New SAT Reading Practice Test 94: Finnegan―A short story

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Finnegan—A short story

David Benson was a timid boy born to parents
who had long since stopped worrying
about having children. Willie and Louise had
three grown girls, the youngest was nineteen
05and leaving to cosmetology school the year
David was born. Louise had suspected an
arsenal of health issues before realizing she
was with child, and even then, she waited
another three weeks to tell her unsuspecting
Long ago, when he had just taken over
the farm and his body was strong and his
dreams were considerable, Willie had wanted
a son more than anything else. He had hopes
15of expanding his property, becoming a rich
man, and gaining respect in town—these
were all things that never came which he
planned to pass on to the son who came far
too late. By the time David was born, more
20than half the farm had been divided and sold,
and Willie kept only a handful of hired hands
to tend his small share of the land while
he drove semi-trucks fifty hours a week to
supplement his meager income.
25David was an oversensitive, misunderstood
boy. He learned quickly that his mother
was far too tired to love him as she had the
girls. His father, often absent, seemed distant
and begrudging around David. So it was
30that David, from the age of four on, often
wandered the farm alone, contemplating
the burly pigs or collecting berries and nuts
or simply doing his best to avoid the sinister
silence that was home.
35When David was ten, he felt that he would
have his first adventure. Mr. Harding, an old
friend of his father who had a boy just two
years older than David, offered to let David
stay with them in town. It'd be easier on
40Louise if she didn't have to drive the boy to
and from school, and David would be happier
having Michael to keep him company.
David could spend weekends on the farm
and help Willie with the chores, of course.
45For the first time in his life, David felt that
whatever he was missing he was sure to find;
whatever was the void that lingered about the
farm it was sure to disappear in town.
But whatever it was that David was looking
50for, he didn't find it with the Hardings. Mr.
Harding was a boisterous banker who found
David's shyness unbearable. Mrs. Harding
was a rather large woman who spent nine tenths
of her day cooking and grew solemn
55when David refused second helpings. And
in Michael, David found only a combative
stranger who held a singular interest: riding
his bicycle around the town square in search
of the coveted Sara Ridenour.
60David had just turned fourteen when walking
back from school, he heard the pathetic
whimper. The puppy was small—obviously
malnourished and feeble—and much too
young to be away from its mother. David
65removed his jacket and coddled the pup
against his chest as he walked briskly back to
the Hardings rehearsing what he might say.
To his surprise, Mr. Harding's only requests
were that David keep the frail animal in his
70own room and dispose of it once it was either
healthy enough to live on its own or dead.
These conditions seemed quite fair to
David; and day and night, he dedicated
himself to restoring the health of Finnegan,
75the boy's very first friend. The puppy slept
on his chest, suckled milk from a bottle, and
moaned softly when David wiped his failing
body. In the end, David's devotion was
not nearly enough, and just six days after his
80rescue, the puppy's underdeveloped organs
failed him. David's anguish was palpable, and
Mrs. Harding, in a rare moment of compassion,
suggested that Michael help David bury
the poor animal in a proper manner.
85A half-mile into the woods on the west
side of town, Michael dug a hole while David
wept inconsolably, clutching the tiny shoebox
made coffin. When the hole was plenty
deep, Michael, embarrassed, excused himself
90to allow David a minute alone to dispose of
his beloved companion. After fifteen minutes—
long after Michael had expected David
to trudge back out of the woods, muddy and
sobbing—Michael walked annoyingly back to
95the burial site. He planned on telling David
frankly that this was no way to act about a
silly dog. Instead, Michael found the hole still
empty and David nowhere to be found. Later,
the police would make him repeat the story
100again and again.

1. Which choice best summarizes the passage?

  • A. A boy is upset over his dog's death and goes missing.
  • B. Two parents contemplate their regrets and unfilled dreams.
  • C. A misunderstood boy finds purpose and joy only to lose it.
  • D. It illustrates the differences between life on a farm and life in town.

2. The primary purpose of the first sentence of the passage is to

  • A. demonstrate the age difference between David and his siblings.
  • B. scientifically explain how David was genetically predisposed towards having a more introverted personality.
  • C. give a reason for why David went to live with the Harding family.
  • D. give insight into David's personality and his parents' state of mind.

3. The passage indicates that when David went to live with the Hardings, he thought Michael was

  • A. helpful and friendly.
  • B. distant and quarrelsome.
  • C. embarrassed and unemotional.
  • D. athletic and observant.

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

  • A. Lines 39-42 ("It'd be . . . company")
  • B. Lines 55-59 ("And in . . . Ridenour")
  • C. Lines 81-84 ("David's . . . manner")
  • D. Lines 85-88 ("A half-mile . . . coffin")

5. In line 65 "coddled" most nearly means

  • A. spoiled.
  • B. humored.
  • C. cosseted.
  • D. indulged.

6. The primary purpose of paragraphs six and seven (lines 60-84) is to

  • A. demonstrate that Mr. Harding is fair and just.
  • B. provide a justification for David's "oversensitive" mindset.
  • C. give reasons as to why David is so upset after the puppy's death.
  • D. show that David initially misjudged Mrs. Harding's personality.

7. Based on the information in the passage, what is the best description of what David was looking for at the beginning of paragraph 5 (lines 49-59)?

  • A. A home in town
  • B. A new friend
  • C. A prosperous family
  • D. A pet of his own

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

  • A. Lines 45-48 ("For the . . . town")
  • B. Lines 49-52 ("But . . . unbearable")
  • C. Lines 68-71 ("To his . . . dead")
  • D. Lines 72-75 ("These . . . friend")

9. The information in paragraph two most clearly implies that Willie

  • A. is a much better semi-truck driver than a farmer.
  • B. sold too much of his farm to pass any to his family.
  • C. would have accomplished his dreams if David was born earlier.
  • D. has not been successful in expanding the farm's size.

10. As used in line 81, the word "palpable" most closely means

  • A. concealed.
  • B. credible.
  • C. noticeable.
  • D. believable.