GED Language Arts (RLA) : Inferences About Plot and Setting

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Language Arts (RLA)

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Inferences

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, III.ii.13-33 (1599)

[This is a speech by Brutus to a crowd at Caesar’s funeral.]  


Romans, countrymen, and lovers! Hear me for my

cause, and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me

for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that

you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and

awake your senses, that you may the better judge.

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of

Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar

was no less than his. If then that friend demand

why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved

Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and

die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead to live

all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;

as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was

valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious, I

slew him. There is tears for his love, joy for his

fortune, honor for his valor, and death for his

ambition. Who is here so base that would be a

bondman? If any, speak, for him have I offended.

Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If

any, speak, for him have I offended. Who is here so

vile that will not love his country? If any, speak,

for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

What can be inferred from the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

Even though Caesar was killed, the Romans remain enslaved.

Had Caesar not been killed, he would likely have enslaved the Romans.

Rome is nothing more than an oppressor, having always kept people in prison for political crimes.

The crowd has now been freed for the first time in all of Roman history.

The crowd is made up of free men and slaves together.

Correct answer:

Had Caesar not been killed, he would likely have enslaved the Romans.


The sentence is written in English that is a bit more formal than we are used to using, so let's paraphrase it a bit, filling in some blanks in the meaning as well:

"Would you rather it be the case that Caesar would still be alive and all of us die as slaves because of him, or would you not prefer how things are now—that Caesar is dead and that we can be free men since he cannot now menace us and enslave us?"

You see, while trying to justify his actions, Brutus is trying to imply that Caesar would have enslaved the free Romans and that his [Brutus'] actions are defensible in that he was acting on behalf of Rome and her people—who are naturally free at heart and in deeds.

Example Question #21 : Ged Language Arts (Rla)

Adapted from “Solitary Death, make me thine own” in Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses by Michael Field (pseudonym of Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper) (1893)


Solitary Death, make me thine own,

And let us wander the bare fields together;

          Yea, thou and I alone

Roving in unembittered unison forever.


I will not harry thy treasure-graves,

I do not ask thy still hands a lover;

            My heart within me craves

To travel till we twain Time’s wilderness discover.


To sojourn with thee my soul was bred,

And I, the courtly sights of life refusing,

            To the wide shadows fled,

And mused upon thee often as I fell a-musing.


Escaped from chaos, thy mother Night,

In her maiden breast a burthen that awed her,

           By cavern waters white

Drew thee her first-born, her unfathered off-spring toward her.


On dewey plats, near twilight dingle,

She oft, to still thee from men’s sobs and curses

           In thine ears a-tingle,

Pours her cool charms, her weird, reviving chaunt rehearses.


Though mortals menace thee or elude,

And from thy confines break in swift transgression.

            Thou for thyself art sued

Of me, I claim thy cloudy purlieus my possession.


To a long freshwater, where the sea

Stirs the silver flux of the reeds and willows,

            Come thou, and beckon me

To lie in the lull of the sand-sequestered billows:


Then take the life I have called my own

And to the liquid universe deliver;

            Loosening my spirit’s zone,

Wrap round me as thy limbs the wind, the light, the river.

"Night” is characterized in relation to “Death” as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

A maternal, matriarchal figure with a close, reassuring relationship to Death

A paternal, patriarchal figure with a close, reassuring relationship to Death

An innocent maiden who helps Death, unaware of Death’s actions against mortal beings

A maternal, matriarchal figure with a stifling amount of control over Death’s actions

A marginalized, obsolete being

Correct answer:

A maternal, matriarchal figure with a close, reassuring relationship to Death


“Night” is personified and explicitly figured as Death’s “mother.” She is figured as having given birth to death “unfathered,” and as maintaining a close, supportive maternal relationship with Death (“she oft, to still thee from men’s sobs and curses . . . pours her cool charms”).

Her relationship to Death is presented as helpful as opposed to stifling or controlling. She is spoken of as protective and relevant to Death, not obsolete. And while she is referred to as a “maiden” Night is also specifically figured as aware of the consequences of Death’s actions (“men’s sobs and curses”).

Example Question #1 : Inferences

Adapted from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)

One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it—it was the black kitten's fault entirely. For the white kitten had been having its face washed by the old cat for the last quarter of an hour (and bearing it pretty well, considering); so you see that it COULDN'T have had any hand in the mischief.

The way Dinah washed her children's faces was this: first she held the poor thing down by its ear with one paw, and then with the other paw she rubbed its face all over, the wrong way, beginning at the nose: and just now, as I said, she was hard at work on the white kitten, which was lying quite still and trying to purr—no doubt feeling that it was all meant for its good.

But the black kitten had been finished with earlier in the afternoon, and so, while Alice was sitting curled up in a corner of the great arm-chair, half talking to herself and half asleep, the kitten had been having a grand game of romps with the ball of worsted Alice had been trying to wind up, and had been rolling it up and down till it had all come undone again; and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles, with the kitten running after its own tail in the middle.

