SAT II Literature : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #151 : Literary Terminology And Devices

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

The following sentence exemplifies which rhetorical device?

Possible Answers:

Allusion

Metonymy

Hyperbole 

Anecdote

Aphorism

Correct answer:

Hyperbole 

Explanation:

A hyperbole is an exaggeration of facts or claims, not meant to be interpreted literally. Here, the hyperbole is the "devouring" of parents of children. The parents are not "devoured" in the literal sense of eaten in a ravenous or quick manner, but are treated very poorly and denied basic human rights.

Example Question #41 : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Which of the following literary devices is used in this passage?

Possible Answers:

All of these 

None of these 

A false appeal to logos

An extended hyperbole

A satire

Correct answer:

All of these 

Explanation:

This passage includes all three of these literary devices. The author uses syllogism to convey within the satirical work, that his proposal is logical. This is a false appeal to logos. The extended hyperbole is the suggestion of the consumption of children. It is a satirical publication since the author does not mean to suggest this option literally, but rather wants to draw attention to the problem of hunger.

Example Question #521 : Ap English Literature And Composition

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Which of the following can be found in the passage?

Possible Answers:

Syllogism

Metonymy

All of these

Rhyme

None of these 

Correct answer:

Syllogism

Explanation:

The only present rhetorical device out of the choices is syllogism. A syllogism is a deductive reasoning technique that leads to a sound conclusion. The fact that syllogism is used here ironically does not negate the use of it as a rhetorical tool. Metonymy is the use of a part to represent a whole. Rhyme involves repeating last sounds. Neither metonymy nor rhyme can be found in this passage. 

Example Question #154 : Literary Terminology And Devices

The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms, and false reasonings, is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that, and cannot be wrested from any people without the most manifest violation of justice. Civil liberty is only natural liberty, modified and secured by the sanctions of civil society. It is not a thing, in its own nature, precarious and dependent on human will and caprice, but it is conformable to the constitution of man, as well as necessary to the well-being of society.

....

Thus Sir, I have taken a pretty general survey of the American Charters; and proved to the satisfaction of every unbiassed person, that they are intirely, discordant with that sovereignty of parliament, for which you are an advocate. The disingenuity of your extracts (to give it no harsher name) merits the severest censure; and will no doubt serve to discredit all your former, as well as future labours, in your favourite cause of despotism.

It is true, that New-York has no Charter. But, if it could support it’s claim to liberty in no other way, it might, with justice, plead the common principles of colonization: for, it would be unreasonable, to seclude one colony, from the enjoyment of the most important privileges of the rest. There is no need, however, of this plea: The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.

 

(1775)

"Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges."

This sentence is an example of _______________.

Possible Answers:

an epigram

a periodic sentence

an anecdote

apostrophe

parallel structure

Correct answer:

a periodic sentence

Explanation:

This is, in fact, a periodic sentence. A periodic sentence is one in which the grammar does not form a complete sentence until the final phrase.

For a simpler example, this is not a periodic sentence: "The dog barked on the other side of the fence." The last phrase could be removed without destroying the fact that it is a complete sentence.

This, however, is periodic, albeit simple: "On the other side of the fence, the dog barked." It does not become a complete sentence until the last phrase, just as this sentence from the passage is not grammatically complete until "entitled to a parity of privileges."

Passage adapted from Alexander Hamilton's The Farmer Refuted (1775).

Example Question #155 : Literary Terminology And Devices

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.  This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

… The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim.

What literary device can be seen in the following sentence (paragraph 1)? “This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children.”

Possible Answers:

Pathetic fallacy

Loan word

Anaphora

Personification

Anthimeria

Correct answer:

Anaphora

Explanation:

We have here the repetition of the beginning of clauses (indeed, practically the whole of the clauses), which is a case of anaphora. 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. 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. A loan word is a word adopted into the vocabulary of another language without translation (e.g. café or bon mot from the French). Personification is the application of human traits or actions to non-human things (e.g. “the brook babbled”).

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’s Hard Times (1854)

Example Question #156 : Literary Terminology And Devices

(1) The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. (2) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. (3) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. (4) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. (5) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. (6) The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders—nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was—all helped the emphasis.

What literary device can be seen at the beginning of sentences 2-5?

Possible Answers:

Simile

Anaphora

Enallage

Synecdoche

Asyndeton

Correct answer:

Anaphora

Explanation:

Sentences 2-5 all begin with the phrase “The emphasis was helped by,” a literary repetition known as anaphora. Enallage is an intentional grammatical error (usually by substituting the wrong verb tense or form). 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). Simile is a comparison using “like” or “as.” Asyndeton denotes a lack of conjunction words (e.g. “I came, I saw, I conquered”).

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’s Hard Times (1854)

Example Question #157 : Literary Terminology And Devices

(1) The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. (2) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. (3) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. (4) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. (5) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. (6) The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders—nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was—all helped the emphasis.

What literary device can be seen in the following excerpt (sentence 5)? “… which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface…”

Possible Answers:

Simile

Metonymy

Conceit

Metaphor

Antimetabole

Correct answer:

Metaphor

Explanation:

Here we have a comparison that does not use “like” or “as,” which means that this is a metaphor. Simile, on the other hand, is a comparison that does use “like” or “as.” Metonymy is the substitution of one word for another word that’s commonly associated with it (e.g. using “throne” to discuss a monarchy). 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”). Conceits are elaborate and extended metaphors.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’s Hard Times (1854)

Example Question #158 : Literary Terminology And Devices

(1) The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. (2) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. (3) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. (4) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. (5) The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. (6) The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders—nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was—all helped the emphasis.

What literary device can be seen in the following excerpt (sentence 5)? “… all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie…”

Possible Answers:

Emulation

Polysyndeton

Simile

Synesthesia

Motif

Correct answer:

Simile

Explanation:

Here we have a simile, a comparison that uses “like” or “as.” A motif is a recurring image, idea, or subject in a work of literature (e.g. weaving and silk production in Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Middlesex). Polysyndeton is the excessive use of conjunctions (e.g. “I went and I picked up the paper and I read it over and finally I crumpled it up”). Synesthesia is the conflation of different sensory perceptions (e.g. a velvety sound, a bright flavor). Emulation is not a specific literary technique.

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’s Hard Times (1854)

Example Question #159 : Literary Terminology And Devices

Be not alarmed, Madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments, or renewal of those offers, which were last night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes, which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten; and the effort which the formation and the perusal of this letter must occasion should have been spared, had not my character required it to be written and read. You must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice.

.....

This, madam, is a faithful narrative of every event in which we have been concerned together; and if you do not absolutely reject it as false, you will, I hope, acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham. I know not in what manner, under what form of falsehood, he has imposed on you; but his success is not, perhaps, to be wondered at. Ignorant as you previously were of every thing concerning either, detection could not be in your power, and suspicion certainly not in your inclination. You may possibly wonder why all this was not told you last night. But I was not then master enough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed. For the truth of every thing here related, I can appeal more particularly to the testimony of Colonel Fitzwilliam, who from our near relationship and constant intimacy, and still more as one of the executors of my father's will, has been unavoidably acquainted with every particular of these transactions. If your abhorrence of me should make my assertions valueless, you cannot be prevented by the same cause from confiding in my cousin; and that there may be the possibility of consulting him, I shall endeavour to find some opportunity of putting this letter in your hands in the course of the morning. I will only add, God bless you.

 

(1813)

The following sentence contains an example of what?  

 "Ignorant as you previously were of every thing concerning either, detection could not be in your power, and suspicion certainly not in your inclination." 

Possible Answers:

Synecdoche

Conceit

Parallel structure

Hyperbole

Periodic sentence

Correct answer:

Parallel structure

Explanation:

The quoted sentence contains an example of parallel structure.  Parallel structure, an important tool of prose writers, is when two or more clauses are arranged with different content but very similar syntactical structures.  Here, the parallel clauses are "detection could not be in your power" and "suspicion certainly not in your inclination."  Both follow the pattern of "[personal attribute]...[could not be]...in your...[aspect of the character's thoughts or emotions]."  

Passage adapted from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813).

Example Question #160 : Literary Terminology And Devices

1 Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.

2 A blazing sun upon a fierce August day was no greater rarity in southern France then, than at any other time, before or since. 3 Everything in Marseilles, and about Marseilles, had stared at the fervid sky, and been stared at in return, until a staring habit had become universal there. 4 Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring white houses, staring white walls, staring white streets, staring tracts of arid road, staring hills from which verdure was burnt away. 5 The only things to be seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the vines drooping under their load of grapes. 6 These did occasionally wink a little, as the hot air barely moved their faint leaves.

… 7 The churches were the freest from [the stare]. 8 To come out of the twilight of pillars and arches—dreamily dotted with winking lamps, dreamily peopled with ugly old shadows piously dozing, spitting, and begging—was to plunge into a fiery river, and swim for life to the nearest strip of shade. 9 So, with people lounging and lying wherever shade was, with but little hum of tongues or barking of dogs, with occasional jangling of discordant church bells and rattling of vicious drums, Marseilles, a fact to be strongly smelt and tasted, lay broiling in the sun one day.

What literary device can be seen in sentence 4?

Possible Answers:

Antithesis

Anaphora

Conceits

Enallage

Pleonasm

Correct answer:

Anaphora

Explanation:

Anaphora is the repetition of the beginning of a clause, and that’s what we see with the reiteration of “staring” after every comma in sentence 4. Antithesis is a contrast or direct opposite to something. Conceits are elaborate and extended metaphors, and they usually take far more than a sentence to establish. Enallage is an intentional grammatical error (usually by substituting the wrong verb tense or form). Pleonasm is the addition of unnecessary or redundant words (e.g. “the quiet soundless night”).

Passage adapted from Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit (1857)

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