SAT II Literature : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #251 : Sat Subject Test In Literature

(1) From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. (2) A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. (3) Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. (4) Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. (5) They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. (6) The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

(1820)

Which sentence begins with alliteration?

Possible Answers:

Sentence 5

Sentence 2

Sentence 4

Sentence 1

Sentence 3

Correct answer:

Sentence 2

Explanation:

Sentence 2 begins with “drowsy, dreamy,” and this is an example of alliteration. (Alliteration is the repetition of similar sounds at the beginning of multiple words). Although some of these other sentences do contain alliteration, assonance, or consonance elsewhere, none of them begins with it.

Passage adapted from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)

Example Question #141 : Literary Terminology And Devices

(1) From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. (2) A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. (3) Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. (4) Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. (5) They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. (6) The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

(1820)

What literary device can be seen in the following phrase? “the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.”

Possible Answers:

Anthropomorphism

Litotes

Hyperbole

Ellipsis

Hypotaxis

Correct answer:

Anthropomorphism

Explanation:

Here, the inanimate nightmare acquires human tastes and actions. This is an example of personification, also known as anthropomorphism. Hyperbole is intentional exaggeration, and litotes is intentional understatement. Ellipsis is the deliberate omission of one or more words for the purpose of concision. Hypotaxis or hypotactic sentences are ones in which clauses are subordinate to other clauses (e.g. “I am late because I overslept”).

Passage adapted from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)

Example Question #142 : Literary Terminology And Devices

(1) The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. (2) Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely, plump, and desirable. (3) The Baron’s son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. (4) The Preceptor Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character. (5)

Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. (6) He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.

(1759)

Which sentence contains a double entendre?

Possible Answers:

Sentence 4

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 5

Sentence 1

Correct answer:

Sentence 1

Explanation:

After reading a description of the Baron’s corpulent wife in sentence 1, we see that the author has dubbed this woman a “person of great consideration.” Given the context, this can mean either that the woman is very reputable and thoughtful or that she has a great deal of consideration because she takes up a great deal of space.

Passage adapted from Voltaire’s Candide (1759)

Example Question #143 : Literary Terminology And Devices

As I ponder'd in silence,

  Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,

  A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,

  Terrible in beauty, age, and power,

  The genius of poets of old lands,    (5)

  As to me directing like flame its eyes,

  With finger pointing to many immortal songs,

  And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,

  Know'st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?

  And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,    (10)

  The making of perfect soldiers.

What literary device can be seen in line 2?

Possible Answers:

Flashback

Pathos

Parallelism

Portmanteau

Epithet

Correct answer:

Parallelism

Explanation:

The repeated use of gerunds (“returning,” “considering,” and “lingering”) is an example of parallelism. 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). Flashback is a shift in narrative to a previous scene in order to provide the reader with important background information. A portmanteau is a neologism (new word) created by combining two existing words (e.g. Spanish + English = Spanglish).

Passage adapted from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass (1855). 

Example Question #144 : Literary Terminology And Devices

As I ponder'd in silence,

  Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,

  A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,

  Terrible in beauty, age, and power,

  The genius of poets of old lands,    (5)

  As to me directing like flame its eyes,

  With finger pointing to many immortal songs,

  And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,

  Know'st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?

  And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,    (10)

  The making of perfect soldiers.

What literary device can be seen in line 6?

Possible Answers:

Prolepsis

Anastrophe

Pleonasm

Synecdoche

Stream of consciousness

Correct answer:

Anastrophe

Explanation:

Line 6, “As to me directing like flame its eyes,” has a purposely inverted word order: anastrophe. Pleonasm is the addition of unnecessary or redundant words (e.g. “the quiet soundless night”). Prolepsis is another word for flash forward, the literary technique of telling the reader what’s going to happen in the story’s future. Stream of consciousness is a style of writing designed to mimic the free-flowing thoughts of someone’s inner consciousness. 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).

Passage adapted from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass (1855). 

Example Question #145 : Literary Terminology And Devices

Passage adapted from Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau (1865)

Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans, and the rest, are the names of wharves projecting into the sea (surrounded by the shops and dwellings of the merchants), good places to take in and to discharge a cargo (to land the products of other climes and load the exports of our own). I see a great many barrels and fig-drums, piles of wood for umbrella-sticks, blocks of granite and ice, great heaps of goods, and the means of packing and conveying them, much wrapping-paper and twine, many crates and hogsheads and trucks, and that is Boston. The more barrels, the more Boston. The museums and scientific societies and libraries are accidental. They gather around the sands to save carting. The wharf-rats and customhouse officers, and broken-down poets, seeking a fortune amid the barrels. Their better or worse lyceums, and preachings, and doctorings, these, too, are accidental, and the malls of commons are always small potatoes....

