Reading Between the Lines Practice Exercises (page 3)
Read the following study guide for a concept review:
Read these practice passages actively and carefully. Then answer the questions that follow.
Note: If you come across unfamiliar words, do not look them up until after you've completed this practice exercise.
For or Against?—That Is the Question
Andy is the most unreasonable, pigheaded, subhuman life form in the entire galaxy, and he makes me so angry I could scream! Of course, I love him like a brother. I sort of have to because he is my brother. More than that, he's my twin! That's right. Andy and Amy (that's me) have the same curly hair and dark eyes and equally stubborn temperaments. Yet, though we may look alike, on most issues we usually take diametrically opposite positions. If I say day, you can count on Andy to say night.
Just this week, the big buzz in school was all about the PTA's proposal to adopt a school dress code. Every student would be required to wear a uniform. Uniforms! Can you imagine? Oh, they won't be military-style uniforms, but the clothes would be uniform in color. The dress style would be sort of loose and liberal.
Boys would wear white or blue button-down shirts, a school tie, blue or gray pants, and a navy blue blazer or cardigan sweater. Girls would wear white or blue blouses or sweaters, blue or gray pants or skirts, along with a navy blue blazer or cardigan sweater. Socks or tights could be black, gray, blue, or white. The teachers are divided: Some are in favor of the uniforms, others are opposed. The principal has asked the students to express their opinions by voting on the issue before decisions are made. She will have the final word on the dress code.
I think a dress code is a good idea. The reason is simple. School is tough enough without worrying about looking cool every single day. The fact is, the less I have to decide first thing in the morning, the better. I can't tell you how many mornings I look into my closet and just stare, unable to decide what to wear. Of course, there are other mornings when my room looks like a cyclone had hit it, with bits and pieces of a dozen different possible outfits on the bed, on the floor, or dangling from the lamps. I also wouldn't mind not having to see guys wearing oversized jeans and shirts so huge they would fit a sumo wrestler. And I certainly would welcome not seeing kids showing off designer-labeled clothes.
Andy is appalled at my opinion. He says he can't believe that I would be willing to give up my all-American teenage birthright by dressing like—well, like a typical teenager. Last night, he even dragged out Mom and Dad's high school photo albums. What a couple of peace-loving hippies they were!
"Bruce Springsteen never wore a school uniform. Bob Dylan wouldn't have been caught dead in a school uniform!" he declared. Andy was now on his soapbox. "When I am feeling political, I want to be able to wear clothes made of natural, undyed fibers, sewn or assembled in countries that do not pollute the environment or exploit child labor. If I have to wear a uniform, I won't feel like me!"
To which I replied, "So your personal heroes didn't wear school uniforms. Big deal! They went to high school about a million years ago! I feel sorry for you, brother dear. I had no idea that your ego is so fragile that it would be completely destroyed by gray or blue pants, a white or blue shirt, a tie, and a blazer."
That really made him angry. Then he said, "You're just mimicking what you hear that new music teacher saying because you have a crush on him!"
"That is so not true. He's just a very good teacher, that's all," I said, raising my voice in what Mom would call "a very rude manner."
"You have always been a stupid Goody Two-shoes, and you know it!" he snapped.
"Is that so? Anyone who doesn't agree with you is automatically stupid. And that's the stupidest thing of all!" I said.
Fortunately, the bell rang before we could do each other physical harm, and we went (thankfully) to our separate classes.
The vote for or against uniforms took place later that day. The results of the vote and the principal's decision will be announced next week. I wonder what it will be. I know how I voted, and I'm pretty sure I know how Andy voted.
How would you vote—for or against?
Read the following questions. Circle the letter of the answer you think is correct.
- Amy and Andy fight because
- neither one is able to convince the other to change his or her point of view.
- they're both stubborn.
- they always take the opposite view on issues.
- they don't like each other very much.
- You know that this selection is a personal narrative because the story is about a
- personal experience and is told in the first person.
- historical event and is told in the third person.
- conflict of opinions between two people.
- school policy decision that will affect many people.
- What type of character is Amy?
- protagonist, round, dynamic
- protagonist, flat, static
- antagonist, round, static
- antagonist, flat, dynamic
- Which of the following is the best statement of Andy's position on the issue presented in the story?
- School clothing should reflect parents' values.
- Wearing school uniforms means one less decision every morning.
- How one dresses should be an expression of one's personality.
