SAT II Literature : Effect of Specified Text

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Effect Of Specified Text

The Good Morrow
(1633)

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I 
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then? 
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly? 
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den? 
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be. 
If ever any beauty I did see, 
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.  

And now good-morrow to our waking souls, 
Which watch not one another out of fear; 
For love, all love of other sights controls, 
And makes one little room an everywhere. 
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, 
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one. 

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, 
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; 
Where can we find two better hemispheres, 
Without sharp north, without declining west? 
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally; 
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I 
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

The transition from the first to second stanza is characterized by __________.

Possible Answers:

A shift from contemplating physical love to romantic love 

All of these 

A change in meter 

A shift from contemplating general love to the particular beloved 

A shift from past to present 

Correct answer:

All of these 

Explanation:

A change in meter: The last line of the first stanza is in iambic hexameter (stressed-unstressed, six feet), and the first line of the second stanza is iambic pentameter (stressed-unstressed, five feet).

A shift from past to present: In the second stanza, the speaker uses the word "now," and the verb tense shifts to the present ("waking"). 

A shift from contemplating physical love to romantic love: After spending stanza one thinking about "pleasures" and beauty "desired and got," the word "souls" in stanza two signals that now we are talking about a different kind of love. 

A shift from contemplating general love to the particular beloved: At the end of stanza one, the word "thee" is a hinge that takes the speaker to the next stanza, where he will continue to describe his beloved. 

Passage adapted from John Donne's "The Good Morrow" (1633).

Example Question #21 : Effect Of Specified Text

1 Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, 
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, 
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
5 What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape 
       Of deities or mortals, or of both, 
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
9 What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 
 
11 Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, 
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
15 Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 
18 Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; 
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 
 
21 Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And, happy melodist, unwearied, 
         For ever piping songs for ever new; 
25 More happy love! more happy, happy love! 
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, 
                For ever panting, and for ever young; 
28 All breathing human passion far above, 
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, 
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 
 
31 Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
         To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 
         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? 
35 What little town by river or sea shore, 
         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 
                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
38 And, little town, thy streets for evermore 
         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return. 
 
41 O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede 
         Of marble men and maidens overwrought, 
With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought 
45 As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 
         When old age shall this generation waste, 
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
48 Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all 
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
 
(1819)

The descriptor "mysterious" in line 32 emphasizes ________________.

Possible Answers:

the speaker's wonder

the speaker's disgust at this artistic deptiction

the speaker's inability to understand the sacrifice

the dubious character of the priest

the familiarity of the speaker with this religion

Correct answer:

the speaker's wonder

Explanation:

The adjective "mysterious" in line 32 emphasizes the speaker's wonder at this ancient and therefore far-away world which he is looking at depicted in artwork. It is not so much the case that the speaker does not understand what the sacrifice means, or who the priest is or why he is depicted as doing what he is doing. Rather, the word "mysterious" reinforces the whole tone of the poem, which is one of wonder and awe.

Passage adapted from John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)

Example Question #22 : Effect Of Specified Text

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent 
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went! 
And more must, in yet longer light's delay. 
With witness I speak this. But where I say 
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament 
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent 
To dearest him that lives alas! away. 

I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree 
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me; 
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse. 
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see 
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be 
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

(1918) 

The highlighted text most effectively conveys: __________

Possible Answers:

The poem’s temporality 

All of these 

The speaker's tone 

The poem’s setting 

The speaker’s contingency 

Correct answer:

The speaker's tone 

Explanation:

The "black" hours, the "O," and the exclamation after "night" all serve to emphasize the speaker's lamentation and despair. 

Though the emphasis on time might make "temporality" seem like a tempting answer, the particular time in which the poem takes place is not particularly significant. In the context of the poem's overall meaning, establishing tone is more important in these lines. 

Passage adapted from "[I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day]" (1918) by Gerald Manley Hopkins. 

Example Question #23 : Effect Of Specified Text: Poetry

  1. One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
  2. But came the waves and washed it away:
  3. Again I wrote it with a second hand,
  4. But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
  5. Vain man, said she, that doest in vain assay
  6. A mortal thing so to immortalize,
  7. For I myself shall like to this decay,
  8. And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
  9. Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise
  10. To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
  11. My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
  12. And in the heavens write your glorious name.
  13. Where whenas Death shall all the world subdue,
  14. Our love shall live, and later life renew.

In line 10, the poet contrasts the word “dust” with which word?

