SAT II Literature : Inferences: Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #42 : Inferences

Passage adapted from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847) 

"Presentiments are strange things! and so are sympathies, and so are signs ; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key. I never laughed at presentiments in my life, because I have had strange ones of my own. Sympathies, I believe, exist (for instance, between far-distant, long-absent, wholly estranged relatives ; asserting, notwithstanding, their alienation, the unity of the source to which each traces his origin), whose workings baffle mortal comprehension. And signs, for aught we know, may be but the sympathies of nature with man."

Based on this passage alone, what can we infer about the author's knowledge concerning presentiments, sympathies and signs?

Possible Answers:

The author has a better understanding of sympathies than she does of presentiments or signs

None of these

The author has a sound, working theory of presentiments, sympathies and signs

The author is confident in her opinion concerning presentiments, less so concerning sympathies, and entirely unsure concerning signs

The author has a better understanding of signs than she does of sympathies or presentiments

Correct answer:

The author is confident in her opinion concerning presentiments, less so concerning sympathies, and entirely unsure concerning signs

Explanation:

The answer is that "the author is confident in her opinion concerning presentiments, less so concerning sympathies, and entirely unsure concerning signs." Here, you must deal directly with the language of the passage. The author describes exactly what presentiments are, implying that she is confident in her description. However, in terms of sympathies the author uses language such as "I believe," which detracts from the objectivity of her claims. And finally, concerning signs, the author writes that "for aught we know" implying that her description is as good as any, further implying that she is entirely ensure of the descriptive nature of signs. 

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