LSAT Reading : Recognizing Details of Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume (1777)

We may observe that, in displaying the praises of any humane, beneficent man, there is one circumstance that never fails to be amply insisted on, namely, the happiness and satisfaction derived to society from his intercourse and good offices. To his parents, we are apt to say, he endears himself by his pious attachment and duteous care still more than by the connections of nature. His children never feel his authority but when employed for their advantage. With him, the ties of love are consolidated by beneficence and friendship. The ties of friendship approach, in a fond observance of each obliging office, to those of love and inclination. His domestics and dependents have in him a sure resource and no longer dread the power of fortune but so far as she exercises it over him. From him the hungry receive food, the naked clothing, the ignorant and slothful skill and industry. Like the sun, an inferior minister of providence he cheers, invigorates, and sustains the surrounding world.

If confined to private life, the sphere of his activity is narrower, but his influence is all benign and gentle. If exalted into a higher station, mankind and posterity reap the fruit of his labors.

As these topics of praise never fail to be employed, and with success, where we would inspire esteem for any one, may it not thence be concluded that the utility resulting from the social virtues forms at least a PART of their merit, and is one source of that approbation and regard so universally paid to them?

When we recommend even an animal or a plant as USEFUL and BENEFICIAL, we give it an applause and recommendation suited to its nature. As, on the other hand, reflection on the baneful influence of any of these inferior beings always inspires us with the sentiment of aversion. The eye is pleased with the prospect of corn fields and loaded vineyards, horses grazing, and flocks pasturing, but flies the view of briars and brambles, affording shelter to wolves and serpents.

A machine, a piece of furniture, a vestment, a house well contrived for use and convenience, is so far beautiful, and is contemplated with pleasure and approbation. An experienced eye is here sensible to many excellencies, which escape persons ignorant and uninstructed.

Can anything stronger be said in praise of a profession, such as merchandize or manufacture, than to observe the advantages which it procures to society? And is not a monk and inquisitor enraged when we treat his order as useless or pernicious to mankind?

The historian exults in displaying the benefit arising from his labors. The writer of romance alleviates or denies the bad consequences ascribed to his manner of composition.

In general, what praise is implied in the simple epithet USEFUL! What reproach in the contrary!

Your Gods, says Cicero [De Nat. Deor. lib. i.], in opposition to the Epicureans, cannot justly claim any worship or adoration, with whatever imaginary perfections you may suppose them endowed. They are totally useless and inactive. Even the Egyptians, whom you so much ridicule, never consecrated any animal but on account of its utility.

The skeptics assert [Sext. Emp. adrersus Math. lib. viii.], though absurdly, that the origin of all religious worship was derived from the utility of inanimate objects, as the sun and moon, to the support the well-being of mankind. This is also the common reason assigned by historians, for the deification of eminent heroes and legislators [Diod. Sic. passim.].

To plant a tree, to cultivate a field, to beget children—meritorious acts, according to the religion of Zoroaster.

In all determinations of morality, this circumstance of public utility is ever principally in view; and wherever disputes arise, either in philosophy or common life, concerning the bounds of duty, the question cannot, by any means, be decided with greater certainty than by ascertaining, on any side, the true interests of mankind. If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail, as soon as farther experience and sounder reasoning have given us more just notions of human affairs, we retract our first sentiment, and adjust anew the boundaries of moral good and evil.

Giving alms to common beggars is naturally praised because it seems to carry relief to the distressed and indigent, but when we observe the encouragement thence arising to idleness and debauchery, we regard that species of charity rather as a weakness than a virtue.

Which of the following is mentioned in the passage as a possible consequence of consigning good nature to your home alone?

Possible Answers:

The restriction of a good reputation to one's family only

A certain future for servants

A smaller radius of benefit for others

A desire to be a source of good in the wider world

The destruction of a functioning society

Correct answer:

A smaller radius of benefit for others

Explanation:

The author states that “If confined to private life, the sphere of his activity is narrower; but his influence is all benign and gentle. If exalted into a higher station, mankind and posterity reap the fruit of his labors.” So, the result of keeping goodness solely in your home is that only those closest to you benefit and your sphere, or radius, of influence is made smaller. The other answers are largely unsubstantiated.

