SAT Critical Reading : Context-Dependent Meaning of Phrases or Sentences in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #231 : Humanities

Adapted from "Mr. Wordsworth" in The Spirit of the Age: or Contemporary Portraits by William Hazlitt (1825)

Mr. Wordsworth’s genius is a pure emanation of the Spirit of the Age. Had he lived in any other period of the world, he would never have been heard of. As it is, he has some difficulty to contend with the lethargy of his intellect, and the meanness of his subject. With him “lowliness is young ambition’s ladder;” but he finds it a toil to climb in this way the steep of Fame. His homely Muse can hardly raise her wing from the ground, nor spread her hidden glories to the sun. He has “no figures nor no fantasies, which busy passion draws in the brains of men:” neither the gorgeous machinery of mythological lore, nor the splendid colors of poetic diction. His style is vernacular: he delivers household truths. He sees nothing loftier than human hopes; nothing deeper than the human heart. This he probes, this he tampers with, this he poises, with all its incalculable weight of thought and feeling, in his hands, and at the same time calms the throbbing pulses of his own heart, by keeping his eye ever fixed on the face of nature. If he can make the life-blood flow from the wounded breast, this is the living coloring with which he paints his verse: if he can assuage the pain or close up the wound with the balm of solitary musing, or the healing power of plants and herbs and “skyey influences,” this is the sole triumph of his art. He takes the simplest elements of nature and of the human mind, the mere abstract conditions inseparable from our being, and tries to compound a new system of poetry from them; and has perhaps succeeded as well as anyone could. “Nihil humani a me alienum puto” (I consider nothing that is human alien to me)—is the motto of his works. He thinks nothing low or indifferent of which this can be affirmed: everything that professes to be more than this, that is not an absolute essence of truth and feeling, he holds to be vitiated, false, and spurious. In a word, his poetry is founded on setting up an opposition (and pushing it to the utmost length) between the natural and the artificial: between the spirit of humanity, and the spirit of fashion and of the world!

It is one of the innovations of the time. It partakes of, and is carried along with, the revolutionary movement of our age: the political changes of the day were the model on which he formed and conducted his poetical experiments. His Muse (it cannot be denied, and without this we cannot explain its character at all) is a leveling one. It proceeds on a principle of equality, and strives to reduce all things to the same standard. It is distinguished by a proud humility. It relies upon its own resources, and disdains external show and relief. It takes the commonest events and objects, as a test to prove that nature is always interesting from its inherent truth and beauty, without any of the ornaments of dress or pomp of circumstances to set it off. Hence the unaccountable mixture of seeming simplicity and real abstruseness in the Lyrical Ballads. Fools have laughed at, and wise men scarcely understand, them. He takes a subject or a story merely as pegs or loops to hang thought and feeling on; the incidents are trifling, in proportion to his contempt for imposing appearances; the reflections are profound, according to the gravity and aspiring pretensions of his mind.

Which of the following sentences best restates the meaning of the underlined line, “Hence the unaccountable mixture of seeming simplicity and real abstruseness in the Lyrical Ballads"?

Possible Answers:

Because of this, there is a primarily inexplicable combination of the simple and the complex in Lyrical Ballads.

As such there is an irresponsible blending of the simple and the complex in Lyrical Ballads.

The driving force in Lyrical Ballads comes from the numerous mixes of the uncomplicated with the complicated.

Thus there is no way of counting how much he mixes the complex with the simple in Lyrical Ballads.

Lyrical Ballads is impossible to interpret due to its constant combination of the inane and the succinct.

Correct answer:

Because of this, there is a primarily inexplicable combination of the simple and the complex in Lyrical Ballads.

Explanation:

The line is continuing to describe Wordsworth's methods like the sentence that precedes it. The author has already stated that Wordsworth's poetry “takes the commonest events and objects, as a test to prove that nature is always interesting from its inherent truth and beauty, without any of the ornaments of dress or pomp of circumstances to set it off.” The best restatement should express that in Lyrical Ballads, there is a juxtaposition of the complex and the simple which at first seems unexplainable. We cannot say, from the passage, that Wordsworth is irresponsible or what the “driving force” behind Lyrical Ballads was as it is not discussed in the specified line.

Example Question #11 : Determining Context Dependent Meanings Of Phrases And Clauses In Humanities Passages

Adapted from “Aristotle at Afternoon Tea” by Oscar Wilde (1887)

In society, says Mr. Mahaffy, every civilized man and woman ought to feel it their duty to say something, even when there is hardly anything to be said, and, in order to encourage this delightful art of brilliant chatter, he has published a social guide without which no debutante or dandy should ever dream of going out to dine. Not that Mr. Mahaffy's book can be said to be, in any sense of the word, popular. In discussing this important subject of conversation, he has not merely followed the scientific method of Aristotle which is, perhaps, excusable, but he has adopted the literary style of Aristotle for which no excuse is possible. There is, also, hardly a single anecdote, hardly a single illustration, and the reader is left to put the professor's abstract rules into practice, without either the examples or the warnings of history to encourage or to dissuade him in his reckless career. Still, the book can be warmly recommended to all who propose to substitute the vice of verbosity for the stupidity of silence. It fascinates in spite of its form and pleases in spite of its pedantry, and is the nearest approach, that we know of, in modern literature to meeting Aristotle at an afternoon tea.

What is the "the vice of verbosity"?

Possible Answers:

Greed

Sloth 

Reverence 

Intransigence

Wordiness 

Correct answer:

Wordiness 

Explanation:

"Verbosity" describes the wordiness of something and has a generally negative connotation. A phrase that employs more words than is necessary is considered verbose. "Reverence" means great respect, "sloth" means laziness, and "intransigence" means stubbornness.

Example Question #122 : Language In Humanities Passages

Adapted from “On Heroes and Hero-Worship” (1841) by Thomas Carlyle

Worship of a Hero is transcendent admiration of a Great Man. I say great men are still admirable! I say there is, at the bottom, nothing else admirable! No nobler feeling than this of admiration for one higher than himself dwells in the breast of man. It is to this hour, and at all hours, the vivifying influence in man's life. Religion I find stand upon it; not Paganism only, but far higher and truer religions--all religion hitherto known. Hero-worship, heartfelt prostrate admiration, submission, burning, boundless, for a noblest godlike Form of Man--is not that the germ of Christianity itself? The greatest of all Heroes is One--whom we do not name here! Let sacred silence meditate that sacred matter; you will find it the ultimate perfection of a principle extant throughout man's whole history on earth.

I am well aware that in these days Hero-worship, the thing I call Hero-worship, professes to have gone out, and finally ceased. This, for reasons which it will be worth while some time to inquire into, is an age that as it were denies the existence of great men; denies the desirableness of great men. Show our critics a great man, a Luther for example, they begin to account for him; not to worship him, but take the dimensions of him--and bring him out to be a little kind of man! He was the 'creature of the Time,' they say; the Time called him forth, the Time did everything, he nothing--but what we the little critic could have done too! This seems to me but melancholy work. The Time calls forth? Alas, we have known Times call loudly enough for their great man; but not find him when they called! He was not there; Providence had not sent him; the Time, calling its loudest, had to go down to confusion and wreck because he would not come when called.

For if we will think of it, no Time need have gone to ruin, could it have found a man great enough, a man wise and good enough: wisdom to discern truly what the Time wanted, valor to lead it on the right road; these are the salvation of any Time. But I liken common languid Times, with their unbelief, distress, perplexity, with their languid doubting characters and embarrassed circumstances, impotently crumbling down into ever worse distress towards final ruin--all this I liken to dry dead fuel, waiting for the lightning out of Heaven that shall kindle it. The great man, with his free force direct out of God's own hand, is the lightning. His word is the wise healing word which all can believe in. All blazes round him now, when he has once struck on it, into fire like his own. The dry moldering sticks are thought to have called him forth. They did want him greatly; but as to calling him forth--! Those are critics of small vision, I think, who cry: "See, is it not the sticks that made the fire?" No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men. There is no sadder symptom of a generation than such general blindness to the spiritual lightning, with faith only in the heap of barren dead fuel. It is the last consummation of unbelief. In all epochs of the world's history, we shall find the Great Man to have been the indispensable savior of his epoch--the lightning, without which the fuel never would have burnt. The History of the World, I said already, was the Biography of Great Men.

Which of these statements is most closely supported by the author’s conclusion that “the History of the World, I said already, was the Biography of Great Men?”

Possible Answers:

History too often ignores the lives of great men.

No great man can exist outside of the context of history.

Great men are the driving force of humanity.

Greatness is a concept lost to contemporary people.

The history of the world is best told through the common man.

Correct answer:

Great men are the driving force of humanity.

Explanation:

Throughout the passage the author discusses the importance of great men for advancing the condition of humanity. Answering this question relies partly on understanding the author’s overall point argument in the passage, and partly from reading the conclusion critically. The author is saying that the history of the world is a tale of the lives of great men. The only answer that closely supports this interpretation, and the author’s argument as a whole, is that “great men are the driving force of humanity.”

Example Question #121 : Language In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Strength and Decency by Theodore Roosevelt (1903)

There is always a tendency among very young men and among boys who are not quite young men as yet to think that to be wicked is rather smart; to think it shows that they are men. Oh, how often you see some young fellow who boasts that he is going to "see life," meaning by that that he is going to see that part of life which it is a thousand fold better should remain unseen!

I ask that every man here constitute himself his brother's keeper by setting an example to that younger brother which will prevent him from getting such a false estimate of life. Example is the most potent of all things. If any one of you in the presence of younger boys, and especially the younger people of our own family, misbehave yourself, if you use coarse and blasphemous language before them, you can be sure that these younger people will follow your example and not your precept. Remember that the preaching does not count if it is not backed up by practice. There is no good in your preaching to your boys to be brave if you run away. There is no good in your preaching to them to tell the truth if you do not. There is no good in your preaching to them to be unselfish if they see you selfish with your wife, disregardful of others. You must feel that the most effective way in which you can preach is by your practice.

What does the author most nearly mean when he says “Example is the most potent of all things?”

Possible Answers:

No man can get through life without the influence and help of others.

Young people respond well to formal instruction.

Young people learn more from example than instruction.

Example cannot replace instruction as the best form of teaching.

If you tell young people what to do they will not listen.

Correct answer:

Young people learn more from example than instruction.

Explanation:

This question is really asking if you understand the primary idea of the passage. The author summarizes his opinion on example versus instruction in the conclusion when he says: “You must feel that the most effective way in which you can preach is by your practice.” This is a rephrasing of the sentence “Example is the most potent of all things.” In these two sentences, and the passage as a whole, the author is describing how young people learn more from example than they do from instruction.

Example Question #1 : Context Dependent Meaning Of Phrases Or Sentences In Humanities Passages

Adapted from a letter of Thomas Jefferson popularly known as “A Dialogue Between the Head and Heart” (October 12th, 1786) in Volume II of Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson (1830)

(Note: This work is presented like a play having two characters, the “Head” and the “Heart.” In the following passage, we are privy to the words of the “Head.”)

Every thing in this world is matter of calculation. Advance, then, with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer, but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, and see which preponderates. The making an acquaintance is not a matter of indifference. When a new one is proposed to you, view it all round. Consider what advantages it presents, and to what inconveniences it may expose you. Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it. The art of life is the art of avoiding pain, and he is the best pilot, who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with which it is beset. Pleasure is always before us, but misfortune is at our side; while running after that, this arrests us.

The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves and to suffice for our own happiness. Those which depend on ourselves are the only pleasures a wise man will count on, for nothing is ours, which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures. Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride serene and sublime above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, the laws which bind up their existence, the laws which bind up their existence, and that Eternal Being, who made and bound them up by those laws.

Let this be our employ. Leave the bustle and tumult of society to those who have not talents to occupy themselves without them. Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another? Is there so little gall poured into our cup, that we must heed help to drink that of our neighbor? A friend dies, or leaves us: we feel as if a limb was cut off. He is sick: we must watch over him, and participate of his pains. His fortune is shipwrecked: ours must be laid under contribution. He loses a child, a parent, or a partner: we must mourn the loss as if it were our own.

What is meant by the underlined expression “retire within ourselves”?

Possible Answers:

To become self-sufficient

To stop working at the end of life

None of the other answers

To implode psychologically

To remember the many things we have learned

Correct answer:

To become self-sufficient

Explanation:

The word "retire" is most frequently used to describe the time at the end of life when someone stops working. This is true, but what it really means is what you do when you so retire. When you retire in this manner, you withdraw from the world and stop your external activity. We can call someone "retiring," meaning that the person likes to be alone. This is what the "Head" is proposing here: withdraw and be on your own.

Example Question #72 : Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from The Spoiled Children of Civilization (1912) by Samuel McChord Crothers

To spoil a child is no easy task, for Nature is all the time working on behalf of the childish virtues and veracities, and is gently correcting the abnormalities of education. Still it can be done. The secret of it is never to let the child alone, and to insist on doing for him all that he would otherwise do for himself—and more.

In that "more" is the spoiling power. The child must be early made acquainted with the feeling of satiety. There must be too much of everything. If he were left to himself to any extent, this would be an unknown experience. For he is a hungry little creature, with a growing appetite, and naturally is busy ministering to his own needs. He is always doing something for himself, and enjoys the exercise. The little egoist, even when he has "no language but a cry," uses that language to make known to the world that he wants something and wants it very much. As his wants increase, his exertions increase also. Arms and legs, fingers and toes, muscles and nerves and busy brain are all at work to get something which he desires. He is a mechanic fashioning his little world to his own uses. He is a despot who insists on his divine right to rule the subservient creatures around him. He is an inventor devising ways and means to secure all the ends which he has the wit to see. That these great works on which he has set his heart end in self is obvious enough, but we forgive him. Altruism will come in its own time if we can train ourselves.

What does the author most likely mean when he describes the child as having “no language but a cry?”

Possible Answers:

Language is necessary to communicate needs

To raise virtuous children it is necessary to discipline them

That the child refuses to speak

That the parents do not listen to their child

That the child is an infant

Correct answer:

That the child is an infant

Explanation:

By describing the child as “having no language but a cry” the author is describing how even an infant child is able to communicate his wants and needs through crying. The “little egoist” is used to convey an image of infant nature. Another clue to the solution of this problem can be found in the succeeding sentence where the author says “as his wants increase . . .” this should demonstrate that he is growing from something little. 

Example Question #121 : Language In Humanities Passages

Adapted from a letter of Thomas Jefferson popularly known as “A Dialogue Between the Head and Heart” (October 12th, 1786) in Volume II of Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson (1830)

(Note: This work is presented like a play having two characters, the “Head” and the “Heart.” In the following passage, we are privy to the words of the “Head.”)

Every thing in this world is matter of calculation. Advance, then, with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer, but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, and see which preponderates. The making an acquaintance is not a matter of indifference. When a new one is proposed to you, view it all round. Consider what advantages it presents, and to what inconveniences it may expose you. Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it. The art of life is the art of avoiding pain, and he is the best pilot, who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with which it is beset. Pleasure is always before us, but misfortune is at our side; while running after that, this arrests us.

The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves and to suffice for our own happiness. Those which depend on ourselves are the only pleasures a wise man will count on, for nothing is ours, which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures. Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride serene and sublime above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, the laws which bind up their existence, the laws which bind up their existence, and that Eternal Being, who made and bound them up by those laws.

Let this be our employ. Leave the bustle and tumult of society to those who have not talents to occupy themselves without them. Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another? Is there so little gall poured into our cup, that we must heed help to drink that of our neighbor? A friend dies, or leaves us: we feel as if a limb was cut off. He is sick: we must watch over him, and participate of his pains. His fortune is shipwrecked: ours must be laid under contribution. He loses a child, a parent, or a partner: we must mourn the loss as if it were our own.

What is meant by the underlined expression, “Let this be our employ”?

Possible Answers:

Let us work in order to avoid pleasure.

We must find new work.

Let us hire others to do non-intellectual work.

We must avoid all forms of working and pleasures.

None of the other answers

Correct answer:

None of the other answers

Explanation:

When used as a noun, the word "employ" means occupation. The "Head" is proposing that the "occupation" that is best is that of being removed from the world and all of its difficulties. None of the answers fits this meaning, so the best response is "None of the other answers."

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences In Argumentative Humanities Passages

Adapted from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume (1748)

Everyone will readily allow that there is a considerable difference between the perceptions of the mind, when a man feels the pain of excessive heat, or the pleasure of moderate warmth, and when he afterwards recalls to his memory this sensation, or anticipates it by his imagination. These faculties may mimic or copy the perceptions of the senses, but they never can entirely reach the force and vivacity of the original sentiment. The utmost we say of them, even when they operate with greatest vigor, is, that they represent their object in so lively a manner that we could almost say we feel or see it. But, except the mind be disordered by disease or madness, they never can arrive at such a pitch of vivacity as to render these perceptions altogether undistinguishable. All the colors of poetry, however splendid, can never paint natural objects in such a manner as to make the description be taken for a real landscape. The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation.

We may observe a like distinction to run through all the other perceptions of the mind. A man in a fit of anger is actuated in a very different manner from one who only thinks of that emotion. If you tell me that any person is in love I easily understand your meaning, and form a just conception of his situation, but never can mistake that conception for the real disorders and agitations of the passion. When we reflect on our past sentiments and affections, our thought is a faithful mirror and copies its objects truly, but the colors which it employs are faint and dull in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were clothed. It requires no nice discernment or metaphysical head to mark the distinction between them.

Here, therefore, we may divide all the perceptions of the mind into two classes or species, which are distinguished by their different degrees of force and vivacity. The less forcible and lively are commonly denominated "thoughts" or "ideas." The other species want a name in our language, and in most others; I suppose because it was not requisite for any but philosophical purposes to rank them under a general term or appellation. Let us, therefore, use a little freedom, and call them "impressions," employing that word in a sense somewhat different from the usual. By the term "impression," then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are the less lively perceptions, of which we are conscious when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned.

It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that people with minds “disordered by disease or madness” __________.

Possible Answers:

produce inferior imaginings to those who are at leisure

are seen by the author as being able to experience thoughts which are inseparable from their reality

are unable to experience reality without it being severely impaired by their emotions

None of these answers

are able to perceive reality with greater pitch and vivacity than those without diseases or madness

Correct answer:

are seen by the author as being able to experience thoughts which are inseparable from their reality

Explanation:

In the first paragraph, the author states that “except the mind be disordered by disease or madness, [our imaginings and memories] never can arrive at such a pitch of vivacity as to render these perceptions altogether undistinguishable.” This is equal to assuming that those with mental diseases or madness cannot distinguish between reality and their mental images due to the severity of their conditions.

Example Question #121 : Humanities Passages

Adapted from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume (1748)

Everyone will readily allow that there is a considerable difference between the perceptions of the mind, when a man feels the pain of excessive heat, or the pleasure of moderate warmth, and when he afterwards recalls to his memory this sensation, or anticipates it by his imagination. These faculties may mimic or copy the perceptions of the senses, but they never can entirely reach the force and vivacity of the original sentiment. The utmost we say of them, even when they operate with greatest vigor, is, that they represent their object in so lively a manner that we could almost say we feel or see it. But, except the mind be disordered by disease or madness, they never can arrive at such a pitch of vivacity as to render these perceptions altogether undistinguishable. All the colors of poetry, however splendid, can never paint natural objects in such a manner as to make the description be taken for a real landscape. The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation.

