GED Language Arts (RLA) : Passage Meaning and Inference

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

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #51 : Ged Language Arts (Rla)

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, the phrasein the superlative degree of comparison only” indicates that the “noisiest authorities” believe what about the age they’re describing?

Possible Answers:

It is an age of extremes

It is identical in every way to earlier ages

None of these

It could not be more different from future ages

It is an age that cannot be compared to any other

Correct answer:

It is an age of extremes

Explanation:

As an adjective, “superlative” means of the highest kind or degree. (In grammar, a superlative is the third word in this following sequence: good, better, best.) This knowledge, combined with the fact that the author has been listing extreme opposites for the entire sentence, can lead us to deduce that the “noisiest authorities” see the age as one of extremes.

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

Example Question #51 : Ged Language Arts (Rla)

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 is the speaker’s mood in the first paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Pointed distrust

Concealed cynicism

Cautious skepticism

Ingenuous exuberance

Pleasant optimism

Correct answer:

Pleasant optimism

Explanation:

Based on sentences such as “This is certainly a beautiful country” and “He little imagined how my heart warmed,” we can conclude that the speaker is not feeling cynical, skeptical, or distrustful. However, the speaker isn’t ingenuously or naively joyful; he notes that his new setting is a “perfect misanthropist’s heaven” and implies that he is happy he only has to share it with one other person. Thus “pleasant optimism” is the best choice.

Passage adapted from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, 1847.

Example Question #21 : Inferences

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.

Based on Sentences 3-4, how might Mr. Pickwick’s character be described?

Possible Answers:

Aggressive

Vitriolic

Enervated

Pompous

Wary

Correct answer:

Pompous

Explanation:

Because he is leaving Goswell Street, Mr. Pickwick believes himself to be superior to “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” (Sentence 3). We can thus deduce that he is annoyingly self-important; he thinks highly of himself in a conceited way. “Pompous” fits that definition perfectly.

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

Example Question #31 : Inferences

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.

Which of the following does Mr. Pickwick likely care about the least?

Possible Answers:

Discovery

Erudition

Appearance

Decorum

Domesticity

Correct answer:

Domesticity

Explanation:

We know that Mr. Pickwick takes great care to dress well; thus, he cares about appearance and decorum. We know that he compares himself to “philosophers” and “great men”; thus, he cares about erudition, or the quality of being scholarly. Lastly, we know that he takes his notebook and telescope with him; thus, he cares about exploration and discovery. There is, however, no mention in this passage of the importance of home life. (Indeed, Mr. Pickwick is trying to escape his home life by having adventures.)

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

Example Question #1 : Inferences About Passage Ideas And Meanings

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 meant by the underlined selection, "with a woeful ballad, made to his mistress' eyebrow"?

Possible Answers:

The lover praises—with a certain melancholy—the beauties of the feminine eye.

The lover is overcome with the shape of the female eyebrow and can only sigh to think that he will never have such beauty himself.

The lover is formally complicit in adultery, having a mistress to whom he sighs.

The lover's emotions are dependent upon the whims and affections of his lover.

The depression of the lover is completely his own fault because of his misapplied attention to the eyebrows of his mistress.

Correct answer:

The lover's emotions are dependent upon the whims and affections of his lover.

Explanation:

The lover is said to "sign like a furnace," implying that he is sighing in love. His ballad may be an actual song, but it may well be the "ballad" of his words of praise for his lover. He is woeful, however, because his praise depends on her affection—whether or not she will lift her eyebrow in approval. This period of life is presented as an image of the swooning love of youth, which often fluctuates, all depending on the current whims of the lover.

Example Question #51 : Passage Meaning And Inference

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.

Which of the following statements about Philip Dean is supported by the passage?

Possible Answers:

He has a fever.

He works at the hotel.

He is uncaring towards Gordon.

He is condescending.

He can afford to sleep late. 

Correct answer:

He can afford to sleep late. 

Explanation:

It is nine in the morning and the two other characters we have been introduced to are awake whilst Philip is in his pajamas. We can infer that he  was probably sleeping before he answered the phone because his voice is described as "sleepy" in the third paragraph. If he can afford to sleep late, we can assume that he probably does not work and that he is wealthy.

Example Question #1 : Inferences About Passage Ideas And Meanings

Adapted from "Review of Wyandotté, or The Hutted Knoll" by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

The most obvious and most unaccountable faults of The Hutted Knoll are those which appertain to the style—to the mere grammatical construction; for, in other and more important particulars of style, Mr. Cooper, of late days, has made a very manifest improvement. His sentences, however, are arranged with an awkwardness so remarkable as to be matter of absolute astonishment, when we consider the education of the author and his long and continual practice with the pen. In minute descriptions of localities, any verbal inaccuracy or confusion becomes a source of vexation and misunderstanding, detracting very much from the pleasure of perusal; and in these inaccuracies Wyandotté abounds. Although, for instance, we carefully read and reread that portion of the narrative that details the situation of the Knoll, and the construction of the buildings and walls about it, we were forced to proceed with the story without any exact or definite impressions upon the subject. Similar difficulties, from similar causes, occur passim throughout the book. For example, at page 41, vol. I:

“The man gazed at the house with a fierce intentness that sometimes glared, in a manner that had got to be, in its ordinary aspects, dull.”  This it is utterly impossible to comprehend. We presume, however, the intention is to say that although the man’s ordinary manner (of gazing) had “got to be” dull, he occasionally gazed with an intentness that glared, and that he did so in the instance in question. The “got to be” is atrocious, the whole sentence no less so.

Here, at page 9, vol. I, is something excessively vague: “Of the latter character is the face of most of that region that lies in the angle formed by the junction of the Mohawk with the Hudson,” etc. etc. The Mohawk, joining the Hudson, forms two angles, of course—an acute and an obtuse one; and, without farther explanation, it is difficult to say which is intended.

At page 55, vol. I., we read: “The captain, owing to his English education, had avoided straight lines, and formal paths, giving to the little spot the improvement on nature which is a consequence of embellishing her works without destroying them. On each side of this lawn was an orchard, thrifty and young, and that were already beginning to show signs of putting forth their blossoms.”  Here we are tautologically informed that improvement is a consequence of embellishment, and supererogatorily told that the rule holds good only where the embellishment is not accompanied by destruction. Upon the “each orchard were" it is needless to comment.

What can we infer about Wyandotté, or The Hutted Knoll from this passage?

Possible Answers:

It is Cooper's first novel.

It is a work that has been translated from another language.

It is a book that takes place entirely in a city.

It is a book that spans multiple volumes.

Correct answer:

It is a book that spans multiple volumes.

Explanation:

The only answer choice that we can infer about Wyandotté, or The Hutted Knoll from the passage is that it is a book that spans multiple volumes. Whenever Poe cites a particular sentence or excerpt, he gives the location of that quotation in the book, and he always includes "vol. I" in these citations. From this, we can infer that Wyandotté, or The Hutted Knoll must span at least two volumes, or Poe would not need to specify that he is taking his quotations from the first volume of the book.

Example Question #1 : Inferences About Passage Ideas And Meanings

For [Dorian’s] wonderful beauty that had so fascinated Basil Hallward, and many others besides him, seemed never to leave him. Even those who had heard the most evil things against him—and from time to time strange rumours about his mode of life crept through London and became the chatter of the clubs—could not believe anything to his dishonour when they saw him. He had always the look of one who had kept himself unspotted from the world. Men who talked grossly became silent when Dorian Gray entered the room. There was something in the purity of his face that rebuked them. His mere presence seemed to recall to them the memory of the innocence that they had tarnished. They wondered how one so charming and graceful as he was could have escaped the stain of an age that was at once sordid and sensual.

Often, on returning home from one of those mysterious and prolonged absences that gave rise to such strange conjecture among those who were his friends, or thought that they were so, he himself would creep upstairs to the locked room, open the door with the key that never left him now, and stand, with a mirror, in front of the portrait that Basil Hallward had painted of him, looking now at the evil and aging face on the canvas, and now at the fair young face that laughed back at him from the polished glass. The very sharpness of the contrast used to quicken his sense of pleasure. He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul. He would examine with minute care, and sometimes with a monstrous and terrible delight, the hideous lines that seared the wrinkling forehead or crawled around the heavy sensual mouth, wondering sometimes which were the more horrible, the signs of sin or the signs of age. He would place his white hands beside the coarse bloated hands of the picture, and smile. He mocked the misshapen body and the failing limbs.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

To which “sharpness of contrast” does the passage refer?

Possible Answers:

That between sin and salvation

That between the evening and the morning

That between Dorian Gray and his portrait

That between innocence and corruption

Correct answer:

That between Dorian Gray and his portrait

Explanation:

“That between Dorian Gray and his portrait” is the correct answer. The story line of Dorian Gray has to do with a man (Dorian) who does not age or suffer any physical manifestations of a life lived to excess, because a “magical” (for lack of a better word) portrait ages and suffers for him. While the passage does not explicitly say just that (it would be a much shorter book if it did!) it quite clearly leads in that direction. Indeed, the passage notes that the “face on the canvas” was “evil and aging” while the face in the mirror (Dorian’s “actual” face) was “fair [and] young.”

Example Question #31 : Inferences

For [Dorian’s] wonderful beauty that had so fascinated Basil Hallward, and many others besides him, seemed never to leave him. Even those who had heard the most evil things against him—and from time to time strange rumours about his mode of life crept through London and became the chatter of the clubs—could not believe anything to his dishonour when they saw him. He had always the look of one who had kept himself unspotted from the world. Men who talked grossly became silent when Dorian Gray entered the room. There was something in the purity of his face that rebuked them. His mere presence seemed to recall to them the memory of the innocence that they had tarnished. They wondered how one so charming and graceful as he was could have escaped the stain of an age that was at once sordid and sensual.

Often, on returning home from one of those mysterious and prolonged absences that gave rise to such strange conjecture among those who were his friends, or thought that they were so, he himself would creep upstairs to the locked room, open the door with the key that never left him now, and stand, with a mirror, in front of the portrait that Basil Hallward had painted of him, looking now at the evil and aging face on the canvas, and now at the fair young face that laughed back at him from the polished glass. The very sharpness of the contrast used to quicken his sense of pleasure. He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul. He would examine with minute care, and sometimes with a monstrous and terrible delight, the hideous lines that seared the wrinkling forehead or crawled around the heavy sensual mouth, wondering sometimes which were the more horrible, the signs of sin or the signs of age. He would place his white hands beside the coarse bloated hands of the picture, and smile. He mocked the misshapen body and the failing limbs.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

“Looking now at the  . . . face on the canvas and the fair young face that laughed back at him” leads to what main inference about the relationship between Dorian Gray and the picture?

Possible Answers:

Dorian is suffering the ravages of time while the picture remains timeless

Two of these answers are correct

The picture is aging while Dorian is not

The picture is an adequate representation of what Dorian should look like

Correct answer:

The picture is aging while Dorian is not

Explanation:

“Two of these answers are correct” is the correct answer. Both “the picture is aging . . .” and “the picture is an adequate representation of . . .” are correct. The story line of Dorian Gray has to do with a man (Dorian) who does not age or suffer any physical manifestations of a life lived to excess, because a “magical” (for lack of a better word) portrait ages and suffers for him. The passage directly leads to this inference: first, the passage notes the “portrait that Basil Hallward had painted of [Dorian]”; the passage goes on to say that the face on the canvas was “evil and aging” while Dorian’s face was “fair and young”; the passage concludes by noting how Dorian would place his “white hands” next to the “coarse bloated hands of the picture.” Thus, the picture is “evil and aging” with “coarse bloated hands,” while Dorian is “fair [and] young” with “white” hands.

Example Question #1 : Inferences About Passage Ideas And Meanings

It was rumoured of him once that he [Dorian Gray] was about to join the Roman Catholic communion, and certainly the Roman ritual had always a great attraction for him. The daily sacrifice, more awful really than all the sacrifices of the antique world, stirred him as much by its superb rejection of the evidence of the senses as by the primitive simplicity of its elements and the eternal pathos of the human tragedy that it sought to symbolize. He loved to kneel down on the cold marble pavement and watch the priest, in his stiff flowered dalmatic, slowly and with white hands moving aside the veil of the tabernacle, or raising aloft the jewelled, lantern-shaped monstrance with that pallid wafer that at times, one would fain think, is indeed the "panis caelestis," the bread of angels, or, robed in the garments of the Passion of Christ, breaking the Host into the chalice and smiting his breast for his sins. The fuming censers that the grave boys, in their lace and scarlet, tossed into the air like great gilt flowers had their subtle fascination for him. As he passed out, he used to look with wonder at the black confessionals and long to sit in the dim shadow of one of them and listen to men and women whispering through the worn grating the true story of their lives.

 

But he never fell into the error of arresting his intellectual development by any formal acceptance of creed or system, or of mistaking, for a house in which to live, an inn that is but suitable for the sojourn of a night, or for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in travail. Mysticism, with its marvellous power of making common things strange to us, and the subtle antinomianism that always seems to accompany it, moved him for a season; and for a season he inclined to the materialistic doctrines of the Darwinismus movement in Germany, and found a curious pleasure in tracing the thoughts and passions of men to some pearly cell in the brain, or some white nerve in the body, delighting in the conception of the absolute dependence of the spirit on certain physical conditions, morbid or healthy, normal or diseased. Yet, as has been said of him before, no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself. He felt keenly conscious of how barren all intellectual speculation is when separated from action and experiment. He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

What does the underlined passage above mean?

Possible Answers:

That Dorian never stays in inns when he travels

That Catholicism is like a house

That, while Dorian was fascinated by the Catholic Church, he viewed it as an idle fancy rather than an appropriate occupation

That Dorian would rather stay in a house rather than an inn

Correct answer:

That, while Dorian was fascinated by the Catholic Church, he viewed it as an idle fancy rather than an appropriate occupation

Explanation:

“That, while Dorian was fascinated by the Catholic Church . . .” is the correct answer. Wilde’s analogy is an interesting turn of phrase, and one that might easily ensnare a careless reader. At any rate, Wilde is analogizing between places to rest and intellectual pursuits. Essentially, Wilde is saying that, while Dorian was intellectually interested in the Catholic Church, he wasn’t interested enough to join it—similar to how a traveler may stay at an inn but would not live there.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors