, con men are likely also to be found there.

Some believe that once the con men and criminals are removed from an area, others take their place.

Correct answer:

Some believe that once the con men and criminals are removed from an area, others take their place.

Explanation:

The wolves-and-foxes discussion is perhaps the most difficult part of the passage to understand, because the author steps out of telling the story for a moment to make an abstract comparison about events that have already happened. Specifically, the author writes:

“another peddler . . . hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.”

The wolves are clearly compared to the criminals in that each were “exterminated” in certain areas, but some people think that “where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.” The foxes take the place of the wolves (comparatively, the criminals), so we can infer that the “foxes” must represent some type of criminal too. We can ignore the answer choice “Adjusting the balance of a natural ecosystem can have numerous unintended effects on the environment” as wolves and foxes are mentioned to be compared to criminals, not to discuss the environment. Foxes are not being compared to citizens of the general public since they take the place of the wolves after the wolves are killed off, so “Con men are like wolves, whereas citizens of the general public are like foxes” cannot be correct either. While wolves are compared to con men, “If wolves are found in an area, con men are likely also to be found there” makes an association that goes beyond the author’s comparison. “Wolves are typically only killed off well after humans have settled in an area” is contradicted by the author’s use of the adjective “new” in describing “those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.” This suggests that the wolves are killed off relatively quickly after humans settle in an area. This leaves us with the correct answer, “Some believe that once the con men and criminals are removed from an area, others take their place.” This accurately captures the author’s comparison and infers the role of foxes as another type of criminal taking the place of the “wolves.”

Example Question #422 : Prose Fiction

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

When the author uses the phrase “unalloyed gratulation,” underlined in the third paragraph, he means __________.

Possible Answers:

absolute frustration

careful cataloguing

unreserved celebration

untested ideas

suspicious concern

Correct answer:

unreserved celebration

Explanation:

The author uses the phrase “unalloyed gratulation” in the following sentence:

“another peddler . . . hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.”

So, what’s going on in this sentence? The author is discussing how the criminals who are the subjects of the books being hawked to the passengers have all been “exterminated” like wolves, “leaving comparatively few successors.” He then says that this “would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation.” Which of the answer choices would make sense as a response by the general public to criminals being captured and killed? “Ideas,” “frustration,” and “concern” don’t make sense, so we can ignore the answer choices “untested ideas,” “absolute frustration,” and “suspicious concern.” This leaves us with “careful cataloguing” and “unreserved celebration.” At this point, we need to focus on the last part of the sentence, where the author says, “which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.” So, everyone experiences “unalloyed gratulation” except for the people who think that after the wolves are gone, the foxes increase. Given that the wolves have been compared with criminals in the passage, foxes get a negative connotation as a sneaky animal taking the wolves’ place. The people believing the foxes increase seem to not be as happy about the criminals being captured as those experiencing “unalloyed gratulation,” suggesting that “careful cataloguing” is not the answer, and “unreserved celebration” is. After all, whether or not you thought more criminals would spring up, that would have nothing to do with “careful cataloguing,” but believing more criminals would show up would feasibly stop someone from celebrating unreservedly.

Example Question #62 : Language In Literary Fiction Passages

Passage adapted from The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (1857)

At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared suddenly a man in cream-colors at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky—creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these:—

"Charity thinketh no evil.”

In context, the underlined word "plain" means __________________.

Possible Answers:

underlined

obvious

unadorned

simple

obscure

Correct answer:

obvious

Explanation:

In this context, "plain" means "obvious." It was "obvious" that "certain chevaliers ...  were on the captials" carefully reading the wanted poster. "Obscure" is an antonym for "plain" in this context."Simple" and "unadorned" are both synonyms for another meaning of "plain" that does not apply in this context. 

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