PROSE FICTION: This passage is adapted from The Story of a Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich © 1869.
I call my story the story of a bad boy, partly to distinguish myself from those faultless young gentlemen who generally figure in narratives of this kind, and partly because I really was not an angel. I may
Line 5 truthfully say I was an amiable, impulsive lad, and no hypocrite. I didn’t want to be an angel; I didn’t think the sermons presented to me by the Reverend Hawkins were half so nice as Robinson Crusoe; and I didn’t send my pocket-change to the needy, but spent it on
10 peppermint-drops and taffy candy. In short, I was a real human boy, such as you may meet anywhere in New England, and not like the impossible boy in a storybook. Whenever a new scholar came to our school,
15 I used to confront him at recess with the following words: “My name’s Tom Bailey; what’s your name?” If the name struck me favorably, I shook hands with the new pupil cordially; but if it didn’t, I would turn and walk away, for I was particular on this point. Such
20 names as Higgins, Wiggins, and Spriggins were offensive affronts to my ear; while Langdon, Wallace, Blake, and the like, were passwords to my confidence and esteem. I was born in Rivermouth almost fifty years
25 ago, but, before I became very well acquainted with that pretty New England town, my parents moved to New Orleans, where my father invested in the banking business. I was only eighteen months old at the time of the move, and it didn’t make much difference to me
30 where I was because I was so small; but several years later, when my father proposed to take me North to be educated, I had my own views on the subject. I instantly kicked over the little boy, Sam, who happened to be standing by me at the moment, and, stamping my foot
35 violently on the floor, declared that I would not be taken away to live among a lot of Yankees! You see I was what is called “a Northern man with Southern principles.” I had no recollection of New England: my earliest memories were connected
40 with the South. I knew I was born in the North, but hoped nobody would find it out. I never told my schoolmates I was a Yankee because they talked about the Yankees in such a scornful way it made me feel that it was quite a disgrace not to be born in the South.
45 And this impression was strengthened by Aunt Chloe, who said, “there wasn’t no gentlemen in the North no way.” To be frank, my idea of the North was not at all accurate. I supposed the inhabitants were divided into two classes—hunters and schoolmasters. I pictured it to
50 be winter pretty much all the year round. The prevailing style of architecture I took to be log-cabins. With this picture of Northern civilization in my eye, the reader will easily understand my terror at the bare thought of being transported to Rivermouth to
55 school, and possibly will forgive me for kicking over little Sam, when my father announced this to me. As for kicking little Sam, I always did that, more or less gently, when anything went wrong with me. My father was greatly perplexed and troubled by
60 this violent outbreak. As little Sam picked himself up, my father took my hand in his and led me thoughtfully to the library. I can see him now as he leaned back in the bamboo chair and questioned me. He appeared strangely puzzled on learning the nature of my
65 objections to going North, and proceeded at once to knock down all my pine log houses, and scatter all the hunters and schoolmasters with which I had populated the greater portion of the Eastern and Middle States. “Who on earth, Tom, has filled your brain with
70 such silly stories?” asked my father calmly. “Aunt Chloe, sir; she told me.” My father devoted that evening and several subsequent evenings to giving me a clear and succinct account of New England: its early struggles, its
75 progress, and its present condition—faint and confused glimmerings of which I had obtained at school, where history had never been a favorite pursuit of mine. I was no longer unwilling to go North; on the contrary, the proposed journey to a new world full of
80 wonders kept me awake nights. Long before the moving day arrived I was eager to be off. My impatience was increased by the fact that my father had purchased for me a fine little Mustang pony, and shipped it to Rivermouth two weeks before the date set for our own
85 journey. The pony completely resigned me to the situation. The pony’s name was Gitana, which is the Spanish for “gypsy,” so I always called her Gypsy Finally the time came to leave the vine-covered mansion among the orange-trees, to say goodbye to
90 little Sam (I am convinced he was heartily glad to get rid of me), and to part with Aunt Chloe. I imagine them standing by the open garden gate; the tears are rolling down Aunt Chloe’s cheeks; Sam’s six front teeth are glistening like pearls; I wave my hand to him manfully.
95 Then I call out “goodbye” in a muffled voice to Aunt Chloe; they and the old home fade away. I am never to see them again!
Which of the following persons mentioned in the passage had the greatest effect on the narrator’s negative views of life in the North?
The best answer is B. The passage states that the narrator’s (Tom’s) feelings about life in the North were “strengthened by Aunt Chloe, who said, “there wasn’t no gentlemen in the North no way.” Also, when confronted by his father, who asked him where he had heard such inaccurate things about the North, Tom replied, “‘Aunt Chloe, sir; she told me.”’ This best supports answer choice B.
As it is used in line 18, cordially most nearly means:
The best answer is H. The author says that if the name of a new pupil struck Tom favorably, he would, in turn, shake the student’s hand cordially. This has pleasant connotations since, again, Tom only cordially shook the hands of those whose names he saw favorably. Answer choices F, G, and J can be eliminated since they all have negative connotations. Answer choice H, “sincerely,” makes the most sense in the context of the passage.
It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that, as compared to most boys in New England, the narrator was:
The best answer is A. In the first paragraph, the narrator describes himself as “a real human boy, such as you may meet anywhere in New England.” This implies that he is the same as any other boy found in New England at the time; therefore, he was neither better nor worse behaved than other boys his age. This supports answer choice A.
According to the passage, which of the following names were acceptable to the narrator?
The best answer is H. In the second paragraph, the narrator describes meeting new classmates. He states “such names as Higgins, Wiggins, and Spriggins were offensive affronts to my ear,” while the names “Langdon, Wallace, Blake, and the like, were passwords to my confidence and esteem.” Therefore, Blake and Wallace would be acceptable to him, but Higgins would not be acceptable.
The narrator’s initial feeling toward moving to Rivermouth can best be described as:
The best answer is B. When first told by his father that he was going back to school in Rivermouth, Tom resolved that he “would not be taken away to live among a lot of Yankees!” Also, later in the passage he reports feeling “terror at the bare thought of being transported to Rivermouth to school.” However, after his father talks to him about how life really was in the North, Tom “was no longer unwilling to go North.” This best supports answer choice B.
As he is revealed in the conversation he has with his son, the narrator’s father can best be characterized as:
The best answer is F. Tom’s father shows his patience and understanding through the manner in which he handles Tom’s ridiculous misconceptions about moving North. The passage states that Tom’s father asked him “calmly” about who told him such silly stories, and that his father “devoted that evening and several subsequent evenings” to explaining to Tom the true history and present happenings of life in Northern states.
The narrator’s point of view is that of:
The best answer is B. In the second paragraph, the narrator states that he “was born in Rivermouth almost fifty years ago.” Answer choice A may appear to be correct, but the narrator is telling a story from his adult perspective about his boyhood.
The sixth paragraph suggests that the narrator’s relationship with little Sam is primarily characterized by:
The best answer is H. In the sixth paragraph, the narrator describes kicking Sam upon finding out that his father wanted to move the narrator back to Rivermouth. In the last sentence of the sixth paragraph, the narrator states “as for kicking little Sam, I always did that ... when anything went wrong with me.” The author takes out his negative feelings on Sam by kicking him and thereby abusing him, answer choice H.
It can reasonably be inferred that, when the narrator describes himself as “a Northern man with Southern principles,” he means that:
The best answer is D. The narrator states in the second paragraph that he was born in New England but moved to New Orleans when just an infant. In the next paragraph he states, “I had no recollection of New England: my earliest memories were connected with the South;” and that even though he was born a Yankee, “hoped nobody would find it out,” indicating that he adapted to a Southern lifestyle to the point that his Northern heritage was not obvious to anyone else.
It can reasonably be inferred that the author included the second paragraph to:
The best answer is J. In the first paragraph the narrator states that he was an “amiable, impulsive lad,” meaning that he was friendly, yet fickle. The second paragraph details an example of his amicability—he was eager to introduce himself to new students on the playground—and also his fickleness—if the boy had the wrong last name, Tom was not interested in being his friend anymore.