Question Explanations For
Practice Test 2 (Explanations)
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to identify the tone of the passage. (A) is correct because the speaker uses this poem to tell Death, a powerful and frightening force, to “be not proud.” He calls Death a “slave,” he says that it keeps bad company—”poison, war and sickness”—and he ultimately says “Death, thou shalt die.” These all display a defiant tone. (B) is incorrect because the speaker diminishes Death and claims that Death cannot kill him, indicating his lack of fear. (C) is incorrect because, even though the speaker compares Death to sleep and rest, this comparison is not based on the speaker’s own tiredness, which is never mentioned. (D) is incorrect because the word “skepticism” suggests a cautious and questioning attitude, but in this poem the speaker is not merely questioning Death; he’s convinced that Death will be overcome. (E) is incorrect because the word “whimsy” suggests a light-hearted and carefree attitude. While certain paradoxical lines like “Death, thou shalt die,” can be read as playful, the overall tone does not suggests that the speaker is playfully ribbing Death: he is commanding Death not to be proud, and slinging criticisms to humble death. In other words, he is humiliating Death. Further, while the speaker ultimately concludes that no one needs to fear death, this has the tone of a profound realization—not a carefree observation.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to identify literary devices in the passage by name. (B) is correct because “apostrophe” addresses someone or something directly, usually by name. This whole poem is addressed to the personified concept “Death,” which is repeatedly addressed by name and with the pronoun “thou.” (A) is incorrect because an allegory hides its true political, religious, or moral message behind an image or narrative that seems at first glance to be about something else. An allegory about death would indirectly represent death with something not explicitly acknowledged to be death, but this poem directly addresses death. (C) is incorrect because a euphemism is a soft, polite phrase substituted for something impolite or ugly. Many common euphemisms for death emphasize the passage from one state to the next, as in “passed,” “passed away,” or “passed on.” This technique doesn’t apply to “Death Be Not Proud.” The speaker names death explicitly, and speaks about killing and dying in frank terms. (D) is incorrect. An extended metaphor carries one metaphorical comparison across several lines or perhaps an entire poem. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” for instance, uses the image of choosing one of two roads as a metaphor for choices in life. “Death Be Not Proud” doesn’t use this technique; it is structured as an address to a character rather than an extended image. (E) is incorrect. Hyperbole is a greatly exaggerated statement; there’s perhaps a case to be made that “Death, thou shalt die” is a hyperbole, but remember that the question is about the whole poem. Taken as a whole, the poem is not structured like an extended exaggeration.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to analyze an argument in the poem and identify supporting information. (D) is correct because, in lines 3-4, the speaker claims that none of the people whom Death thinks it can kill, including the speaker himself, actually die. The subsequent excerpt which most explicitly supports this claim is in line 13, “we wake eternally.” Here the speaker expresses a belief in an eternal life after death that will negate all of Death’s efforts. (A) may be tempting because it indicates that Death is not “mighty and dreadful,” but that claim is supported by the claim in lines 3-4, rather than supporting that claim. (B) is incorrect because it expresses the idea that the best die young, which does not support the idea that those taken by death aren’t really dead. (C) is incorrect because it expresses the idea that Death has to wait for fate to create the conditions for a death before it can act, which supports the idea that Death isn’t mighty, but not the idea that Death doesn’t actually kill. (E) is incorrect because, while it suggests the ultimate overthrow of death, it does not support the idea that those taken by Death before Death dies don’t die.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to determine the unusual meaning of a common word in the poem. (C) is correct because in line 6 the speaker says that “much pleasure” comes from rest and sleep and that “much more must flow” from Death. In other words, rest and sleep are merely “pictures” or lesser versions of Death, since Death will give “much more” of the same effect. (A) is incorrect because rest and sleep are shown to be different from Death: the speaker says that “much more” pleasure “must flow” from Death than from rest and sleep, which means that they cannot be the same thing. (B) is incorrect because, while the speaker claims that rest and sleep are like death, to brace against something is to prepare to endure it, and implies adversity or pain. The conclusion the speaker draws is that death must be pleasant, so we would have no need to brace ourselves against it. (D) is incorrect because, while the lines in question do use an art-based metaphor, “pictures,” to suggest that rest and sleep are like imitations of death, the use of “pictures” is figurative. (E) is incorrect because the speaker reasons that “much more” pleasure comes from Death than from rest and sleep, which makes them distinguishable from Death.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to analyze an argument in the poem. I, II, and II are all true. I is true because the argument that Death is “slave to fate” (line 9), means that other fated events determine when people die, and thus when Death can act. II is true because the statement that Death dwells with “poison, war, and sickness” (line 10) associates Death with other ignominious (disgraceful, contemptible) forces that Death must dwell with because they are causes of death. III is true because the statement that “poppy and charms can make us sleep as well / And better than thy stroke” means that people know how to use certain plants and other objects to induce sleep, which has already been compared to death. Thus, (E) is correct.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to interpret the literal meaning of a phrase in the poem. (B) is correct because the phrase “why swell’st thou then” comes after several lines where the speaker has discussed all the reasons that Death may not be as powerful as it seems. In the context of those reasons, this rhetorical question suggests that death has no reason to “swell”—in other words, puff itself up with pride—because it has nothing to be proud of. (A) is incorrect because “ambition” relates to lofty goals, but this poem deals with perceptions of Death, not Death’s plans or goals. (C) is incorrect because the speaker does not imply that Death is resentful of others, even though he implies that others are better than Death. (D) is incorrect because Death is not characterized as particularly ambitious, resentful, or hungry in the poem. (E) is incorrect because, while Death is personified in this poem, his actual physical form and size are never described.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to interpret figurative language. (A) is correct because the narrator is contrasting a single memory of his mother and Peggotty with the more general “blank of [his] infancy”—the general emptiness he finds when he tries to remember being a baby. (B) is incorrect because the narrator tells the audience about two memories he has of childhood, making it impossible for the phrase to mean that he has no childhood memories. (C) is not correct because the narrator does not say anything about, for example, filling in the gaps in his memory with made-up stories or otherwise imposing an interpretation on his childhood. (D) is incorrect because the narrator never comments on how remarkable or unremarkable his childhood was. “Blank” in this context does not mean “bland;” it only refers to the empty spaces in the narrator’s memory. (E) is not correct because the narrator says that these details about his mother and Peggotty “assume a distinct presence before” him—in other words, they are things he remembers clearly, not things he’s making up.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to identify the best description of a character in the passage. (E) is correct because one meaning of “plain” is “unattractive,” and the narrator does describe Peggotty as unattractive: her body has “no shape at all,” her eyes “seemed to darken the whole neighbourhood of her face,” and her cheeks and arms are “hard and red.” The narrator also describes Peggotty as “coarse,” or rough, when he says that her skin was “roughened by needlework.” (A) is incorrect because, while the narrator recalls that Pegotty’s finger was “roughened by needlework,” he recalls its texture because of the way that she used to hold it out for him to grasp when he was toddling between Pegotty and his mother. That is a kind gesture, not an insensitive one. (B) is not correct because, although the narrator remembers Peggotty as literally taller than him, “superior” suggests arrogance or emotional distance. The narrator never suggests that Peggotty was emtionally unavailable or thought of herself as better than him. (C) is incorrect because the recollections the narrator has of Peggotty are mostly about her frightful physical appearance and her helping him to learn how to walk, which aren’t exclusively characteristic of mothers. (D) is incorrect because, while the narrator says that Pegotty has “no shape at all” and eyes that “seemed to darken their whole neighbourhood,” these descriptions aren’t intended to suggest that it was actually difficult to perceive Pegotty’s shape or face; rather, they contrast with the youth and beauty of the narrator’s mother. Further, while the narrator describes Pegotty’s finger as “rough,” her behavior in this excerpt doesn’t seem “stern.”
