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Conquering Hard Passages

Drill: Putting It All Together

Here is another passage with questions for you to try. This time, start by reading the topic sentence of each paragraph. Simplify each sentence, and pay attention to transitions and what they tell you about what you should expect to read about in previous or subsequent paragraphs. Then answer the questions, going back to read more details as necessary.

This passage is adapted from The Life and Times of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Anne T. Bellum (© 2002, University of Maine Press).

Simplify the topic sentence of the first paragraph:

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Simplify the topic sentence of the second paragraph. Are there any transitions?

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Simplify the topic sentence of the third paragraph. Are there any transitions?

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Simplify the topic sentence of the fourth paragraph. Are there any transitions?

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Simplify the topic sentence of the fifth paragraph. Are there any transitions?

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Simplify the topic sentence of the sixth paragraph. Are there any transitions?

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Simplify the topic sentence of the seventh paragraph. Are there any transitions?

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Remember to follow the following steps for each question:

Step 1: Find the relevant part of the passage.

Step 2: Read (and simplify, if necessary) the relevant part of the passage.

Step 3: POE

1. In the context of the passage, the author’s statement that Uncle Tom’s Cabin “has been eschewed both because of its melodramatic, sentimental style and because of its role in establishing stereotypes of black characters” (lines 4–6) most nearly means that the novel:

a)    is never read today because modern readers find it offensive.

b)    has fallen out of favor with modern readers for a variety of reasons.

c)    is an accurate portrayal of life during the Civil War.

d)    remains a best-seller today because of its historical importance.

2. It can reasonably be inferred by the statement quoted in lines 44–46 that the reviewer meant to express his:

a)    doubt that Stowe had experienced the events in her books first-hand.

b)    admiration for Stowe’s accurate portrayal of slaves’ lives.

c)    hope that the facts about slavery would be understood.

d)    opinion that A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a misleading retelling of the same information in the original novel.

3. In terms of the passage as a whole, one of the main functions of the 5th paragraph (lines 47–55) is to suggest that:

a)    Tom shows were more important than the book they were based on.

b)    stage adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped spread its abolitionist message.

c)    the actors who starred in the stage adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin became local celebrities.

d)    not all Tom shows faithfully reproduced the book.

4. As it is used in lines 64–65, the phrase quite possibly apocryphal most nearly means that Lincoln’s statement about Harriet Beecher Stowe:

a)    will never be fully understood.

b)    accurately reflects Stowe’s role in advocating for war.

c)    may not be historically accurate, but conveys contemporary opinion.

d)    is untrue because Stowe did not write about it in her letter to her husband.

5. It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that at the time Harriet Beecher Stowe first published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, federal slavery laws:

a)    had recently been expanded.

b)    were generally unenforced by local law officers.

c)    were less severe than they had been in the late eighteenth century.

d)    inspired controversy in both the North and the South.