In this lesson, our instructor Rebekah Hendershot, does a Multiple-Choice Walkthrough (Part 2). Youll learn how to find the point of a passage and how the author gets that point across. Three major passages from College Boards 1999 multiple choice section are discussed in detail starting with The Big Idea, then How Its Expressed, and then going into The Questions. Rebekah guides you through 30 questions and gives step-by-step instructions on how to get the right answer.
The questions begin on page 29 of the PDF (it says page 23 in the lower right corner, but it’s really page 29).
Reading the Passages
Remember, you are asking yourself two questions:
What’s the point of this passage?
How does the author get that point across?
The Big Idea: Volpone really likes his gold (in fact, he pretty much worships it as if it were a god or a Catholic saint).
How It’s Expressed: Volpone uses a long list of comparisons and analogies to describe the value of his gold.
The Questions: This passage covers questions 26-34.
Question 26: To whom is Volpone speaking?
He’s talking to his gold, like a cartoon miser.
Question 27: What adjective best describes Volpone’s speech?
He begins by describing his gold as “my saint,” suggesting that gold for him fulfills the role of a god in religion. He worships gold.
Because this passage was written in 1606 and the characters have Italian names, we can assume that it was written somewhere in Europe at a time when some form of Christianity was the state religion in almost every country.
Thus, Volpone is violating social norms by worshiping gold—he is worshiping an idol.
Question 28: What does “night” stand for in the simile in line 8?
He compares his gold, among his other possessions, to “a flame by night”, or a light in darkness. What darkness might there be around his gold? Why, only those other possessions!
Question 29: What age is described as “best”?
Volpone tells his gold that the poets were right to use its name for the “best” age. Therefore, the best age would be an age named after gold—a golden age!
(This is a classical allusion, but you don’t need to know that since we still use “golden age” to describe the best possible period of time.)
Question 30: What device appears in lines 22-23?
These lines describe wealth (“Riches”) as a god that can do nothing by itself but makes men do things.
How very paradoxical! And what an extreme expression! Hypberbolic, wouldn’t you say?
Oh, look, A is “paradoxical hyperbole”.
Question 31: What does “to boot” mean in line 24?
This is an English idiom meaning “as a bonus” or “in combination with all the other stuff just mentioned”, as in, “I got an ice-cream cone and sprinkles to boot!”
Since Volpone describes a person as being happy in hell if he’s got gold, it seems likely that “in addition” is a good definition.
Question 32: Paraphrase lines 26-27.
A good paraphrase might be, “Anybody who can acquire gold is noble, valiant, honest, and wise / good, brave, truthful, and smart”.
But remember, this passage is supposed to be making fun of Volpone. Do rich people automatically have all these good qualities? No—but they usually are surrounded by people who say they have those qualities.
Question 33: How does Mosca’s comment fit into the passage?
He compares the role of riches in fortune to the role of wisdom in nature, and unsurprisingly prefers riches.
Eliminate A through D; they all either get the comparison wrong (A-C) or suggest a causal connection not present in the text (D).
Question 34: What kind of language is used most extensively in the passage?
This passage is full of references to gods and religious symbols, so A stands out right away.
B might look promising, but Volpone doesn’t use much of the language of finance—just references to gold.
C through E don’t appear very much at all.
The Big Idea: The poet is facing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, struggling with his memories of the war (including, it appears, a comrade who died) and watching others’ reactions to the memorial as they are reflected in its surface.
How It’s Expressed: There’s a lot of poetic language here, playing with the reflective qualities of the monument and the way images of observers are visible on its surface along with the carved names. Thus, juxtaposition is one of the major motifs of this poem.
The Questions: This passage covers questions 35-43.
Question 35: What is the best description of this poem?
This poem is a series of images that convey the poet’s emotions—they’re not connected by logic so much as by feeling.
A, “a series of interrelated impressions”, captures this best.
Question 36: What does line 5 suggest?