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to analyze a portion of the passage and identify its implications. (B) is correct because the phrase is directly followed with “by stooping down or kneeling on the floor,” which implies the narrator’s mother and Peggotty are lowering themselves to the eye-level the narrator as a small child. (A) is incorrect because the word “dwarfed” implies the narrator’s mother and Peggotty shrank, which opposes a claim that they were “like giants,” or significantly taller than him. (C) is not correct because in context of the phrase, the narrator is describing how his mother and Peggotty looked to him as they were “stooping down or kneeling on the floor,” which only describes a relationship among the narrator and the two women he sees, not the two women he sees and any other adults. (D) is not correct because, although looking at people through a “distorting lens,” such as a backwards telescope, can make them appear smaller, nothing in the passage suggests that the narrator was looking at his mother and Peggotty through such a device. Further, while a “distorting lens” could refer metaphorically to the distorting lens of memory, the “sight” to which the narrator refers is his sight within the memory, not “sight” in the sense of recollection. (E) is incorrect because “groveling” implies a relationship of subservience that isn’t supported by the passage; the “stooping” and “kneeling” described more likely suggest that Pegotty and the narrator’s mother have to stoop and kneel to interact with the narrator than that they are frightened or awe-struck by the narrator—who, after all, is only a very small child in this memory.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to analyze the purpose of the quoted lines. (B) is correct because in this line, the narrator is remembering how Peggotty’s skin felt, specifically comparing her finger to “a pocket nutmeg grater.” A nutmeg grater is an object with a rough surface designed to scrape powder from a seed, so this comparison suggests that Pegotty had rough, scratchy skin. (A) might be tempting because we sometimes use “pocket” as a diminutive adjective—in other words, to indicate that something is small. However, the narrator is comparing Pegotty’s finger—not himself—to the pocket nutmeg grater. (C) may be tempting because the grater does evoke “roughness,” but there’s no other support for the idea that it is meant to evoke the metaphorical “roughness” of a difficulty home life. The specific events recalled by the narrator are actually fairly pleasant. (D) is not correct because, while nutmeg is a spice, the device is mentioned specifically in comparison to Pegotty’s finger, and there’s not literally a nutmeg grater in the narrator’s memory. (E) might be tempting because Pegotty does hold out her finger to the narrator, so you might read “like a pocket nutmeg grater” as meaning that she held out her finger in the same way that she held out a pocket nutmeg grater. However, a close reading of the sentence shows that the comparison is specifically indicating that Pegotty’s finger is “roughened … like a pocket nutmeg grater.”
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to interpret the meaning of the figurative phrase “A hard and heavy hand.” (B) is correct because it makes sense in conjunction with the comment that Mrs. Joe was in the habit of laying her hands on the narrator and Joe. “To lay hands on” has three common idiomatic senses: to take possession of something (usually without permission), to heal spiritually, or to do violence. There’s no support for the first two senses, but if we understand the phrase to mean that Mrs. Joe is frequently violent with Joe and the narrator, then the “hard and heavy hand” represents the violent treatment that she’s probe to visit on Joe and the narrator. (A) is incorrect. Although the narrator later mentions Mrs. Joe’s “prevailing redness of skin,” this paragraph is focused on her behavior. As well, rough skin would not in itself make a hand “heavy.” (C) is incorrect because the narrator states that Mrs. Joe laid that “hard and heavy hand” on him and Joe often, so Mrs. Joe is in favor of (and not against) violent problem solving, at least in her own household. (D) is incorrect: there is another symbol for Mrs. Joe’s work ethic in this passage, the “coarse apron,” a work garment that was a “powerful merit” because it showed her own hard work ethic, and a “strong reproach against Joe” because for his wife to go around in work clothes would tend to suggest that he could not support her. However, the narrator admits “I really see no reason why she should have worn it at all; or why, if she did wear it at all, she should not have taken it off, every day of her life.” That implies that she either did not perform the work she put the apron for, or at least wore the apron at many times when she wasn’t performing such labor and didn’t need it. That calls into question Mrs. Joe’s work ethic, which she seems to exaggerate, and makes it unlikely that the “hard and heavy hand” represents that work ethic. (E) is incorrect because the passage never hints at Mrs. Joe’s efforts to be just and fair, only strict and domineering.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to consider how the author reveals aspects of the narrator’s character. (D) is correct because this line puts the narrator and Joe at the same level: they are both people who were frequently beaten by Mrs. Joe. This makes them “peers” who were both “subject to the same mistreatment. (A) is incorrect because even though the narrator and Joe do have a common enemy in Mrs. Joe Gargery, there is nothing to indicate they ever act “against” her, or even that they were “allies.” (B) might be tempting because the description of Joe as strong, mild- and sweet-tempered might lead you to expect that he’d be “unflinching in the face of adversity” like his wife laying hands on him, but the specific phrase quoted in this question doesn’t address Joe’s response at all. (C) might be tempting because the description of Joe as “easy-going” and “foolish” might lead you to expect that he’d be confused when his wife lays hands on him, but once again the phrase identified in the question doesn’t deal with Joe’s responses. (E) is incorrect because to be “brought up” is to be raised from childhood, but the phrase in question is a play on words, and it represents the narrator’s own humorous misunderstanding of what it means to be “brought up by hand”—not the conventional sense of the phrase. In the first sentence, when we’re told that Mrs. Joe has a great reputation for having brought the narrator up by hand, the phrase “brought up” actually means to have raised and “by hand” means to have done it herself. In the second sentence, the narrator explains that he didn’t know what the phrase meant, and inferred from her violent behavior that it referred to her habit of beating him—”by hand.”
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to identify the implications of the narrator’s impression that his sister had made Joe Gargery “marry her by hand.” (C) is correct because at this point in the passage, the narrator has hinted multiple times that the phrase “by hand” refers to physical discipline, so using it in this context suggest the narrator believes that Mrs. Joe must have forced Joe to marry her. (A) is incorrect because there is no mention of Mrs. Joe’s wedding dress. (B) is incorrect because the circumstances of the wedding ceremony are not discussed in the passage. (D) is incorrect because the closest physical description of Mrs. Joe Gargery’s hands is her “prevailing redness of skin”, which implies an irritation and thus not something traditionally seen as attractive. (E) is incorrect because the passage indicates that Mrs. Joe “made Joe” marry her by hand; that indicates a one-time act of forcing Joe into the marriage, not a general statement about her ongoing expectations.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to analyze the most likely interpretation of the quoted line. (E) is correct because the narrator seems to admire Joe’s physical strength while acknowledging the weakness of his character. This line is an allusion to the mythical Hercules, who was physically very strong but not particularly wise. Even if this allusion didn’t make sense to you, you can reach the correct answer by eliminating illogical choices. (A) is incorrect because the narrator has already made a distinction between Joe’s strengths and weaknesses by describing him as having many positive character traits, but also as being foolish. (B) is incorrect because the passage does not show Joe overcoming a weakness. (C) is incorrect because the phrase compares Joe to Hercules in two ways, but he is like Hercules in both ways; the narrator doesn’t point out any difference between Joe and Hercules. (D) is incorrect for the same reason as (C); the narrator does describe Joe as sensitive, but he doesn’t suggest that that distinguished Joe from Hercules.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to interpret the symbolism of Mrs. Joe’s apron. (C) is correct because the narrator tells us that Mrs. Joe is constantly wearing this apron, which is typically used for housework, and that she does so as “a strong reproach against Joe.” That means that it implies something negative about Joe. If a wife’s work is a reproach against her husband, it’s most likely because it suggests that she is overburdened because he isn’t pulling his weight. (A) is incorrect because the narrator hints that Mrs. Joe doesn’t actually work as hard as she would like for folks to believe; because the narrator, not Mrs. Joe, is telling the story, the fact that the narrator seems unsympathetic to Mrs. Joe and her habit of wearing the heavy apron suggests that he isn’t using her attire as a sympathetic metaphor for the plight of women. (B) is incorrect because the apron is used to describe Mrs. Joe’s individual character traits, which suggests both that it was not typical and that it was more than an example of how people dressed. (D) is incorrect because characterizing the apron as “a powerful merit in herself, and a strong reproach against Joe” (lines 26-27) suggests that it was a distinguishing feature rather than the typical way of dressing. (E) is incorrect because the narrator doesn’t seem to regard Mrs. Joe as perfect. Indeed, he seems to somewhat dislike her.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to identify the narrator’s tone in the passage. (A) is correct because the narrator is looking back on his childhood in an ironic and dryly humorous way. (B) is incorrect because the narrator’s tone is not optimistic: he doesn’t say that he thinks things will go well in future. It is also not cautious: he seems quite willing to make judgments about people. (C) is incorrect because the narrator shows no signs that he is all-powerful, though he is somewhat judgmental about his sister in the passage’s last few lines, when he implies she does less housework than she appears to. (D) is incorrect because the narrator does not seem bitter about his sister’s behavior, though he is not optimistic about it, either. (E) is incorrect because the narrator’s descriptions of Joe are mainly positive or sympathetic, but his descriptions of his sister, Mrs. Joe, are mainly critical. It seems as though he might be more sympathetic to Joe than to Mrs. Joe because Joe was nice to him and Mrs. Joe was not, and a bias based on the narrator’s personal feelings and relationships indicates that the tone is neither “aloof,” meaning personally detached, or “unbiased.”
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to consider how the author reveals the narrator’s feelings toward his sister. (A) is correct because rubbing one’s skin with a nutmeg-grater would make it very red and raw. This image builds on the description of the “prevailing redness” of Mrs. Joe’s skin to portray her as having a rough and unpleasant appearance that agrees with her rough and unpleasant disposition. (B) is incorrect because the narrator is not suggesting that people need to use a nutmeg-grater to clean their skin: he is making a joke about how red his sister’s skin was. (C) is incorrect because, while it is suggested Mrs. Joe may have displayed her apron for this purpose, this comment is too off-handed to be a sincere suggestion of such extreme behavior. It seems more like evocative hyperbole. (D) is incorrect because the comment is neither sincere nor admiring: it’s a jab at Mrs. Joe’s appearance. (E) is incorrect because the comment isn’t neither sincere nor an endorsement of the practice the narrator jokes about.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to consider the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gargery. (E) is correct because Mrs. Joe dominates her husband: the narrator claims that she regularly beats Joe, he and wonders whether she made him “marry her by hand,” meaning “by force.” Mrs. Joe also seems hostile towards her husband, not affectionate: she wears her apron constantly as “a strong reproach against Joe.” (A) is incorrect because, while Mrs. Joe wears the apron (a symbol of her work) as a “strong reproach to Joe,” indicating that he is in some way responsible for her need to do certain work and that she resents that, we have no way of knowing what Mrs. Joe’s expectations were, or that the apron specifically represents housework associated with the marriage (she could be taking in sewing in order to bring in extra money). (B) is incorrect because nothing in the passage implies that the narrator and his sister were once close. (C) is incorrect because the passage never hints that Mrs. Joe Gargery feels pressured by her marriage, nor does it provide any information of what she was like before her marriage, so it is impossible to prove what effect the marriage had on her. (D) is incorrect because the only reputation mentioned is Mrs. Joe Gargery’s, which improves (not suffers) as a result of her tendency to physically discipline the men in her household.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to identify how the word “fair” works in the context of the sentence describing Joe. (B) is correct because “fair” accentuates Joe’s pale physical features, such as his “flaxen hair” and blue eyes that seem “mixed with their own whites” (implying they are a light blue, as blue mixed with white would produce), and also appears in the same sentence as Joe’s physical descriptions. (A) is incorrect because there’s no indication that Joe has any interest in the law. (C) is incorrect because, while Joe may be easy-going, there’s no indication he is incapable of prejudice. (D) is incorrect because the description appears alongside descriptions of Joe’s physical appearance (instead of descriptions of his personality, which appear later in the paragraph), and more specifically how light (or fair) some of those characteristics (such as his “flaxen hair” and blue eyes that seem to be “mixed with their own whites”, making them a light blue), making it likely that the term “fair” is being used as a physical and not mental descriptor. (E) is incorrect because “fair” is used to describe Joe’s physical paleness, and there is nothing to suggest he is particularly moral or immoral.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to identify the main idea of the poem. (C) is correct because the poem tells the story of an author first being embarrassed by the early publication of her writing then revising it for a second publication. The first clue to the poem’s main idea is its title, “The Author to Her Book”; if you use this as an interpretive framework for the rest of the piece, you can see that what seems at first glance to be a child is actually a book being prepared for publication. It goes to the “press,” contains “errors,” is “a rambling brat (in print),” has uneven “feet” (as in metrical feet), and faces “Critics.” (A) and (E) both incorrectly take this extended metaphor literally and suggest that the speaker of the poem is talking about an actual child. (B) is incorrect because, although the speaker calls herself “poor” (line 23), owning only “home-spun Cloth” (line 18), and describes her child, the book, as dressed in “raggs” (line 5), these images are meant to give her book an air of humility and modesty, likening it to a rag-clad child. The mentions of rags and cloth are also puns: “rags” can be poor clothing, but 17th century paper was also literally made by recycling old rags. (D) is incorrect. Although the author’s friends “snatched” her book from her (line 3), this is not the main focus of the passage.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to recognize the literal object of figurative language. (C) is correct because, throughout the poem, the speaker describes her book as her child. Here, she calls it the “offspring” of her “brain” because it is a child, not of her body, but of her mind. (A) is incorrect; although the poor state of her writing makes the speaker blush (line 7), her “offspring” is her writing, not her shame about that writing. (B) is incorrect; although “daydreams” do come from the mind, nothing in the poem suggests the speaker is talking to a daydream. (D) is incorrect because the “offspring” is described in ways that would be nonsensical if applied to a house; it is “snatched” from its mother’s “side,” suggesting that it must be small enough to pick up and take away. In the final line, it is described going out of a door—an absurd proposition when applied to a literal house. (E) is incorrect because, as was discussed in 20, the poem uses images of literary publication like “press” and “print” to show that what appears to be a child is, in fact, a book.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to interpret the literal meaning of lines in the poem. (B) is correct because the speaker’s friends “snatched” her book from her and “expos’d” it “to publick view”—in other words, they took her manuscript from her and published it. (A) incorrectly treats “offspring” (line 1) as a literal child rather than as a metaphor for the speaker’s literary creation. (C) and (D) take “abroad” in its modern meaning of “in a foreign country.” In these lines, “abroad” contrasts with “by my side” (line 2) and means “outside” or “in public.” (E) incorrectly takes “expos’d” in a negative sense, perhaps in the sense of “revealed an embarrassing secret.” Here, it simply means “presented” or “shown.”
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to analyze a portion of the passage and identify its implications. (E) is correct because the context of having had an “ill-form’d” or poorly written book “snatched” and “expos’d to public view” or taken and published without permission, while it was still “in raggs,” or in poor condition, most strongly suggests that the author’s blushing would be attributable to embarrassment at having had such poor work published. (A) is incorrect because the speaker’s critical comments about her work do not suggest that she was proud of it. (B) is incorrect because the speaker does not express affectionate feelings for the work; she calls it the “ill-form’d offspring of [her] feeble brain,” and tells us that its “Visage was … irksome.” In other words, it wasn’t very good, and she didn’t even like to look at it. (C) is incorrect mainly because there is no suggestion that the speaker sold her work to any purchasers; rather, it was “snatched” from her by friends, and published without her consent. (D) is incorrect because the speaker actually seems to have a fairly forgiving attitude towards her friends, calling them “less wise than true.” In other words, they didn’t intend to betray her (which would make them “untrue”); they just messed up because they weren’t very wise.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to interpret figurative language. (E) is correct because the speaker makes a pun on the double sense of “feet”: it refers both to the extremities that we walk on and to a unit of poetic meter. When she says that she “stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,” “feet” refers to the unit of poetic meter; stretching joints, then, must mean changing the lengths of lines to make the meter even. However, even after this work, the child runs “more hobbling than is meet”—in other words, more haltingly or awkwardly than is appropriate. (A) may be tempting if you remember that “feet” has something to do with poetry but don’t recall that it relates specifically to meter, not rhyme; however, there is no reference to rhyme in these lines. (B) is incorrect because there is no imagery in these lines associated with shortening or abridging; in fact, the image of stretching suggests lengthening. (C) is incorrect because “joints,” “feet,’ and the “hobbling” run of the book are imagery but don’t represent imagery. (D) may be tempting if you associated the imagery of stretching joints with creating a flexible binding. However, that interpretation of the single image of “joints” doesn’t contribute to a coherent interpretation of other images in the lines, and bookbinding is importantly different from writing, which is the main focus of the poem. (D) are all incorrect because “feet” refers to meter, not rhyme, page count, imagery, or binding.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to determine which one of several conventional senses of a word is correct in the specific context of the passage. (C) is correct because lines 17-18 show the speaker trying to improve her book’s “dress,” but the object of the verb “trim” is “thee,” meaning her metaphorical child (the book).Thus, the verb must mean something the speaker could do to her “child” while dressing it—not something she could do to a “dress” to make it better for her child. (A), (B), (D), and (E) are all incorrect because they suggest verbs whose object would be the clothing rather than the child. The speaker could “cut,” “sew,” “hem,” or “shear” cloth, but not her child.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to make inferences about the point of view of a character in the passage. (E) is correct because, in these lines, the speaker tries to help her child overcome its failings before it has to leave the house on its own. Even after her efforts, however, the child’s gait is still “hobbling” (line 16) and its clothes are made of poor “home-spun Cloth” (line 18). She warns her child, therefore, to stay away from “Critics” (line 20) and only travel places where no one knows it yet (line 21). By struggling to improve her child’s faults and giving it concerned advice, the speaker presents herself as protective and anxious. (A) is incorrect because “ambivalent” and “apathetic” are mutually exclusive. “Ambivalent” connotes being torn between two choices, but also implies caring a lot about the choice; “apathetic” connotes a lack of concern. (B) is incorrect because to despair is to be completely without hope; yet, the speaker has done her best to improve the book, and is now sending it out into the world. She doesn’t exactly sound optimistic about its current form, but she hasn’t given up on it entirely. (C) is incorrect because, while the speaker does warn her child against falling into the hands of critics, she does not condemn critics, nor expresses any desire to take vengeance on them (or on the friends who published her book early). (D) is incorrect because the speaker expresses strong personal feelings; she seems ashamed of her work and concerned about how it will be received.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to interpret figurative language. (E) is correct because the extended metaphor of the speaker’s book as a child ends with her sending the child “out of door” again after tending to its appearance—in other words, publishing the book after editing it. (A) is incorrect because the speaker does not comment on what her friends did beyond calling them “less wise than true” in line 3. (B) is incorrect because the speaker never mentions her own mother; she presents herself metaphorically as the mother of her book. (C) is incorrect. The speaker never mentions a co-author. She does comment that her book had no “Father” (line 22), but she does not, for instance, look for someone to play that role. (D) is incorrect because the speaker is publishing a revised version of the same book, not an entirely new book.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to work out the roles of specific words in a complex sentence structure. (B) is correct because “feeble” appears in the phrase “my feeble brain.” The word “feeble” modifies “brain,” which refers to the speaker’s power of thought, not her book. (A), “ill-form’d,” modifies “offspring” which does refer to the book. (C) is incorrect because “rambling” modifies “brat,” which refers to the book (metaphorically represented as a child). (D) is incorrect because “irksome,” modifies “Visage,” which refers to the face of her child (which represents the book). (E) is incorrect because “hobbling,” describes her child’s gait—in other words, the meter of the poem.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to understand and summarize the content of the poem. The speaker tells a story in this poem about a book of hers, which she describes metaphorically as a human child throughout the poem. She keeps the child by her side after its birth (line 2); friends of hers steal the child away and show it in public (lines 3-5); the speaker tends to its appearance and body (lines 13-18) and finally sends it out in public again (lines 19-24). In other words, the speaker writes a book, hesitates about publishing it, has it stolen and published by her friends, edits it and republishes it herself. Thus, (C) is correct. (A), (B), (D), and (E) do not correspond to this story and are therefore incorrect.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to identify the tone of the passage. (B) is correct because to be “self-deprecating” is to criticize oneself, often in a gentle or humorous way. Throughout this poem, the speaker suggests that her book is not very good: she calls it “ill-form’d” (line 1), “rambling” (line 8), “irksome” (line 10), “hobbling” (line 16), and observes that it is full of “errors” (line 6). (A), “detached,” is incorrect because it suggests a lack of emotional investment or action. The speaker of this piece has strong feelings, as shown by words like “irksome” and “affection” (lines 10-11), and takes action, washing her child’s face, rubbing off spots, stretching its joints, and making new clothes for it (lines 13-19). (C), “pedantic,” is incorrect because the speaker does not make a show of her learning or insist on the importance of obscure rules. (D), “ominous,” and (E), “pessimistic,” are incorrect because the speaker does not suggest something terrible or inevitably bad is about to happen.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to make an inference about the purpose of a part of the passage. The context shows us that the passage takes place at the Opera, and the lines immediately before the exclamation describe a young girl whose eyes are “fixed on the stage-lovers.” Further, the house was “silent,” because the “boxes always stopped talking during the Daisy Song.” Finally, as the exclamation occurs, the girl reacts by blushing. (B) is correct because this context, including the girl’s reaction, suggests that the exclamation was a dramatic moment in the performance by the stage-lovers to whom she was paying close attention. (A) is incorrect because a “plaudit for for the performers” would be a shout of praise, like “Bravo!”, from someone in the audience. However, the house is “silent,” which means no audience member is shouting. Also, the rest of the passage shows that Madame Nilsson is a performer herself, and it would be very unusual for a performer to loudly compliment another performer in the middle of an opera. (C) is incorrect because, while the audience has stopped speaking to listen to the song, the context suggests that’s because it’s a dramatic and enjoyable song—not because they’ve been directed to be quiet. (D) is incorrect because, while the outburst might have been inappropriate from an audience member, the reactions of other characters do not suggest that is what happened. (E) is incorrect because “the boxes always stopped talking” for this song.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to draw subtle inferences using characterization in the passage. (C) is correct because, when May blushes at Madam Nilsson’s performance, she also caresses the bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley. This prompts Archer’s “breath of satisfied vanity”, implying that the bouquet is connected to Archer. (A) is incorrect because the “stage-lovers” are playing a “wooing” scene. “Wooing” is the act of romancing someone and trying to win their affections, which is romantic—not tragic. (B) is incorrect because May’s attention is only described as focused on the stage, not Archer. (D) is incorrect because there is no indication that Archer embarrassed May earlier. (E) is incorrect because May is only blushing and looking at a bouquet of flowers, which is hardly indicative of a fainting spell.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to determine which one of several conventional senses of a word is correct in the specific context of the passage. (C), “pride,” is correct because Archer interprets May’s softly touching the flowers as an indication that she associates his gift, and implicitly Archer himself, with the passionate performance they are watching. (A) is incorrect because “self-interest” implies a concern for personal advantage without regard for others, but Archer’s breath is an emotional reaction to someone else’s apparent feelings. (B) and (E) are incorrect because “futility” and “fruitlessness” both mean “pointlessness” or “uselessness.” These do not fit because Archer’s efforts are not useless: the fact that May thinks about him during a romantic scene in an opera shows that he is having a strong impact on her. (D) is incorrect because “hubris” connotes a dangerously excessive pride that could lead to the hubristic person’s downfall, but we have no reason to believe that Archer’s pride is excessive or dangerous.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to analyze the purpose of the quoted lines. Consider the effect of the author’s choice in comparison to other possible choices. (B) is correct because the set design is described as a phoney, over-the-top imitation of nature, which is nevertheless “acknowledged to be very beautiful even by people who shared [Archer’s] acquaintance with the Opera houses of Paris and Vienna.” Its flowers are “gigantic,” looking like “floral pen-wipers” that women might make for clergymen they find attractive. Roses are illogically grafted onto orange trees. This parallels Archer’s over-the-top, ostentatious gift of an “immense” bouquet and the idealized, “hazily” imagined relationship he plans to have with May. (A) is incorrect because there has not been a prior tense confrontation to contrast with the calm of the stage. (C) is tempting because Archer is indeed watching May to see how she responds to his gift, and to the show; however, he responds only to her appreciation of his extravagant bouquet, not her own modest and simply-adorned clothing. He later thinks of her as “the girl with the lilies-of-the-valley,” again associating her with his immense gift to her, and imagines that she “doesn’t even guess what it’s all about” during a romantic scene, even though she is blushing during the scene. Further, the scenery itself, while it is “acknowledged to be very beautiful,” is far from subtle. (D) is incorrect because the shift to daydreaming happens later in the passage, starting around line 56. The scenery isn’t totally realistic, but it’s not a daydream. (E) is incorrect because Archer is “satisfied” in his feelings about May Welland, and fantasizing with pleasure about their future together, not seeking distraction from “harsh truths” about their relationship (the passage suggests Archer is letting his imagination run away with him, so the ‘truth’ is may be harsher than he presently imagines, but he doesn’t realize that).
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to determine which one of several conventional senses of a word is correct in the specific context of the passage. (D) is correct because “abysmal” means “like an abyss,” which is a deep hole in the ground, so one of its meanings is “profound” or “deep.” We can see that Archer thinks of May as profoundly or deeply pure by the way he refers to her as “young” and “the girl” and assumes that “She doesn’t even guess what” the onstage seduction is “all about.” (A) is incorrect because Archer clearly admires May’s purity as he “contemplated her absorbed young face with a thrill” and romantically imagines interacting with that purity by exposing her to art and married life. (B) “shameful” is incorrect because it contradicts the vision of May as an innocent young woman. (C), “bottomless,” is too strong: an abyss can be deep, but it must have a bottom, so “abyssal” can mean “deep” but not “bottomless.” (E), “cavernous,” means “like a cavern.” While abysses are deep, caverns are large empty three-dimensional spaces. You could describe a whale’s mouth or a deserted sports arena as “cavernous,” but not a personality trait like purity.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to interpret the literal meaning of a paragraph in the passage. (C) is correct because Archer thinks “somewhat hazily” about “projected” (or “planned”) “honey-moon,” which he imagines will involve him and May reading “Faust together... by the Italian lakes.” (A) and (B) may be tempting because another possible sense of abysmal is “extremely bad,” and these words have very negative connotations. However, these are incorrect because Archer thinks May’s purity is a good thing: it allows him to see himself as an experienced person who has the “manly privilege” to educate her about art and married life. The negative senses of “abysmal,” then, don’t make sense in this context. (D) is incorrect because Archer doesn’t feel anxious at all: he confidently imagines himself revealing “masterpieces of literature” to his wife, and he is so excited about getting married that “his imagination” is already “leaping ahead” of the proposal to the “honey-moon.” (E) is incorrect because Archer’s daydream includes “the march from Lohengrin”, the traditional recessional march down the aisle, which is typical of formal weddings, not elopement.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to consider how the author reveals aspects of a character through description, subtle word choices, or relationships with other characters. (D) is correct because May is first described as “a young girl in white” (a color that usually symbolizes innocence), and Archer infantilizes her, referring to her as “The darling” who “…doesn’t even guess what” the seduction scene is “all about.” Archer also revels in the idea of revealing great works of literature to May, which shows that he thinks of her as culturally naïve. (A) is incorrect because, although Archer finds May attractive, she is not described as “alluring.” “Alluring” implies being seductive, which contradicts Archer’s characterization of May as innocent. (B) is incorrect because, although Archer’s childlike portrayal of May could imply she is shy, the only mention of May’s habits of communication is the line “It was only that afternoon that May Welland had let him guess that she ‘cared’”, which is not enough to prove that May is generally withholding, or “taciturn”, but merely perhaps reserved about her romantic feelings. (C) is incorrect because none of the words used to describe May imply that she is “feisty” and is only thrilling to Archer because of her innocence—which contrasts with feistiness. (E) is incorrect because “unyielding” implies that May is inflexible, but the passage never shows her behaving in a particularly stubborn or resistant way; indeed, her appreciation of the bouquet suggests that she may be “yielding” to Archer’s efforts to woo her.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to work out the roles of specific words in a complex sentence structure. (D) is correct because it is never stated or implied that May Welland is “fashionable.” Indeed, it appears that she is not: all the women surrounding May are described as “brocaded,” meaning they are dressed in elaborately decorated fabrics, while she is dressed in modest, white clothing, decorated with only a single flower. If brocade is fashionable, May is not. (A) is incorrect because May is introduced as a “young girl.” (B) is incorrect because May’s braids are described as being “fair”, while “a warm pink” spreads across her cheeks, which would be most noticeable against pale, fair skin. (C) is incorrect because May’s eyes are “ecstatically fixed on the stage-lovers.” (E) is incorrect because Archer reveres May’s “abysmal purity.”
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to make inferences about the point of view of a character in the passage. (C) is correct because the passage implies May has romantic feelings towards Archer, as demonstrated by her caressing of lilies-of-the-valley during a romantic dramatic scene and Archer’s pleased reaction to it. As well, the passage states that May “let him [Archer] guess that she “cared”“, which the passage tells us means she is romantically interested in Archer. (A) and (E) are incorrect because May’s feelings towards Archer are shown only to be romantic, as evidenced by her caressing the lillies-of-the-valley at the sight of a romantic on-stage scene (prompting Archer’s satisfied breath which prompts the implication that the flowers are connected to Archer) and the fact that she “had let him guess that she “cared”“ for him in a romantic way. (B) is incorrect because, although she has let Archer know she “cared,” there is no indication that is planning or knows of any plans of her marriage. (D) is incorrect because there are no references to a rival for her affections in the passage.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to identify the central tension of the passage. Maskwell discusses integrity and deceit throughout the poem: he opens in lines 2-3 by justifying his “deceit” as actually “merit,” and goes on to ponder the downfalls of honest men and wise men in lines 12-17. In lines 17-18 he says “for wisdom and honesty give me cunning and hypocrisy,” contrasting the two sets of values, and finally questions the integrity of humanity as a whole by asking why people can be so trusting when every person may find “fraud” within themselves. Thus, (C) is correct. (A) is incorrect because Maskwell only makes a passing reference to death in line 9, saying that it, like love, is “an universal leveller of mankind.” (B) is incorrect because though Maskwell mocks the “wise man” in lines 15-17, this is only a side point to his main musing on deceit versus integrity. (D) is incorrect because he only references crime in line 2, and only in reference to his treachery and deceit; he also fails to contrast crime with beauty. (E) is incorrect because he uses love as an excuse for deceit (“love cancels all the bonds of friendship,” line 4) and he does not contrast it with any duty.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to analyze the implications Maskwell makes about “rivals” and love. Since Maskwell is seeking to marry a woman currently engaged to his best friend, that friend is his “rival” in love. He discusses in lines 6-7 the various relationships that may exist between people, but says that “rival cuts ‘em all asunder” (line 8). (A) is correct because this implies that this rivalry over love trumps any relationship, including friendship. (B) is incorrect because, although he discusses many common relationships, he never implies that rivals are common or that every person will have a rival in love. (C) is incorrect because, although he says rivalry is a “general acquittance,” this means that, once you become a rival, anything is permitted; it does not mean that anything you have already done in the past is retroactively forgiven. (D) is incorrect. Maskwell claims in the next line that “Rival is equal,” but this means that rivals are worth the same even if their social rank is different. It does not mean that rivals have similar characteristics. (E) is incorrect because Maskwell says that rivalry, like death, makes people equal—not that rivalry leads to death.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to consider how one character characterizes others in his dialogue. (A) is correct because Maskwell says the honest man “will cheat nobody but himself” (lines 14-15) and the wise man will “be made a fool of by nobody by himself,” (lines 16-17), indicating that their virtues lead them to hurt themselves. (B) is incorrect because he does not say that wise or honest men are either happy or uncommon. (C) is incorrect because, though he later proposes that all people have “fraud” in their minds, he does not bring this up in reference to the wise or honest man in lines 13-15. (D) is incorrect because he does not say anything about whether wise or honest men are good friends or good lovers, let alone better friends than lovers. (E) is incorrect because, although Maskwell mentions wise and honest men as two examples of virtuous people, he never says that there aren’t other kinds of virtuous people, too.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to interpret figurative language. In line 18, Maskwell says that he would “angle for … fools.” (E) is correct because, in this context, that can best be interpreted as “fish for fools,” as “angling” is a type of fishing which utilizes a hook. He then calls credulity, the tendency to be too ready to believe that things are true, a “gudgeon,” which is a name for small freshwater fish. This indicates that credulous people he lies to are like fish that he can catch with a hook. (A) is incorrect because although he mentions the word “hungry,” it’s in reference to a fish being hungry, rather than a diner. (B) is incorrect because, while the word “credulity” is used, it is compared with a hungry fish—not hungry people buying fish. (C) is incorrect because the dupes, not the deceivers, are compared to fish, and neither is compared to bait. (D) is incorrect because, while the image of a hungry fish biting at anything might be vaguely suggestive of a sea monster, a gudgeon is a small freshwater fish, so gudgeons are neither monsters nor creatures of the sea. Further, there is no mention of sailors.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to distinguish between several senses of a somewhat uncommon word and select the choice that best fits the context. (D) is correct because “gullibility” is the tendency for someone to be easily tricked or manipulated by lies. Maskwell describes “credulity” as a hungry fish that will “bite at anything.” In context, that refers to fools being ready to believe any of Maskwell’s lies. (A) is incorrect because though a gudgeon would literally have an “appetite” in order to be hooked by a fisherman, the gudgeon is actually a metaphor for the idea of “credulity.” The word is not describing the gudgeon. (B) may be tempting because Maskwell is speaking of “fools,” and the general sense of “foolishness” makes some sense in context, but it doesn’t most nearly match “credulity” because “foolishness” is too broad. It means something like “silliness” or “stupidity”; it does not have the specific connotations of being easily tricked or deceived. (C) may be tempting if you recognize the root of “credulity” as the same as that for “creed,” because faith can mean belief in a creed. However, “credulity” connotes a general tendency to believe anything, and generally has a negative connotation, while “faith” connotes belief in some specific creed, and generally has a positive connotation. (E) is incorrect because “credence” refers to the acceptance of some specific idea or the likelihood that it’s true, not to the tendency to believe anything.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to analyze the last portion of the passage and identify its implications. (D) is correct because Maskwell asks “why are friends’ and lovers’ oaths believed” when people can find “so much fraud and power of baseness” in their own minds, suggesting that if people were able to see this “fraud” and “baseness” in themselves, they might be less trusting of others. (A) is incorrect because, by asking why we trust others when we can find so much fraud in ourselves, Maskwell is implying that our own tendencies towards fraud and deceit—the opposite of keeping oaths faithfully—should make us trust others less. (B) is incorrect because, although he does say that love trumps friendship, he does not imply that this makes anyone less trustworthy in general. (C) and (E) are incorrect because they both interpret Maskwell’s comments as suggesting that we would trust others less if we scrutinized other people—our own friends and lovers, or the broader society. However, Maskwell’s comments imply that a person would trust others less if he “searches strictly his own mind.” While we can infer that Maskwell expects those who examine their own human nature to realize that others have the same nature, he suggests that the realization could come from self-examination—not scrutiny of others.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to identify the primary conflicts in the passage, and select the option which doesn’t actually occur in the story. (C) is correct because the passage doesn’t set up a conflict between “Mr. Kearney’s low income and his spoiled daughters.” Mr. Kearney’s social background as a bootmaker does seem relatively modest compared to his wife’s background, but his income is never stated. However, we do learn that he is “thrifty” (line 21), and is able to provide dowries, education, and vacations for his daughters. The daughters are thus well-provided for, but are not described as being “spoiled.” (A) is incorrect because the story does present a conflict between Mrs. Kearney’s standards and her suitors: “the young men whom she met were ordinary and she gave them no encouragement, trying to console her romantic desires by eating a great deal of Turkish Delight in secret” (lines 9-12). (B) is incorrect because there is a conflict between Mrs. Kearney and her childhood classmates, as “she made few friends at school” (line 4). (D) is incorrect because there is a conflict, although evidently unspoken and perhaps one-sided, between Mrs. Kearney’s romantic ideals and Mr. Kearney’s more “sober” (line 21) ones. Remember that “conflict,” when used as a term of literary analysis, doesn’t have to mean open dispute or disagreement. It can also signify a more abstract clash of values, as it does here. We learn that Mrs. Kearney chose Mr. Kearney on the understanding that he would “wear better than a romantic person” (lines 19-20) but that “she never put her own romantic ideals away” (lines 20-21). In other words, there is a conflict between Mrs. Kearney’s ideals and those of her husband, even if they haven’t lead to open disagreement up to this point. (E) is incorrect because of the remarks in lines 13-14 about her friends beginning to “loosen their tongues about her,” or, in other words, gossip about her unmarried state.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to make inferences about the point of view of a character in the passage. (A) is correct because Mrs. Kearney’s remarks about how a man like Mr. Kearney would “wear better than a romantic person” and the narrator’s emphasis on Mr. Kearney’s upstanding behavior and attention to practical matters demonstrate that the marriage is “more practical than passionate.” (B) is incorrect; the narrator states in lines 19-20 that Mrs. Kearney believes that marriage to Mr. Kearney will be more durable than marriage to someone more romantic. (C) is incorrect because the marriage doesn’t offer the Kearneys entrance to “high society,” understood as the most elite and exclusive social circles, as Mr. Kearney’s profession of bootmaker is most likely not so glamorous as to provide the luxuries of such exclusive societies. Instead, the evidence suggests that the marriage allows them to maintain a respectable position, but without moving any higher. (D) is incorrect because it suggests that Mrs. Kearney already had children when she married Mr. Kearney, which is not the case. (E) is incorrect because, although the Kearneys’ marriage sounds very satisfying, it requires hard work from both partners: Mrs. Kearney cares for her husband when he is ill (lines 26-28) just as Mr. Kearney deliberately sets money aside to pay for their daughters’ dowries (lines 28-31). Also, some tension still exists under the surface: Mrs. Kearney’s “romantic ideas” (lines 20-21) are not satisfied by her husband.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to interpret the literal meaning of a phrase in the passage. We know that the friends began to “loosen their tongues” when Mrs. Kearney remained unmarried, that she ultimately did marry “out of spite” (line 1), and that she “silenced” (line 14) her friends by marrying. (C) is correct because these pieces of evidence all point to an unpleasant or hurtful form of speech, which “gossip” aptly describes. (A) is incorrect because there’s no evidence that the friends are confiding their own personal fears to Mrs. Kearney. There’s also no evidence for (B); the phrase “loosen their tongues” typically has gossipy implications, which does not necessarily mean her friends were making requests of other people. (D) is incorrect because the word “about” implies a conversation based on Mrs. Kearney, not one that was addressed to her. (E) is incorrect because “loosen their tongues” suggests that the friends are discussing things they already know, not learning new secrets, which are never referenced anyway.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to analyze a portion of the passage and identify its implications. (D) is correct because the phrase “at intervals” suggests that Mr. Kearney didn’t speak constantly, and the phrase “in his great brown beard”—particularly due to the word “in”—suggests that his speech was directed towards or caught in his beard, making it muffled and unclear. (A) is incorrect because “at intervals” doesn’t mean “quickly”, but “from time to time.” (B) is incorrect because there’s no evidence of Mr. Kearney’s attitudes towards strangers, either for or against. (C) is incorrect because there’s no direct or indirect evidence that Mr. Kearney’s purpose in growing a beard was to avoid speaking; perhaps it was, but there’s nothing to prove it. (E) is incorrect because we don’t know, based on the evidence provided, whether Mr. Kearney’s wife and children found him hard to understand.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to determine how a specific word choice takes on a special meaning in context, beyond its conventional senses. (A) is correct because, in context, Mrs. Kearney is weighing her choice of Mr. Kearney with the alternative possibility of a romantic man. All of the evidence in the passage about Mr. Kearney’s character suggests that, while he is not romantic, he is certainly dependable. It therefore makes sense for “wear better” to mean that he is suitable for a long-term partnership. (B) is incorrect because it takes the idea a little too literally and particularly, suggesting that Mr. Kearney’s clothes are well-chosen. Based on what we know about him, they probably are—but, in context, Mrs. Kearney is thinking about her husband in a more general sense. (C) is incorrect because there’s no evidence that Mrs. Kearney thinks of how her husband will regard her in their old age. (D) is incorrect because it doesn’t make sense for Mrs. Kearney to prefer practical men over romantic men solely on the basis of their ability to handle physically demanding labor, which she is never said to especially value anyway. On the face of it, it’s not clear whether either type of man would be at an advantage. Likewise, (E) is incorrect because there’s no reference to workplace performance when Mrs. Kearney compares romantic and practical men.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to consider how the author reveals aspects of a character through description, subtle word choices, or relationships with other characters. (C) is correct because the words, “found occasion to say to some friend” (line 35), coupled with what we already know about Mrs. Kearney’s adversarial relationship with her friends, indicate that she is boasting—shoehorning discussions of her upcoming vacations (which are typically thought of as a luxury) into conversation on purpose. (A) is incorrect because it’s stated that Mrs. Kearney says this to her friends, not her husband. (B) is incorrect because nothing in Mrs. Kearney’s words indicate anxiety. She calls her husband “my good man,” which is an affectionate expression that may also apply gratitude or appreciation. (D) is incorrect because, even if you don’t know anything about Skerries, there’s nothing in the tone of Mrs. Kearney’s words that could be called “confessional.” Moreover, the fact that she goes out of her way to talk about the trip makes it more likely to be a boast than a confession. (E) is incorrect because the statement isn’t phrased as a question explicitly or implicitly. Similarly, the fact that Mrs. Kearney finds opportunities to share this information implies that she is already proud of how she spends her summers and doesn’t feel the need for feedback.
The Correct Answer is (C) — This question requires you to analyze a portion of the passage and identify its implications. (C) is correct because the structure of the passage suggests that this echo of prior events also foreshadows future events. This excerpt begins by describing how Miss Devlin came to be married and become Mrs. Kearney, beginning with her education—which was a preparation for marriage. The passage then describes a marriage and a life that seem like a long series of responsible, unromantic concessions to the normal and conventional. The first thing we learn about the daughters is the amount of their dowry, which again puts the focus on preparation for marriage. To then very closely repeat the description of Mrs. Kearney’s education when describing Kathleen’s suggests a cycle of conventional behavior, in which Kathleen is playing the same role that her mother once played. (A) is incorrect because the passaged doesn’t suggest that Kathleen went to exactly the same convent as her mother or that her acceptance was ever in question. (B) is incorrect because, while the passage does indicate that they learned the same subjects in good convents, it doesn’t make any comparison between Mrs. Kearney and Kathleen’s abilities or accomplishments in those subjects. (D) is incorrect because it draws a conclusion that is beyond the scope of the passage: Mrs. Kearney and Kathleen both learned the same things at convents, but nothing in the passage suggests that this is convents’ main function. (E) is incorrect because it also draws a conclusion beyond the scope of the passage. You might be tempted to infer that Mrs. Kearney is bored because “but she never put her own romantic ideas away,” but there’s no suggestion that she was unusually involved with Kathleen’s life at the convent. Rather, her annual vacation seems to be a source of diversion.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to interpret figurative language. (B) is correct because accomplishments are not tangible things that can be “sat amid” or arranged in a “circle,” so this language must be metaphorical. (A) might be tempting because “house” can have a metaphorical sense of a noble family or lineage, but the passage does not involve nobility; the Kearneys’ only titles are “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and Mr. Kearney is a bootmaker, not a Duke or a Marquess. However, that sense of “house” refer to noble (C) is incorrect because it describes a signal that Mrs. Kearney gave to her husband at parties to let him know that she was ready to leave without having to look like a spoilsport by openly announcing that she wanted to go. Such a signal could only work if she literally raised her eyebrow. (D) might be tempting because “paying a sum...into a society” is old-fashioned language, but it’s just a way of saying that Mr. Kearney saved money for his daughters’ dowries by sending money, or “paying a sum,” to an organization set up for the purpose, a “society.” (E) might be tempting if you were thinking of the phrase “get thee to a Nunnery,” which is an idiom that has metaphorical and euphemistic sense, but this choice is incorrect because Kathleen literally went to a convent (as her mother did), meaning in this case a school run by nuns where she learned French and music.