'Oh, you wicked little thing!' cried Alice, catching up the kitten, and giving it a little kiss to make it understand that it was in disgrace. 'Really, Dinah ought to have taught you better manners! You OUGHT, Dinah, you know you ought!' she added, looking reproachfully at the old cat, and speaking in as cross a voice as she could manage—and then she scrambled back into the arm-chair, taking the kitten and the worsted with her, and began winding up the ball again. But she didn't get on very fast, as she was talking all the time, sometimes to the kitten, and sometimes to herself. Kitty sat very demurely on her knee, pretending to watch the progress of the winding, and now and then putting out one paw and gently touching the ball, as if it would be glad to help, if it might.

Where in Alice’s house can we infer this passage takes place?

Possible Answers:

The dining-room

The kitchen

The garden

The cellar

The living room

Correct answer:

The living room


Considering the furniture mentioned in this passage can help you figure out the correct answer. Alice falls asleep in “a corner of the great arm-chair,” and later, the unwound ball of worsted is described in the clause “and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles.” So, we need to pick out a room in which one is likely to find an armchair and a hearth-rug. (A “hearth” is another word for a fireplace, so a hearth-rug is a rug one puts in front of the fireplace.) Given this evidence, only one answer choice makes sense: the living room.

Example Question #1 : Inferences About Plot And Setting


As he [Dorian Gray] thought of Hetty Merton, he began to wonder if the portrait in the locked room had changed. Surely it was not still so horrible as it had been? Perhaps if his life became pure, he would be able to expel every sign of evil passion from the face. Perhaps the signs of evil had already gone away. He would go and look.


 . . .


He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom, and dragged the purple hanging from the portrait. A cry of pain and indignation broke from him. He could see no change, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome—more loathsome, if possible, than before—and the scarlet dew that spotted the hand seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilled. Then he trembled. Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or the desire for a new sensation, as Lord Henry had hinted, with his mocking laugh? Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these? And why was the red stain larger than it had been? It seemed to have crept like a horrible disease over the wrinkled fingers. There was blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped—blood even on the hand that had not held the knife. Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess? To give himself up and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was monstrous. Besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him? There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything belonging to him had been destroyed. He himself had burned what had been below-stairs. The world would simply say that he was mad. They would shut him up if he persisted in his story.... Yet it was his duty to confess, to suffer public shame, and to make public atonement. There was a God who called upon men to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. Nothing that he could do would cleanse him till he had told his own sin. His sin? He shrugged his shoulders. The death of Basil Hallward seemed very little to him. He was thinking of Hetty Merton. For it was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at. Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his renunciation than that? There had been something more. At least he thought so. But who could tell? ... No. There had been nothing more. Through vanity he had spared her. In hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness. For curiosity's sake he had tried the denial of self. He recognized that now.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

Which of the following is the most likely meaning of “mirror of his soul”?

Possible Answers:

Hetty Merton

The killing of Basil Hallworth

The human eyes

The painting of Dorian Gray

Correct answer:

The painting of Dorian Gray


"The painting of Dorian Gray" is the correct answer. This is a moderately difficult question. Although people often refer to the human eyes as “the window” to the soul, that answer is incorrect here. The use of context clues should have led you to the answer that the painting was clearly the “mirror of his soul.” Moreover, the entire passage leads to this result: the painting looks even worse than it did before, thus expressing the further deterioration of Dorian’s soul.

Example Question #1 : Inferences

The youth kept from intercourse with his companions as much as circumstances would allow him. In the evening he wandered a few paces into the gloom. From this little distance the many fires, with the black forms of men passing to and fro before the crimson rays, made weird and satanic effects.

He lay down in the grass. The blades pressed tenderly against his cheek. The moon had been lighted and was hung in a treetop. The liquid stillness of the night enveloping him made him feel vast pity for himself. There was a caress in the soft winds; and the whole mood of the darkness, he thought, was one of sympathy for himself in his distress.

He wished, without reserve, that he was at home again making the endless rounds from the house to the barn, from the barn to the fields, from the fields to the barn, from the barn to the house. He remembered he had often cursed the brindle cow and her mates, and had sometimes flung milking stools. But, from his present point of view, there was a halo of happiness about each of their heads, and he would have sacrificed all the brass buttons7 on the continent to have been enabled to return to them. He told himself that he was not formed for a soldier. And he mused seriously upon the radical differences between himself and those men who were dodging implike around the fires.


What can you conclude about the youth and his companions?

Possible Answers:

They are engaged in some type of competition with each other

They have no knowledge of each other

They are soldiers camped in a field

They are students on a class field trip

Correct answer:

They are soldiers camped in a field


There are three pieces of evidence in the passage to suggest that the youth and his companions are soldiers. The youth desperately wants to return home. The men are gathered around campfires. The reference to "brass buttons" alludes to the buttons on a soldier's dress uniform.

Passage adapted from The Red Badge of Courage by Steven Crane (1895)

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors