SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 311: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 311

2. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein centers on a scientist's -------, the overweening pride that makes him believe he can usurp nature.

A. obstinacy
B. hubris
C. impetuosity
D. valor
E. callousness

Correct Answer: B

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer B :

Choice (B) is correct. "Hubris" means exaggerated pride or confidence. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein centers on a scientist's hubris, the overweening pride that makes him believe he can usurp nature." The phrase following the comma in the sentence serves as a definition or explanation of the phrase that precedes the comma. "Hubris" is accurately described as a quality that would lead a scientist to believe that he can "usurp," or take over, powers belonging to nature.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Obstinacy" means stubbornness. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein centers on a scientist's obstinacy, the overweening pride that makes him believe he can usurp nature." The structure of the sentence suggests that the missing word will be synonymous with the phrase "overweening pride." Stubbornness might lead a scientist to try to accomplish a seemingly impossible task, but stubbornness is not the same thing as pride.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Impetuosity" means impulsiveness or acting without thinking. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein centers on a scientist's impetuosity, the overweening pride that makes him believe he can usurp nature." "Impetuosity" is not pride. The structure of the sentence, however, leads the reader to expect that a definition or explanation of "impetuosity" will follow the comma.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Valor" means courage or fearlessness. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein centers on a scientist's valor, the overweening pride that makes him believe he can usurp nature." The structure of the sentence suggests that the missing word will be synonymous with the phrase "overweening pride." A scientist trying to "usurp," or take over, nature's powers would need courage, but courage and pride are not synonyms.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Callousness" in this context means insensitivity. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein centers on a scientist's callousness, the overweening pride that makes him believe he can usurp nature." "Callousness," or insensitivity, is not pride. Readers would expect an explanation of "callousness" to follow the comma in the sentence, however.

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