- Teenagers should never follow the latest fads in dress.
- What is the author's purpose for this story?
- to inform
- to persuade
- to entertain
- to explain
- Is there enough information in this story to predict an outcome? If so, what will probably happen next in the story?
- Yes. Students, teachers, and all staff members will begin wearing uniforms.
- Yes. Students will vote against uniforms, and the principal will agree with their decision.
- Yes. Students will vote against uniforms, and the principal will disagree with their decision.
- No. There is no way to determine what the outcome will be.
- Read the following sentences from the story: Andy is appalled at my opinion. He says he can't believe that I would be willing to give up my all-American teenage birthright by dressing like—well, like a typical teenager.
- As it is used in these sentences, what does appalled mean?
- in denial
- supportive of
- horrified by
- The overall organizing principle of this passage is
- order of importance.
- comparison and contrast.
- cause and effect.
- Which of the following best expresses the main point Amy is trying to make in paragraph 7?
- Andy shouldn't look up to his heroes so much.
- Our clothes shouldn't determine how we feel about ourselves.
- Andy needs more modern heroes.
- Andy's lack of self-confidence is reflected in his clothing.
From One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta
My parents could send me only to the first grade. Not because they didn't want to send me, but because we were so many at home and I was the only girl, in charge of grinding corn and cooking it and then taking tortillas to my brothers in the cornfields.
My brothers used to kill themselves chopping and hoeing. My father, too.
My mother and I would take care of the house. All together there were fourteen of us— I and my folks and eleven brothers—even after three children had died. They died of dehydration. I remember how my father held the last one by his feet so that blood would run to his head, but nothing happened. He died with his head caved in. All their heads sank in after serious bouts of diarrhea; once diarrhea begins there's no salvation. They all died before their first birthdays.
Children die of dehydration only when they're very little, since their bones are very soft, and if you're not careful, they get diarrhea and the forehead sinks in.
Children go to heaven. That's what the priest used to say. And we never worried. We always believed that.
Note: translated by Bill Brow; New York, Random House, 1983.
Circle the letter of the answer you think is correct.
- The three children who died were
- the narrator's children.
- the narrator's brothers and sisters.
- the narrator's nieces and nephews.
- children in the narrator's village.
- The passage suggests that the three children died because
- of food poisoning.
- no one took proper care of them.
- their father killed them.
- they were too poor to afford proper nutrition and medicine.
- What kind of conflict is shown in this passage?
- character versus character
- character versus self
- character versus society
- character versus God
- The narrator's second paragraph is very short. Why?
- She wants to make it stand out.
- Because that's all she knows about the topic.
- Because she doesn't think it's important.
- Because she doesn't like to talk about it.
- The narrator's family probably lives
- in a large city.
- in a small town.
- in the country.
- on a mountain.
- How does the narrator seem to feel about her father?
- She resents him for not sending her to school.
- She feels sorry for him.
- She believes he didn't care about the babies who died.
- She thinks he lied to her about God.
- The tone of this passage is best described as
- The tone of the last paragraph suggests that
- the narrator doesn't believe what the priests say anymore.
- the narrator misses the children who died.
- the narrator is very religious.
- the narrator doesn't believe in God.
- The narrator uses the word died five times as well as the word killed once in this short passage. She does this because
- she wants to show that dying is a part of life.
- she has a limited vocabulary.
- she wants to emphasize how difficult the family's life is.
- she is obsessed with the children who died.
- c. The narrator tells us in the first paragraph that she and Andy "usually take diametrically opposite positions. If I say day, you can count on Andy to say night." (If you don't know what diametrically means, you should be able to determine its meaning from context.) The rest of the story shows how they have completely opposite views. Choice d is incorrect because Amy tells us that she "love[s] him like a brother." It is true that neither convinces the other (choice a) and that they're both stubborn (choice b), but neither of these are the reasons they fight.
- a. This is the best choice because the story is told by Amy, who is describing a personal experience. Choice b is incorrect because the story is in the present; it is not an historical event, and it is not told in the third person. The fact that the selection reveals a conflict (choice c) does not make the selection a personal narrative. The fact that the selection involves a policy decision that will affect the students (choice d) does not make the selection a personal narrative.
- a. Because Amy is narrating this story about her own experiences, we can eliminate the antagonist options, choices c and d. Choice b is incorrect because the author has already given enough details about Amy to make her a round, complex character who is likely to change throughout the story.
