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GED Literature Practice Questions

(These literature practice samples apply to the GED until 2014, when a new version of the GED will be launched.)

Questions 1-5 pertain to the following passage:

What Is Disturbing the Fun?

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to harken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused revery or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies), there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before. -Excerpted from "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe

1. The clock in this passage symbolizes:

1. the brief amount of time the orchestra played
2. the movement from early morning to evening
3. the passage of time and nearness of death
4. the fading beauty of all things
5. the lack of attention the dancers paid to the music

2. The scene that is being described is of a:

1. concert
2. formal dinner
3. garden party
4. boating tournament
5. ball

3. The action stops when:

1. the host announces dinner
2. the clock chimes the hour
3. an uninvited guest arrives
4. guests are asked to remove their masks
5. members of the orchestra leave

4. What does the reader infer will happen in the story?

1. The musicians will soon be playing for the king
2. The police will arrive to stop the evening's pleasures
3. The clock will explode at midnight
4. At least one person there will die
5. The host will throw out the rowdy guests

5. Which words best describes the tone of this passage?

1. Lighthearted and sunny
2. Humorous and merry
3. Mysterious and forbidding
4. Angry and bitter
5. Negative and sarcastic

Questions 3 - 10 pertain to the following passage:

Who Was This Man?

"You have a visitor, you see," said Monsieur Defarge. "What did you say?" "Here is a visitor." The shoemaker looked up as before, but without removing a hand from his work. "Come!" said Defarge. "Here is monsieur, who knows a well-made shoe when he sees one. Show him that shoe you are working at. Take it, monsieur." Mr. Lorry took it in his hand.
"Tell monsieur what kind of shoe it is, and the maker's name." There was a longer pause than usual, before the shoemaker replied: "I forget what it was you asked me. What did you say?"
"I said, couldn't you describe the kind of shoe, for monsieur's information?" "It is a lady's shoe. It is a young lady's walking-shoe. It is in the present mode. I never saw the mode. I have had a pattern in my hand." He glanced at the shoe with some little passing touch of pride. "And the maker's name?" said Defarge. Now that he had no work to hold, he laid the knuckles of the right hand in the hollow of the left, and then the knuckles of the left hand in the hollow of the right, and then passed a hand across his bearded chin, and so on in regular changes, without a moment's intermission. The task of recalling him from the vagrancy into which he always sank when he had spoken, was like recalling some very weak person from a swoon, or endeavouring, in the hope of some disclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man. "Did you ask me for my name?" "Assuredly I did." "One Hundred and Five, North Tower." "Is that all?" "One Hundred and Five, North Tower." With a weary sound that was not a sigh, nor a groan, he bent to work again, until the silence was again broken.
"You are not a shoemaker by trade?" said Mr. Lorry, looking steadfastly at him. His haggard eyes turned to Defarge as if he would have transferred the question to him: but as no help came from that quarter, they turned back on the questioner when they had sought the ground. "I am not a shoemaker by trade? No, I was not a shoemaker by trade. I-I learnt it here. I taught myself. I asked leave to " He lapsed away, even for minutes, ringing those measured changes on his hands the whole time. His eyes came slowly back, at last, to the face from which they had wandered; when they rested on it, he started, and resumed, in the manner of a sleeper that moment awake, reverting to a subject of last night. "I asked leave to teach myself, and I got it with much difficulty after a long while, and I have made shoes ever since." -Excerpted from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

6. Monsieur Defarge and Mr. Lorry are visiting:

1. an art gallery in Paris
2. a man who has been ill
3. a member of the British government
4. a doctor making hospital calls
5. a fashion designer

7. Based on the name he gives, the reader can infer that the man:

1. has spent time in a prison tower
2. has been traveling throughout Europe
3. has been homeless a long time
4. first left home as a young man
5. has never been married

8. Which of the following is NOT a sign of the man's mental condition?

1. his inability to complete a thought
2. his identifying himself by a location instead of a name
3. the repetitive motion of his hands
4. his cheerful laughter
5. the choppy sentences he speaks

9. The man has asked to learn the trade of:

1. woodcarving
2. glassblowing
3. blacksmithing
4. dressmaking
5. shoemaking

10. What can the reader infer about the identity of Monsieur Defarge?

1. He is the unkind jailer at the prison
2. He is a friend keeping the man safe
3. He is the man's loving son or grandson
4. He is a cruel doctor in a hospital
5. He is a banker interested only in the man's money

Questions 11 - 15 pertain to the following play excerpt:

