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 #11 : Inferences About Characters

"Alas, sir, in the most unexpected manner. After a long talk with the harbor-master, Captain Leclere left Naples greatly disturbed in mind. In twenty-four hours he was attacked by a fever, and died three days afterwards. We performed the usual burial service, and he is at his rest, sewn up in his hammock with a thirty-six pound shot at his head and his heels, off El Giglio island. We bring to his widow his sword and cross of honor. It was worth while, truly," added the young man with a melancholy smile, "to make war against the English for ten years, and to die in his bed at last, like everybody else."

"Why, you see, Edmond," replied the owner, who appeared more comforted at every moment, "we are all mortal, and the old must make way for the young. If not, why, there would be no promotion; and since you assure me that the cargo—"

"Is all safe and sound, M. Morrel, take my word for it; and I advise you not to take 25,000 francs for the profits of the voyage."

Then, as they were just passing the Round Tower, the young man shouted: "Stand by there to lower the topsails and jib; brail up the spanker!"

The order was executed as promptly as it would have been on board a man-of-war.

"Let go—and clue up!" At this last command all the sails were lowered, and the vessel moved almost imperceptibly onwards.

"Now, if you will come on board, M. Morrel," said Dantes, observing the owner's impatience, "here is your supercargo, M. Danglars, coming out of his cabin, who will furnish you with every particular. As for me, I must look after the anchoring, and dress the ship in mourning."

The owner did not wait for a second invitation. He seized a rope which Dantes flung to him, and with an activity that would have done credit to a sailor, climbed up the side of the ship, while the young man, going to his task, left the conversation to Danglars, who now came towards the owner. He was a man of twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, of unprepossessing countenance, obsequious to his superiors, insolent to his subordinates; and this, in addition to his position as responsible agent on board, which is always obnoxious to the sailors, made him as much disliked by the crew as Edmond Dantes was beloved by them.

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Who is the owner of the ship?

Possible Answers:

 M. Morrel

M. Danglars

Captain Leclere

Edmond Dantes

Correct answer:

 M. Morrel

Explanation:

“M. Morrel” is the correct answer. This was a relatively simple question that required you only to understand that “owner” referred to the antecedent proper noun “M. Morrel.” Even if, however, you did not understand that implication, common sense should have led you in the proper direction: the only two people mentioned in that particular sentence are Dantes and M. Morrel. It would make very little sense if Dantes was referring to himself as the owner in the sentence “Dantes observed the owner’s impatience.” Thus, M. Morrel is the correct answer.

Example Question #11 : Inferences About Characters

"Alas, sir, in the most unexpected manner. After a long talk with the harbor-master, Captain Leclere left Naples greatly disturbed in mind. In twenty-four hours he was attacked by a fever, and died three days afterwards. We performed the usual burial service, and he is at his rest, sewn up in his hammock with a thirty-six pound shot at his head and his heels, off El Giglio island. We bring to his widow his sword and cross of honor. It was worth while, truly," added the young man with a melancholy smile, "to make war against the English for ten years, and to die in his bed at last, like everybody else."

"Why, you see, Edmond," replied the owner, who appeared more comforted at every moment, "we are all mortal, and the old must make way for the young. If not, why, there would be no promotion; and since you assure me that the cargo—"

"Is all safe and sound, M. Morrel, take my word for it; and I advise you not to take 25,000 francs for the profits of the voyage."

Then, as they were just passing the Round Tower, the young man shouted: "Stand by there to lower the topsails and jib; brail up the spanker!"

The order was executed as promptly as it would have been on board a man-of-war.

"Let go—and clue up!" At this last command all the sails were lowered, and the vessel moved almost imperceptibly onwards.

"Now, if you will come on board, M. Morrel," said Dantes, observing the owner's impatience, "here is your supercargo, M. Danglars, coming out of his cabin, who will furnish you with every particular. As for me, I must look after the anchoring, and dress the ship in mourning."

