GED Language Arts (RLA) : Passage Meaning and Inference

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #21 : Literary Devices In The Passage

1 I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.  2 This is certainly a beautiful country!  3 In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.  4 A perfect misanthropist’s heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.  5 A capital fellow!  6 He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.

… 7 [he] sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court,—‘Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood’s horse; and bring up some wine.’

 … 8 Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy.  9 ‘The Lord help us!’ he soliloquised in an undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner.

What literary device can be seen in Sentence 1?

Possible Answers:

Aaposiopesis

Polysyndeton

Metaphor

Simile

Paradox

Correct answer:

Aaposiopesis

Explanation:

In Sentence 1, the speaker breaks off suddenly with an em-dash. This is a classic example of aposiopesis. Metaphor and simile are both comparisons, paradox is a contradictory statement, and polysyndeton is the excessive use of conjunctions.

Passage adapted from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847)

Example Question #21 : Literary Devices In The Passage

1 I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.  2 This is certainly a beautiful country!  3 In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.  4 A perfect misanthropist’s heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.  5 A capital fellow!  6 He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.

… 7 [he] sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court,—‘Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood’s horse; and bring up some wine.’

 … 8 Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy.  9 ‘The Lord help us!’ he soliloquised in an undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner.

What literary device can be seen in Sentence 3?

Possible Answers:

Synecdoche

Pathetic fallacy

Hyperbole

Oxymoron

Rhetorical question

Correct answer:

Hyperbole

Explanation:

In Sentence 3, the speaker asserts that he couldn’t find “a situation so completely removed from the stir of society” in the entire country. This is an example of dramatic exaggeration, or hyperbole.

Passage adapted from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847)

Example Question #21 : Literary Devices In The Passage

1 That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and begun to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Mr. Samuel Pickwick burst like another sun from his slumbers, threw open his chamber window, and looked out upon the world beneath. 2 Goswell Street was at his feet, Goswell Street was on his right hand—as far as the eye could reach, Goswell Street extended on his left; and the opposite side of Goswell Street was over the way. 3 'Such,' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'are the narrow views of those philosophers who, content with examining the things that lie before them, look not to the truths which are hidden beyond. 4 As well might I be content to gaze on Goswell Street for ever, without one effort to penetrate to the hidden countries which on every side surround it.' 5 And having given vent to this beautiful reflection, Mr. Pickwick proceeded to put himself into his clothes, and his clothes into his portmanteau. 6 Great men are seldom over scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire; the operation of shaving, dressing, and coffee-imbibing was soon performed; and, in another hour, Mr. Pickwick, with his portmanteau in his hand, his telescope in his greatcoat pocket, and his note-book in his waistcoat, ready for the reception of any discoveries worthy of being noted down, had arrived at the coach-stand in St. Martin's-le-Grand.

7 'Cab!' said Mr. Pickwick.

8 'Here you are, sir,' shouted a strange specimen of the human race, in a sackcloth coat, and apron of the same, who, with a brass label and number round his neck, looked as if he were catalogued in some collection of rarities. 9 This was the waterman.

What literary device can be seen in Sentence 1?

Possible Answers:

Metonymy

Allegory

Anthropomorphism

Cliché 

Epiphany

Correct answer:

Anthropomorphism

Explanation:

Anthropomorphism is another word for personification: the attribution of human characteristics to non-human or inanimate things. We see this in Sentence 1 when the sun is described as “punctual servant of all work.” Allegory is the use of a story or extended metaphor to make a philosophical or moral point, and cliché is a phrase that’s become trite or worn out from overuse. Epiphany is a sudden realization, often experienced by a character at the end of a short story, that changes someone’s life. Metonymy is the substitution of one word for another word that’s commonly associated with it (e.g. using “throne” to discuss a monarchy).

