SAT II Literature : Form, Structure, Grammar, and Syntax

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #15 : Syntax And Structure Of Excerpts

Passage adapted from Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Spring" (1921).

To what purpose, April, do you return again?

Beauty is not enough.

You can no longer quiet me with the redness 

Of leaves opening stickily.

I know what I know.  5

The sun is hot on my neck as I observe

The spikes of the crocus.

The smell of the earth is good.

It is apparent that there is no death.

But what does that signify?  10

Not only under the ground are the brains of men

Eaten by maggots.

Life in itself

Is nothing,

An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.  15

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, 

April

Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

The final three lines are primarily developed through __________.

Possible Answers:

simile

consonance

idiom

personification

anecdote

Correct answer:

personification

Explanation:

These lines are developed primarily through personification because the month of April (a time of the year, something not human) is being described with human attributes, such as the ability to run and throw flowers. 

An "anecdote" is a short, amusing story told for the purpose of demonstrating a point or for entertainment. An "idiom" is an expression that is not interpreted literally but has a commonly accepted meaning that is different from what the individual words in the phrase would imply. A "simile" is a figure of speech that makes a compares two different things using the words "like" or "as." "Consonance" is the use of the same consonant sound throughout a sentence or phrase.  

Example Question #17 : Syntax And Structure Of Excerpts

1 Yes, long as children feel affright
2 In darkness, men shall fear a God;
3 And long as daisies yield delight
4 Shall see His footprints in the sod.
5 Is't ignorance? This ignorant state
6 Science doth but elucidate --
7 Deepen, enlarge. But though 'twere made
8 Demonstrable that God is not --
9 What then? It would not change this lot:
10 The ghost would haunt, nor could be laid.

11 Yea, ape and angel, strife and old debate --
12 The harps of heaven and the dreary gongs of hell;
13 Science the feud can only aggravate --
14 No umpire she betwixt the chimes and knell:
15 The running battle of the star and clod
16 Shall run for ever -- if there be no God.

(1876)

What is the subject of the verb "enlarge" (line 7)?

Possible Answers:

"This ignorant state" (line 5)

The addressee, because the verb is an imperative.

the speaker (implied)

"Science" (line 6)

God

Correct answer:

"Science" (line 6)

Explanation:

The subject of a verb is the thing which performs the action of that verb. For instance, in the sentence, "The dog barks," the "dog" is the subject of the verb "barks" because the dog is the thing which does the barking.

In lines 5-7, the poem reads: "This ignorant state / Science doth but elucidate-- / Deepen, enlarge..." In other words, science elucidates, deepens, and enlarges "this ignorant state." Science is the thing performing the action of all three of those verbs, "enlarge" included, and therefore "science" (line 6) is the subject of the verb "enlarge."

Passage excerpted from the epic poem Clarel by Herman Melville (1876).

Example Question #18 : Syntax And Structure Of Excerpts

1 Yes, long as children feel affright
2 In darkness, men shall fear a God;
3 And long as daisies yield delight
4 Shall see His footprints in the sod.
5 Is't ignorance? This ignorant state
6 Science doth but elucidate --
7 Deepen, enlarge. But though 'twere made
8 Demonstrable that God is not --
9 What then? It would not change this lot:
10 The ghost would haunt, nor could be laid.

11 Yea, ape and angel, strife and old debate --
12 The harps of heaven and the dreary gongs of hell;
13 Science the feud can only aggravate --
14 No umpire she betwixt the chimes and knell:
15 The running battle of the star and clod
16 Shall run for ever -- if there be no God.

(1876)

What is the direct object of the verb "aggravate" (line 13)?

Possible Answers:

"the feud" (line 13)

"ape and angel" (line 11)

"umpire" (line 14)

"science" (line 13)

"only" (line 13)

Correct answer:

"the feud" (line 13)

Explanation:

The direct object of a verb is the thing that receives the action of that verb. For instance, in the sentence, "The cat eats the food," the "food" is the direct object of the verb "eats" because it is the thing being eaten.