Example Question #32 : Recognizing Details Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from How to Tell a Story and Other Essays by Mark Twain (1897)

There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind—the humorous. The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst. The humorous story is strictly a work of art—high and delicate art—and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous story—understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print—was created in America, and has remained at home. The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard. And sometimes he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the "nub" of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.

Let me set down an instance of the comic method, using an anecdote that has been popular all over the world for twelve or fifteen hundred years:

In the course of a certain battle, a soldier whose leg had been shot off appealed to another soldier who was hurrying by to carry him to the rear, informing him at the same time of his injury; whereupon the generous son of Mars, shouldering the unfortunate, proceeded to carry out the other’s desire. Bullets and cannon-balls were flying in all directions, and presently one of the latter took the wounded man's head off—without, however, his deliverer being aware of it. Soon he was hailed by an officer, who said:

"Where are you going with that carcass?"

"To the rear, sir—he's lost his leg!"

"His leg, forsooth?" responded the astonished officer; "you mean his head, you booby."

Whereupon the soldier dispossessed himself of his burden, and stood looking down upon it in great perplexity. At length he said:

"It is true, sir, just as you have said." Then after a pause he added, "But he TOLD me IT WAS HIS LEG—"

Here the narrator bursts into explosion after explosion of thunderous horse-laughter, repeating that nub from time to time. It takes only a minute and a half to tell that in its comic-story form; and isn't worth the telling, after all. Put into the humorous-story form it takes ten minutes, and is about the funniest thing I have ever listened to—as James Whitcomb Riley tells it.

He tells it in the character of a dull-witted old farmer who has just heard it for the first time, thinks it is unspeakably funny, and is trying to repeat it to a neighbor. But he can't remember it; so he gets all mixed up and wanders helplessly round and round, putting in tedious details that don't belong in the tale and only retard it; taking them out conscientiously and putting in others that are just as useless; stopping his narrative a good while in order to try to recall the name of the soldier that was hurt, and finally remembering that the soldier's name was not mentioned, and remarking placidly that the name is of no real importance, anyway—better, of course, if one knew it, but not essential, after all—and so on, and so on, and so on.

The teller is innocent and happy and pleased with himself, and has to stop occasionally to keep from laughing outright, but his body quakes in a jelly-like way with interior chuckles; and at the end of the ten minutes the audience have laughed until they are exhausted, and the tears are running down their faces. The simplicity and innocence and sincerity and unconsciousness of the old farmer are perfectly simulated, and the result is a performance which is thoroughly charming and delicious. This is art and fine and beautiful, and only a master can compass it; but a machine could tell the other story.

The “dull-witted old farmer” is an example of __________.

Possible Answers:

a character that often features in humorous stories

the type of person most susceptible to the poorly constructed comic stories

a character used to tell a humorous story

a friend of the author who is ignorant of the differences between a humorous story and a comic story

a lazy type of character who is often the centerpiece of comic stories

Correct answer:

a character used to tell a humorous story

Explanation:

The “dull-witted old farmer” appears in the essay as a character used by the humorous storyteller James Whitcomb Riley. From the evidence presented here, one can determine that the “dull-witted old farmer” is an example of a character used to tell a humorous story: “Put into the humorous-story form it takes ten minutes, and is about the funniest thing I have ever listened to—as James Whitcomb Riley tells it. He tells it in the character of a dull-witted old farmer who has just heard it for the first time, thinks it is unspeakably funny, and is trying to repeat it to a neighbor.”

Example Question #111 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

It is natural to believe in great men. If the companions of our childhood should turn out to be heroes, and their condition regal, it would not surprise us. All mythology opens with demigods, and the circumstance is high and poetic; that is, their genius is paramount. In the legends of the Gautama, the first men ate the earth, and found it deliciously sweet.

Nature seems to exist for the excellent. The world is upheld by the veracity of good men: they make the earth wholesome. They who lived with them found life glad and nutritious. Life is sweet and tolerable only in our belief in such society, and actually or ideally we manage to live with superiors. We call our children and our lands by their names. Their names are wrought into the verbs of language, their works and effigies are in our houses, and every circumstance of the day recalls an anecdote of them.