The owner did not wait for a second invitation. He seized a rope which Dantes flung to him, and with an activity that would have done credit to a sailor, climbed up the side of the ship, while the young man, going to his task, left the conversation to Danglars, who now came towards the owner. He was a man of twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, of unprepossessing countenance, obsequious to his superiors, insolent to his subordinates; and this, in addition to his position as responsible agent on board, which is always obnoxious to the sailors, made him as much disliked by the crew as Edmond Dantes was beloved by them.

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Which of the following is the best description of M. Danglars?

Possible Answers:

Obnoxious and disliked by the crew

Dantes’ best friend

The owner of the ship

Well-rounded and favored by everyone

Correct answer:

Obnoxious and disliked by the crew

Explanation:

“Obnoxious and disliked by the crew” is the correct answer. This should have been a very simple question for two reasons: (1) the passage uses the word “obnoxious” as does the correct answer, and; (2) the entirety of the passage describing Danglars is written through a negative lens (e.g. “unprepossessing,” meaning not very attractive, “obsequious,” meaning obnoxiously obedient, etc).

Example Question #11 : Inferences About Characters

"How could that bring me into trouble, sir?" asked Dantes; "for I did not even know of what I was the bearer; and the emperor merely made such inquiries as he would of the first comer. But, pardon me, here are the health officers and the customs inspectors coming alongside." And the young man went to the gangway. As he departed, Danglars approached, and said,—

"Well, it appears that he has given you satisfactory reasons for his landing at Porto-Ferrajo?"

"Yes, most satisfactory, my dear Danglars."

"Well, so much the better," said the supercargo; "for it is not pleasant to think that a comrade has not done his duty."

"Dantes has done his," replied the owner, "and that is not saying much. It was Captain Leclere who gave orders for this delay."

"Talking of Captain Leclere, has not Dantes given you a letter from him?"

"To me?—no—was there one?"

"I believe that, besides the packet, Captain Leclere confided a letter to his care."

"Of what packet are you speaking, Danglars?"

"Why, that which Dantes left at Porto-Ferrajo."

"How do you know he had a packet to leave at Porto-Ferrajo?"

Danglars turned very red.

"I was passing close to the door of the captain's cabin, which was half open, and I saw him give the packet and letter to Dantes."

"He did not speak to me of it," replied the shipowner; "but if there be any letter he will give it to me."

Danglars reflected for a moment. "Then, M. Morrel, I beg of you," said he, "not to say a word to Dantes on the subject. I may have been mistaken."

At this moment the young man returned; Danglars withdrew.

"Well, my dear Dantes, are you now free?" inquired the owner.

"Yes, sir."

"You have not been long detained."

"No. I gave the custom-house officers a copy of our bill of lading; and as to the other papers, they sent a man off with the pilot, to whom I gave them."

"Then you have nothing more to do here?"

"No—everything is all right now."

"Then you can come and dine with me?"

"I really must ask you to excuse me, M. Morrel. My first visit is due to my father, though I am not the less grateful for the honor you have done me."

Why did Danglars “turn[] very red”?

Possible Answers:

From embarrassment

None of these

From anger

From annoyance

Correct answer:

From embarrassment

Explanation:

“From embarrassment” is the correct answer. This is a relatively difficult question, as it asks you to draw an inference about a character without explicit support in the text. At any rate, some of the context clues surrounding the passage should have helped you draw the correct inference. Specifically, when M. Morrel questions Danglars about the source of his information, Danglars is forced to admit that he saw it via a door left ajar. This is essentially the visual equivalent to eavesdropping on a conversation—in other words, Danglars was spying. Given that spying (or eavesdropping) is rather rude, it makes sense for Danglars to blush from embarrassment (rather than any of the other answer choices) when he got caught.

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Example Question #11 : Inferences About Characters

"True, Dantes, I forgot that there was at the Catalans some one who expects you no less impatiently than your father—the lovely Mercedes."

Dantes blushed.

"Ah, ha," said the shipowner, "I am not in the least surprised, for she has been to me three times, inquiring if there were any news of the Pharaon. Peste, Edmond, you have a very handsome mistress!"

