PSAT Critical Reading : Analyzing Argumentative Claims, Bias, and Support in Social Science / History Passages

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Example Question #1 : Analyzing Argumentative Claims, Bias, And Support In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels (ed. 1892, trans. Wischnewetzky)

The order of our investigation of the different sections of the proletariat follows naturally from the foregoing history of its rise. The first proletarians were connected with manufacture, were engendered by it, and accordingly, those employed in manufacture, in the working up of raw materials, will first claim our attention. The production of raw materials and of fuel for manufacture attained importance only in consequence of the industrial change, and engendered a new proletariat, the coal and metal miners. Then, in the third place, manufacture influenced agriculture, and in the fourth, the condition of Ireland; and the fractions of the proletariat belonging to each, will find their place accordingly. We shall find, too, that the factory hands are most enlightened as to their own interests, the miners somewhat less so, the agricultural laborers scarcely at all. We shall find the same order again among the industrial workers, and shall see how the factory hands, eldest children of the industrial revolution, have from the beginning to the present day formed the nucleus of the Labour Movement, and how the others have joined this movement just in proportion as their handicraft has been invaded by the progress of machinery. We shall thus learn from the example which England offers, from the equal pace which the Labour Movement has kept with the movement of industrial development, the historical significance of manufacture.

Since, however, at the present moment, pretty much the whole industrial proletariat is involved in the movement, and the condition of the separate sections has much in common, because they all are industrial, we shall have first to examine the condition of the industrial proletariat as a whole, in order later to notice more particularly each separate division with its own peculiarities.

It has been already suggested that manufacture centralizes property in the hands of the few. It requires large capital with which to erect the colossal establishments that ruin the petty trading bourgeoisie and with which to press into its service the forces of Nature, so driving the hand labour of the independent workman out of the market. The division of labour, the application of water and especially steam, and the application of machinery, are the three great levers with which manufacture, since the middle of the last century, has been busy putting the world out of joint. Manufacture, on a small scale, created the middle-class; on a large scale, it created the working-class, and raised the elect of the middle-class to the throne, but only to overthrow them the more surely when the time comes. Meanwhile, it is an undeniable and easily explained fact that the numerous, petty middle-class of the “good old times” has been annihilated by manufacture, and resolved into rich capitalists on the one hand and poor workers on the other.

The centralizing tendency of manufacture does not, however, stop here. Population becomes centralized just as capital does; and, very naturally, since the human being, the worker, is regarded in manufacture simply as a piece of capital for the use of which the manufacturer pays interest under the name of wages. A manufacturing establishment requires many workers employed together in a single building, living near each other and forming a village of themselves in the case of a good-sized factory. They have needs for satisfying which other people are necessary; handicraftsmen, shoemakers, tailors, bakers, carpenters, stonemasons, settle at hand. The inhabitants of the village, especially the younger generation, accustom themselves to factory work, grow skillful in it, and when the first mill can no longer employ them all, wages fall, and the immigration of fresh manufacturers is the consequence. So the village grows into a small town, and the small town into a large one. The greater the town, the greater its advantages. It offers roads, railroads, canals; the choice of skilled labour increases constantly, new establishments can be built more cheaply because of the competition among builders and machinists who are at hand, than in remote country districts, whither timber, machinery, builders, and operatives must be brought; it offers a market to which buyers crowd, and direct communication with the markets supplying raw material or demanding finished goods. Hence the marvelously rapid growth of the great manufacturing towns. The country, on the other hand, has the advantage that wages are usually lower than in town, and so town and country are in constant competition; and, if the advantage is on the side of the town to-day, wages sink so low in the country to-morrow, that new investments are most profitably made there. But the centralizing tendency of manufacture continues in full force, and every new factory built in the country bears in it the germ of a manufacturing town. If it were possible for this mad rush of manufacture to go on at this rate for another century, every manufacturing district of England would be one great manufacturing town, and Manchester and Liverpool would meet at Warrington or Newton; for in commerce, too, this centralization of the population works in precisely the same way, and hence it is that one or two great harbors, such as Hull and Liverpool, Bristol, and London, monopolize almost the whole maritime commerce of Great Britain.