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to make inferences about the poem’s intended audience. (D) is correct because the speaker’s willingness to wait long periods of time for the addressee or even to “toss [her life] yonder like a rind” to meet him in eternity indicates that person’s absence and the speaker’s deep yearning to be with him, as one might yearn to be with a lover. (A) is incorrect because the speaker’s declarations of yearning to be with the addressee are too intimate to be addressed to a large crowd. (B) is incorrect because, if the poem’s addressee were dead, it wouldn’t make sense for the speaker to wonder when the addressee might be “coming.” (C) is incorrect for reasons similar to those for (A). The speaker is not merely fond of or acquainted with the person she is addressing; she years to be with him, and the uncertainty of his absence goads her. (E) is incorrect because the speaker should have no reason to be uncertain about when she could “see” her, but in line 5 the speaker indicates that she does not know when she will see the person being addressed.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to identify specific, named literary devices in the passage. (B) is correct because sibilance, the repeated use of words with strong consonants that produce a hissing sound, is present in these two lines. The repetition of the “s” sound at the beginning of “summer,” “smile,” and spurn” coupled with the “f” sound at the end of each “half” come together to create a quick stream of sibilant sounds. (A) is not correct because the speaker’s claim that she will brush a fly away with “half a smile and half a spurn” is not self-contradictory; “smile” and “spurn” simply temper one another here: the housewives don’t like the flies (they spurn them), but they don’t hate them so much that it ruins their day. (C) is incorrect because assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in non-rhyming syllables. “Half” and “a” don’t count, because they’re identical (and therefore rhyme). “Summer” and “spurn” do share a vowel sound, but neither of them shares a vowel sound with “smile,” so considered all together they aren’t an example of assonance. (D) is incorrect because enjambment is the splitting of a single sentence across two or more lines; while lines 2 and 3 do show enjambment, this question asks about specific words within those lines—not the lines overall. (E) is incorrect because metonymy is the act of referring to something using the name of an associated object, such as when mercenaries are called “hired guns” (calling the people by the names of their weapons) or certain pieces of writing are called “papers” (calling the writing by the name of the material on which it is written). While the language in these lines could be metaphorical, it’s not obvious what other objects the speaker might intend to refer to, and metonyms are rarely oblique or mysterious.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to interpret the effect of an image in the passage. (A) is correct because it’s an easy thing to brush away a fly, and the fact that housewives brush them away with “half a smile and half a spurn” indicates that she does not like the flies but is not very bothered by brushing them aside. In context, this suggests that waiting a summer would be a small thing, like a fly, and that the speaker would not like to wait a summer but would not be very bothered to have do it. (B) and (E) are incorrect because, while flies are associated with pestilence and death, the specific analogy being drawn emphasizes the task of brushing away a fly—not the fly’s association with pestilence or death. (C) is incorrect because the analogy draws a connection between the summer and a fly, not the person being addressed and a fly. (D) is incorrect because, while the speaker compares herself to a housewife, the task at the heart of the analogy doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the act of marriage.
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to interpret figurative language. (A) is correct because the author states that she would “wind the months into balls” (line 5) and yarn, a kind of thick string, is commonly stored by winding it around a rod, then removing the rod to leave only a ball of yarn. (B) is incorrect because, while butter is sometimes shaped into balls, it is sculpted—not wound. (C) is incorrect because, while marbles are balls, they are not wound into balls. (D) may be tempting because “mothball” is sometimes used to mean “to put into storage.” However, the “mothballs” to which this refers are balls of poison used to prevent moths from eating stored fabrics; moths themselves are not wound into balls. (E) may be tempting because dishes are placed in drawers, but many things are placed in drawers, and dishes do are not wound into balls.
The Correct Answer is (D) — This question requires you to determine how a specific word choice takes on a special meaning in context, beyond its conventional senses. (D) is correct because this stanza can be paraphrased as follows: “If I were sure that, when life was over, you and I would be together (in the afterlife), I would happily throw my life away and experience the eternal afterlife.” In this context, therefore, if life is “out,” it is over or “ended.” (A) is incorrect because the speaker never indicates that their life, or their lover’s life, has been hidden, so their being revealed would not make sense. (C) is incorrect because, if the speaker and the addressee could be together just by making their lives “known,” there would be no reason for the speaker to throw her life away “like a rind” and “taste eternity” in the afterlife. (B) and (E) are incorrect because the speaker is talking about the “eternity” after death. A dead person’s life is over, not “absent” or “away.”
The Correct Answer is (A) — This question requires you to interpret the meaning or effect of an image in the passage. The main challenge in answering this question is figuring out what “It” (line 19) refers to, because “It” is what’s being compared to the “goblin bee.” Grammatically, “It” should refer back to a noun or concept immediately preceding it. The best candidates are “time” or “time’s uncertain wing.” The answer that best matches this is (A), “anxious, uncertain waiting.” The overall argument of the poem is that, if the speaker knew how long she had to wait to see the addressee, she could happily wait that long—but since she doesn’t know how long it’ll be, she’s anxious and uncomfortable, like someone being stung by an unpredictable bee. (B) is incorrect because the addressee is a person whom the speaker has already called “you,” not something the speaker would refer to as “it.” (C) is incorrect because the future is not in itself what bothers the speaker: she is specifically uncomfortable about not knowing how long she will have to wait. (D) is not correct because although eternity is mentioned earlier in the poem, the “It” of line 19 (which the goblin bee is compared to) refers to the uncertainty of time that is mentioned in the lines directly before the goblin bee is introduced. (E) is incorrect because there is no mention of betrayal in the stanza the bee appears in or in the rest of the poem.
The Correct Answer is (E) — This question requires you to analyze the structure of the poem. To determine the correct answer, we need to decide whether each of the statements numbered with roman numerals is true. I is false because the first four stanzas do not all use household imagery, but they do use some limited nature imagery, including the seasons and the fly—so there’s not a clear distinction of this kind. II is true because there is a thematic progression of time scales: a season in the first stanza, a year in the second, centuries in the third, and eternity in the fourth. The final stanza, however, deals with uncertain time. III is true because each of the first four stanzas explore hypothetical, “if” situations, while the final stanza simply acknowledges that the speaker truly doesn’t know when she will see the person she is addressing again—and that uncertainty is plainly very upsetting. Because II and III are true, (E) is correct.
The Correct Answer is (B) — This question requires you to identify the tone of the passage. (B) is correct because the speaker gradually shifts from humorous images, such as brushing a fly away or winding balls of yarn, to the painful, anxious image of the “goblin bee.” (A) is incorrect because “thrilled” is too strong a word to describe the tone at the beginning of the poem; the speaker is confident that she can wait a season or a year, but she is not excited about having to wait that long. (C) is incorrect because nothing suggests the speaker is surprised or “shocked” to learn that she doesn’t know how long she has to wait until she sees the addressee. (D) is incorrect because the speaker is not “melancholy” at the beginning of the poem: she is confident that she can wait a season, a year, or longer. She is also not “hopeful” at the end: she is anxious about having to wait an unspecified length of time. (E) is not correct because the one “fantastical” image in the poem, the “goblin bee,” comes in the last stanza. The poem starts with descriptions of ordinary activities, like swatting flies or winding yarn.