New SAT Reading Practice Test 59: "Metamorphosis"

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"Metamorphosis"

This passage is adapted from "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka, a famous story that combines elements of fantasy and reality. This excerpt begins with the protagonist realizing he has literally turned into a giant, beetle-like insect.

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from
troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in
his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armor-
like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could
05see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by
arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly
able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any
moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared
with the size of the rest of him, waved about help-
10lessly as he looked.
"What's happened to me?" he thought. It wasn't
a dream. His room, a proper human room although
a little too small, lay peacefully between its four
familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay
15spread out on the table—Samsa was a travelling
salesman—and above it there hung a picture that
he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine
and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady
fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright,
20raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of
her lower arm towards the viewer.
Gregor then turned to look out the window at the
dull weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting
the pane, which made him feel quite sad. "How
25about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this
nonsense," he thought, but that was something he
was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on
his right, and in his present state couldn't get into
that position. However hard he threw himself onto
30his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He
must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so
that he wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs,
and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull
pain there that he had never felt before.
35He thought, "What a strenuous career it is that
I've chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing
business like this takes much more effort than
doing your own business at home, and on top of that
there's the curse of travelling, worries about making
40train connections, bad and irregular food, contact
with different people all the time so that you can
never get to know anyone or become friendly with
them." He felt a slight itch up on his belly; pushed
himself slowly up on his back towards the headboard
45so that he could lift his head better; found where
the itch was, and saw that it was covered with lots of
little white spots which he didn't know what to make
of; and when he tried to feel the place with one of his
legs he drew it quickly back because as soon as he
50touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder.
He slid back into his former position. "Getting up
early all the time," he thought, "it makes you stupid.
You've got to get enough sleep. Other travelling
salesmen live a life of luxury. For instance, whenever
55I go back to the guest house during the morning to
copy out the contract, these gentlemen are always
still sitting there eating their breakfasts. I ought to
just try that with my boss; I'd get kicked out on the
spot. But who knows, maybe that would be the best
60thing for me. If I didn't have my parents to think
about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago,
I'd have gone up to the boss and told him just what
I think, tell him everything I would, let him know
just what I feel. He'd fall right off his desk! And it's a
65funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your
desk, talking down at your subordinates from up
there, especially when you have to go right up close
because the boss is hard of hearing. Well, there's
still some hope; once I've got the money together to
70pay off my parents' debt to him—another five or six
years I suppose—that's definitely what I'll do. That's
when I'll make the big change. First of all though,
I've got to get up, my train leaves at five."

1. According to the passage, Gregor initially believes his transformation is a

  • A. curse.
  • B. disease.
  • C. nightmare.
  • D. hoax.

2. As used in line 12, "proper" most nearly means

  • A. called for by rules or conventions.
  • B. showing politeness.
  • C. naturally belonging or peculiar to.
  • D. suitably appropriate.

3. The passage most strongly suggests which of the following about Gregor's attitude toward his profession?

  • A. He is resentful.
  • B. He is diligent.
  • C. He is depressed.
  • D. He is eager to please.

4. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 14-18 ("A collection … gilded frame")
  • B. Lines 22-24 ("Gregor then turned … quite sad")
  • C. Lines 53-59 ("Other … the spot")
  • D. Lines 59-64 ("But who knows … I feel")

5. What central idea does the excerpt communicate through Gregor's experiences?

  • A. Imagination is a dangerous thing.
  • B. People are fearful of change.
  • C. Dreams become our reality.
  • D. Man is a slave to work.

6. The passage most strongly suggests that which of the following is true of Gregor?

  • A. He feels a strong sense of duty toward his family.
  • B. He is unable to cope with change.
  • C. He excels in his profession.
  • D. He is fearful about his transformation.

7. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 11-14 ("What's happened … familiar walls")
  • B. Lines 22-24 ("Gregor then turned … quite sad")
  • C. Lines 36-43 ("Doing business … with them")
  • D. Lines 68-71 ("Well, there's still … what I'll do")

8. As used in line 32, "floundering" most nearly means

  • A. thrashing.
  • B. painful.
  • C. pitiful.
  • D. trembling.

9. The author most likely includes a description of Gregor's itch in lines 43-50 to

  • A. remind the reader that Gregor has turned into an insect.
  • B. emphasize the disconnect between Gregor's thoughts and his actual situation.
  • C. give important details about what Gregor's new body looks like.
  • D. show that Gregor's thoughts are focused on the changes to his body.

10. The main rhetorical effect of the final sentence of the excerpt ("First of all though, I've got to get up, my train leaves at five") is to

  • A. provide a resolution to the conflict Gregor faces.
  • B. foreshadow the conflict between Gregor and his boss.
  • C. illustrate Gregor's resilience and ability to move on.
  • D. emphasize Gregor's extreme sense of duty.