GED Language Arts (RLA) : Passage Meaning and Inference

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #26 : Language In The Passage

1 About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. 2 All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. 3 She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. 4 But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. 5 Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. 6 Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. 7 But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. 8 She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.

In Sentence 6, what does “began their career of conjugal felicity” mean?

Possible Answers:

Pooled their financial resources

Began to have children

Began their married life

Engaged in trickery and adultery

Worked their way up the social ladder

Correct answer:

Began their married life

Explanation:

Here, it helps to know that “felicity” means happiness and “conjugal” means matrimonial or nuptial. However, you could also make an inference based on the fact that the rest of the passage concerns marriage. All of the other choices here are too specific and lack context.

Passage adapted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814)

Example Question #27 : Language In The Passage

1About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. 2 All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. 3 She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. 4 But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. 5 Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. 6 Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. 7 But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. 8 She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.

In Sentence 7, what does “disoblige” mean?

Possible Answers:

Betray

Please

Obligate

Agree with

Offend

Correct answer:

Offend

Explanation:

Again, context clues are crucial to answering this question. We see in Sentence 7 that the kind of man Miss Frances chooses to marry is a “a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions.” This husband is in stark contrast with the high-class man she was expected to marry, and so we can see that her choice snubs or offends her family.

Passage adapted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814)

Example Question #28 : Language In The Passage

1About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. 2 All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. 3 She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. 4 But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. 5 Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. 6 Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. 7 But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. 8 She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.

In Sentence 8, what does “untoward” mean?

Possible Answers:

Final

Inappropriate

Apropos

Wary

Genteel

Correct answer:

Inappropriate

Explanation:

Sentence 8 follows on the heels of Miss Frances’ poor choice of husband, and it discusses that same choice. “Untoward” means unexpected and inappropriate, which is the best fit for the sentence. (“Apropos” is a near antonym.)

Passage adapted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814)

Example Question #31 : Word Meanings

1About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. 2 All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. 3 She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. 4 But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. 5 Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. 6 Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. 7 But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. 8 She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.

In Sentence 2, what does “equitable” mean?

Possible Answers:

Persuasive

Emotional

Fair

Wrongful

Disinterested

Correct answer:

Fair

Explanation:

“Equitable” means fair, which is an antonym for “wrongful.” We can arrive at this meaning by realizing that the passage is describing Maria’s claim to her husband as not “equitable” since she’s lacking the proper money.

Passage adapted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814)

Example Question #31 : Language In The Passage

1About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. 2 All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. 3 She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. 4 But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. 5 Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. 6 Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. 7 But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. 8 She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.

In Sentence 5, what does the word “obliged” imply?

Possible Answers:

Miss Ward’s parents are demanding that she marry the reverend

Miss Ward is delighted to go against social expectations for her marriage

Miss Ward is not eager about marrying the reverend

Miss Ward has come to love the reverend in spite of his low class

Miss Ward’s friends will shun her if she does not marry the reverend

Correct answer:

Miss Ward is not eager about marrying the reverend

Explanation:

To understand the meaning of this word, we have to read the entire sentence. Earlier in the passage, we’ve seen that the two sisters were predicted to marry well; now, we learn that “Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse.” Based on their high expectations and dismal outcomes, we can see that “obliged” conveys a sense of resignation (although not actual coercion).

Passage adapted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814)

Example Question #1 : Effect Of Literary Devices

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 is the purpose of the underlined phrase, "As Caesar loved me"?

Possible Answers:

To underscore the joy of having known Caesar

To attempt to convince the crowd of Brutus' affection for Caesar by using an appeal to emotion

To justify Brutus' murder of Caesar by noting that he loved him even more than Caesar loved him

To highlight the affectionate nature of Caesar

To show the crowd the great sadness that he is experiencing at Caesar's death

Correct answer:

To attempt to convince the crowd of Brutus' affection for Caesar by using an appeal to emotion

Explanation:

Notice the parallelism in the passage in question:

"(1) As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; (2) as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; (3) as he was valiant, I honor him; but (4) as he was ambitious, I slew him."