When we reached Boston that October, I had a gill of Provincetown sand in my shoes, and at Concord there was still enough left to sand my pages for many a day; and I seemed to hear the sea roar, as if I lived in a shell, for a week afterward.

The places which I have described may seem strange and remote to my townsmen, indeed, from Boston to Provincetown is twice as far as from England to France; yet step into the cars, and in six hours you may stand on those four planks, and see the Cape which Gosnold is said to have discovered, and which I have so poorly described. If you had started when I first advised you, you might have seen our tracks in the sand, still fresh, and reaching all the way from the Nauset Lights to Race Point, some thirty miles, for at every step we made an impression on the Cape, though we were not aware of it, and though our account may have made no impression on your minds. But what is our account? In it there is no roar, no beach-birds, no tow-cloth.

What is the effect of the author's use of the simile, "I seemed to hear the sea roar, as if I lived in a shell, for a week afterward"?

Possible Answers:

To demonstrate the stress of travel

To provide a contrast to the sensation of shoes full of sand

To provide a description of the sort of structure in which he lived at the time

To provide a contrast to the noise and bustle of Boston

To demonstrate the lasting impression Provincetown made on the author

Correct answer:

To demonstrate the lasting impression Provincetown made on the author

Explanation:

This question asks you to interpret the author's use of a simile in the second paragraph, "I seemed to hear the sea roar, as if I lived in a shell, for a week afterward." Implying that the noise of the sea still rang in his ears even after leaving Provincetown suggests that the town had a lasting effect on the author. This simile also strengthens the imagery in the beginning of the second paragraph, where he states that sand remained in his shoes for a long period after leaving Provincetown. 

Example Question #146 : Literary Terminology And Devices

Passage adapted from Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau (1865)

Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans, and the rest, are the names of wharves projecting into the sea (surrounded by the shops and dwellings of the merchants), good places to take in and to discharge a cargo (to land the products of other climes and load the exports of our own). I see a great many barrels and fig-drums, piles of wood for umbrella-sticks, blocks of granite and ice, great heaps of goods, and the means of packing and conveying them, much wrapping-paper and twine, many crates and hogsheads and trucks, and that is Boston. The more barrels, the more Boston. The museums and scientific societies and libraries are accidental. They gather around the sands to save carting. The wharf-rats and customhouse officers, and broken-down poets, seeking a fortune amid the barrels. Their better or worse lyceums, and preachings, and doctorings, these, too, are accidental, and the malls of commons are always small potatoes....

When we reached Boston that October, I had a gill of Provincetown sand in my shoes, and at Concord there was still enough left to sand my pages for many a day; and I seemed to hear the sea roar, as if I lived in a shell, for a week afterward.

The places which I have described may seem strange and remote to my townsmen, indeed, from Boston to Provincetown is twice as far as from England to France; yet step into the cars, and in six hours you may stand on those four planks, and see the Cape which Gosnold is said to have discovered, and which I have so poorly described. If you had started when I first advised you, you might have seen our tracks in the sand, still fresh, and reaching all the way from the Nauset Lights to Race Point, some thirty miles, for at every step we made an impression on the Cape, though we were not aware of it, and though our account may have made no impression on your minds. But what is our account? In it there is no roar, no beach-birds, no tow-cloth.

The underlined section, "The museums and scientific societies and libraries are accidental. They gather around the sands to save carting," serves to ___________________.

Possible Answers:

make the description of Boston more ambiguous

provide an exaggeration that strengthens the author's description of Boston

contrast the author's description of the busy trade in Boston harbor

provide an understatement that strengthens the author's description of Boston

provide a metaphor for the decline of Boston's culture

Correct answer:

provide an exaggeration that strengthens the author's description of Boston

Explanation:

This question asks you to interpret the author's use of exaggeration. The statement "The museums and scientific societies and libraries are accidental. They gather around the sands to save carting" hyperbolically suggests that museums and places of culture in Boston exist by the harbor only to shorten the distance that imported goods need to be transported. The author is using a comical exaggeration to suggest that industry is the only thing that happens in Boston, and that its culture is not significant. The purpose of this exaggeration is to downplay other aspects of Boston's culture, further highlighting the author's argument that trade and industry are the main occurences there.

Example Question #31 : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

"Well, then," said he, "this is the berth for me. Here you, matey," he cried to the man who trundled the barrow; "bring up alongside and help up my chest. I'll stay here a bit," he continued. "I'm a plain man; rum and bacon and eggs is what I want, and that head up there for to watch ships off. What you mought call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I see what you're at—there"; and he threw down three or four gold pieces on the threshold. "You can tell me when I've worked through that," says he, looking as fierce as a commander.