"She is not my mistress," replied the young sailor, gravely; "she is my betrothed."

"Sometimes one and the same thing," said Morrel, with a smile.

"Not with us, sir," replied Dantes.

[. . .]

"Very good; have what time you require, Dantes. It will take quite six weeks to unload the cargo, and we cannot get you ready for sea until three months after that; only be back again in three months, for the Pharaon," added the owner, patting the young sailor on the back, "cannot sail without her captain."

"Without her captain!" cried Dantes, his eyes sparkling with animation; "pray mind what you say, for you are touching on the most secret wishes of my heart. Is it really your intention to make me captain of the Pharaon?"

"If I were sole owner we'd shake hands on it now, my dear Dantes, and call it settled; but I have a partner, and you know the Italian proverb—Chi ha compagno ha padrone—'He who has a partner has a master.' But the thing is at least half done, as you have one out of two votes. Rely on me to procure you the other; I will do my best."

"Ah, M. Morrel," exclaimed the young seaman, with tears in his eyes, and grasping the owner's hand, "M. Morrel, I thank you in the name of my father and of Mercedes."

"That's all right, Edmond. There's a providence that watches over the deserving. Go to your father: go and see Mercedes, and afterwards come to me."

"Shall I row you ashore?"

"No, thank you; I shall remain and look over the accounts with Danglars. Have you been satisfied with him this voyage?"

"That is according to the sense you attach to the question, sir. Do you mean is he a good comrade? No, for I think he never liked me since the day when I was silly enough, after a little quarrel we had, to propose to him to stop for ten minutes at the island of Monte Cristo to settle the dispute—a proposition which I was wrong to suggest, and he quite right to refuse. If you mean as responsible agent when you ask me the question, I believe there is nothing to say against him, and that you will be content with the way in which he has performed his duty."

What is Dantes’ deepest desire?

Possible Answers:

To marry Mercedes

None of these

To become the captain of the Pharaon

To kill Danglars

Correct answer:

To become the captain of the Pharaon

Explanation:

“To become the captain of the Pharaon” is the correct answer. This is a moderately difficult question that asks you to draw an inference about a character based off of the surrounding context clues of the sentence. Here, Dantes says that M. Morrel, in implying that Dantes will be the next captain of the ship, “touches upon the most secret wishes of [his] heart.” Thus, Dantes’ deepest desire is to become the captain of the Pharaon.

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Example Question #21 : Inferences

"True, Dantes, I forgot that there was at the Catalans some one who expects you no less impatiently than your father—the lovely Mercedes."

Dantes blushed.

"Ah, ha," said the shipowner, "I am not in the least surprised, for she has been to me three times, inquiring if there were any news of the Pharaon. Peste, Edmond, you have a very handsome mistress!"

"She is not my mistress," replied the young sailor, gravely; "she is my betrothed."

"Sometimes one and the same thing," said Morrel, with a smile.

"Not with us, sir," replied Dantes.

[. . .]

"Very good; have what time you require, Dantes. It will take quite six weeks to unload the cargo, and we cannot get you ready for sea until three months after that; only be back again in three months, for the Pharaon," added the owner, patting the young sailor on the back, "cannot sail without her captain."

"Without her captain!" cried Dantes, his eyes sparkling with animation; "pray mind what you say, for you are touching on the most secret wishes of my heart. Is it really your intention to make me captain of the Pharaon?"

"If I were sole owner we'd shake hands on it now, my dear Dantes, and call it settled; but I have a partner, and you know the Italian proverb—Chi ha compagno ha padrone—'He who has a partner has a master.' But the thing is at least half done, as you have one out of two votes. Rely on me to procure you the other; I will do my best."

"Ah, M. Morrel," exclaimed the young seaman, with tears in his eyes, and grasping the owner's hand, "M. Morrel, I thank you in the name of my father and of Mercedes."

"That's all right, Edmond. There's a providence that watches over the deserving. Go to your father: go and see Mercedes, and afterwards come to me."

"Shall I row you ashore?"

