GMAT Verbal : Analyzing Sequence, Organization, and Structure in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #84 : Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Jack London’s The Road (1907)

Barring accidents, a good hobo, with youth and agility, can hold a train down despite all the efforts of the train-crew to "ditch" him—given, of course, night-time as an essential condition. When such a hobo, under such conditions, makes up his mind that he is going to hold her down, either he does hold her down, or chance trips him up. There is no legitimate way, short of murder, whereby the train-crew can ditch him. That train-crews have not stopped short of murder is a current belief in the tramp world. Not having had that particular experience in my tramp days I cannot vouch for it personally.

But this I have heard of the "bad" roads. When a tramp has "gone underneath," on the rods, and the train is in motion, there is apparently no way of dislodging him until the train stops. The tramp, snugly ensconced inside the truck, with the four wheels and all the framework around him, has the "cinch" on the crew—or so he thinks, until some day he rides the rods on a bad road. A bad road is usually one on which a short time previously one or several trainmen have been killed by tramps. Heaven pity the tramp who is caught "underneath" on such a road—for caught he is, though the train be going sixty miles an hour.

The "shack" (brakeman) takes a coupling-pin and a length of bell-cord to the platform in front of the truck in which the tramp is riding. The shack fastens the coupling-pin to the bell- cord, drops the former down between the platforms, and pays out the latter. The coupling-pin strikes the ties between the rails, rebounds against the bottom of the car, and again strikes the ties. The shack plays it back and forth, now to this side, now to the other, lets it out a bit and hauls it in a bit, giving his weapon opportunity for every variety of impact and rebound. Every blow of that flying coupling-pin is freighted with death, and at sixty miles an hour it beats a veritable tattoo of death. The next day the remains of that tramp are gathered up along the right of way, and a line in the local paper mentions the unknown man, undoubtedly a tramp, assumably drunk, who had probably fallen asleep on the track.

The author ends the passage by noting the newspaper says the man feel asleep in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

show sympathy with the train crew that finds a man under the train

show how little people care about tramps

mock the hobo who gets "caught" under a train

indicate the dangers of sleeping on train tracks

convince the reader that trains are an incredibly dangerous form of transportation

Correct answer:

show how little people care about tramps


The author describes one of the more persistent troubles hobos can find themselves in when they try to ride trains surreptitiously. The author's sentiments are clearly on the side of the man who got caught underneath, rather than the train crew that harmed him. The mention of the newspaper's report of a man falling asleep is done to show that people rarely respect hobos.

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