SAT II Literature : Support and Evidence: Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Support And Evidence: Prose

(1) From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. (2) A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. (3) Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. (4) Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. (5) They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. (6) The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

(1820)

How could the town of Sleepy Hollow best be described?

Possible Answers:

Vivacious

Preternatural

Conscientious

Myopic

Opiated

Correct answer:

Preternatural

Explanation:

Based on the myriad strangenesses described in this passage, we can conclude that Sleepy Hollow is unusual, extraordinary, spooky, and preternatural. Myopic (literally or figuratively nearsighted) and conscientious (careful and diligent) do not fit the description of the town at all. Opiated (drugged) and vivacious (lively) lack textual support as well.

Passage adapted from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)

Example Question #2 : Support And Evidence: Prose

(1) From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. (2) A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. (3) Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. (4) Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. (5) They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. (6) The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

(1820)

According to the passage, why is the town called Sleepy Hollow?

Possible Answers:

Its soporific aura

Its soothing atmosphere

Its indigent townspeople

Its aggressive denizens

Its indolent inhabitants

Correct answer:

Its soporific aura

Explanation:

Sentence 1 tells us “From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants… this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow.” We know, then, that the name is based on the town’s listless, dreamy, or sleepy (but not explicitly soothing) aura. Its inhabitants themselves are not described as lethargic, though, nor are they aggressive or indigent (impoverished), so we can rule out those choices easily.

Passage adapted from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)

Example Question #145 : Interpreting Words And Excerpts

Passage adapted from “Reconstruction” by Frederick Douglass (1866)

Without attempting to settle here the metaphysical and somewhat theological question (about which so much has already been said and written), whether once in the Union means always in the Union—agreeably to the formula, “Once in grace always in grace”—it is obvious to common sense that the rebellious States stand today, in point of law, precisely where they stood when, exhausted, beaten, conquered, they fell powerless at the feet of Federal authority. Their State governments were overthrown, and the lives and property of the leaders of the Rebellion were forfeited. In reconstructing the institutions of these shattered and overthrown States, Congress should begin with a clean slate, and make clean work of it.

Let there be no hesitation. It would be a cowardly deference to a defeated and treacherous President, if any account were made of the illegitimate, one-sided, sham governments hurried into existence for a malign purpose in the absence of Congress. These pretended governments, which were never submitted to the people, and from participation in which four millions of the loyal people were excluded by Presidential order, should now be treated according to their true character, as shams and impositions, and supplanted by true and legitimate governments, in the formation of which loyal men, black and white, shall participate.

It is not, however, within the scope of this paper to point out the precise steps to be taken, and the means to be employed. The people are less concerned about these than the grand end to be attained. They demand such a reconstruction as shall put an end to the present anarchical state of things in the late rebellious States—where frightful murders and wholesale massacres are perpetrated in the very presence of Federal soldiers. This horrible business they require shall cease. They want a reconstruction such as will protect loyal men, black and white, in their persons and property; such a one as will cause Northern industry, Northern capital, and Northern civilization to flow into the South, and make a man from New England as much at home in Carolina as elsewhere in the Republic. No Chinese wall can now be tolerated. The South must be opened to the light of law and liberty, and this session of Congress is relied upon to accomplish this important work.

What is meant by the underlined expression, "Congress should begin with a clean slate"?

Possible Answers:

The reconstruction should significantly reconstitute the social order in the formerly rebellious states

War criminals should be prosecuted in detail during the reconstruction process

The reconstruction should kill all of the former leaders, ensuring a clean beginning to the new government

The reconstruction should destroy everything in the rebellious states so as to have completely clean ground on which to build a new civilization

The reconstruction should include much social welfare so as to make reparations for past injustices

Correct answer:

The reconstruction should significantly reconstitute the social order in the formerly rebellious states

Explanation:

Particularly based on the second paragraph, you can tell Douglass thinks that the reconstruction should not keep the former rebellious governments in tact. The idea is that the reconstruction should create a fresh and new start for those states. This is the idea of a "clean slate." It is like a fresh and erased chalkboard—with nothing of the old order "written" on it.

Example Question #3 : Support And Evidence: Prose

Adapted from Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (1818)

Shutting the door, [the monster] approached me and said in a smothered voice, "You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery; I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands and over the summits of its hills. I have dwelt many months in the heaths of England and among the deserts of Scotland. I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes?"

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness."

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"

"The hour of my irresolution is past, and the period of your power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness, but they confirm me in a determination of not creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon whose delight is in death and wretchedness? Begone! I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage."

The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains—revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable."

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night."

I started forward and exclaimed, "Villain! Before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe."

I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quit the house with precipitation. In a few moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness and was soon lost amidst the waves.

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears. I burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I not followed him and closed with him in mortal strife? But I had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland. I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And then I thought again of his words—"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT." That, then, was the period fixed for the fulfillment of my destiny. In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle.

Why does the monster state the facts found in the underlined selection?

