SSAT Middle Level Reading : Determining Authorial Attitude in Narrative Social Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SSAT Middle Level Reading

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #24 : Authorial Purpose

"The Holy Roman Empire" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

The Holy Roman Empire was somewhat unique among the various organized states of Middle and Early Modern Europe in that the Emperor was chosen by a group of electors. This is in stark contrast to the strict hereditary nature of English or French succession - where the position of monarch was handed down from the outgoing ruler to his closest legitimate heir, usually a son. In the Holy Roman Empire the Emperor was chosen by seven electors which in theory might seem to give the Empire a sort of early democratic flavor. However, in practice, only two or three families were ever able to draw on sufficient personal wealth to stand for election. Of these the Luxembourgs and the Hapsburgs are most well known. The Hapsburgs were so successful that they were able to maintain their “elected” position for almost four centuries. And, the Luxembourgs somehow still have a small country named after their family almost seven hundred years after their fall from dominance.

What can you infer about the author’s use of quotations around the word “elected”?

Possible Answers:

That he is deriding the influence of the Hapsburgs on European history

That he does not really believe the position of Holy Roman Emperor was truly an elected position

That he wishes to emphasize the personal wealth needed to stand for the position of Holy Roman Emperor

That he is mocking the Luxembourg family for their spectacular fall from grace

That he wants to highlight the democratic nature of the Holy Roman Empire

Correct answer:

That he does not really believe the position of Holy Roman Emperor was truly an elected position

Explanation:

When authors use quotation marks in text without actually describing something that someone has directly said, it is usually done to suggest that what the author is mocking or expressing his disbelief in something. So, when the author says, “The Hapsburgs were so successful that they were able to maintain their 'elected' position for almost four centuries," he really means that the position was clearly not an elected position.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

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