The search after the great is the dream of youth and the most serious occupation of manhood. We travel into foreign parts to find his works—if possible, to get a glimpse of him. But we are put off with fortune instead. You say the English are practical; the Germans are hospitable; in Valencia the climate is delicious; and in the hills of the Sacramento there is gold for the gathering. Yes, but I do not travel to find comfortable, rich, and hospitable people, or clear sky, or ingots that cost too much. But if there were any magnet that would point to the countries and houses where are the persons who are intrinsically rich and powerful, I would sell all, and buy it, and put myself on the road today.

The people go with us on their credit. The knowledge that in the city is a man who invented the railroad raises the credit of all the citizens. But enormous populations, if they be beggars, are disgusting, like moving cheese, like hills of ants or of fleas—the more, the worse.

Our religion is the love and cherishing of these patrons. The gods of fable are the shining moments of great men. We run all our vessels into one mould. Our colossal theologies of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, are the necessary and structural action of the human mind. The student of history is like a man going into a warehouse to buy clothes or carpets. He fancies he has a new article. If he goes to the factory, he shall find that his new stuff still repeats the scrolls and rosettes which are found on the interior walls of the pyramids of Thebes. Our theism is the purification of the human mind. Man can paint, or make, or think nothing but man. He believes that the great material elements had their origin from his thought. And our philosophy finds one essence collected or distributed.

Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds. I count him a great man who inhabits a higher sphere of thought, into which other men rise with labor and difficulty; he has but to open his eyes to see things in a true light, and in large relations, whilst they must make painful corrections and keep a vigilant eye on many sources of error. His service to us is of like sort. It costs a beautiful person no exertion to paint his or her image on our eyes; yet how splendid is that benefit! It costs no more for a wise soul to convey his quality to other men. And everyone can do his best thing easiest. He is great who is what he is from nature, and who never reminds us of others.

Which of the following is mentioned in the passage as a possible consequence of living with great men?

Possible Answers:

Better quality of life

A low sense of self-esteem

Improved access to food

The propagation of a society of great men

Envy towards one person in a community

Correct answer:

Better quality of life

Explanation:

The author says in the second paragraph that: “The world is upheld by the veracity of good men: they make the earth wholesome. They who lived with them found life glad and nutritious.” So, life with great men is a good life which is beneficial to oneself. Here the word “nutritious” is used not in the sense of food but of intellect or goodness of life. There is no mention of jealousy, low self-esteem, or envy and while we could assume society would become better, we cannot state that it would become one of great men from the information given.

Example Question #112 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796)

The monks having attended their abbot to the door of his cell, he dismissed them with an air of conscious superiority in which humility's semblance combated with the reality of pride. He was no sooner alone, than he gave free loose to the indulgence of his vanity. When he remembered the enthusiasm that his discourse had excited, pride told him loudly that he was superior to the rest of his fellow-creatures.

“Who,” thought he; “Who but myself has passed the ordeal of youth, yet sees no single stain upon his conscience? Who else has subdued the violence of strong passions and an impetuous temperament, and submitted even from the dawn of life to voluntary retirement? I seek for such a man in vain. I see no one but myself possessed of such resolution. Religion cannot boast Ambrosio's equal! How powerful an effect did my discourse produce upon its auditors! How they loaded me with benedictions, and pronounced me the sole uncorrupted stalwart of the church! What then now is left for me to do? Nothing, but to watch as carefully over the conduct of my brothers as I have hitherto watched over my own. Yet hold! May I not be tempted from those paths which till now I have pursued without one moment's wandering? I must now abandon the solitude of my retreat; the fairest and noblest dames of Madrid continually present themselves at the abbey, and will use no other confessor. Should I meet some lovely female in that world that I am constrained to enter, lovely . . . as you, Madonna . . . !”

As he said this, he fixed his eyes upon a picture of the Virgin, which was suspended opposite to him. This for two years had been the object of his increasing wonder and adoration. He paused, and gazed upon it with delight.