Possible Answers:

You

Verse

Fame

Die

Live

Correct answer:

Fame

Explanation:

This line contains two pairs of contrasting words:

“die” and “live”
“dust” and “fame”

“. . . To DIE in DUST, but you shall LIVE by FAME.”

In other words: "They'll get death and dust -- you'll get life and fame."

Passage adapted from Edmund Spenser's "Sonnet 75" (1594)

Example Question #23 : Effect Of Specified Text

1. Better to see your cheek grown hollow,
2. Better to see your temple worn,
3. Than to forget to follow, follow,
4. After the sound of a silver horn.

5. Better to bind your brow with willow
6. And follow, follow until you die,
7. Than to sleep with your head on a golden pillow,
8. Nor lift it up when the hunt goes by.

9. Better to see your cheek grow sallow
10. And your hair grown gray, so soon, so soon,
11. Than to forget to hallo, hallo,
12. After the milk-white hounds of the moon.

The author’s reason for using the word “silver” to describe the “horn” (line 4) is likely all of the following EXCEPT _____________.

Possible Answers:

to suggest that the horn and the hunt would glow brightly in the darkness

to imply that the horn is less expensive than the pillow

to suggest the pure tone of the horn

to associate the horn with the mystery of night and moonlight

to alliterate “silver” with “sound”

Correct answer:

to imply that the horn is less expensive than the pillow

Explanation:

The poem says nothing about monetary values. The life represented by the horn is argued to be preferable to that represented by the pillow, but the objects themselves are metaphorical.



The word “silver” creates alliteration (“Sound of a Silver horn”.) It associates the horn with the night and the silver moonlight. Silver is a symbol of purity. The word heightens the image of a “milk white” hunt glowing brightly in the night.

Passage adapted from Eleanor Wylie's "A Madman's Song" (1921)

Example Question #1 : Effect Of Specified Text: Prose

(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.

Why does the author of the passage repeat “ooze” so many times?

Possible Answers:

To arouse the reader’s sympathies

For onomatopoeic and comedic effect

As an allusion to a more famous nautical story

To irritate the reader

To ensure clarity

Correct answer:

For onomatopoeic and comedic effect

Explanation:

“Ooze” itself is a funny and onomatopoeic word. The author’s deliberate repetition can be seen as a ploy to invoke humor. Just as the paraffin oil does not stop spreading through the boat and tainting everything it touches, so too the description itself continues to spread and spread.

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

Example Question #1 : Effect Of Specified Text: Prose

(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 is the main effect of this passage?

Possible Answers:

To introduce a famous ghost

To question the reader’s assumptions

To reevaluate an old legend

To correct an audience’s misconceptions

To establish setting

Correct answer:

To establish setting

Explanation:

The passage is primarily concerned with describing the location and atmosphere of Sleepy Hollow. It does so through great use of detail, through slight exaggeration (hyperbole), and through recounting of a historical record. While the passage is taken from a story that describes a famous ghost, the passage itself is not concerned with introducing this character.

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

Example Question #1 : Excerpt Purpose In Context

Adapted from Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (1818)

Shutting the door, [the monster] approached me and said in a smothered voice, "You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery; I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands and over the summits of its hills. I have dwelt many months in the heaths of England and among the deserts of Scotland. I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes?"

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness."

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"

"The hour of my irresolution is past, and the period of your power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness, but they confirm me in a determination of not creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon whose delight is in death and wretchedness? Begone! I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage."

The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains—revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable."

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night."

I started forward and exclaimed, "Villain! Before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe."

I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quit the house with precipitation. In a few moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness and was soon lost amidst the waves.

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears. I burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I not followed him and closed with him in mortal strife? But I had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland. I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And then I thought again of his words—"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT." That, then, was the period fixed for the fulfillment of my destiny. In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle.

What is the purpose of the underlined remark made by the monster?

Possible Answers:

To register a complaint about the world's view of his situation

To frighten Dr. Frankenstein

To overcome a bias directed against him and other monsters

To emphasize the power that he now has

To show disdain for Dr. Frankenstein

Correct answer:

To emphasize the power that he now has

Explanation:

Certainly, the monster makes the remark to Dr. Frankenstein in order to increase the fright of the situation and maintain his control over his maker; however, in this sentence, the most direct reason for making this comment is to emphasize the kind of power that the monster has. Yes, Dr. Frankenstein already believes himself to be miserable because of the monster. However, the monster wants him to remember that he can do more than merely make him miserable—he can make Dr. Frankenstein "so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you."

Example Question #1 : Excerpt Connotation And Implication In Context

From Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

Shutting the door, he [the monster] approached me and said in a smothered voice, "You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery; I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands and over the summits of its hills. I have dwelt many months in the heaths of England and among the deserts of Scotland. I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes?"

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness."

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"

"The hour of my irresolution is past, and the period of your power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness; but they confirm me in a determination of not creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon whose delight is in death and wretchedness? Begone! I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage."

The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains--revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable."

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night."

I started forward and exclaimed, "Villain! Before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe."

I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quitted the house with precipitation. In a few moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness and was soon lost amidst the waves.

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears. I burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I not followed him and closed with him in mortal strife? But I had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland. I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And then I thought again of his words--"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING-NIGHT." That, then, was the period fixed for the fulfillment of my destiny. In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle.

The expression "lex talionis" describes a kind of action (or legal system) that aims at establishing justice by exact retribution. Which of the following sentences from the selection most evokes the retribution demanded by this kind of law?

Possible Answers:

"Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever."

"Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. "

"I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night."

"You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains—revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food!"

"I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery."

Correct answer:

"I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night."

Explanation:

Pure retribution according to the idea of the lex talionis is best summed up in the old adage, "An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth." This is a kind of revenge—but of a particular sort. The monster is going to avenge himself on Dr. Frankenstein because of the latter's refusal to make him a bride. Hence, the monster is going to bereave him of his own bride.

Example Question #111 : Interpreting Words

Adapted from "The Book of the Grotesque" in Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (1919)

In his bed the writer rolled over on his side and lay quite still. For years he had been beset with notions concerning his heart. He was a hard smoker and his heart fluttered. The idea had got into his mind that he would some time die unexpectedly and always when he got into bed he thought of that. It did not alarm him. The effect in fact was quite a special thing and not easily explained. It made him more alive, there in bed, than at any other time. Perfectly still he lay and his body was old and not of much use any more, but something inside him was altogether young. He was like a pregnant woman, only that the thing inside him was not a baby but a youth. No, it wasn’t a youth, it was a woman, young, and wearing a coat of mail like a knight. It is absurd, you see, to try to tell what was inside the old writer as he lay on his high bed and listened to the fluttering of his heart. The thing to get at is what the writer, or the young thing within the writer, was thinking about.

. . .

In the bed the writer had a dream that was not a dream. As he grew somewhat sleepy but was still conscious, figures began to appear before his eyes. He imagined the young indescribable thing within himself was driving a long procession of figures before his eyes.

You see the interest in all this lies in the figures that went before the eyes of the writer. They were all grotesques. All of the men and women the writer had ever known had become grotesques.

The grotesques were not all horrible. Some were amusing, some almost beautiful, and one, a woman all drawn out of shape, hurt the old man by her grotesqueness. When she passed he made a noise like a small dog whimpering. Had you come into the room you might have supposed the old man had unpleasant dreams or perhaps indigestion.

For an hour the procession of grotesques passed before the eyes of the old man, and then, although it was a painful thing to do, he crept out of bed and began to write. Some one of the grotesques had made a deep impression on his mind and he wanted to describe it.

At his desk the writer worked for an hour. In the end he wrote a book which he called “The Book of the Grotesque.” It was never published, but I saw it once and it made an indelible impression on my mind. The book had one central thought that is very strange and has always remained with me. By remembering it I have been able to understand many people and things that I was never able to understand before. The thought was involved but a simple statement of it would be something like this:

That in the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were the truths and they were all beautiful.

The old man had listed hundreds of the truths in his book. I will not try to tell you of all of them. There was the truth of virginity and the truth of passion, the truth of wealth and of poverty, of thrift and profligacy, of carelessness and abandon. Hundreds and hundreds were the truths and they were all beautiful.

And then the people came along. Each as he appeared snatched up one of the truths and some who were quite strong snatched up a dozen of them.

It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.

In paragraph six, the phrase "one central thought" most nearly means what?

Possible Answers:

The book had one key idea.

The book had one mission statement.

The book had only one chapter of importance.

The book had one main proposition.

The book had one main theme.

Correct answer:

The book had one key idea.

Explanation:

The word "thought" can be replaced by "idea." The word "theme" would imply something more general, whereas the description of the "thought" —"That in the beginning the world was young . . ."—elucidates a specific idea.

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