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’ The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837)

Example Question #161 : Passage Meaning And Inference

1 That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and begun to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Mr. Samuel Pickwick burst like another sun from his slumbers, threw open his chamber window, and looked out upon the world beneath. 2 Goswell Street was at his feet, Goswell Street was on his right hand—as far as the eye could reach, Goswell Street extended on his left; and the opposite side of Goswell Street was over the way. 3 'Such,' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'are the narrow views of those philosophers who, content with examining the things that lie before them, look not to the truths which are hidden beyond. 4 As well might I be content to gaze on Goswell Street for ever, without one effort to penetrate to the hidden countries which on every side surround it.' 5 And having given vent to this beautiful reflection, Mr. Pickwick proceeded to put himself into his clothes, and his clothes into his portmanteau. 6 Great men are seldom over scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire; the operation of shaving, dressing, and coffee-imbibing was soon performed; and, in another hour, Mr. Pickwick, with his portmanteau in his hand, his telescope in his greatcoat pocket, and his note-book in his waistcoat, ready for the reception of any discoveries worthy of being noted down, had arrived at the coach-stand in St. Martin's-le-Grand.

7 'Cab!' said Mr. Pickwick.

8 'Here you are, sir,' shouted a strange specimen of the human race, in a sackcloth coat, and apron of the same, who, with a brass label and number round his neck, looked as if he were catalogued in some collection of rarities. 9 This was the waterman.

What literary device is “Great men are seldom over scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire” (Sentence 6)?

Possible Answers:

Aside

Ellipses

Consonance

Aphorism

Motif

Correct answer:

Aphorism

Explanation:

This portion of Sentence 6 is an aphorism: a pithy saying or adage that is intended to convey truth. Motif is the recurring use of an image, idea, or subject in a work of literature, and consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds. Ellipsis is the deliberate omission of one or more words for the purpose of concision; it is sometimes marked with “…” but sometimes not. An aside is a lengthy speech delivered to or for the benefit of the audience and not the other characters.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’ The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837)

Example Question #161 : Passage Meaning And Inference

1 I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.  2 This is certainly a beautiful country!  3 In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.  4 A perfect misanthropist’s heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.  5 A capital fellow!  6 He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.

… 7 [he] sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court,—‘Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood’s horse; and bring up some wine.’

 … 8 Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy.  9 ‘The Lord help us!’ he soliloquised in an undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner.

What literary device can be seen in Sentence 6?

Possible Answers:

Motif

Epistle

Irony

Conceit

Aphorism

Correct answer:

Irony

Explanation:

The beginning of Sentence 6 notes He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows.” Irony describes (among other things) an event that is the opposite of what one would expect. The speaker feeling warmth towards a man exhibiting clear mistrust in Sentence 6 is an excellent example of this aspect of irony.

Passage adapted from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847)

Example Question #161 : Passage Meaning And Inference

1 I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.  2 This is certainly a beautiful country!  3 In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.  4 A perfect misanthropist’s heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.  5 A capital fellow!  6 He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.

… 7 [he] sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court,—‘Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood’s horse; and bring up some wine.’

 … 8 Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy.  9 ‘The Lord help us!’ he soliloquised in an undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner.

Sentences 6-9 have primarily what style?

Possible Answers:

Interrogative

Paratactic

Convoluted

Imperative

Telegraphic

Correct answer:

Convoluted

Explanation:

The sentences in the second half of this passage are long and winding, with many commas and subordinate clauses. The best word to describe this style is “convoluted.” (Telegraphic sentences contain five or fewer words, and paratactic sentences are similarly short and simple.)

Passage adapted from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847)

Example Question #161 : Passage Meaning And Inference

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.

Which sentence in the passage contains an example of litotes?

Possible Answers:

Sentence 2

Sentence 5

Sentence 7

Sentence 1

Sentence 3

Correct answer:

Sentence 3

Explanation:

Litotes is the deliberate use of understatement or double negatives (e.g. “they don’t seem unhappy”). It is the opposite of hyperbole, and it appears in Sentence 3 with the phrase “…did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage.”

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

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