“What beauty in that countenance!” He continued after a silence of some minutes. “Oh! If such a creature existed, and existed but for me! Gracious God, should I then resist the temptation? Should I not barter for a single embrace the reward of my sufferings for thirty years? Should I not abandon . . . Fool that I am! Whither do I suffer my admiration of this picture to hurry me? Away, impure ideas! Let me remember that woman is forever lost to me. Never was mortal formed so perfect as this picture. But even did such exist, the trial might be too mighty for a common virtue, but Ambrosio's is proof against temptation. Temptation, did I say? To me it would be none. It is not the woman's beauty that fills me with such enthusiasm; it is the painter's skill that I admire, it is the divinity that I adore! Are not the passions dead in my bosom? Have I not freed myself from the frailty of mankind? Fear not, Ambrosio! Take confidence in the strength of your virtue.”

Here his reverie was interrupted by three soft knocks at the door of his cell. With difficulty did the abbot awake from his delirium. The knocking was repeated.

“Who is there?” said Ambrosio at length.

“It is only Rosario,” replied a gentle voice.

“Enter! Enter, my son!”

The door was immediately opened, and Rosario appeared with a small basket in his hand.

Rosario was a young novice belonging to the monastery, who in three months intended to make his profession. A sort of mystery enveloped this youth, which rendered him at once an object of interest and curiosity.

How long can it be inferred that Rosario has been part of a religious order?

Possible Answers:

Two years

Ten years

Twenty-five years

Thirty years

Fifty years

Correct answer:

Thirty years

Explanation:

When talking to himself in paragraph four, Rosario says, "Should I not barter for a single embrace the reward of my sufferings for thirty years?" This line suggests that Rosario has probably been part of the religious order at the monastery for thirty years.

Example Question #113 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Prince by Nicholas Machiavelli (1513; trans. Marriott, 1908)

A prince ought to have no other aim or thought nor select anything else for his study than war and its rules and discipline, for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules. The first cause of your losing a state is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art. Francesco Sforza, through being martial, from a private person became Duke of Milan, and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and troubles of arms, from dukes became private persons. For among other evils that being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies against which a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on.

Concerning Things for Which Men, and Especially Princes, are Blamed

It remains now to see what ought to be the rules of conduct for a prince toward subject and friends. And as I know that many have written on this point, I expect I shall be considered presumptuous in mentioning it again, especially as in discussing it I shall depart from the methods of other people. But it being my intention to write a thing which shall be useful to him who apprehends it, it appears to me more appropriate to follow up the real truth of the matter than the imagination of it; for many have pictured republics and principalities that in fact have never been known or seen because how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil.

Hence, it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity. All men when they are spoken of, and chiefly princes for being more highly placed, are remarkable for some of those qualities that bring them either blame or praise; and thus it is that one is reputed liberal, another miserly; one is reputed generous, one rapacious; one cruel, one compassionate; one faithless, another faithful. And I know that everyone will confess that it would be most praiseworthy in a prince to exhibit all the above qualities that are considered good, but because they can neither be entirely possessed nor observed, for human conditions do not permit it, it is necessary for him to be sufficiently prudent that he may know how to avoid the reproach of those vices that would lose him his state.

Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether it is Better to be Loved than Feared

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed, they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant, but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined, because men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

According to the author, which of the following areas of study is most important to a would-be ruler?

Possible Answers:

Psychology

Politics

Economics

Warfare

Philosophy 

Correct answer:

Warfare

Explanation:

In the opening lines of this passage, the author states that “The Prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war.” He goes on to state that the study of warfare is so significant that it not only allows men who are born into power to hold on to their power, but that it might also allow someone to rise to power. As the author directly states his belief that the study of warfare is most important, this question is really asking you to recall details from the passage.

Example Question #114 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Belize" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

As an independent country, Belize has existed for little over thirty years, having achieved full autonomy from Britain in 1981. Thirty years is not a lot of time to develop a distinct cultural identity anywhere in the world, and in Belize, the situation is complicated by several factors. There is no dominant ethnic group; religion and language are far from homogenous; it is the only former English colony in Latin America, and it is seemingly closer to a Caribbean state than a Central American one, a situation that is not helped by the tension that exists between Belize and Guatemala. Without a homogenous culture, Belizean national identity is hard to define, particularly for an outsider.