A Strange Proposal

CYRANO: Roxane expects a letter.
CHRISTIAN: Woe the day!
CYRANO: How?
CHRISTIAN: I am lost if I but ope my lips!
CYRANO: Why so?
CHRISTIAN: I am a fool-could die for shame!
CYRANO: None is a fool who knows himself a fool. And you did not attack me like a fool.
CHRISTIAN: Bah! One finds battle-cry to lead th' assault! I have a certain military wit, But, before women, can but hold my tongue. Their eyes! True, when I pass, their eyes are kind
CYRANO: And, when you stay, their hearts, methinks, are kinder?
CHRISTIAN: No! for I am one of those men-tongue-tied, I know it-who can never tell their love.
CYRANO: And I, meseems, had Nature been more kind, More careful, when she fashioned me,-had been One of those men who well could speak their love!
CHRISTIAN: Oh, to express one's thoughts with facile grace!
CYRANO: To be a musketeer, with handsome face!
CHRISTIAN: Roxane is precieuse. I'm sure to prove A disappointment to her!
CYRANO (looking at him): Had I but Such an interpreter to speak my soul!
CHRISTIAN (with despair): Eloquence! Where to find it?
CYRANO (abruptly): That I lend, If you lend me your handsome victor-charms; Blended, we make a hero of romance!
CHRISTIAN: How so?
CYRANO: Think you can repeat what things I daily teach your tongue?
CHRISTIAN: What do you mean?
CYRANO: Roxane shall never have a disillusion! Say, wilt thou that we woo her, double-handed? Wilt thou that we two woo her, both together? Feel'st thou, passing from my leather doublet, Through thy laced doublet, all my soul inspiring?
CHRISTIAN: But, Cyrano!
CYRANO: Will you, I say?
CHRISTIAN: I fear!
CYRANO: Since, by yourself, you fear to chill her heart, Will you-to kindle all her heart to flame- Wed into one my phrases and your lips?
CHRISTIAN: Your eyes flash!
CYRANO: Will you?
CHRISTIAN: Will it please you so?
-Give you such pleasure?
CYRANO (madly): It!
(then calmly, business-like):
It would amuse me! It is an enterprise to tempt a poet. Will you complete me, and let me complete you? You march victorious,-I go in your shadow; Let me be wit for you, be you my beauty!
CHRISTIAN: The letter, that she waits for even now! I never can
CYRANO (taking out the letter he had written): See! Here it is-your letter!
CHRISTIAN: What?
CYRANO: Take it! Look, it wants but the address.
CHRISTIAN: But I
CYRANO: Fear nothing. Send it. It will suit.
CHRISTIAN: But have you ?
CYRANO: Oh! We have our pockets full,
We poets, of love-letters, writ to Chloes,
Daphnes-creations of our noodle-heads.
Our lady-loves-phantasms of our brains,
-Dream-fancies blown into soap-bubbles! Come!
Take it, and change feigned love-words into true;
I breathed my sighs and moans haphazard-wise;
Call all these wandering love-birds home to nest.
You'll see that I was in these lettered lines,
-Eloquent all the more, the less sincere! -Take it, and make an end!
CHRISTIAN: Were it not well
To change some words? Written haphazard-wise, Will it fit Roxane?
CYRANO: 'Twill fit like a glove!
-Excerpted from Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

11. Christian's problem can best be described as:

1. an unwillingness to fight other soldiers
2. fear of new situations
3. shyness when speaking to women
4. uncertainty in his fencing skills
5. inability to sing well

12. Cyrano proposes that the two men:

1. disguise themselves and serenade Roxane
2. each writes Roxane a letter
3. leave Roxane and go off to war
4. combine their skills to win Roxane
5. fall in love with someone else

13. When Cyrano says an idea is "passing from my leather doublet, Through thy laced doublet" he is alluding to the fact that:

1. Christian has never been a fighting man
2. Cyrano has been wounded in battle
3. clothing should not be an issue between them
4. Christian has not yet received the armor he needs for battle
5. he is dressed as a soldier, and Christian is dressed as a gentleman

14. Cyrano assures Christian, "You'll see that I was in these lettered lines, -Eloquent all the more, the less sincere!" The repetition of the l sound is an example of:

1. Alliteration
2. Personification
3. Metaphor
4. Allusion
5. Simile

15. What can the reader infer about the letter that Cyrano wants to give Christian?

1. Cyrano is a vain poet who writes letters to please himself
2. Cyrano has written a love letter to Roxane but not delivered it
3. Roxane will immediately see that Christian did not write the letter
4. Christian will study the letter and learn how to be eloquent with women
5. Christian will refuse to use the letter and win Roxane on his own

GED Literature Answers and Explanations

Last Updated: 05/15/2014

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