"No, thank you; I shall remain and look over the accounts with Danglars. Have you been satisfied with him this voyage?"

"That is according to the sense you attach to the question, sir. Do you mean is he a good comrade? No, for I think he never liked me since the day when I was silly enough, after a little quarrel we had, to propose to him to stop for ten minutes at the island of Monte Cristo to settle the dispute—a proposition which I was wrong to suggest, and he quite right to refuse. If you mean as responsible agent when you ask me the question, I believe there is nothing to say against him, and that you will be content with the way in which he has performed his duty."

Based on the underlined section, which of the following is the most accurate representation of Dantes’ feelings toward Danglars?

Possible Answers:

Dantes hates Danglars, and would fire him at the first opportunity

Dantes and Danglars are best friends, and Dantes would never get rid of Danglars

Even though Dantes and Danglars are best friends, Dantes would fire Danglars if Dantes became captain

Even though Dantes does not like Danglars, he would keep Danglars onboard in the event that Dantes became captain

Correct answer:

Even though Dantes does not like Danglars, he would keep Danglars onboard in the event that Dantes became captain

Explanation:

“Even though Dantes does not like Danglars, he would keep Danglars onboard in the even that Dantes became captain” is the correct answer. This is a relatively simple question, as the sentence itself nearly spells out the answer for you. At any rate, Dantes flat out says that he does not think Danglars is a good “comrade” (essentially, friend in this context). That said, Dantes goes on to say that he believes Danglars is a “responsible agent” (essentially, ‘good worker’ in this context).

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Example Question #41 : Conclusions About The Passage

"Ah, yes," continued Caderousse, "and capital offers, too; but you know, you will be captain, and who could refuse you then?"

"Meaning to say," replied Dantes, with a smile which but ill-concealed his trouble, "that if I were not a captain"—

"Eh—eh!" said Caderousse, shaking his head.

"Come, come," said the sailor, "I have a better opinion than you of women in general, and of Mercedes in particular; and I am certain that, captain or not, she will remain ever faithful to me."

"So much the better—so much the better," said Caderousse. "When one is going to be married, there is nothing like implicit confidence; but never mind that, my boy,—go and announce your arrival, and let her know all your hopes and prospects."

"I will go directly," was Edmond's reply; and, embracing his father, and nodding to Caderousse, he left the apartment.

Caderousse lingered for a moment, then taking leave of old Dantes, he went downstairs to rejoin Danglars, who awaited him at the corner of the Rue Senac.

"Well," said Danglars, "did you see him?"

"I have just left him," answered Caderousse.

"Did he allude to his hope of being captain?"

"He spoke of it as a thing already decided."

"Indeed!" said Danglars, "he is in too much hurry, it appears to me."

"Why, it seems M. Morrel has promised him the thing."

"So that he is quite elated about it?"

"Why, yes, he is actually insolent over the matter—has already offered me his patronage, as if he were a grand personage, and proffered me a loan of money, as though he were a banker."

"Which you refused?"

"Most assuredly; although I might easily have accepted it, for it was I who put into his hands the first silver he ever earned; but now M. Dantes has no longer any occasion for assistance—he is about to become a captain."

"Pooh!" said Danglars, "he is not one yet."

"Ma foi, it will be as well if he is not," answered Caderousse; "for if he should be, there will be really no speaking to him."

"If we choose," replied Danglars, "he will remain what he is; and perhaps become even less than he is."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing—I was speaking to myself. And is he still in love with the Catalane?"

"Over head and ears; but, unless I am much mistaken, there will be a storm in that quarter.”

What is Caderousse implying about Mercedes?

Possible Answers:

That Danglars stands a better chance of marrying Mercedes

That the only way Dantes has a chance with Mercedes is if he’s the captain

Two of these answers are correct

That Mercedes has many rich suitors

Correct answer:

Two of these answers are correct

Explanation:

The two correct answers are: “That the only way Dantes has a chance with Mercedes is if he’s the captain”; and “That Mercedes has many rich suitors.” This was a moderately difficult question that required you to draw an inference about a character (Mercedes) to which you’ve not yet been introduced. Caderousse mentions that Mercedes has “capital” offers (i.e. wealthy men who are looking to marry her). Additionally, Caderousse gives a noncommittal reply when Dantes asks him about his chances if he weren’t made captain.