The recent history of Belize gives significant insight into why this should be. The area was originally part of the great Mayan empire in Central America, but the Maya were in decline long before the arrival of Europeans. First, the Spanish came and settled much of the area around Belize, but due to a distinct absence of gold and silver, they largely ignored the territory of Belize itself. The first Europeans to occupy Belize in any significant number were English pirates—violent men who grew wealthy pillaging Spanish ships. But pirates by their very nature create transient communities; it would be English Puritans who were the first Europeans to settle Belize on a permanent basis. They sustained themselves on Belize’s fecund agricultural land and, following the introduction of sugar and the extensive logging of timber, eventually grew wealthy—wealthy enough to purchase slaves to do the bulk of the work for them. For one-hundred and fifty years, the economic system of slavery was dominant in Belize, but following the territory’s formal inclusion as a colony of Britain (called the British Honduras colony) in the 1840s, the institution of slavery was outlawed. 

By this time, however, two significant and long-lasting precedents had been set. The first was the cultural and ethnic diversity of Belize. The marriage of European colonials to freed slaves created a large mestizo population, and the country received influxes of immigrants from the Caribbean, Spanish-speaking refugees from Honduras and El Salvador during times of Civil War, and settlers from Taiwan and Hong Kong. The arrival of people of so many different ethnic backgrounds has only increased the significance of the second precedent, established in colonial times—namely the concentration of property ownership in the hands of foreigners.

At the height of the British Honduras colony, the wealth in Belize was entirely held by English and Scottish settlers, and native Belizeans were either engaged in open conflict with the crown or else forced into servitude and subjugation. The legacy has continued long past independence. In contemporary Belize, almost eighty percent of property and businesses are owned by outsiders. The English and Spanish have largely been replaced with Americans and Taiwanese, but the matter remains the same. What little wealth is produced in the nation is exported elsewhere, and those that live in Belize are often forced to rely exclusively on tourism. If Belizeans are unable to own their own property and to manage their own businesses, then national identity and cultural homogeny may have little opportunity to flourish.

And, yet, the experience of talking with the people in Belize belies these expectations. There are many people, of course, who have recently arrived in Belize and carry with them their culture, language, and customs. These people initially tend to stick to their small and distinct social groups. But, there is a growing tendency to integrate into the larger population. The majority of people are first- or second-generation independent Belizeans. Like people across the world who gained nationhood in the twentieth century, there is a distinct sense of sincere pride that would be hard to recognize in the overly ironic West. Belizeans—be they Maya, Garifuna, Honduran, Amish, Mestizo, or Taiwanese—believe in the future of their country. There is little doubt that the road ahead will be challenging, but there are causes for resilient optimism. Not least of these is Belize’s rich biodiversity and unmolested natural wonders that make it such a haven for naturalists and scientists from around the world. The future of Belize is likely to be one of continuous diversity, but like other former colonial nations like Brazil and the United States, Belizeans believe they can make a strength of it.

Which of these is NOT given as a reason by the author as to why Belizean national identity is a complicated issue?

Possible Answers:

Its diverse ethnic groups

Its lack of religious homogeny

Its status as a former English colony

Its lack of a unified language

All of these answers are given as reasons by the author.

Correct answer:

All of these answers are given as reasons by the author.

Explanation:

In the introductory paragraph, the author discusses the various reasons why Belizean national identity is hard to define. He states, “There is no dominant ethnic group; religion and language are far from homogenous; [and] it is the only former English colony in Latin America.” Thus, all of the answer choices are given as reasons.

Example Question #115 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Belize" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

As an independent country, Belize has existed for little over thirty years, having achieved full autonomy from Britain in 1981. Thirty years is not a lot of time to develop a distinct cultural identity anywhere in the world, and in Belize, the situation is complicated by several factors. There is no dominant ethnic group; religion and language are far from homogenous; it is the only former English colony in Latin America, and it is seemingly closer to a Caribbean state than a Central American one, a situation that is not helped by the tension that exists between Belize and Guatemala. Without a homogenous culture, Belizean national identity is hard to define, particularly for an outsider.

