SAT II Literature : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #131 : Literary Terminology And Devices

 (1) During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. (2) I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. (3) I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. (4) I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life—the hideous dropping off of the veil.

What literary technique can be seen in the following phrase? “During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year…”

Possible Answers:

Allusion

Consonance

Prolepsis

Epanalepsis

Chiasmus

Correct answer:

Consonance

Explanation:

Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds, and it can be seen in “During,” “dull,” “dark,” “soundless,” and “day.” This could also be an example of alliteration (repetition of the same sounds at the beginning of words), so don’t confuse that term with allusion, which means a reference to another literary (or sometimes historical, artistic, etc.) thing, place, or event (e.g. the title of the novel Brave New World alludes to the lines “O brave new world, / That has such people in ‘t!” in Shakespeare’s The Tempest). Prolepsis is another word for flash forward, the literary technique of telling the reader what’s going to happen in the story’s future. Epanalepsis is another word for chiasmus, the repetition of the beginning of one clause at the end of the subsequent clause.

Passage adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” (1839).

Example Question #132 : Literary Terminology And Devices

 (1) During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. (2) I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. (3) I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. (4) I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life—the hideous dropping off of the veil.

What literary technique can be seen throughout sentence 4?

Possible Answers:

Metaphor

Simile

Anthimeria

Portmanteau

Aposiopesis

Correct answer:

Aposiopesis

Explanation:

Aposiopesis is the sudden, deliberate breaking-off of a line of writing or speech for deliberate effect. Here, the effect is to mimic the speaker’s horror – he is so revolted by the house that he can’t finish his thoughts and breaks off, helpless to fully describe what he’s seeing. Anthimeria is the use of one part of speech in place of another (e.g. “gift someone a sweater,” with “gift” used as a verb instead of a noun), often to create an apropos new word. A portmanteau is a neologism (new word) created by combining two existing words (e.g. Spanish + English = Spanglish).

Passage adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” (1839).

Example Question #133 : Literary Terminology And Devices

[1] One Saturday evening, at a time when he had not yet gone into housekeeping with Mademoiselle Mimi, who will shortly make her appearance, Rodolphe made the acquaintance at the table he frequented of a ladies' wardrobe keeper, named Mademoiselle Laure. [2] Having learned that he was editor of "The Scarf of Iris" and of "The Beaver," two fashion papers, the milliner, in hope of getting her goods puffed, commenced a series of significant provocations. [3] To these provocations Rodolphe replied by a pyrotechnical display of madrigals, sufficient to make Benserade, Voiture, and all other dealers in the fireworks of gallantry jealous; and at the end of the dinner, Mademoiselle Laure, having learned that he was a poet, gave him clearly to understand that she was not indisposed to accept him as her Petrarch. [4] She even, without circumlocution, made an appointment with him for the next day.

Which sentence contains the clearest example of prolepsis?

Possible Answers:

None of these

Sentence 3

Sentence 2

Sentence 1

Sentence 4

Correct answer:

Sentence 1

Explanation:

In sentence 1, we have a classic example of prolepsis, which is a literary flash-forward. We see the phrase “at a time when he had not yet gone into housekeeping with Mademoiselle Mimi,” which foretells something that has not yet happened but is about to. None of the other sentences contain this technique.

Passage adapted from Henry Murger’s Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (1888).

Example Question #134 : Literary Terminology And Devices

One Saturday evening, at a time when he had not yet gone into housekeeping with Mademoiselle Mimi, who will shortly make her appearance, Rodolphe made the acquaintance at the table he frequented of a ladies' wardrobe keeper, named Mademoiselle Laure. Having learned that he was editor of "The Scarf of Iris" and of "The Beaver," two fashion papers, the milliner, in hope of getting her goods puffed, commenced a series of significant provocations. To these provocations Rodolphe replied by a pyrotechnical display of madrigals, sufficient to make Benserade, Voiture, and all other dealers in the fireworks of gallantry jealous; and at the end of the dinner, Mademoiselle Laure, having learned that he was a poet, gave him clearly to understand that she was not indisposed to accept him as her Petrarch. She even, without circumlocution, made an appointment with him for the next day.

Which sentence in the passage contains the clearest example of allusion?

Possible Answers:

"She even, without circumlocution, made an appointment with him for the next day."

None of these

"Having learned that he was editor of "The Scarf of Iris" and of "The Beaver," two fashion papers, the milliner, in hope of getting her goods puffed, commenced a series of significant provocations."

"To these provocations Rodolphe replied by a pyrotechnical display of madrigals, sufficient to make Benserade, Voiture, and all other dealers in the fireworks of gallantry jealous; and at the end of the dinner, Mademoiselle Laure, having learned that he was a poet, gave him clearly to understand that she was not indisposed to accept him as her Petrarch."