Based on this passage, which of the following statements most fully lists the advantages of large towns?

Possible Answers:

None of these answers 

Multiple craftsmen such as shoemakers, tailors, bakers, carpenters, and stonemasons

Numerous routes to and from the industry, competition between businesses, and a good supply of workers

Canals, roads, and railways

Multiple means of transportation, a selection of labor, inexpensive construction, a proliferation of customers, and good communication between industries 

Correct answer:

Multiple means of transportation, a selection of labor, inexpensive construction, a proliferation of customers, and good communication between industries 

Explanation:

The last paragraph lists the benefits of large towns: “[A large town] offers roads, railroads, canals; the choice of skilled labour increases constantly, new establishments can be built more cheaply because of the competition among builders and machinists who are at hand, than in remote country districts, whither timber, machinery, builders, and operatives must be brought; it offers a market to which buyers crowd, and direct communication with the markets supplying raw material or demanding finished goods. Hence the marvellously rapid growth of the great manufacturing towns.” The answer which most fully lists the advantages should include a reference to transportation, selection of skilled workers, cheap construction, an increase in buyers, and communication with other industries.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing Argumentative Claims, Bias, And Support In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels (ed. 1892, trans. Wischnewetzky)

The order of our investigation of the different sections of the proletariat follows naturally from the foregoing history of its rise. The first proletarians were connected with manufacture, were engendered by it, and accordingly, those employed in manufacture, in the working up of raw materials, will first claim our attention. The production of raw materials and of fuel for manufacture attained importance only in consequence of the industrial change, and engendered a new proletariat, the coal and metal miners. Then, in the third place, manufacture influenced agriculture, and in the fourth, the condition of Ireland; and the fractions of the proletariat belonging to each, will find their place accordingly. We shall find, too, that the factory hands are most enlightened as to their own interests, the miners somewhat less so, the agricultural laborers scarcely at all. We shall find the same order again among the industrial workers, and shall see how the factory hands, eldest children of the industrial revolution, have from the beginning to the present day formed the nucleus of the Labour Movement, and how the others have joined this movement just in proportion as their handicraft has been invaded by the progress of machinery. We shall thus learn from the example which England offers, from the equal pace which the Labour Movement has kept with the movement of industrial development, the historical significance of manufacture.

Since, however, at the present moment, pretty much the whole industrial proletariat is involved in the movement, and the condition of the separate sections has much in common, because they all are industrial, we shall have first to examine the condition of the industrial proletariat as a whole, in order later to notice more particularly each separate division with its own peculiarities.

It has been already suggested that manufacture centralizes property in the hands of the few. It requires large capital with which to erect the colossal establishments that ruin the petty trading bourgeoisie and with which to press into its service the forces of Nature, so driving the hand labour of the independent workman out of the market. The division of labour, the application of water and especially steam, and the application of machinery, are the three great levers with which manufacture, since the middle of the last century, has been busy putting the world out of joint. Manufacture, on a small scale, created the middle-class; on a large scale, it created the working-class, and raised the elect of the middle-class to the throne, but only to overthrow them the more surely when the time comes. Meanwhile, it is an undeniable and easily explained fact that the numerous, petty middle-class of the “good old times” has been annihilated by manufacture, and resolved into rich capitalists on the one hand and poor workers on the other.

The centralizing tendency of manufacture does not, however, stop here. Population becomes centralized just as capital does; and, very naturally, since the human being, the worker, is regarded in manufacture simply as a piece of capital for the use of which the manufacturer pays interest under the name of wages. A manufacturing establishment requires many workers employed together in a single building, living near each other and forming a village of themselves in the case of a good-sized factory. They have needs for satisfying which other people are necessary; handicraftsmen, shoemakers, tailors, bakers, carpenters, stonemasons, settle at hand. The inhabitants of the village, especially the younger generation, accustom themselves to factory work, grow skillful in it, and when the first mill can no longer employ them all, wages fall, and the immigration of fresh manufacturers is the consequence. So the village grows into a small town, and the small town into a large one. The greater the town, the greater its advantages. It offers roads, railroads, canals; the choice of skilled labour increases constantly, new establishments can be built more cheaply because of the competition among builders and machinists who are at hand, than in remote country districts, whither timber, machinery, builders, and operatives must be brought; it offers a market to which buyers crowd, and direct communication with the markets supplying raw material or demanding finished goods. Hence the marvelously rapid growth of the great manufacturing towns. The country, on the other hand, has the advantage that wages are usually lower than in town, and so town and country are in constant competition; and, if the advantage is on the side of the town to-day, wages sink so low in the country to-morrow, that new investments are most profitably made there. But the centralizing tendency of manufacture continues in full force, and every new factory built in the country bears in it the germ of a manufacturing town. If it were possible for this mad rush of manufacture to go on at this rate for another century, every manufacturing district of England would be one great manufacturing town, and Manchester and Liverpool would meet at Warrington or Newton; for in commerce, too, this centralization of the population works in precisely the same way, and hence it is that one or two great harbors, such as Hull and Liverpool, Bristol, and London, monopolize almost the whole maritime commerce of Great Britain.