Line 5 is “I’m stone. I’m flesh.” That’s quite a contrast, especially when you consider that in a previous line the poet was struggling not to cry.
Statement I is obvious, but Statement II is pretty strong, too—“I’m stone” suggests that the poet is merging with the memorial itself, like the other figures in the poem.
Statement III is off-topic; the government doesn’t figure overtly in this poem.
Thus, the answer is both I and II.
Question 37: What poetic device is used in line 9?
The line is “(I turn) this way—the stone lets me go.” Stone doesn’t normally choose to release anybody; it doesn’t think.
Thus, the stone is behaving like a sentient being—like a person. That’s personification.
Question 38: What is conveyed in lines 20-21?
These lines describe a woman walking away from the memorial, leaving its names still inscribed on the stone where they were once visible on her reflection.
That’s obviously a metaphor. This woman once wore the names—they were part of her—and now she is separate from them. The woman leaves, but the names stay. The names are more permanent than the woman.
D is the only answer that describes that permanence.
A and E sound promising, but the poet doesn’t seem to have any particular feelings about the woman—just the memorial.
Question 39: What is conveyed in lines 29-31?
These lines describe a woman brushing at a boy’s hair in the reflection, making it appear that she’s trying to erase names.
The poet first has one impression, then corrects it to a second one.
E, “an uncertainty about the meaning of a gesture”, expresses this best.
Question 40: What does the mirrorlike quality of the memorial NOT allow the poet to experience?
This is an elimination question—eliminate all answers that describe experiences the poet actually has.
C, “self-respect”, is alien to this poem—the poet isn’t deriving self-respect or self-esteem from this moment. He’s struggling with himself and merging, in his way, with the names on the wall.
Question 41: Which contrast is NOT integral to the poem?
Eliminate all the important (integral) contrasts.
A, “happiness and sorrow”, is your best choice here. The poem conveys sorrow, but no happiness.
Question 42: How would you characterize the imagery of the poem?
This poem creates images of people and the memorial blending together, changing constantly, because of the memorial’s reflective surface.
C, “transformation and duality,” reflects this well. People and objects are transformed in the mirror, and there is a constant tension between what’s real and what’s not.
Question 43: What is the implication of the title?
The title of this poem is “Facing It”. Think of all the ways we use that term.
Choice I seems unlikely; the poet is overcome with strong emotion that sounds a bit like survivor’s guilt. He or she is not innocent.
Choice II is promising. The poet is definitely viewing an evocative object by physically facing it.
Choice III looks good, too. The poet plays with identity constantly—metaphorically “facing” the implications of race, memory, and other aspects of identity.
Thus, the best answer will combine II and III.
The Big Idea: Louisa overhears something between her fiancé, Joe, and a woman named Lily that causes her to break off her engagement to Joe. Yet she doesn’t seem upset about it—she gladly looks forward to living out her life alone, in the quiet and orderly manner she prefers.
How It’s Expressed: This passage is all about Louisa’s inner life, and to that end it uses metaphor (“little feminine weapons) and lots of evocative details (“Caesar’s hermit hut” and “fold away in lavender”). There are also similes (“like an uncloistered nun”).
The Questions: This passage covers questions 44-55.
Question 44: What is the purpose of the clause “that was as much a matter of course as breathing”?
Breathing is a natural and essential part of life. Thus, Louisa’s housework is a natural and essential part of her life. That tells us a lot about Louisa.
A, “a parenthetical observation that characterizes Louisa”, is best.
Question 45: To what does “that she had heard aright” refer?
If Louisa has trouble believing that she has heard correctly (and remember, she’s heard Joe violating the engagement), she has trouble believing that Joe is unfaithful. She doesn’t believe the evidence of her ears, and distrusts her conclusions.
D expresses this distrust best.
Question 46: What is the purpose of lines 15-23?
These lines show Louisa displaying unsuspected subtlety and diplomacy as she tries to determine whether Joe wants to break off the engagement.
B describes this behavior best.
