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The following passage is adapted from Willa Cather's 1918 novel My ántonia. In this excerpt, the boy narrator, Jim Burden, has traveled from Virginia to his grandparents' Nebraska farm to spend the rest of his childhood there. On his first Nebraska morning, he goes outdoors to observe the landscape.
As I looked about me I felt that the grass was thecountry, as the water is the sea. The red of the grassmade all the great prairie the colour of winestains,or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed05up. And there was so much motion in it; the wholecountry seemed, somehow, to be running.I had almost forgotten that I had a grandmother,when she came out, her sunbonnet on her head, agrain-sack in her hand, and asked me if I did not10want to go to the garden with her to dig potatoesfor dinner.…I can remember exactly how the country lookedto me as I walked beside my grandmother along thefaint wagon-tracks on that early September morning.15Perhaps the glide of long railway travel was stillwith me, for more than anything else I felt motionin the landscape; in the fresh, easy-blowing morn-ing wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggygrass were a sort of loose hide, and underneath it20herds of wild buffalo were galloping, galloping.…Alone, I should never have found the garden—except, perhaps, for the big yellow pumpkins thatlay about unprotected by their withering vines—and I felt very little interest in it when I got there.25I wanted to walk straight on through the red grassand over the edge of the world, which could not bevery far away. The light air about me told me thatthe world ended here: only the ground and sun andsky were left, and if one went a little farther there30would be only sun and sky, and one would floatoff into them, like the tawny hawks which sailedover our heads making slow shadows on the grass.While grandmother took the pitchfork we foundstanding in one of the rows and dug potatoes, while35I picked them up out of the soft brown earth andput them into the bag, I kept looking up at thehawks that were doing what I might so easily do.When grandmother was ready to go, I said Iwould like to stay up there in the garden awhile.40She peered down at me from under hersunbonnet. "Aren't you afraid of snakes?""A little," I admitted, "but I'd like to stay, anyhow." …Grandmother swung the bag of potatoes overher shoulder and went down the path, leaning45forward a little. The road followed the windingsof the draw; when she came to the first bend, shewaved at me and disappeared. I was left alone withthis new feeling of lightness and content.I sat down in the middle of the garden, where50snakes could scarcely approach unseen, and leanedmy back against a warm yellow pumpkin. Therewere some ground-cherry bushes growing alongthe furrows, full of fruit. I turned back the paperytriangular sheaths that protected the berries and55ate a few. All about me giant grasshoppers, twiceas big as any I had ever seen, were doing acrobaticfeats among the dried vines. The gophers scur-ried up and down the ploughed ground. There inthe sheltered draw-bottom the wind did not blow60very hard, but I could hear it singing its hummingtune up on the level, and I could see the tall grasseswave. The earth was warm under me, and warmas I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer littlered bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons65around me. Their backs were polished vermilion,with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothinghappened. I did not expect anything to happen.I was something that lay under the sun and feltit, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be70anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps wefeel like that when we die and become a part ofsomething entire, whether it is sun and air, orgoodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happi-ness; to be dissolved into something complete and75great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturallyas sleep.
1. According to the passage, why is Jim's grandmother initially concerned about leaving him in the garden?
2. As used in line 50, "scarcely" most nearly means
3. The passage most strongly suggests that which of the following is true of the prairie?
4. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
5. What theme does the author communicate through the thoughts and experiences of Jim?
6. Jim's thoughts during his first morning in Nebraska suggest that his personality could best be described as
7. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
8. As used in line 74, "dissolved" most nearly means
9. The author's repetition of "galloping" in line 20 is to
10. Through the perspective of a first-person narrator, the author is able to
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