Which of the following most fully lists the elements considered by the author to be the main advocates of change?

Possible Answers:

Migration, manufacture, and supply

Transportation, investment and access to building materials

Supply and demand 

Workers, factory owners, and the ability to construct

Using water for power, the use of machines, and the delegation of tasks

Correct answer:

Using water for power, the use of machines, and the delegation of tasks

Explanation:

To quote the author in the third paragraph, “the division of labour, the application of water and especially steam, and the application of machinery, are the three great levers with which manufacture, since the middle of the last century, has been busy putting the world out of joint.” So, according to the author, the three things which have had the greatest effects on change in society are using water in its various forms for power, the delegation of specific tasks to specific, skilled people, and the use of machinery.

Example Question #11 : Analyzing Argumentative Claims, Bias, And Support In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels (ed. 1892, trans. Wischnewetzky)

The order of our investigation of the different sections of the proletariat follows naturally from the foregoing history of its rise. The first proletarians were connected with manufacture, were engendered by it, and accordingly, those employed in manufacture, in the working up of raw materials, will first claim our attention. The production of raw materials and of fuel for manufacture attained importance only in consequence of the industrial change, and engendered a new proletariat, the coal and metal miners. Then, in the third place, manufacture influenced agriculture, and in the fourth, the condition of Ireland; and the fractions of the proletariat belonging to each, will find their place accordingly. We shall find, too, that the factory hands are most enlightened as to their own interests, the miners somewhat less so, the agricultural laborers scarcely at all. We shall find the same order again among the industrial workers, and shall see how the factory hands, eldest children of the industrial revolution, have from the beginning to the present day formed the nucleus of the Labour Movement, and how the others have joined this movement just in proportion as their handicraft has been invaded by the progress of machinery. We shall thus learn from the example which England offers, from the equal pace which the Labour Movement has kept with the movement of industrial development, the historical significance of manufacture.

Since, however, at the present moment, pretty much the whole industrial proletariat is involved in the movement, and the condition of the separate sections has much in common, because they all are industrial, we shall have first to examine the condition of the industrial proletariat as a whole, in order later to notice more particularly each separate division with its own peculiarities.

It has been already suggested that manufacture centralizes property in the hands of the few. It requires large capital with which to erect the colossal establishments that ruin the petty trading bourgeoisie and with which to press into its service the forces of Nature, so driving the hand labour of the independent workman out of the market. The division of labour, the application of water and especially steam, and the application of machinery, are the three great levers with which manufacture, since the middle of the last century, has been busy putting the world out of joint. Manufacture, on a small scale, created the middle-class; on a large scale, it created the working-class, and raised the elect of the middle-class to the throne, but only to overthrow them the more surely when the time comes. Meanwhile, it is an undeniable and easily explained fact that the numerous, petty middle-class of the “good old times” has been annihilated by manufacture, and resolved into rich capitalists on the one hand and poor workers on the other.

