New SAT Reading Practice Test 79: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Home > SAT Test > SAT Reading Practice Tests

Test Information

Question 10 questions

Time 7 minutes

See All test questions

Take more free SAT Reading Practice Tests available from

The following passage is from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, 1916. Stephen Dedalus, Joyce's protagonist, yearns to be an artist but was raised and educated to join the clergy. Below he contemplates the diverging paths before him after a priest warns him of the permanence of his intended holy position.

As he descended the steps the impression which effaced his troubled self-communion
was that of a mirthless mask reflecting a sunken day from the threshold of the college.
The shadow, then, of the life of the college passed gravely over his consciousness.
It was a grave and ordered and passionless life that awaited him, a life without material
05cares. He wondered how he would pass the first night in the novitiate and with what
dismay he would wake the first morning in the dormitory. The troubling odour of the
long corridors of Clongowes came back to him and he heard the discreet murmur of
the burning gasflames. At once from every part of his being unrest began to irradiate.
A feverish quickening of his pulses followed, and a din of meaningless words drove his
10reasoned thoughts hither and thither confusedly. His lungs dilated and sank as if he
were inhaling a warm moist unsustaining air and he smelt again the moist warm air
which hung in the bath in Clongowes above the sluggish turf-coloured water.
Some instinct, waking at these memories, stronger than education or piety, quickened
within him at every near approach to that life, an instinct subtle and hostile, and
15armed him against acquiescence. The chill and order of the life repelled him. He saw
himself rising in the cold of the morning and filing down with the others to early mass
and trying vainly to struggle with his prayers against the fainting sickness of his stomach.
He saw himself sitting at dinner with the community of a college. What, then, had
become of that deep-rooted shyness of his which had made him loth to eat or drink
20under a strange roof? What had come of the pride of his spirit which had always made
him conceive himself as a being apart in every order?
The Reverend Stephen Dedalus, S.J.
His name in that new life leaped into characters before his eyes and to it there followed
a mental sensation of an undefined face or colour of a face. The colour faded
25and became strong like a changing glow of pallid brick red. Was it the raw reddish glow
he had so often seen on wintry mornings on the shaven gills of the priests? The face
was eyeless and sour-favoured and devout, shot with pink tinges of suffocated anger.
Was it not a mental spectre of the face of one of the Jesuits whom some of the boys
called Lantern Jaws and others Foxy Campbell?
30He was passing at that moment before the Jesuit house in Gardiner Street and
wondered vaguely which window would be his if he ever joined the order. Then he
wondered at the vagueness of his wonder, at the remoteness of his own soul from what
he had hitherto imagined her sanctuary, at the frail hold which so many years of order
and obedience had of him when once a definite and irrevocable act of his threatened
35to end for ever, in time and in eternity, his freedom. The voice of the director urging
upon him the proud claims of the church and the mystery and power of the priestly
office repeated itself idly in his memory. His soul was not there to hear and greet it and
he knew now that the exhortation he had listened to had already fallen into an idle formal
tale. He would never swing the thurible before the tabernacle as priest. His destiny
40was to be elusive of social or religious orders. The wisdom of the priest's appeal did not
touch him to the quick. He was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or
to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world.
The snares of the world were its ways of sin. He would fall. He had not yet fallen but
he would fall silently, in an instant. Not to fall was too hard, too hard; and he felt the
45silent lapse of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not
yet fallen, still unfallen, but about to fall.

1. The dilemma faced by the narrator in the passage as a whole is best characterized as a choice between

  • A. embracing a life of priestly holiness or a life of criminal depravity.
  • B. following an orderly prescribed path or an intuitively authentic one.
  • C. listening to his sensory passions or the demands of logical consistency.
  • D. attending to memories of religious rituals or memories of worldly decadence.

2. The overall organization of the passage is best described as

  • A. logically argumentative.
  • B. spatially progressive.
  • C. gradually convergent.
  • D. strictly chronological.

3. The principal manifestations of the narrator's anxieties are what thought processes in the first and second paragraphs respectively?

  • A. Conscious perception and unconscious sensation
  • B. Extroverted discussion and introverted analysis
  • C. Analytical reasoning and intuitive reflection
  • D. Sensory memory and imaginative prediction

4. How would the narrator most likely characterize how most priests handle their emotions?

  • A. By repressing them
  • B. By embracing them
  • C. By eliminating them
  • D. By expressing them

5. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 8-10 ("At once . . . confusedly")
  • B. Lines 18-20 ("What . . . roof")
  • C. Lines 23-24 ("His name . . . face")
  • D. Lines 26-27 ("The face . . . anger")

6. As used in line 21, the phrase "apart in every order" most nearly expresses the narrator's feelings of

  • A. acceptance by his peers.
  • B. emotional isolation.
  • C. apathetic indifference.
  • D. optimistic decisiveness.

7. The type of education that best fits the narrator is most likely

  • A. religiously formal.
  • B. self-directed.
  • C. literary.
  • D. scholarly lecture.

8. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 13-15 ("Some . . . acquiescence")
  • B. Line 18 ("He saw . . . college")
  • C. Lines 28-29 ("Was it . . . Campbell")
  • D. Lines 41-42 ("He was . . . world")

9. As used in line 41, the phrase "to the quick" most closely means

  • A. with speed.
  • B. very deeply.
  • C. intelligently.
  • D. in isolation.

10. The tone of the final paragraph is one of

  • A. resignation.
  • B. terror.
  • C. corruption.
  • D. decreasing.