- c. This is the best choice because it accurately states Andy's position on the issue of a school dress code. Choice a is incorrect because nothing in the narrative suggests that how students dress reflects their parents' views. Choice b is incorrect because it reflects Amy's views about the dress code, not Andy's. Choice d is incorrect because it does not reflect Andy's reasons for objecting to a dress code.
- c. Like most fiction, this story is written to entertain the reader.
- d. At the end of the story, the reader does not know what the vote will be or what the principal will do, so we cannot effectively predict the outcome.
- d. The best clue to the meaning is that Andy "can't believe" that Amy "would be willing to give up [her] all-American teenage birthright" to dress the way she pleases. He may be angry (choice a), but this passage tells us that he also is horrified. Choice b is incorrect because he does not deny Amy's opinion; he argues with it directly, which also rules out choice c.
- a. This story is told in chronological order, from the PTA proposal to a day or so after the vote but before the announcement.
- b. Although Amy uses ridicule to make her point, she does have a good point to make: that we shouldn't let our clothes determine how we feel. She tells Andy she feels sorry for him because his ego "would be completely destroyed" if he had to wear a uniform. In other words, she's upset that he'd let a uniform affect his sense of self.
- b. The narrator tells us in the third paragraph that "there were fourteen of us—I and my folks and eleven brothers—even after three children had died."
- d. The details in the passage suggest that everyone in the family has to work very hard just to get by ("My brothers used to kill themselves chopping and hoeing."). There's no suggestion of wealth or comfort, and there's a sense of helplessness about the deaths. This comes across in the words, "once diarrhea begins there's no salvation." However, it's reasonable to assume that there could have been salvation if the family had had the money to pay for medicine. In addition, it would be unlikely that a child would become dehydrated if he or she had proper nutrition. There's no evidence to suggest that the children contracted food poisoning (choice a), and the narrator tells us that she and her mother "would take care of the house," which suggests that they also took care of the little children, so choice b is incorrect. Paragraph 3 also describes how the father tried to save the sick children, so choice c is also incorrect.
- c. The problems the narrator faces include poverty, death from malnutrition, and disagreement with the priests. These problems are not caused by another character (choice a) or the narrator herself (choice b), and the narrator doesn't blame God (choice d) or anyone in particular. These issues are generally conflicts with human society.
- a. A short paragraph like this has the important effect of standing out for readers, so choice c is incorrect. Certainly she knows a lot about the topic, since she took tortillas to her brothers in the cornfields, so choice b is incorrect. It is possible that she doesn't like to talk about it, but this is not the best answer because the entire passage deals with difficult and sad issues, so (choice d) is also incorrect.
- c. This is the best conclusion to draw based on the evidence in the passage. Her family works in the cornfields, so we can conclude that they don't live in a large city (choice a) or even in a small town (choice b). These choices are also incorrect because they seem to have a lack of medical care, which would be more readily available in a city or town. Choice d is incorrect because there's no mention of mountains or valleys, and cornfields are not likely to be located in a mountainous area.
- b. The narrator expresses sympathy for her father's hard work in the fields, his battles with poverty, and the death of his children. She says her parents couldn't send her to school "Not because they didn't want to send me, but because we were so many at home." This statement shows that she doesn't blame her father for keeping her from school (choice a). She describes how her father tried to save the last dying child, so choice c must be incorrect. The priests, not her father, told her about heaven, so choice d must be incorrect.
- d. The word choice in the passage as well as its subject matter create a very sad tone.
- a. The passage suggests that she doesn't believe the priests anymore. She doesn't say that she doesn't believe in God anymore (choice d), but she does say that "That's what the priests used to say" and "We always believed that." Ending on this note suggests that they no longer have faith in what the priests used to tell them. She never says that she misses the children who died (choice b)—in fact, these children may have died before she was even born. Choice c is also incorrect because there's no evidence in the passage that she is very religious, only that she believed children went to heaven.
- c. It is true that she has a limited vocabulary (choice b), but that is not why she repeats died several times. Death is indeed part of life, but this story is about her life and her family's life, so choice a is not the best answer. There is no evidence that she is obsessed with the children who died (choice d). She does spend some time describing the manner of their deaths, but the description is matter-of-fact and does not make us feel that she misses the children. Rather, this tone makes us see the harsh reality of their lives.
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