"One Saturday evening, at a time when he had not yet gone into housekeeping with Mademoiselle Mimi, who will shortly make her appearance, Rodolphe made the acquaintance at the table he frequented of a ladies' wardrobe keeper, named Mademoiselle Laure."

Correct answer:

"To these provocations Rodolphe replied by a pyrotechnical display of madrigals, sufficient to make Benserade, Voiture, and all other dealers in the fireworks of gallantry jealous; and at the end of the dinner, Mademoiselle Laure, having learned that he was a poet, gave him clearly to understand that she was not indisposed to accept him as her Petrarch."

Explanation:

Allusion is a literary reference to a person, place, other work of literature, etc. In the correct answer option, we see allusions not only to the well-known poet Petrarch but also to some lesser known writers: “Benserade, Voiture, and all other dealers in the fireworks of gallantry.” None of the other sentences contain overt allusion

Passage adapted from Henry Murger’s Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (1888).

Example Question #135 : Literary Terminology And Devices

From the dim woods on either bank, Night’s ghostly army, the grey shadows, creep out with noiseless tread to chase away the lingering rear-guard of the light, and pass, with noiseless, unseen feet, above the waving river-grass, and through the sighing rushes; and Night, upon her sombre throne, folds her black wings above the darkening world, and, from her phantom palace, lit by the pale stars, reigns in stillness.

Then we run our little boat into some quiet nook, and the tent is pitched, and the frugal supper cooked and eaten. Then the big pipes are filled and lighted, and the pleasant chat goes round in musical undertone; while, in the pauses of our talk, the river, playing round the boat, prattles strange old tales and secrets, sings low the old child’s song that it has sung so many thousand years...

Harris said: “How about when it rained?”

You can never rouse Harris. There is no poetry about Harris—no wild yearning for the unattainable. Harris never “weeps, he knows not why.” If Harris’s eyes fill with tears, you can bet it is because Harris has been eating raw onions, or has put too much Worcester over his chop.

Sentences 1 and 2 are an example of what literary device?

Possible Answers:

Parataxis

Epithet

Foil

Juxtaposition

Polysyndeton

Correct answer:

Polysyndeton

Explanation:

The excessive use of “and” in both sentences 1 and 2 make them examples of polysyndeton, the abundant usage of conjunction words. An epithet is a descriptive phrase, an adjective, a sobriquet, or a nickname used to describe someone or something (e.g. “wine-dark” is a common Homeric epithet used to describe the sea). A foil is a character that provides an opposite or contrasting personality to another character (e.g. Mercutio is a foil for Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet). Parataxis refers to a type of sentence structure not present here, and a juxtaposition is a contrast between two things (often an unexpected and rewarding one).

Passage adapted from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889).

Example Question #136 : Literary Terminology And Devices

(1) We had taken up an oil-stove once, but “never again.” (2) It had been like living in an oil-shop that week. (3) It oozed. (4) I never saw such a thing as paraffin oil is to ooze. (5) We kept it in the nose of the boat, and, from there, it oozed down to the rudder, impregnating the whole boat and everything in it on its way, and it oozed over the river, and saturated the scenery and spoilt the atmosphere. (6) Sometimes a westerly oily wind blew, and at other times an easterly oily wind, and sometimes it blew a northerly oily wind, and maybe a southerly oily wind; but whether it came from the Arctic snows, or was raised in the waste of the desert sands, it came alike to us laden with the fragrance of paraffin oil.

(7) And that oil oozed up and ruined the sunset; and as for the moonbeams, they positively reeked of paraffin.

Sentence 6 contains an example of which literary device?

Possible Answers:

Synesthesia

Epistrophe

Portmanteau

Synecdoche

Sarcasm

Correct answer:

Epistrophe

Explanation:

Epistrophe is the repetition of the end of a clause at the end of several clauses in a row, and it’s what we see here with the repetition of “oily wind.” A portmanteau is a neologism (new word) created by combining two existing words (e.g. Spanish + English = Spanglish). Sarcasm is verbal irony and is often cutting or satirical. Synecdoche is a specific type of metonymy in which the real word for something is replaced by a word for a part of that thing (e.g. someone saying they need a “hand” when they really need the entire person’s help). Synesthesia is the conflation of different sensory perceptions (e.g. a velvety sound, a bright flavor).

Passage adapted from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889).

Example Question #137 : Literary Terminology And Devices

(1) We had taken up an oil-stove once, but “never again.” (2) It had been like living in an oil-shop that week. (3) It oozed. (4) I never saw such a thing as paraffin oil is to ooze. (5) We kept it in the nose of the boat, and, from there, it oozed down to the rudder, impregnating the whole boat and everything in it on its way, and it oozed over the river, and saturated the scenery and spoilt the atmosphere. (6) Sometimes a westerly oily wind blew, and at other times an easterly oily wind, and sometimes it blew a northerly oily wind, and maybe a southerly oily wind; but whether it came from the Arctic snows, or was raised in the waste of the desert sands, it came alike to us laden with the fragrance of paraffin oil.