The recent history of Belize gives significant insight into why this should be. The area was originally part of the great Mayan empire in Central America, but the Maya were in decline long before the arrival of Europeans. First, the Spanish came and settled much of the area around Belize, but due to a distinct absence of gold and silver, they largely ignored the territory of Belize itself. The first Europeans to occupy Belize in any significant number were English pirates—violent men who grew wealthy pillaging Spanish ships. But pirates by their very nature create transient communities; it would be English Puritans who were the first Europeans to settle Belize on a permanent basis. They sustained themselves on Belize’s fecund agricultural land and, following the introduction of sugar and the extensive logging of timber, eventually grew wealthy—wealthy enough to purchase slaves to do the bulk of the work for them. For one-hundred and fifty years, the economic system of slavery was dominant in Belize, but following the territory’s formal inclusion as a colony of Britain (called the British Honduras colony) in the 1840s, the institution of slavery was outlawed. 

By this time, however, two significant and long-lasting precedents had been set. The first was the cultural and ethnic diversity of Belize. The marriage of European colonials to freed slaves created a large mestizo population, and the country received influxes of immigrants from the Caribbean, Spanish-speaking refugees from Honduras and El Salvador during times of Civil War, and settlers from Taiwan and Hong Kong. The arrival of people of so many different ethnic backgrounds has only increased the significance of the second precedent, established in colonial times—namely the concentration of property ownership in the hands of foreigners.

At the height of the British Honduras colony, the wealth in Belize was entirely held by English and Scottish settlers, and native Belizeans were either engaged in open conflict with the crown or else forced into servitude and subjugation. The legacy has continued long past independence. In contemporary Belize, almost eighty percent of property and businesses are owned by outsiders. The English and Spanish have largely been replaced with Americans and Taiwanese, but the matter remains the same. What little wealth is produced in the nation is exported elsewhere, and those that live in Belize are often forced to rely exclusively on tourism. If Belizeans are unable to own their own property and to manage their own businesses, then national identity and cultural homogeny may have little opportunity to flourish.

And, yet, the experience of talking with the people in Belize belies these expectations. There are many people, of course, who have recently arrived in Belize and carry with them their culture, language, and customs. These people initially tend to stick to their small and distinct social groups. But, there is a growing tendency to integrate into the larger population. The majority of people are first- or second-generation independent Belizeans. Like people across the world who gained nationhood in the twentieth century, there is a distinct sense of sincere pride that would be hard to recognize in the overly ironic West. Belizeans—be they Maya, Garifuna, Honduran, Amish, Mestizo, or Taiwanese—believe in the future of their country. There is little doubt that the road ahead will be challenging, but there are causes for resilient optimism. Not least of these is Belize’s rich biodiversity and unmolested natural wonders that make it such a haven for naturalists and scientists from around the world. The future of Belize is likely to be one of continuous diversity, but like other former colonial nations like Brazil and the United States, Belizeans believe they can make a strength of it.

The original Spanish settlers in Central America primarily ignored Belize because __________.

Possible Answers:

They met with fierce resistance from the local population.

The territory was overrun with British pirates. 

They were hassled and harried by the British Empire.

They did not find any gold or silver in the territory. 

The territory was overwhelmingly beset by disease and famine. 

Correct answer:

They did not find any gold or silver in the territory. 

Explanation:

Answering this question requires paying attention to detail. In the second paragraph, the author discusses the various initial waves of European settlement in the territory that now comprises Belize. Of the Spanish, he says, “First, the Spanish came and settled much of the area around Belize, but due to a distinct absence of gold and silver, largely ignored the territory of Belize itself.” So, the Spanish did not settle in Belize because they did not find any gold or silver in the territory. 

Example Question #116 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from “The King of Spain” by Oscar Wilde in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914)

From a window in the palace the sad melancholy king watched them. Behind him stood his brother, Don Pedro of Aragon, who he hated, and his confessor, the Grand Inquisitor of Granada, sat by his side. Sadder even than usual was the king, for as he looked at the Infanta bowing with childish gravity to the assembling counters, or laughing behind her fan at the grim Duchess of Albuquerque who always accompanied her, he thought of the young queen, her mother, who but a short time before—so it seemed to him—had come from the gay country of France, and had withered away in the somber splendor of the Spanish court, dying just six months after the birth of her child, and before she had seen the almonds blossom twice in the orchard or plucked the second year’s fruit from the old gnarled fig-tree that stood in the center of the now grass-grown courtyard. So great had been his love for her that he had not suffered even the grave to hide her from him. She had been embalmed by a Moorish physician, who in return for this service had been granted his life, which for heresy and suspicion of magical practices had been already forfeited, men said, to the Holy Office, and her body was still lying on its tapestried bier in the black marble chapel of the Palace, just as the monks had borne her in on that windy March day nearly twelve years before. Once every month the king, wrapped in a dark cloak and with a muffled lantern in his hand, went in and knelt by her side calling out, “Mi reina! Mi reina!” and sometimes breaking through the formal etiquette that in Spain governs every separate action of life and sets limits even to the sorrow of a king, he would clutch at the pale jeweled hands in a wild agony of grief, and try to wake by his mad kisses the cold painted face.