The centralizing tendency of manufacture does not, however, stop here. Population becomes centralized just as capital does; and, very naturally, since the human being, the worker, is regarded in manufacture simply as a piece of capital for the use of which the manufacturer pays interest under the name of wages. A manufacturing establishment requires many workers employed together in a single building, living near each other and forming a village of themselves in the case of a good-sized factory. They have needs for satisfying which other people are necessary; handicraftsmen, shoemakers, tailors, bakers, carpenters, stonemasons, settle at hand. The inhabitants of the village, especially the younger generation, accustom themselves to factory work, grow skillful in it, and when the first mill can no longer employ them all, wages fall, and the immigration of fresh manufacturers is the consequence. So the village grows into a small town, and the small town into a large one. The greater the town, the greater its advantages. It offers roads, railroads, canals; the choice of skilled labour increases constantly, new establishments can be built more cheaply because of the competition among builders and machinists who are at hand, than in remote country districts, whither timber, machinery, builders, and operatives must be brought; it offers a market to which buyers crowd, and direct communication with the markets supplying raw material or demanding finished goods. Hence the marvelously rapid growth of the great manufacturing towns. The country, on the other hand, has the advantage that wages are usually lower than in town, and so town and country are in constant competition; and, if the advantage is on the side of the town to-day, wages sink so low in the country to-morrow, that new investments are most profitably made there. But the centralizing tendency of manufacture continues in full force, and every new factory built in the country bears in it the germ of a manufacturing town. If it were possible for this mad rush of manufacture to go on at this rate for another century, every manufacturing district of England would be one great manufacturing town, and Manchester and Liverpool would meet at Warrington or Newton; for in commerce, too, this centralization of the population works in precisely the same way, and hence it is that one or two great harbors, such as Hull and Liverpool, Bristol, and London, monopolize almost the whole maritime commerce of Great Britain.

In the third paragraph, the information about the centralization of property ownership serves ultimately to __________.

Possible Answers:

praise the modern ability for people to own multiple houses

postulate that manufacture leaves no middle class

condemn the creation of a class of homeless people

persuade the reader that three classes of people have emerged from the manufacturing boom

argue that there is a need for more buildings in the modern manufacturing culture

Correct answer:

postulate that manufacture leaves no middle class

Explanation:

The end of the third paragraph shows us what the author believes is the ultimate result of the centralization of property ownership: “[the] petty middle-class of the 'good old times' has been annihilated by manufacture, and resolved into rich capitalists on the one hand and poor workers on the other.” The middle classes, in the author's opinion, have been destroyed and replaced by the wealthy and the impoverished.

Example Question #42 : Argumentative Social Science Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

I proceed to inquire whether the federal government or the state governments will have the advantage with regard to the predilection and support of the people. Notwithstanding the different modes in which they are appointed, we must consider both of them as substantially dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States. I assume this position here as it respects the first, reserving the proofs for another place. The federal and state governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject, and to have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other. Truth, no less than decency, requires that the event in every case should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents. 

Which of the following is true regarding the author’s perspective on the differences between federal and state governments?

Possible Answers:

The author thinks that only state governments have their power checked by the citizens of the United States.

The author thinks that the state and federal governments have been granted different powers in order to accomplish different goals.

The author thinks that the state and federal governments were designed to do the same things.

The author views the state and federal government as being rivals and enemies. 

The author thinks that only the federal government wants to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction.

Correct answer:

The author thinks that the state and federal governments have been granted different powers in order to accomplish different goals.

Explanation:

In the fourth sentence, the author states, "The federal and state governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes." This supports the answer choice "The author thinks that the state and federal governments have been granted different powers in order to accomplish different goals." 

The preceding quotation contradicts the answer choice "The author thinks that the state and federal governments were designed to do the same things." "The author thinks that only state governments have their power checked by the American people" is incorrect because the passage later states, "the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other"; both state and federal governments thus have their power checked by the people. The answer "The author views the state and federal government as being rivals and enemies" is incorrect because the author is opposing those who "have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies"; these are the people he is referring to in the line, "These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error." Finally, "The author thinks that only the federal government wants to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction" is incorrect because while he discusses the possibility of both state and federal governments trying "to enlarge [their] sphere[s] of jurisdiction at the expense of the other"

Example Question #6 : Understanding Style, Argument, And Organization In Social Science Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

I proceed to inquire whether the federal government or the state governments will have the advantage with regard to the predilection and support of the people. Notwithstanding the different modes in which they are appointed, we must consider both of them as substantially dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States. I assume this position here as it respects the first, reserving the proofs for another place. The federal and state governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject, and to have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other. Truth, no less than decency, requires that the event in every case should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.