That said, in line 13, "Science the feud can only aggravate," the "feud" is the thing being aggravated. Therefore, "the feud" is the direct object of the verb "aggravate" in this line.

Passage excerpted from the epic poem Clarel by Herman Melville (1876).

Example Question #13 : Syntax And Structure Of Excerpts

Adapted from Life and Remains of John Clare "The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet"  by John Clare (1872, ed. J. L. Cherry)

I am! Yet what I am who cares, or knows?
My friends forsake me, like a memory lost.
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish, an oblivious host,
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost.
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss'd

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise.
Into the living sea of waking dream,
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys,
But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem
And all that's dear. Even those I loved the best
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod—
For scenes where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.

What is the effect of the enjambment of the underlined text?

Possible Answers:

It emphasizes the nothingness

It causes confusion for the reader

All of these answers are correct

It allows the author to keep the stanzas at six lines whilst keeping the same subject as the first paragraph

It can be interpreted as portraying the action of being tossed

Correct answer:

All of these answers are correct

Explanation:

We can say that the sentence that spans from the end of the first stanza to the start of the second stanza allows the author to keep the same idea while adhering to the form of six-line stanzas. We can also say that it emphasizes both the nothingness of the first line of the stanza and the action of being “tossed into the nothingness.” We can also say it causes confusion for the reader, as it is attempting to draw the reader into the confusion portrayed in the first two stanzas; therefore, we can say all of these answers are correct.

Example Question #11 : Grammar And Syntax: Poetry

1 Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
2 Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
3 Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
4 The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
5 Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
6 And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
7 In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
8 Sing in their high and lonely melody.
9 Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
10 I find under the boughs of love and hate,
11 In all poor foolish things that live a day,
12 Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
 
13 Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still
14 A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
15 Lest I no more hear common things that crave;
16 The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
17 The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
18 And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
19 But seek alone to hear the strange things said
20 By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
21 And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
22 Come near; I would, before my time to go,
23 Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
24 Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
 
(1893)

What is the direct object of the verb "find" in line 10?

Possible Answers:

the Rose (implied)

"beauty" (line 12)

"I" (line 10)

"fate" (line 9)

"things" (line 11)

Correct answer:

"beauty" (line 12)

Explanation:

The direct object of a verb is the thing which receives the action of that verb. For instance, in the sentence, "The cat ate the fish," the "fish" is the direct object of the verb "ate" because the fish is the thing being eaten.

In the case of the verb "find" in line 10 of this poem, the thing being found is the "beauty" in line 12. "Beauty" is therefore the direct object of this verb.

Passage adapted from "To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time" by William Butler Yeats (1893)

Example Question #12 : Grammar And Syntax: Poetry

1 Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
2 Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
3 Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
4 The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
5 Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
6 And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
7 In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
8 Sing in their high and lonely melody.
9 Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
10 I find under the boughs of love and hate,
11 In all poor foolish things that live a day,
12 Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
 
13 Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still
14 A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
15 Lest I no more hear common things that crave;
16 The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
17 The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
18 And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
19 But seek alone to hear the strange things said
20 By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
21 And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
22 Come near; I would, before my time to go,
23 Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
24 Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
 
(1893)

"Ruin" (line 5) functions syntactically as _____________.

Possible Answers:

the subject of an implied verb

the subject of "cast" (line 5)

the direct object of "cast" (line 5)

a noun in apposition to "Druid" (line 4)

a noun in apposition to "Fergus" (line 5)

Correct answer:

the direct object of "cast" (line 5)

Explanation:

The direct object of a verb is the thing which receives the action of that verb. For instance, in the sentence, "The cat ate the fish," the "fish" is the direct object of the verb "ate" because the fish is the thing being eaten.

"Ruin untold," along with "dreams," is one of the things that is "cast round Fergus" in line 5. Because "ruin" is one of the things being cast, it functions as the direct object of the verb "cast" in that line.

Passage adapted from "To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time" by William Butler Yeats (1893)

Example Question #11 : Form, Structure, Grammar, And Syntax

1 I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
2 And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
3 Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
4 And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

5 And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
6 Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
7 There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
8 And evening full of the linnet's wings.