Passage adapted from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Example Question #12 : Inferences About Characters

Passage adapted from “About Love” by Anton Chekhov (1898)

 At lunch next day there were very nice pies, crayfish, and mutton cutlets; and while we were eating, Nikanor, the cook, came up to ask what the visitors would like for dinner. He was a man of medium height, with a puffy face and little eyes; he was close-shaven, and it looked as though his moustaches had not been shaved, but had been pulled out by the roots. Alehin told us that the beautiful Pelagea was in love with this cook. As he drank and was of a violent character, she did not want to marry him, but was willing to live with him without. He was very devout, and his religious convictions would not allow him to “live in sin”; he insisted on her marrying him, and would consent to nothing else, and when he was drunk he used to abuse her and even beat her. Whenever he got drunk she used to hide upstairs and sob, and on such occasions Alehin and the servants stayed in the house to be ready to defend her in case of necessity.

How does Alehin characterize Nikanor, the cook?

Possible Answers:

A talented and generous chef

An abusive alcoholic

A staunchly devoted husband

A passionate romantic

A devout holy man

Correct answer:

An abusive alcoholic

Explanation:

While Nikanor claims to be religious, the more important characteristics in this passage are his violent tendencies towards Pelagea and his tendency to be violent when drinking.

Example Question #13 : Inferences About Characters

Passage adapted from Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (1907)

Mr Verloc, going out in the morning, left his shop nominally in charge of his brother-in-law. It could be done, because there was very little business at any time, and practically none at all before the evening. Mr Verloc cared but little about his ostensible business. And, moreover, his wife was in charge of his brother-in-law.

The shop was small, and so was the house. It was one of those grimy brick houses which existed in large quantities before the era of reconstruction dawned upon London. The shop was a square box of a place, with the front glazed in small panes. In the daytime the door remained closed; in the evening it stood discreetly but suspiciously ajar.

What can the reader infer about Mr. Verloc's feeling toward his brother-in-law?

Possible Answers:

He is a trustworthy businessman

He is a generous assistant

We don't have enough information to infer anything about the brother-in-law

His responsibilities are unimportant

He is in love with Mr. Verloc's wife

Correct answer:

His responsibilities are unimportant

Explanation:

Leaving the shop only “nominally” in his brother-in-law's care, during times of slow business and while under his wife's watch, indicates that Mr Verloc does not entrust him with great responsibility.

Example Question #41 : Passage Meaning And Inference

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.

(1895)

What can you infer about the youth and his companions?

Possible Answers:

The youth realizes that his situation will eventually improve

The youth has done something to offend his companions

The youth wants to be more like his companions

The companions enjoy what they are doing while the youth wishes that he were someplace else

Correct answer:

The companions enjoy what they are doing while the youth wishes that he were someplace else

Explanation:

In third paragraph, Crane states that the youth "wished without reserve, that he was at home again", while his companions are "dodging implike around the fires". Clearly, the companions are enjoying their situation more than the youth who is "in his distress"

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

Example Question #21 : Inferences About Characters

1 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

2 There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. 3 In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled forever. …

4 France, less favored on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness downhill, making paper money and spending it. 5 Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honor to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. 6 It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history.

In Sentence 1, who is the author describing when he says “some of its noisiest authorities”?

Possible Answers:

Constables overstepping their bounds

The King of England

Outspoken politicians

The Church of England

Self-proclaimed experts on current events

Correct answer:

Self-proclaimed experts on current events

Explanation:

Given the broadness of the rest of the sentence, we can deduce that this phrase is not describing someone specific. Indeed, the sentence contains nothing to indicate that it’s focused on a specific institution or occupation. Rather, the sentence is alluding to a general pool of self-proclaimed experts who give their unsolicited opinions on the current climate.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

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