Certainly he had loved her madly, and to the ruin, many thought, of his country, then at war with England for the possession of the empire of the New World. He had hardly ever permitted her to be out of his sight; for her, he had forgotten, or seemed to have forgotten, all grave affairs of State; and, with that terrible blindness that passion brings upon its servants, he had failed to notice that the elaborate ceremonies by which he sought to please her did but aggravate the strange malady from which she suffered. When she died he was, for a time, like one bereft of reason. Indeed, there is no doubt but that he would have formally abdicated and retired to the great Trappist monastery at Granada, of which he was already titular Prior, had he not been afraid to leave the little Infanta at the mercy of his brother, whose cruelty, even in Spain, was notorious, and who was suspected by many of having caused the queen’s death by means of a pair of poisoned gloves that he had presented to her on the occasion of her visiting his castle in Aragon. Even after the expiration of the three years of public mourning that he had ordained throughout his whole dominions by royal edict, he would never suffer his ministers to speak about any new alliance, and when the Emperor himself sent to him, and offered him the hand of the lovely Archduchess of Bohemia, his niece, in marriage, he bade the ambassadors tell their master that the king of Spain was already wedded to Sorrow, and that though she was a barren bride, he loved her better than Beauty; an answer that cost his crown the rich provinces of the Netherlands, which soon after, at the Emperor’s instigation, revolted against him under the leadership of some fanatics of the reformed church.

How does the author characterize the differences between the French and Spanish kingdoms?

Possible Answers:

The French kingdom is impoverished whereas the Spanish kingdom is wealthy.

The French kingdom is disorganized and chaotic whereas the Spanish kingdom is orderly and hierarchical.

The French kingdom is happy and merry whereas the Spanish kingdom is stark and serious.

The French kingdom is secular and pragmatic whereas the Spanish kingdom is devoutly religious.

The French kingdom is belligerent and volatile whereas the Spanish kingdom is peaceful and meek.

Correct answer:

The French kingdom is happy and merry whereas the Spanish kingdom is stark and serious.

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read carefully in detail and to understand the definitions of the word “gay” and “somber.” In the first paragraph, when the author first introduces the Spanish king’s great sorrow at the death of his wife, he states, “he thought of the young queen, her mother, who but a short time before—so it seemed to him—had come from the gay country of France, and had withered away in the somber splendor of the Spanish court.” The country of France is described as “gay” meaning merry, happy, or festive, and the country of Spain is described as “somber,” meaning grave, stark, and serious. The implication is that the queen, who had been so happy in the French kingdom, was unable to adjust to the starkness and seriousness of the Spanish kingdom. There is no evidence to support any of the other answer choices.

Example Question #117 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Prince by Nicholas Machiavelli (1513; trans. Mariott 1908)

Having discoursed particularly on the characteristics of such principalities as in the beginning I proposed to discuss, and having considered in some degree the causes of their being good or bad, and having shown the methods by which many have sought to acquire them and to hold them, it now remains for me to discuss generally the means of offense and defense which belong to each of them.

We have seen above how necessary it is for a prince to have his foundations well laid, otherwise it follows of necessity he will go to ruin. The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws. I shall leave the laws out of the discussion and shall speak of the arms.

I say, therefore, that the arms with which a prince defends his state are either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were. Thus it was that Charles, King of France, was allowed to seize Italy with chalk in hand; and he who told us that our sins were the cause of it told the truth, but they were not the sins he imagined, but those which I have related. And as they were the sins of princes, it is the princes who have also suffered the penalty.