9 I will arise and go now, for always night and day
10 I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
11 While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
12 I hear it in the deep heart's core.

(1893)

What is the grammatical function of "dropping" (line 5)?

Possible Answers:

Adjectival modifier of "slow" (line 5)

Adjectival modifier of "peace" (line 5)

Adverbial modifier of "peace" (line 5)

Adverbial modifier of "slow" (line 5)

Dangling participle

Correct answer:

Adverbial modifier of "slow" (line 5)

Explanation:

An adverbial modifier can be an adverb modifying (that is, describing) a verb, or it can also be an adverb modifying an adjective. Thus, "quickly" in "run quickly" and "very" in "very fast" are both adverbs. An adverb can even be a modifier for another adverb; such is the case with "very" in the phrase "very quickly."

An adjective (adjectival modifier), however, always modifies a noun.

In the case of "dropping" in line 5, it is clear from syntax and context that "dropping" must be modifying "slow." Because "slow" is itself an adjective, and adjectives are modified by adverbs (not more adjectives), the word modifying it must be an adverbial modifier.

Passage adapted from William Butler Yeats' "Lake Isle of Innisfree" (1893)

Example Question #14 : Grammar And Syntax: Poetry

1 MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold,      

2 And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;  

3 Round many western islands have I been         

4 Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.    

5 Oft of one wide expanse had I been told   

6 That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;

7 Yet did I never breathe its pure serene             

8 Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 

9 Then felt I like some watcher of the skies           

10 When a new planet swims into his ken;

11 Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes          

12 He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men           

13 Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—       

14 Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

 

(1816)

What is the subject of the verb "seen" (line 2)?  

Possible Answers:

"realms" (line 1)

"states" (line 2)

The addressee (implied)

"I" (line 1)

"states and kingdoms" (line 2)

Correct answer:

"I" (line 1)

Explanation:

The subject of a verb is the thing that performs the action of the verb. For instance, in the sentence, "The dog barks," the "dog" is the subject of the verb "barks" because the dog is the thing doing the barking.  

In the case of the verb "seen" in line 2, the thing doing the seeing is the speaker, who refers to himself as "I" in line 1. "I" is therefore the subject of the verb "seen."

Passage adapted from "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" by John Keats (1816)

Example Question #15 : Grammar And Syntax: Poetry

1 MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold,      

2 And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;  

3 Round many western islands have I been         

4 Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.    

5 Oft of one wide expanse had I been told   

6 That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;

7 Yet did I never breathe its pure serene             

8 Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 

9 Then felt I like some watcher of the skies           

10 When a new planet swims into his ken;

11 Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes          

12 He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men           

13 Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—       

14 Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

 

(1816)

Which of the following is the object of a preposition?

Possible Answers:

"planet" (line 10)

"islands" (line 3)

"Chapman" (line 8)

"hold" (line 4)

"silent" (line 14)

Correct answer:

"islands" (line 3)

Explanation:

A preposition is a word such as "on," "in," "at," "near," "toward," "beside," etc., which expresses the a relationship (often but not always spatial in nature) between a noun and something else in the sentence. The object of a preposition is the noun which the preposition governs.  Often this noun comes after the preposition. For instance, in the phrase "beside the house," the preposition is "beside" and the object of the preposition is the "house."

In line 3, "islands" is the object of the preposition "round." (Round means the same thing as the more modern English word "around.") None of the other answers are the object of a preposition.

Passage adapted from "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" by John Keats (1816)

Example Question #16 : Grammar And Syntax: Poetry

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, 

In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand dare seize the fire? 

And what shoulder, & what art, 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 
And when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand? & what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain? 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? what dread grasp 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 
And water'd heaven with their tears, 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

(1794)

The "he" in the bolded and underlined line refers to _______________.

Possible Answers:

The Tyger

God

The Lamb

A metalworker

William Blake

Correct answer:

God

Explanation:

Given that the following line reads, "What the hand dare seize the fire?" This line reflects a God who has the power to create the Tyger, as the speaker wonders at his motivations for doing so.

Passage adapted from William Blake's "The Tyger" (1794)

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