New SAT Reading Practice Test 54: Great Expectations

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Great Expectations

The following passage is adapted from Charles Dickens's 1860 novel Great Expectations. In this scene, the narrator, a boy named Pip, eats breakfast with his older sister's acquaintance, Mr. Pumblechook. Pumblechook has agreed to take Pip to see Miss Havisham, a wealthy woman who has requested this visit, although Pip has never met her.

Mr. Pumblechook and I breakfasted at eight
o'clock in the parlor behind the shop, while the
shopman took his mug of tea and hunch of bread
and butter on a sack of peas in the front premises.
05I considered Mr. Pumblechook wretched company.
Besides being possessed by my sister's idea that a
mortifying and penitential character ought to be
imparted to my diet,1—besides giving me as much
crumb as possible in combination with as little but-
10ter, and putting such a quantity of warm water into
my milk that it would have been more candid to
have left the milk out altogether,—his conversation
consisted of nothing but arithmetic. On my politely
bidding him Good morning, he said, pompously,
15"Seven times nine, boy?" And how should I be able
to answer, dodged in that way, in a strange place,
on an empty stomach! I was hungry, but before I
had swallowed a morsel, he began a running sum
that lasted all through the breakfast. "Seven?" "And
20four?" "And eight?" … And so on. And after each
figure was disposed of, it was as much as I could do
to get a bite or a sup, before the next came; while he
sat at his ease guessing nothing, and eating bacon
and hot roll, in (if I may be allowed the expression)
25a gorging and gormandizing manner.
For such reasons, I was very glad when ten
o'clock came and we started for Miss Havisham's;
though I was not at all at my ease regarding the
manner in which I should acquit myself under that
30lady's roof. Within a quarter of an hour we came to
Miss Havisham's house, which was of old brick, and
dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it. Some
of the windows had been walled up; of those that
remained, all the lower were rustily barred. There
35was a courtyard in front, and that was barred; so
we had to wait, after ringing the bell, until some
one should come to open it. While we waited at the
gate, I peeped in (even then Mr. Pumblechook said,
"And fourteen?" but I pretended not to hear him),
40and saw that at the side of the house there was a
large brewery. No brewing was going on in it, and
none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.
A window was raised, and a clear voice demanded
"What name?" To which my conductor replied,
45"Pumblechook." The voice returned, "Quite right,"
and the window was shut again, and a young lady
came across the court-yard, with keys in her hand.
"This," said Mr. Pumblechook, "is Pip."
"This is Pip, is it?" returned the young lady, who
50was very pretty and seemed very proud; "come in, Pip."
Mr. Pumblechook was coming in also, when she
stopped him with the gate.
"Oh!" she said. "Did you wish to see Miss
55"If Miss Havisham wished to see me," returned
Mr. Pumblechook, discomfited.
"Ah!" said the girl; "but you see she don't."
She said it so finally, and in such an undiscuss-
ible way, that Mr. Pumblechook, though in a
60condition of ruffled dignity, could not protest. But
he eyed me severely,—as if I had done anything to
him!—and departed with the words reproachfully
delivered: "Boy! Let your behavior here be a credit
unto them which brought you up by hand!"2 I was
65not free from apprehension that he would come
back to propound through the gate, "And sixteen?"
But he didn't.

1Pip's sister indicated to Pumblechook that Pip should be grateful, even penitent (unreasonably so) for his help.

2Pumblechook is speaking of Pip's sister, who often boasts that she raised him "by hand."

1. According to the first paragraph, Pip's breakfast with Mr. Pumblechook is

  • A. eaten on the run.
  • B. small and of poor quality.
  • C. better than Pip usually receives.
  • D. carefully cooked and served.

2. As used in line 5, "wretched" most nearly means

  • A. shameful.
  • B. deprived.
  • C. distressing.
  • D. heartbroken.

3. Based on the details in the passage, it can be inferred that Mr. Pumblechook

  • A. has looked forward to his morning with Pip.
  • B. is as uncomfortable as Pip is during breakfast.
  • C. has known Pip and his sister for a very long time.
  • D. is indifferent to Pip's discomfort during breakfast.

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

  • A. Lines 1-4 ("Mr. Pumblechook and I … premises")
  • B. Lines 6-13 ("Besides … arithmetic")
  • C. Lines 44-45 ("To which my … Pumblechook")
  • D. Lines 58-60 ("She said … not protest")

5. What theme does the passage communicate through the experiences of Pip, the narrator?

  • A. The world can be a puzzling and sometimes cruel place.
  • B. Young people are misunderstood by their elders.
  • C. Mean-spirited people deserve to be treated harshly.
  • D. The favors one receives in life should be reciprocated.

6. Which word best describes the young lady's demeanor when she approaches Pip and Mr. Pumblechook?

  • A. Rude
  • B. Timid
  • C. Self-centered
  • D. Authoritative

7. The passage strongly suggests that which of the following is true when Mr. Pumblechook leaves Pip at Miss Havisham's house?

  • A. Pip is excited to finally meet Miss Havisham.
  • B. Pip is nervous about being away from his sister for so long.
  • C. Pip is relieved to be away from Mr. Pumblechook.
  • D. Pip is anxious about spending time with the young lady who greets them.

8. Which choice provides the best support for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 26-30 ("For such reasons … roof")
  • B. Lines 43-44 ("A window … name")
  • C. Lines 58-60 ("She said it … protest")
  • D. Lines 64-67 ("I was not … he didn't")

9. As used in line 60, "condition" most nearly means

  • A. illness.
  • B. prerequisite.
  • C. state.
  • D. limitation.

10. The author's use of the parenthetical comment in line 24 helps reveal that

  • A. Pip is usually more polite in his references to others.
  • B. Mr. Pumblechook appreciates gourmet food.
  • C. Pip is very angered that his own breakfast is so meager.
  • D. Mr. Pumblechook has no qualms about overeating in public.