Which difference between federal and state governments is the author purposely not addressing in his argument?

Possible Answers:

Their different powers and purposes

The fact that both derive their authority from constituents

Their different constituents

The different ways in which officials are elected

The different sizes of their spheres of jurisdiction

Correct answer:

The different ways in which officials are elected

Explanation:

In the paragraph's second sentence, the author states, "Notwithstanding the different modes in which [the federal and state governments] are appointed, we must consider both of them as substantially dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States." The introductory phrase that begins this sentence with "Notwithstanding" tells us that the author is ignoring the fact that the two different forms of government are appointed in different ways, so "The different ways in which officials are elected" is the correct answer.

Example Question #3 : Understanding Organization And Argument In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from Harvard University Address by Booker T. Washington (1896)

Why you have called me from the Black Belt of the South, from among my humble people, to share in the honors of this occasion, is not for me to explain; and yet it may not be inappropriate for me to suggest that it seems to me that one of the most vital questions that touch our American life, is how to bring the strong, wealthy and learned into helpful touch with the poorest, most ignorant, and humble and at the same time, make the one appreciate the vitalizing, strengthening influence of the other.

How shall we make the mansions on Beacon street feel and see the need of the spirits in the lowliest cabin in the Alabama cotton fields or the Louisiana sugar bottoms? This problem Harvard University is solving, not by bringing itself down, but by bringing the masses up.

If through me, an humble representative, seven millions of my people in the South might be permitted to send a message to Harvard — Harvard that offered up on death's altar, young Shaw, and Russell, and Lowell and scores of others, that we might have a free and united country, that message would be: Tell them that the sacrifice was not in vain. Tell them that by the way of the shop, the field, the skilled hand, habits of thrift and economy, by way of industrial school and college, we are coming.

We are crawling up, working up, yea, bursting up. Often through oppression, unjust discrimination and prejudice, but through them all we are coming up, and with proper habits, intelligence and property, there is no power on earth that can permanently stay our progress.

How does the author believe that Harvard is helping to solve the problem of the differences between rich and poor?

Possible Answers:

By allowing black students to enroll at the college

By undermining the futile efforts of the United States government

By providing financial supplements to gifted, but impoverished, students

By assisting the growth of poor people

By eliminating religious studies from the curriculum

Correct answer:

By assisting the growth of poor people

Explanation:

The author of this passage states that “this problem Harvard University is solving, not by bringing itself down, but by bringing the masses up.” (Lines 7-8) This reveals that the author feels that Harvard University is aiding the growth of poor people by bringing the masses up to level of wealthy. All of the other answer choices focus on describing a more specific manner by which this could be achieved; however none of these are explicitly mentioned by the author. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer.

Example Question #82 : Identifying And Analyzing Important Details In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from "Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft" by George Eliot (1855)

There is a notion commonly entertained among men that an instructed woman, capable of having opinions, is likely to prove an unpractical yoke-fellow, always pulling one way when her husband wants to go the other, oracular in tone, and prone to give lectures. But surely, so far as obstinacy is concerned, your unreasoning animal is the most difficult of your creatures. For our own parts, we see no reason why women should be better kept under control rather than educated to be mans rational equal.  

If you ask me what offices women may fill, I reply—any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will. I do not doubt there are women well fitted for such an office, and, if so, I should be glad to welcome the Maid of Saragossa. I think women need, especially at this juncture, a much greater range of occupation than they have, to rouse their latent powers. In families that I know, some little girls like to saw wood, and others to use carpenters' tools. Where these tastes are indulged, cheerfulness and good-humor are promoted. Where they are forbidden, because "such things are not proper for girls," they grow sullen and mischievous.

Men pay a heavy price for their reluctance to encourage self-help and independent resources in women. The precious meridian years of many a man of genius have to be spent in the toil of routine, that an "establishment" may be kept up for a woman who can understand none of his secret yearnings, who is fit for nothing but to sit in her drawing-room like a doll-Madonna in her shrine. No matter. Anything is more endurable than to change our established formulae about women, or to run the risk of looking up to our wives instead of looking down on them. So men say of women, let them be idols, useless absorbents of previous things, provided we are not obliged to admit them to be strictly fellow-beings, to be treated, one and all, with justice and sober reverence.