And indeed bad as his clothes were and coarsely as he spoke, he had none of the appearance of a man who sailed before the mast, but seemed like a mate or skipper accustomed to be obeyed or to strike. The man who came with the barrow told us the mail had set him down the morning before at the Royal George, that he had inquired what inns there were along the coast, and hearing ours well spoken of, I suppose, and described as lonely, had chosen it from the others for his place of residence. And that was all we could learn of our guest.

What literary device can be seen in the following sentence? “Oh, I see what you're at—there.”

Possible Answers:

Synecdoche

Antimetabole

Anthropomorphism

Aposiopesis

Foreshadowing

Correct answer:

Aposiopesis

Explanation:

Here we have aposiopesis, the sudden, deliberate breaking-off of a line of writing or speech for deliberate effect. Antimetabole, similar to chiasmus, is the repetition and transposition of words (e.g. Dr. Seuss’s “I meant what I said and I said what I meant”). Foreshadowing is the use of hints to suggest something that will appear later in a narrative. Anthropomorphism is another word for personification: the attribution of human characteristics to non-human or inanimate things. 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).

Passage adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, 1883.

Example Question #148 : Literary Terminology And Devices

1 “In the right coat-pocket of the great man-mountain” (for so I interpret the words quinbus flestrin,) “after the strictest search, we found only one great piece of coarse-cloth, large enough to be a foot-cloth for your majesty’s chief room of state. 2 In the left pocket we saw a huge silver chest, with a cover of the same metal, which we, the searchers, were not able to lift. 3 We desired it should be opened, and one of us stepping into it, found himself up to the mid leg in a sort of dust, some part whereof flying up to our faces set us both a sneezing for several times together… 4 In the large pocket, on the right side of his middle cover” (so I translate the word ranfulo, by which they meant my breeches,) “we saw a hollow pillar of iron, about the length of a man, fastened to a strong piece of timber larger than the pillar; and upon one side of the pillar, were huge pieces of iron sticking out, cut into strange figures, which we know not what to make of. 5 In the smaller pocket on the right side, were several round flat pieces of white and red metal, of different bulk; some of the white, which seemed to be silver, were so large and heavy, that my comrade and I could hardly lift them.”

What literary device can be seen in sentences 1 and 4?

Possible Answers:

Telegraphic sentence

Pathetic fallacy

Aside

Sarcasm

Portmanteau

Correct answer:

Aside

Explanation:

Asides, or parenthetical remarks, are when a speaker briefly mentions a side remark and then returns to the main conversation. Telegraphic sentence refers to any concise sentence (usually five or fewer words in length) that omits unnecessary words and parts of speech. Sarcasm is verbal irony and is often cutting or satirical. A portmanteau is a neologism (new word) created by combining two existing words. Pathetic fallacy is a type of personification wherein nature or the environment take on attributes mirroring the human conflicts, emotions, or drama of the work.

Passage adapted from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, 1892.

Example Question #149 : Literary Terminology And Devices

. . . Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain. The paralysing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: this immobile quality, that makes each dreadful day in the very minutest detail like its brother, seems to communicate itself to those external forces the very essence of whose existence is ceaseless change. Of seed-time or harvest, of the reapers bending over the corn, or the grape gatherers threading through the vines, of the grass in the orchard made white with broken blossoms or strewn with fallen fruit: of these we know nothing and can know nothing.

For us there is only one season, the season of sorrow. The very sun and moon seem taken from us. Outside, the day may be blue and gold, but the light that creeps down through the thickly-muffled glass of the small iron-barred window beneath which one sits is grey and niggard. It is always twilight in one’s cell, as it is always twilight in one’s heart. And in the sphere of thought, no less than in the sphere of time, motion is no more. The thing that you personally have long ago forgotten, or can easily forget, is happening to me now, and will happen to me again to-morrow. Remember this, and you will be able to understand a little of why I am writing, and in this manner writing. . . .

(1897)

The passage makes frequent use of __________________.

Possible Answers:

imagery

onomatopoeia

meter

aside

rhyme

Correct answer:

imagery

Explanation:

Imagery is the conjuring of mental pictures, often detailed, through words. From the description of the seasons changing in the world of nature, to the description of the light inside the speaker's cell, the passage makes frequent use of imagery.

Uses of meter, rhyme, and onomatopoeia are infrequent or nonexistent. An "aside" is impossible because that is a device used exclusively in drama, in which a character stops the normal flow of conversation to speak to himself or to the audience.

Passage adapted from Oscar Wilde's De Profundis (1897).  

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