(7) And that oil oozed up and ruined the sunset; and as for the moonbeams, they positively reeked of paraffin.

Sentence 7 contains an example of which literary device?

Possible Answers:

Asyndeton

Epanalepsis

Verisimilitude

Hyperbole

Cliché 

Correct answer:

Hyperbole

Explanation:

Sentence 7 can hardly be read literally: No matter how strong the travellers’ paraffin oil may have been, it cannot have actually affected the quality of the sunset or the moonbeams. This sentence is therefore an example of hyperbole, literary exaggeration.

Passage adapted from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889).

Example Question #138 : Literary Terminology And Devices

From the dim woods on either bank, Night’s ghostly army, the grey shadows, creep out with noiseless tread to chase away the lingering rear-guard of the light, and pass, with noiseless, unseen feet, above the waving river-grass, and through the sighing rushes; and Night, upon her sombre throne, folds her black wings above the darkening world, and, from her phantom palace, lit by the pale stars, reigns in stillness.

Then we run our little boat into some quiet nook, and the tent is pitched, and the frugal supper cooked and eaten. Then the big pipes are filled and lighted, and the pleasant chat goes round in musical undertone; while, in the pauses of our talk, the river, playing round the boat, prattles strange old tales and secrets, sings low the old child’s song that it has sung so many thousand years...

Harris said: “How about when it rained?”

You can never rouse Harris. There is no poetry about Harris—no wild yearning for the unattainable. Harris never “weeps, he knows not why.” If Harris’s eyes fill with tears, you can bet it is because Harris has been eating raw onions, or has put too much Worcester over his chop.

What literary device can be seen in paragraph 1?

Possible Answers:

Anthropomorphism

Foreshadowing

Telegraphic sentence

Pastoral

Antimetabole

Correct answer:

Anthropomorphism

Explanation:

In paragraph 1, we see inanimate “Night” being given human characteristics and possessions: a throne, a reign, an army. This is an example of personification, also known as anthropomorphism. A pastoral is a literary work that idealizes rustic country life (e.g. Wordsworth’s Prelude). Telegraphic sentence refers to any concise sentence (usually five or fewer words in length) that omits unnecessary words and parts of speech.

Passage adapted from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889).

Example Question #139 : Literary Terminology And Devices

From the dim woods on either bank, Night’s ghostly army, the grey shadows, creep out with noiseless tread to chase away the lingering rear-guard of the light, and pass, with noiseless, unseen feet, above the waving river-grass, and through the sighing rushes; and Night, upon her sombre throne, folds her black wings above the darkening world, and, from her phantom palace, lit by the pale stars, reigns in stillness.

Then we run our little boat into some quiet nook, and the tent is pitched, and the frugal supper cooked and eaten. Then the big pipes are filled and lighted, and the pleasant chat goes round in musical undertone; while, in the pauses of our talk, the river, playing round the boat, prattles strange old tales and secrets, sings low the old child’s song that it has sung so many thousand years...

Harris said: “How about when it rained?”

You can never rouse Harris. There is no poetry about Harris—no wild yearning for the unattainable. Harris never “weeps, he knows not why.” If Harris’s eyes fill with tears, you can bet it is because Harris has been eating raw onions, or has put too much Worcester over his chop.

What technique occurs between the first and second halves of this passage?

Possible Answers:

Chiasmus

Juxtaposition

Verisimilitude

Allegory

Antimetabole

Correct answer:

Juxtaposition

Explanation:

The first half of the passage is written in long, languorous sentences and describes the various joys of sleeping outdoors. The second half of the passage is written in short, terse sentences and describes wholly unromantic, mundane considerations. Paired together, these two haves are a perfect example of literary juxtaposition.

Passage adapted from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889).

Example Question #140 : Literary Terminology And Devices

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

(1776)

The second paragraph consistently makes use of _________________.

Possible Answers:

imagery

parallel structure

meter

metaphor

rhyme

Correct answer:

parallel structure

Explanation:

The writing in the second paragraph contains many examples of parallel structure. Parallel structure is the repetition of the same grammatical pattern. For example, at the beginning of the paragraph, there is repetition of clauses beginning with "that" closely followed by a subject or other noun and then a verb: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are..." Other examples include later in the paragraph, when two clauses of almost identical grammatical structure are placed side-by-side:  "to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

Passage adapted from The Declaration of Independence of the Continental Congress of the United States of America in 1776.

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