Which of these arguments is reinforced by the author’s use of the stylistic device comparing women to a “doll-Madonna”?

Possible Answers:

Women’s natural talents are neglected when men make them into images and idols.

Men have imagined women as powerful goddesses.

Female stubbornness prevents a gendered revolution of our patriarchal society.

Female identity is strengthened and reinforced by gendered stereotypes.

Men and women are brought closer together by the enforcement of gendered identity.

Correct answer:

Women’s natural talents are neglected when men make them into images and idols.

Explanation:

To answer this question, it is first necessary to identify which of the arguments offered as answer choices have been made in the essay. The idea that female identity has been strengthened by gendered stereotypes sounds like an argument opposite of the one made by the author. Similarly, the author believes that men and women are made more distant, not brought together, by the enforcement of gendered stereotypes, which is made apparent in the sentence that begins, “Men pay a heavy price . . .” So, you can rule out those two answer choices. The author makes no mention of female stubbornness as an obstacle to change, so that answer choice must be incorrect. The author makes some mention of the male imaginings of women, but never references an image to do with power or godliness. That leaves only “Women’s natural talents are neglected when men make them into images and idols.” If you read the context surrounding the reference to woman as a “doll-Madonna,” the author expresses how such an affectation is wasteful for men and women. The comparison to a “doll-Madonna” reflects male imaginings of women that the author is trying to convey. Firstly, the doll aspect refers to making women idle and objectifying them. The Madonna aspect refers to making women into a figure of beauty and perfection. The author uses the comparison in the context of an argument meant to disparage male constructions.

Example Question #4 : Understanding Organization And Argument In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from "Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft" by George Eliot (1855)

There is a notion commonly entertained among men that an instructed woman, capable of having opinions, is likely to prove an unpractical yoke-fellow, always pulling one way when her husband wants to go the other, oracular in tone, and prone to give lectures. But surely, so far as obstinacy is concerned, your unreasoning animal is the most difficult of your creatures. For our own parts, we see no reason why women should be better kept under control rather than educated to be mans rational equal.  

If you ask me what offices women may fill, I reply—any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will. I do not doubt there are women well fitted for such an office, and, if so, I should be glad to welcome the Maid of Saragossa. I think women need, especially at this juncture, a much greater range of occupation than they have, to rouse their latent powers. In families that I know, some little girls like to saw wood, and others to use carpenters' tools. Where these tastes are indulged, cheerfulness and good-humor are promoted. Where they are forbidden, because "such things are not proper for girls," they grow sullen and mischievous.

Men pay a heavy price for their reluctance to encourage self-help and independent resources in women. The precious meridian years of many a man of genius have to be spent in the toil of routine, that an "establishment" may be kept up for a woman who can understand none of his secret yearnings, who is fit for nothing but to sit in her drawing-room like a doll-Madonna in her shrine. No matter. Anything is more endurable than to change our established formulae about women, or to run the risk of looking up to our wives instead of looking down on them. So men say of women, let them be idols, useless absorbents of previous things, provided we are not obliged to admit them to be strictly fellow-beings, to be treated, one and all, with justice and sober reverence.

Why does the author believe that men “pay a heavy price” for the gendered imbalance of society?

Possible Answers:

Women cannot contribute to the maintenance of the household or the survival of the family.

Women are so broken by patriarchal oppression as to render relationships meaningless.

Mothers who cannot take care of themselves are not capable of raising independent children.

Men lose out on the friendship and companionship of a female partner.

Men are required to sacrifice their own goals in order to maintain female dependence.

Correct answer:

Men are required to sacrifice their own goals in order to maintain female dependence.

Explanation:

The author states, in the subsequent sentences after the quoted material, that man has to sacrifice his genius and the best years of his life in order to reinforce the dependence of women. The author reinforces this point with evocative language stating that men waste "precious" years in the "toil" of establishing a routine for women. The purpose of this point is to demonstrate to the readership that such an arrangement is detrimental to the well-being of both men and women.

