In this section, you will be answering questions similar to those on a test for an English course. After answering each question, check your understanding to see an explanation for the correct answer.
1 In what way do the first three sentences in paragraph 2 suggest the mental condition of the narrator?
Explanation: The short sentences describe the most basic facts about the narrator’s surroundings. They indicate a mind that is completely focused on the immediate situation. He can think only of survival and overcoming the obstacles to that goal.
2 The selection explores its themes primarily through —
Explanation: Although the narrator’s dream is described and he thinks about the cache at the river Dease, beyond these two moments, the selection is entirely devoted to factual descriptions (i.e., this happened, this happened, and then this happened).
3 In paragraph 5, the author writes that “When he came to his pack, he paused long over the squat moose-hide sack, but in the end it went with him.” A more natural ending to the sentence would be “but in the end he decided to take it.” Why does the author choose to use an indirect statement?
Explanation: The mental attitude of the main character is focused on facts and not on imagination. To make a decision about the sack would require him to imagine how this extra weight might affect his chances of survival. Since he has carried it this far, he lets habit make the decision for him.
4 In paragraph 7, the word “exquisite” is used in a special sense. Which synonym is closest to the special meaning of “exquisite” in this context?
Explanation: The common meaning of this word, “extremely beautiful,” would make no sense in this context. A secondary meaning, “intensely felt,” is the one used here.
5 What is the connection between the two statements within the same sentence in paragraph 9: “the sun had dried stray shreds of moss,” and “he was able to warm himself with hot water”?
Explanation: Although the two statements are seemingly unrelated, we know that some connection is intended because they are joined in one sentence. Earlier in the excerpt (in paragraph 2), the narrator mentions the main character’s “supply of moss-fuel,” so we know that he uses moss to make a fire. Thus, we can conclude that the main character is able to make a fire with the dried moss and, therefore, also heat water.
6 When the main character catches the first two minnows in paragraph 8, the narrator says “he was not particularly hungry.” This indicates —
Explanation: At the end of the paragraph, the author writes that “While he had no desire to eat, he knew that he must eat to live.” The main character can no longer rely on his hunger to tell him to eat; he must rely on his reasoning. The decrease in his perception of hunger is a sign that his physical state is deteriorating.
7 In the first paragraph, the author says that it is “tragic” that “so few kids” know what happens when you lick a banana slug. What does this statement imply?
Explanation: Kristof is suggesting that kids’ lack of knowledge about the natural world has tragic consequences, mostly in their inability to be “awed by nature.”
8 The statistics cited in paragraph 10 indicate that —
Explanation: The statistics tell us about the fewer number of people living on farms and the distance 9-year-olds are allowed to “roam freely” from their homes. The statements about snakes and play dates are Kristof’s interpretations of the statistics. In relation to 9-year-olds and adventure, the statistics only indicate that parents are keeping their 9-year-olds closer; there is no information about how 9-year-olds feel about this fact.
9 The statement from paragraph 13 that “One problem may be that the American environmental movement has focused so much on preserving nature that it has neglected to do enough to preserve a constituency for nature” can be best summarized by which statement?
Explanation: Kristof’s point is that we need to encourage experiences in nature as a means to learning “lessons on inner peace and life’s meaning.” He says people need to get out into the natural world for the “important lessons” it teaches and the experience of “getting awed.” He believes that if people care about nature because of the wonderful experiences they have had, they will support preservation programs.
10 In paragraph 12, Kristof suggests we should “hand out goldfish instead of heart medicine.” His tone here is —
Explanation: Kristof does not seriously propose that people watch goldfish instead of taking blood pressure medication, but he is serious about the possible health benefits of spending more time in contact with nature.
11 By saying in paragraph 15 that the trail is “unofficially rather difficult to get by,” what does Kristof imply?
Explanation: Kristof suggests that the official closure of the trail will not keep people from using it. He also suggests that people using a closed trail add to the problem of the trail’s maintenance.
12 Kristof ends the article by saying that we should both “protect nature” and also “maintain trails, restore the Forest Service, and support programs that get young people rained on in the woods.” Why does he say kids should get “rained on”?
Explanation: Kristof doesn’t want to promote nature experiences in an unrealistic way. He wants kids to have the experience of being in nature, even if it means getting rained on or getting poison oak or “discovering the hard way what a wasp nest looks like.”
13 What is the most important difference in tone between the excerpted story and the article?
Explanation: Both texts are serious, but the tone of the excerpt from “Love of Life” has no traces of informality or humor. “How to Lick a Slug,” however, contains frequent humor to entertain and make its point with readers.
14 Read these quotations.
From “Love of Life,” paragraph 7
“How to Lick a Slug,” paragraph 2
What is the main difference in the attitude of these two voices toward difficulties faced in the wilderness?
Explanation: The difficulties are real in both cases, but the main character in “Love of Life” is not laughing or smiling about them. In “How to Lick a Slug,” Kristof imagines the mosquitoes are “out to get them.” He can joke about the mosquitoes, even though he is seriously bothered by them. The main character in “Love of Life” is in too much pain and experiencing too much anxiety to find any humor in his situation, which unlike Kristof’s experience, is a matter of life and death.
15 What literary device is most likely at play in both quotations?
From “Love of Life, ” paragraph 9
“How to Lick a Slug,” paragraph 4
Explanation: In both texts, we as readers likely have a feeling about what’s going to happen. As we read Kristof’s statement to his daughter in “How to Lick a Slug,” we can guess that it’s going to rain, and as we read about the wolves “slinking away before his path,” we might expect the wolves to play a larger part in “Love of Life” later on, even though we don’t know exactly how this story ends.
16 How are the hardships that nature presents in the excerpt from “Love of Life” and “How to Lick a Slug” similar? Support your answer with evidence from both selections.
Sample Short Answer:
The excerpt from “Love of Life” describes in brutal detail the hardships that one man suffered in the wilderness. Likewise, in “How to Lick a Slug,” Nicholas Kristof describes the hardships of living in nature. The main character of “Love of Life” faces starvation, bitter cold, and exhaustion. Kristof refers to poison oak, wasps, snakes, and getting “rained on in the woods.” The main character in the excerpt has to bind “his bleeding feet” and is awakened “many times” by the cold rain “falling on his upturned face.” Kristof and his daughter have aching—but not bleeding—feet and wake at 4 a.m. to a “freezing drizzle.”
Explanation: Of course, there is a huge difference between a man who is “hunger mad,” struggling to stay alive in a “strange country,” and a father and his daughter taking a hike to “escape deadlines and Blackberrys” on the Pacific Crest Trail. However, in both cases nature presents discomforts and problems. These are both stories about struggling in the wilderness, even though they differ enormously in the seriousness of their struggles.