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 #121 : Passage Meaning And Inference

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.

How does the underlined "toward childish treble" help to develop the author's closing point?

Possible Answers:

It strengthens the paradox of the situation in life found in the arrogance of the "justice."

It prepares the reader for the final assertion, in which the author will state that at the end of life man returns to childhood, often being as powerless as a newborn.

It distracts the reader's attention from the discussion of the "justice," which was a bit long and could overawe the reader.

It plays no explicit role and is merely descriptive.

It shocks the reader with an untrue assertion, for many men do not end up having high voices in late life.

Correct answer:

It prepares the reader for the final assertion, in which the author will state that at the end of life man returns to childhood, often being as powerless as a newborn.

Explanation:

The passage ends by talking about how life ends in a "second childishness." This is a statement about what senility is like and how the physical and mental states of late life are quite like childhood. It is only in the "sixth act" that we start to see how this is going to end. After the "fifth act" of the "justice," life begins to shrink and become less vibrant. Man becomes more like a child. This theme reaches its climax at the end of the passage, in the description of the "second childishness and mere oblivion" of the end of life.

Example Question #31 : Language In The Passage

Adapted from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, III.ii.82-117 (1599)

 

[This is a speech by Mark Antony]

 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them,

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-

For Brutus is an honorable man;

So are they all, all honorable men-

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me;

But Brutus says he was ambitious,

And Brutus is an honorable man.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,

Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.

Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And Brutus is an honorable man.

You all did see that on the Lupercal [a public festival]

I thrice presented him a kingly crown,

Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,

And sure he is an honorable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love him once, not without cause;

What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,

And I must pause till it come back to me.

What is an adequate translation for the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

Why are you mourning for him?

Why have you withheld yourself from the causes because of mourning?

Will you not mourn for the cause of his death?

What keeps you from mourning for him?

What has caused you to mourn for him?

Correct answer:

What keeps you from mourning for him?

Explanation:

The main verb in this question is "withholds," and its subject is "cause." The interrogative "what" is an adjective that is attached to "cause," so we could say, "What is the cause that is withholding you . . ." Now, the general sense is that some cause is withholding the people from mourning for Caesar. The "to mourn" really means "from mourning" when you begin to change the sentence. Once you write "What is the cause that is withholding you, then, from mourning . . .," you can see that this is the general sense, at least.

Example Question #32 : Language In The Passage

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 an adequate translation of the underlined selection, "Had you rather"?

Possible Answers:

Was it not the case . . .

Had it actually been the case . . .

Would you it rather be the case . . .

Had you thought . . .

Was it not rather the case . . .

Correct answer:

Would you it rather be the case . . .

Explanation:

Note, first, the whole question, "Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead to live all free men?" Now, in the overall context of the speech, Brutus is trying to convince the people listening to him that it had been just for him to kill Caesar. In fact, he holds that it was out of love for Rome that he did so, for the Romans are a free people but were threatened by Caesar—so he implies, at least. The introduction to the question, "Had you rather," is somewhat different from our current use of English. The sense is, "Would you rather it be the case?" He is asking the people if they would have preferred to be slaves living under Caesar instead of being free with Caesar dead.

Example Question #121 : Conclusions About The Passage

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 clause "that you may hear?"

Possible Answers:

To give a reason for the funeral oration's necessity

To relate the main clause to a subordinate topic to be covered later

To tell the crowd that silence is necessary during funeral orations

To give the reason why the crowd should be silent

To tell the crowd what they will do in the silence

Correct answer:

To give the reason why the crowd should be silent

Explanation:

The main clause of this sentence is the compound sentence, "Hear me for my cause, and be silent." The verbs "hear" and "be" are both in the imperative mood. They are telling the crowd to do something. The subordinate clause beginning with "that" provides a reason for them to listen to the commands. You might write the sentence in this manner: "Hear me for my cause, and be silent, in order that you may hear." Thus, Brutus provides a reason for which the people should listen to him and, more particularly, why they should be silent.

Example Question #1 : Point Of View

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 point of view from which the passage is told can best be described as that of __________.

Possible Answers:

Mr. Philip Dean

the third person

the second person

the clerk.

Mr. Gordon Sterrett

Correct answer:

the third person

Explanation:

The narrative is in the third person and is a somewhat detached observer. We can tell it is not from the perspective of any of the characters as it does not use the first person pronoun “I.”

Example Question #2 : Point Of View

Passage adapted from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

Gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower hunts employed the fine days, and for rainy ones, they had house diversions, some old, some new, all more or less original. One of these was the `P.C', for as secret societies were the fashion, it was thought proper to have one, and as all of the girls admired Dickens, they called themselves the Pickwick Club. With a few interruptions, they had kept this up for a year, and met every Saturday evening in the big garret, on which occasions the ceremonies were as follows: Three chairs were arranged in a row before a table on which was a lamp, also four white badges, with a big `P.C.' in different colors on each, and the weekly newspaper called, The Pickwick Portfolio, to which all contributed something, while Jo, who reveled in pens and ink, was the editor. At seven o'clock, the four members ascended to the clubroom, tied their badges round their heads, and took their seats with great solemnity. Meg, as the eldest, was Samuel Pickwick, Jo, being of a literary turn, Augustus Snodgrass, Beth, because she was round and rosy, Tracy Tupman, and Amy, who was always trying to do what she couldn't, was Nathaniel Winkle. Pickwick, the president, read the paper, which was filled with original tales, poetry, local news, funny advertisements, and hints, in which they good-naturedly reminded each other of their faults and short comings. On one occasion, Mr. Pickwick put on a pair of spectacles without any glass, rapped upon the table, hemmed, and having stared hard at Mr. Snodgrass, who was tilting back in his chair, till he arranged himself properly, began to read:

What is the point of view of this passage

Possible Answers:

3rd person objective

3rd person omniscient

2nd person

3rd person limited omniscient 

1st person

Correct answer:

3rd person objective

Explanation:

It is 3rd person because the narrator does not participate in the action of the passage and describes the characters in the third person, using names and pronouns. Omniscient narration is when the narrator can see into the minds of all the characters and limited omniscient is when the narrator can see into the mind of only one character. 

Example Question #121 : Ged Language Arts (Rla)

Read the passage and answer the question below.

Dear Congressman Phillips,

I urge you to reconsider your closure of the shipyard. I'm a medical practitioner in the area, so I meet many of the men and women employed by the facility. Many of these people are living paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford regular medical care; any gap in their employment could be devastating. If you must see it economically, consider the tremendous cost to the taxpayers when these people must rely on public programs for assistance. I ask you to please keep this shipyard open.

Very truly yours, . . .

 

How might the author be biased, based on this passage?

Possible Answers:

He wants the shipyard employees to get public assistance. 

He thinks the shipyard employees should join the medical profession.

He may receive some benefits if the shipyard employees, his clients, stay employed.

He doesn't want to lose his job at the shipyard.

Correct answer:

He may receive some benefits if the shipyard employees, his clients, stay employed.

Explanation:

Bias means that the author has a preference towards one person or thing, or another. In this case, the author is a medical practitioner near the shipyard who doesn't want to see these employees lose their jobs.

Example Question #1 : Authorial Attitude, Tone, And Purpose In Literary Fiction Passages

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.

The tone used in this passage is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

ornery

poetic

conversational

pessimistic

scientific

Correct answer:

conversational

Explanation:

This passage’s tone is best described as “conversational.” This can be seen in the first paragraph’s use of “you” and capital letters for emphasis in the sentence “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.” It can also be seen in the second paragraph’s use of “as I said” in the clause “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.” Nothing in the passage supports the conclusion that its tone is scientific, ornery, poetic, or pessimistic.

Example Question #1 : Tone, Opinion, And Purpose

 
Adapted from "On the Sonnet" by John Keats (1848)
 
If by dull rhymes our English must be chain'd,
   And, like Andromeda, the Sonnet sweet
Fetter'd, in spite of pained loveliness;
Let us find out, if we must be constrain'd,
   Sandals more interwoven and complete
To fit the naked foot of poesy;
Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stress
Of every chord, and see what may be gain'd
   By ear industrious, and attention meet:
Misers of sound and syllable, no less
   Than Midas of his coinage, let us be
   Jealous of dead leaves in the bay wreath crown;
So, if we may not let the Muse be free,
   She will be bound with garlands of her own.

The tone of the author can best be described as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

didactic

critical

ecstatic

enraged

sarcastic

Correct answer:

critical

Explanation:

Since the poem seeks to underline the problems inherent in strictly sticking to the sonnet form, it can best be described as "critical" in tone. None of the other answer choices are supported by the poem: its tone is certainly not "didactic" (aiming to teach the reader something), "ecstatic," "sarcastic," and while the speaker may be frustrated with the limitations of the sonnet form, "enraged" is too strong of a word to properly capture the poem's tone.

Example Question #1 : Poetry

 
Adapted from "On the Sonnet" by John Keats (1848)
 
If by dull rhymes our English must be chain'd,
   And, like Andromeda, the Sonnet sweet
Fetter'd, in spite of pained loveliness;
Let us find out, if we must be constrain'd,
   Sandals more interwoven and complete
To fit the naked foot of poesy;
Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stress
Of every chord, and see what may be gain'd
   By ear industrious, and attention meet:
Misers of sound and syllable, no less
   Than Midas of his coinage, let us be
   Jealous of dead leaves in the bay wreath crown;
So, if we may not let the Muse be free,
   She will be bound with garlands of her own.

The main purpose of this poem by John Keats is __________.

Possible Answers:

to foster collaboration amongst poets

to explain how to create aesthetic beauty in poetry 

to encourage poets to work past the limitations created by strict formal conventions

to contest the notion that poets are bound by form 

to motivate poets to remain inspired even when criticized

Correct answer:

to encourage poets to work past the limitations created by strict formal conventions

Explanation:

The best answer in this case is that the poem's main purpose is "to encourage poets to work past the limitations created by strict formal conventions." The poem can be summarized as saying "If we poets must work within forms with strict rules, like sonnets, let's examine the properties of language to make the forms we use best suit the language of the poems we write."

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