Example Question #5 : Understanding Organization And Argument In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from "Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft" by George Eliot (1855)

There is a notion commonly entertained among men that an instructed woman, capable of having opinions, is likely to prove an unpractical yoke-fellow, always pulling one way when her husband wants to go the other, oracular in tone, and prone to give lectures. But surely, so far as obstinacy is concerned, your unreasoning animal is the most difficult of your creatures. For our own parts, we see no reason why women should be better kept under control rather than educated to be mans rational equal.  

If you ask me what offices women may fill, I reply—any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will. I do not doubt there are women well fitted for such an office, and, if so, I should be glad to welcome the Maid of Saragossa. I think women need, especially at this juncture, a much greater range of occupation than they have, to rouse their latent powers. In families that I know, some little girls like to saw wood, and others to use carpenters' tools. Where these tastes are indulged, cheerfulness and good-humor are promoted. Where they are forbidden, because "such things are not proper for girls," they grow sullen and mischievous.

Men pay a heavy price for their reluctance to encourage self-help and independent resources in women. The precious meridian years of many a man of genius have to be spent in the toil of routine, that an "establishment" may be kept up for a woman who can understand none of his secret yearnings, who is fit for nothing but to sit in her drawing-room like a doll-Madonna in her shrine. No matter. Anything is more endurable than to change our established formulae about women, or to run the risk of looking up to our wives instead of looking down on them. So men say of women, let them be idols, useless absorbents of previous things, provided we are not obliged to admit them to be strictly fellow-beings, to be treated, one and all, with justice and sober reverence.

What does the author of this passage believe will happen to women if they are denied education and the freedom to pursue their passions?

Possible Answers:

They will grow miserable and dissatisfied.

They will rebel and establish new social structures.

They will provide for their own education.

They will make for better wives.

They will turn to religion and abandon faith in man.

Correct answer:

They will grow miserable and dissatisfied.

Explanation:

The author makes it clear throughout the passage that she believes women should be granted education and the freedom to make whatever they choose of themselves. The author would therefore never argue that denying women the right to pursue their passions would make them better wives, nor would she argue that women will provide for their own education. The idea that women might turn to religion is never mentioned, so it can also be dismissed. The answer choice that suggests that women might rebel and establish new social structures might be somewhat correct, but is never explicitly stated by the author. The idea that women will grow miserable and dissatisfied is explicitly stated by the author when the author says “Where they are forbidden [from pursuing their passions], because ‘such things are not proper for girls,’ they grow sullen and mischievous.” This is the correct answer.

Example Question #6 : Understanding Organization And Argument In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Destructive Male (1868) by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease, and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope!

The male element has held high carnival thus far; it has fairly run riot from the beginning, overpowering the feminine element everywhere, crushing out all the diviner qualities in human nature, until we know but little of true manhood and womanhood, of the latter comparatively nothing, for it has scarce been recognized as a power until within the last century. Society is but the reflection of man himself, not tempered by woman's thought; the hard iron rule we feel alike in the church, the state, and the home. No one need wonder at the disorganization, at the fragmentary condition of everything, when we remember that man, who represents but half a complete being, with but half an idea on every subject, has undertaken the absolute control of all sublunary matters.

People object to the demands of those whom they choose to call the strong-minded, because they say "the right of suffrage will make the women masculine." That is just the difficulty in which we are involved today. Though disfranchised, we have few women in the best sense; we have simply so many reflections, varieties, and dilutions of the masculine gender. The strong, natural characteristics of womanhood are repressed and ignored in dependence, for so long as man feeds woman she will try to please the giver and adapt herself to his condition.

Why does the author believe that “we have few women in the best sense?”

Possible Answers:

The church has reduced women to a level of bondage and immorality that makes true womanhood impossible.

Female identity has been dominated and distorted by male understandings.

Women do not know how to make the best of themselves.

Men have protected and coddled women for too long.

All of these answers 

Correct answer:

Female identity has been dominated and distorted by male understandings.

Explanation:

In the second part of the clause that contains the above quote the author states that “we have simply so many reflections, varieties, and dilutions of the masculine gender.” This reveals that the author believes there are few women in the best sense because their identity is so heavily predicated on the identity of men.

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