Possible Answers:

In order to list the many adventures they had together

In order to emphasize his servility to Dr. Frankenstein

In order to buttress the claim for the justice of his desires

In order to make quite clear that he has good reason for being exhausted

In order to preach about the inequality of circumstances afforded to monsters in his society

Correct answer:

In order to buttress the claim for the justice of his desires

Explanation:

Out of the whole underlined passage, the clearest clue for this question is found in the monster's remarks, "I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes?" He has done much with Dr. Frankenstein, and feels that he should have a bride created for him. (This can be inferred from elsewhere in this passage.) He lists all of the many things that they have done in order to make a claim for the justice of what he desires. Since he has endured all of these things, it is implied to be an injustice to "destroy [his] hopes".

Example Question #4 : Support And Evidence: Prose

(1) The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. (2) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. (3) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. (4) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. (5) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. (6) The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders—nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was—all helped the emphasis.

Why does the author emphasize squareness in this passage?

Possible Answers:

To stress the architecture of the speaker’s setting

None of these

To simplify the readers’ impression of the speaker

To characterize the speaker as a joyless character

To create a geometric allegory

Correct answer:

To characterize the speaker as a joyless character

Explanation:

The repetition of squareness ensures that the reader will not find the character a soft or comforting figure. We also see “square” mentioned in close proximity to other negative traits: “obstinate,” “unaccommodating,” “stubborn,” etc. Therefore, we can deduce that the squareness serves to further describe the character’s joylessness.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’s Hard Times (1854)

Example Question #5 : Support And Evidence: Prose

1 The Maypole… was an old building, with more gable ends than a lazy man would care to count on a sunny day; huge zig-zag chimneys, out of which it seemed as though even smoke could not choose but come in more than naturally fantastic shapes, imparted to it in its tortuous progress; and vast stables, gloomy, ruinous, and empty…. 2 With its overhanging stories, drowsy little panes of glass, and front bulging out and projecting over the pathway, the old house looked as if it were nodding in its sleep. 3 Indeed, it needed no very great stretch of fancy to detect in it other resemblances to humanity. 4 The bricks of which it was built had originally been a deep dark red, but had grown yellow and discoloured like an old man's skin; the sturdy timbers had decayed like teeth; and here and there the ivy, like a warm garment to comfort it in its age, wrapt its green leaves closely round the time-worn walls.

Why does the author liken the house to a person?

Possible Answers:

To make the house’s inhabitants more sympathetic to readers

To segue into discussing his antagonist

To startle his readers with dramatic language

To describe it in an interesting way

To segue into discussing his protagonist

Correct answer:

To describe it in an interesting way

Explanation:

Without reading more of the novel that this passage is excerpted from, the only choice that makes sense is “to describe it in an interesting way.” We don’t see the protagonist, antagonist, or house’s inhabitants appear anywhere in the passage, and describing the house in human terms is hardly the easiest way to transition into a discussion about real characters. The language here, while compelling, is not exactly “dramatic,” either.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge (1841)

Example Question #6 : Support And Evidence: Prose

There are days which occur in this climate, at almost any season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature would indulge her offspring; when, in these bleak upper sides of the planet, nothing is to desire that we have heard of the happiest latitudes, and we bask in the shining hours of Florida and Cuba; when everything that has life gives sign of satisfaction, and the cattle that lie on the ground seem to have great and tranquil thoughts. 2. These halcyons may be looked for with a little more assurance in that pure October weather, which we distinguish by the name of the Indian Summer.  3. The day, immeasurably long, sleeps over the broad hills and warm wide fields. 4. To have lived through all its sunny hours, seems longevity enough. 5. The solitary places do not seem quite lonely. 6. At the gates of the forest, the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. 7. The knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he makes into these precincts. 8. Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes. 9. Here we find nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a god all men that come to her. 10. We have crept out of our close and crowded houses into the night and morning, and we see what majestic beauties daily wrap us in their bosom. 11. How willingly we would escape the barriers which render them comparatively impotent, escape the sophistication and second thought, and suffer nature to intrance us. 12. The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. 13. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. 14. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. 15. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. 16. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. 17. How easily we might walk onward into the opening landscape, absorbed by new pictures, and by thoughts fast succeeding each other, until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present, and we were led in triumph by nature.

Judging by the evidence in this passage, the author believes:


I. Beauty, nature, and God are interconnected.
II. Nature is the foundation of all human institutions.
III. Nature both enhances and erases human experience.

Possible Answers:

II and III only

I only

I, II, and III

I and II only

I and III only

Correct answer:

I and III only

Explanation:

The author perceives connections among beauty, nature, and God. ("Here we find nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a god all men that come to her." " . . . we see what majestic beauties daily wrap us in their bosom.")

He also says that nature both enhances and erases human experience. Nature puts us in touch with the holy and the authentic. ("There are days . . . wherein the world reaches its perfection . . . as if nature would indulge her offspring . . .") Yet to return to nature is to give up a part of ourselves and our civilized identity -- "the knapsack of custom." ("How easily we might walk onward into the opening landscape . . until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present, and we were led in triumph by nature.")

The author does not say that nature is the foundation of all human institutions. He contrasts nature with human culture, stating that nature is superior.

Passage adapted from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Essay VI, Nature" (1836)

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

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