We may observe a like distinction to run through all the other perceptions of the mind. A man in a fit of anger is actuated in a very different manner from one who only thinks of that emotion. If you tell me that any person is in love I easily understand your meaning, and form a just conception of his situation, but never can mistake that conception for the real disorders and agitations of the passion. When we reflect on our past sentiments and affections, our thought is a faithful mirror and copies its objects truly, but the colors which it employs are faint and dull in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were clothed. It requires no nice discernment or metaphysical head to mark the distinction between them.

Here, therefore, we may divide all the perceptions of the mind into two classes or species, which are distinguished by their different degrees of force and vivacity. The less forcible and lively are commonly denominated "thoughts" or "ideas." The other species want a name in our language, and in most others; I suppose because it was not requisite for any but philosophical purposes to rank them under a general term or appellation. Let us, therefore, use a little freedom, and call them "impressions," employing that word in a sense somewhat different from the usual. By the term "impression," then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are the less lively perceptions, of which we are conscious when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned.

Which of these most accurately restates the meaning of “it was not requisite for any but philosophical purposes to rank them under a general term or appellation”?

Possible Answers:

We must denominate the opposite of thoughts by separate terms as it is required by society.

It is not required, except philosophically, to rate the different perceptions by name. 

It is a matter of deepest interest to philosophy that the psychological is classified in lax terms.

There is no boundary to the classification, via language, of mental states.

It is important to philosophically state that a thought is separate from an idea in more than classification.

Correct answer:

It is not required, except philosophically, to rate the different perceptions by name. 

Explanation:

We know from the third paragraph that the author is distinguishing between his two perceived states using the terms “thoughts and ideas” and “impressions.” What this specific excerpt is saying is that although it is not required, except from a philosophical standpoint, it is important to distinguish between them using separate names, or classifications. While some of the other answers come close to this restatement, they all make slight errors which can be unveiled on close inspection of the line or the line in context.

Example Question #261 : Act Reading

Adapted from “Economy” in Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)

On the whole, I think that it cannot be maintained that dressing has in this or any country risen to the dignity of an art. At present men make shift to wear what they can get. Like shipwrecked sailors, they put on what they can find on the beach, and at a little distance, whether of space or time, laugh at each other's masquerade. Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. We are amused at beholding the costume of Henry VIII, or Queen Elizabeth, as much as if it was that of the King and Queen of the Cannibal Islands. All costume off a man is pitiful or grotesque. It is only the serious eye peering from and the sincere life passed within it which restrain laughter and consecrate the costume of any people. Let Harlequin be taken with a fit of the colic and his trappings will have to serve that mood too. When the soldier is hit by a cannonball, rags are as becoming as purple. 

The childish and savage taste of men and women for new patterns keeps how many shaking and squinting through kaleidoscopes that they may discover the particular figure which this generation requires today. The manufacturers have learned that this taste is merely whimsical. Of two patterns which differ only by a few threads more or less of a particular color, the one will be sold readily, the other lie on the shelf, though it frequently happens that after the lapse of a season the latter becomes the most fashionable. Comparatively, tattooing is not the hideous custom which it is called. It is not barbarous merely because the printing is skin-deep and unalterable.

I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing. The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched. In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.  

What does the author mean by the underlined expression, “make shift”?

Possible Answers:

That people change what they wear quite a bit

That society has quite low tastes in clothing

That most clothing is ad hoc in his society

That the poor barely have a chance to find clothing

That clothing must be transferred from one location to another in his society

Correct answer:

That most clothing is ad hoc in his society

Explanation:

The expression "make shift" is akin to "make do" or the adjective "makeshift." It means that people merely "do what they can," putting together clothing as possible but without any real "rhyme or reason" that makes it coherent. It is done "for the time being." Such activity is often called ad hoc, meaning "for this time"—though not at all "for all time."

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