I wish to demonstrate further the infelicity of these arms. The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skillful, you are ruined in the usual way.

And if it be urged that whoever is armed will act in the same way, whether mercenary or not, I reply that when arms have to be resorted to, either by a prince or a republic, then the prince ought to go in person and perform the duty of a captain; the republic has to send its citizens, and when one is sent who does not turn out satisfactorily, it ought to recall him, and when one is worthy, to hold him by the laws so that he does not leave the command. And experience has shown princes and republics, single-handed, making the greatest progress, and mercenaries doing nothing except damage; and it is more difficult to bring a republic, armed with its own arms, under the sway of one of its citizens than it is to bring one armed with foreign arms. Rome and Sparta stood for many ages armed and free. The Swiss are completely armed and quite free. And so I say it is far more dangerous to be defended by mercenaries, than it is to be defended by soldiers of your own state.

Who does the author believe makes the best commander during a time of war?

Possible Answers:

A skilled mercenary captain

It is impossible to say; it can only be determined that the author would advise strongly against any mercenary leader.

The prince himself

A skilled tactician chosen from amongst the population of the republic

An experienced but modestly ambitious mercenary captain

Correct answer:

The prince himself

Explanation:

This question requires you to read carefully to discover the answer. In the concluding paragraph, the author states, “And if it be urged that whoever is armed will act in the same way, whether mercenary or not, I reply that when arms have to be resorted to, either by a prince or a republic, then the prince ought to go in person and perform the duty of a captain.” So, it is clear that the author believes that the prince himself makes the best commander during a time of war.

Example Question #118 : Content Of Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Prince by Nicholas Machiavelli (1513; trans. Mariott 1908)

Having discoursed particularly on the characteristics of such principalities as in the beginning I proposed to discuss, and having considered in some degree the causes of their being good or bad, and having shown the methods by which many have sought to acquire them and to hold them, it now remains for me to discuss generally the means of offense and defense which belong to each of them.

We have seen above how necessary it is for a prince to have his foundations well laid, otherwise it follows of necessity he will go to ruin. The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws. I shall leave the laws out of the discussion and shall speak of the arms.

I say, therefore, that the arms with which a prince defends his state are either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were. Thus it was that Charles, King of France, was allowed to seize Italy with chalk in hand; and he who told us that our sins were the cause of it told the truth, but they were not the sins he imagined, but those which I have related. And as they were the sins of princes, it is the princes who have also suffered the penalty.

I wish to demonstrate further the infelicity of these arms. The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skillful, you are ruined in the usual way.

And if it be urged that whoever is armed will act in the same way, whether mercenary or not, I reply that when arms have to be resorted to, either by a prince or a republic, then the prince ought to go in person and perform the duty of a captain; the republic has to send its citizens, and when one is sent who does not turn out satisfactorily, it ought to recall him, and when one is worthy, to hold him by the laws so that he does not leave the command. And experience has shown princes and republics, single-handed, making the greatest progress, and mercenaries doing nothing except damage; and it is more difficult to bring a republic, armed with its own arms, under the sway of one of its citizens than it is to bring one armed with foreign arms. Rome and Sparta stood for many ages armed and free. The Swiss are completely armed and quite free. And so I say it is far more dangerous to be defended by mercenaries, than it is to be defended by soldiers of your own state.

Which of these is NOT given as a reason given by the author as to why mercenaries are not to be trusted?

Possible Answers:

The evidence provided by the conquest of Italy.

They are drunkards and criminals.

They have no fear of God or God’s retribution.

They are self-serving and lacking in organization.

They are loyal only so long as their lives are not in danger.

Correct answer:

They are drunkards and criminals.

Explanation:

All of these answers are given as reasons why mercenaries are not to be trusted except that they are drunkards and criminals. The author says of mercenaries, “They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe”; this tells you that the author believes they are loyal so long as their lives are not in danger. The author also describes mercenaries as “ambitious, and without discipline,” so you know that the author believes them to be self-serving and lacking organization. Additionally, the author says “the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries,” so you know that the author believes the conquest of Italy furnishes support for his theories. Finally, the author declares that mercenaries “have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men.” The only information not provided is that mercenaries are drunkards and criminals.

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