In 1–3, Brutus is trying to convince the crowd that he had affection for Caesar and even greatly honored him. He is appealing to their emotions in order to make them believe that he truly only meant to kill Caesar because of Caesar's ambition. It is as though he wants the crowd to say, "Well, he killed Caesar, but look at how he loved and respected him in so many ways. He must have been right and rational about this."

Example Question #32 : Language In The Passage

From “The Dead” in Dubliners by James Joyce (1915)

She was fast asleep.

Gabriel, leaning on his elbow, looked for a few moments unresentfully on her tangled hair and half-open mouth, listening to her deep-drawn breath. So she had had that romance in her life: a man had died for her sake. It hardly pained him now to think how poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life. He watched her while she slept as though he and she had never lived together as man and wife. His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on her hair: and, as he thought of what she must have been then, in that time of her first girlish beauty, a strange friendly pity for her entered his soul. He did no like to say even to himself that her face was no longer beautiful but he knew that it was no longer the face for which Michael Furey had braved death.

Perhaps she had not told him all the story. His eyes moved to the chair over which she had thrown some of her clothes. A petticoat string dangled to the floor. One boot stood upright, its limp upper fallen: the fellow of it lay upon its side. He wondered at his riot of emotions of an hour before. From what had it proceeded? From his aunt’s supper, from his own foolish speech, from the wine and dancing, the merry-making when saying good-night in the hall, the pleasure of the walk along the river in the snow. Poor Aunt Julia! She, too, would soon be a shade with the shade of Patrick Morkan and his horse. He had caught that haggard look upon her face for a moment when she was singing Arrayed for the Bridal. Soon, perhaps, he would be sitting in that same drawing-room, dressed in black, his silk hat on his knees. The blinds would be drawn down and Aunt Kate would be sitting beside him, crying and blowing her nose and telling him how Julia had died. He would cast about in his mind for some words that might console her, and would find only lame and useless ones. Yes, yes: that would happen very soon.

The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.

Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

The juxtaposition of Michael Furey's death and Gabriel's imagined scenario of Aunt Julia's death shows __________.

Possible Answers:

the futility of life

the contrast between Gabriel's vengeful pleasure at the death of Michael Furey versus his genuine sadness at the death of his aunt

all life ends in death, regardless of how or when it arrives

the contrast between the foolish death of an over-eager youth versus the natural death of an old woman

the contrast between the death of the young and passionate versus the death of the old and withered

Correct answer:

the contrast between the death of the young and passionate versus the death of the old and withered

Explanation:

The first paragraph implies that Michael Furey died young and in the name of love, while Aunt Julia is old and Gabriel predicts that her death will come soon because "he had caught that haggard look upon her face."

Example Question #1 : Effect Of Literary Devices

1 About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. 2 All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. 3 She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. 4 But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. 5 Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. 6 Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. 7 But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. 8 She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.

What effect does the author’s use of roundabout language achieve in the passage?

Possible Answers:

It allows the author to speak about serious social issues without causing offense

It demands that the reader be more critical of the characters

It intentionally confuses the reader

It allows the author to be frivolous and thereby endear herself to the reader

It offers the reader an opportunity to compare historical and contemporary legal language

Correct answer:

It allows the author to speak about serious social issues without causing offense

Explanation:

In addition to introducing characters, this passage establishes that 19th-century English marriage was often a financial system that disadvantaged women. If the author had stated this idea outright, she might have risked offending her audience. Therefore, she couched her opinions in more roundabout, circumlocutory language.

Passage adapted from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814)

Example Question #1 : Passage Organization

Adapted from "May Day" in Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922)

At nine o'clock on the morning of the first of May, 1919, a young man spoke to the room clerk at the Biltmore Hotel, asking if Mr. Philip Dean were registered there, and if so, could he be connected with Mr. Dean's rooms. The inquirer was dressed in a well-cut, shabby suit. He was small, slender, and darkly handsome; his eyes were framed above with unusually long eyelashes and below with the blue semicircle of ill health, this latter effect heightened by an unnatural glow which colored his face like a low, incessant fever.

Mr. Dean was staying there. The young man was directed to a telephone at the side.

After a second his connection was made; a sleepy voice hello'd from somewhere above.

"Mr. Dean?"—this very eagerly—"it's Gordon, Phil. It's Gordon Sterrett. I'm down-stairs. I heard you were in New York and I had a hunch you'd be here."

The sleepy voice became gradually enthusiastic. Well, how was Gordy, old boy! Well, he certainly was surprised and tickled! Would Gordy come right up, for Pete's sake!

A few minutes later Philip Dean, dressed in blue silk pajamas, opened his door and the two young men greeted each other with a half-embarrassed exuberance. They were both about twenty-four, Yale graduates of the year before the war; but there the resemblance stopped abruptly. Dean was blond, ruddy, and rugged under his thin pajamas. Everything about him radiated fitness and bodily comfort. He smiled frequently, showing large and prominent teeth.

"I was going to look you up," he cried enthusiastically. "I'm taking a couple of weeks off. If you'll sit down a sec I'll be right with you. Going to take a shower."

As he vanished into the bathroom his visitor's dark eyes roved nervously around the room, resting for a moment on a great English travelling bag in the corner and on a family of thick silk shirts littered on the chairs amid impressive neckties and soft woollen socks.

Gordon rose and, picking up one of the shirts, gave it a minute examination. It was of very heavy silk, yellow, with a pale blue stripe—and there were nearly a dozen of them. He stared involuntarily at his own shirt-cuffs—they were ragged and linty at the edges and soiled to a faint gray. Dropping the silk shirt, he held his coat-sleeves down and worked the frayed shirt-cuffs up till they were out of sight. Then he went to the mirror and looked at himself with listless, unhappy interest. His tie, of former glory, was faded and thumb-creased—it served no longer to hide the jagged buttonholes of his collar. He thought, quite without amusement, that only three years before he had received a scattering vote in the senior elections at college for being the best-dressed man in his class.

The information about the two men meeting serves to __________.

Possible Answers:

juxtapose them

help the reader understand that they played for rival sports teams

emphasize their similarities

help the reader realize that one of them is a fraud and not who he claims to be

help the reader understand that they have never met

Correct answer:

juxtapose them

Explanation:

The central paragraph begins a comparison that continues throughout the rest of the passage, which primarily shows the differences between the two men, who from the information given should probably be similar. Their meeting in the doorway juxtaposes or contrasts them.

Example Question #31 : Language In The Passage

Adapted from As You Like It by William Shakespeare (1623)

 

[This is a monologue by the character Jacques]

 

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;

Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion;

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.

What is the purpose of the two underlined lines?

Possible Answers:

To transition by showing that even each person has plays many roles in life, as though he were many actors

To underscore the fact that human life is futile, passing from one stage to the next with little to no connection

To show that even individuals are playwrights of their own lives

To transition from the introduction into the main body of the argument

To recapitulate the theme of stage acting as the single paradigm for the moral life

Correct answer:

To transition by showing that even each person has plays many roles in life, as though he were many actors

Explanation:

The first sentence—"They have their exits and their entrances;"—closes out the initial metaphor about all the world being made up of "players" (actors) on the stage of life. The general acting metaphor will not be abandoned, however. The author now transitions to the main image of the passage—though this is not the same as transitioning into a main argument. Indeed, the author is not even making an argument so much as drawing out images of how a single life has many roles within it. This is the point of this transition—one that links us with the first metaphor, though now focusing on the many roles that are found within even a single, given life.

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