Question 47: What is the meaning of lines 22-23?
These lines say that both Joe and Louisa are afraid of betraying themselves. We know why Louisa is afraid—she thinks she’s misunderstood Joe. Why should Joe be afraid of betraying himself? He must have done something wrong that he wants to keep secret.
D and E both look promising, but there’s no evidence that Lily talks to Louisa, let alone might have blabbed about her relationship with Joe. This is probably about the simple fact that neither Joe nor Louisa wants to express inner thoughts.
Question 48: What is the dominant element of the meeting between Louisa and Joe?
Their meeting sounds like someone trying to walk through a minefield—being extremely careful about each movement because one wrong step could lead to disaster.
C, “tactfulness on both their parts,” expresses this idea best.
Question 49: What is suggested by the images in lines 50-59?
These images describe what Louisa’s life will be like without Joe—her solitude as she goes through the rest of her days, filling them with her dog and her housework and her other solo pursuits. Louisa seems relieved at this prospect, so it doesn’t seem like she was all that happy about the idea of getting married.
D, “Louisa had been quite troubled about the prospect of matrimony”, expresses this best.
Question 50: What is the “birthright” described in line 63?
The footnote indicates that this is a reference to a story about someone who gave up something precious (an inheritance) for something petty and of little value (pottage, or soup). So what valuable thing did Louisa give up? Obviously, her impending marriage to Joe.
C, “chance for marriage”, expresses this best.
Question 51: What is the effect of the imagery in lines 65-75?
These lines are where the author first begins using religious imagery (the pottage, the rosary) to describe Louisa’s isolation, a notion that will culminate in the description of her as an “uncloistered nun.”
Eliminate A and B; Louisa is not lonely, and she is not part of a “convivial society”. C is dead wrong; Louisa is not about to have a romantic encounter.
D and E are both promising, but D uses “spiritual” to describe Louisa’s new life, and that fits with the religious imagery.
Question 52: What is the effect of the phrase “uncloistered nun”?
There’s that religious imagery again. How is Louisa like a nun? Well, aside from not getting married, she devotes herself to menial tasks with an almost religious fervor.
C, which compares Louisa’s life to life in a convent (where nuns are cloistered), describes this comparison best.
Question 53: What is the major concern of this excerpt?
Check out the Big Idea. You should know this one by now.
Eliminate A and C; Louisa’s actions aren’t really a plan or a dispute.
Eliminate D; “hope” does not describe Louisa’s attitude toward marriage.
Eliminate E; while Louisa’s fear of marriage may be a problem, she doesn’t just analyze it—she solves it.
Question 54: How can Joe Dagget’s speech be described?
Joe uses more slang and colloquialisms than any other speaker, and seems to be speaking pretty plainly about his feelings for Louisa.
Eliminate B and C; he is neither amorous nor pedantic. Eliminate D, too; he’s not subtle.
That leaves A and E. While “colloquial” and “informal” both describe Joe’s speech, he is not “unfocused.” “Straightforward,” on the other hand, does describe his directness of speech.
Question 55: What does Louisa probably believe about Joe Dagget?
Considering her happiness at being allowed to return to her cloistered life, it seems like she didn’t really want to marry him.
Eliminate A; she doesn’t seem to have revised her opinion of him.
Eliminate C; she doesn’t seem to love Joe, especially not to the exclusion of others.
Eliminate D and E; they are negative descriptors, and Louisa doesn’t seem to have a negative attitude toward Joe.
Multiple-Choice Walkthrough, Part 2
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.
This book includes five full length practice exams with all questions answered and explained. It includes a review of test topics covering details test takers need to know, such as poetry,prose fiction, and drama. It also includes sample student essays with critiques of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a detailed glossary defining 175 literary and rhetorical terms.
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New ed edition
This book is a reprint of the Shakespeare Head Press edition, and it presents all the plays in chronological order in which they were written in an easy to read format. It also includes Shakespeare's Sonnets, as well as his longer poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.
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