ACT reading practice test 35

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


Prose Fiction

This passage is adapted from the short story "A&P" by John Updike (© 1961 by John Updike).

In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing
suits. I'm in the third check-out slot, with my back to the
door, so I don't see them until they're over by the bread.
The store's pretty empty, so there was nothing much to
05"do except lean on the register and wait for the girls
to show up again. After a while they come around out of
the far aisle, around the light bulbs. Queenie puts down
the jar and I take it into my fingers icy cold. Kingfish
Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream: 49¢.
10"Then everybody's luck begins to run out. Lengel
comes in from the lot and is about to scuttle into that
door marked MANAGER behind which he hides all day when
the girls touch his eye. Lengel's pretty dreary, teaches
Sunday school and the rest, but he doesn't miss that much.
15"He comes over and says, "Girls, this isn't the beach."
Queenie blushes, though maybe it's just a brush
of sunburn I was noticing for the first time. "My mother
asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks." Her voice
kind of startled me, the way voices do when you see the
20"people first, coming out so flat yet kind of tony, too,
the way it ticked over "pick up" and "snacks." All of
a sudden I slid right down her voice into her living room.
Her father and the other men were standing around in bow
ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring
25"snacks on toothpicks off a big plate and they were
all holding drinks the color of water with olives and
sprigs of mint in them.
"That's all right," Lengel said. "But this isn't the
beach." His repeating this struck me as funny, as if it had
30"just occurred to him. He didn't like my smiling-as I
say he doesn't miss much-but he concentrates on giving
the girls that sad Sunday-school-superintendent stare.
Queenie's blush is no sunburn now, and the plump one in
plaid pipes up, "We just came in for the one thing."
35"That makes no difference," Lengel tells her, and I
could see from the way his eyes went that he hadn't
noticed she was wearing a two-piece before. "We
want you decently dressed when you come in here."
"We are decent," Queenie says suddenly, getting sore
40"now that she remembers her place, a place from
which the crowd that runs the A&P must look pretty
crummy. Fancy Herring Snacks flashed in her very blue eyes.
"Girls, I don't want to argue with you. After this
come in here with your shoulders covered. It's our policy."
45"He turns his back. I could feel in the silence
everybody getting nervous, most of all Lengel, who
asks me, "Sammy, have you rung up this purchase"
I thought and said "No." I go through the punches,
4, 9, GROC, TOT-it's more complicated than you
50"think. I uncrease the bill and pass a half and a penny
into her narrow pink palm, and nestle the herrings
in a bag and hand it over, all the time thinking.
The girls, and who'd blame them, are in a hurry to
get out, so I say "I quit" to Lengel quick enough for
55them "to hear, hoping they'll stop and watch me, their
unsuspected hero. They keep right on going; the door
flies open and they flicker across the lot to their car,
leaving me with Lengel and a kink in his eyebrow.
"Did you say something, Sammy"
60"I said I quit."
"I thought you did."
"You didn't have to embarrass them."
"It was they who were embarrassing us. I don't
think you know what you're saying," Lengel said.
65"I know you don't," I said. "But I do." I pull the
bow at the back of my apron and start shrugging it
off my shoulders. A couple customers that had been
heading for my slot begin to knock against each other,
like scared pigs in a chute.
70"Lengel sighs and begins to look very patient and
old and gray. He's been a friend of my parents for years.
"Sammy, you don't want to do this to your Mom and Dad,"
he tells me. It's true, I don't. But it seems to me that
once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with
75"it. I fold the apron, "Sammy" stitched in red on the
pocket, and put it on the counter, and drop the bow tie
on top of it. "You'll feel this for the rest of your life,"
Lengel says, and I know that's true too, but remembering
how he made that pretty girl blush makes me so scrunchy inside.
80"One advantage to this scene taking place in summer, I can
follow this up with a clean exit, there's no fumbling around
getting your coat and galoshes, I just saunter into the
electric eye in my white shirt that my mother ironed the night
before, and the door heaves itself open, and outside the
85"sunshine is skating around on the asphalt.
I look around for my girls, but they're gone. There
wasn't anybody but some young married screaming with
her children about some candy they didn't get. Looking
back in the big windows, I could see Lengel in my place,
90"checking the sheep through. His face was dark gray
and his back stiff, as if he'd just had an injection of
iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the
world was going to be to me hereafter.

1. The point of view from which the passage is told is best described as that of a (an):

A. young man relating a significant event in his life.
B. young man explaining to his parents why he has quit his job.
C. adult describing exactly what he should have done differently at a turning point in his life.
D. adolescent boy imagining what his life might be like in the future.

2. The passage contains recurring references to all of the following EXCEPT:

F. the narrator's family.
G. the other customers.
H. supermarket chains.
J. the girls' attire.

3. The first three paragraphs (lines 1-27) establish all of the following about the narrator EXCEPT that he:

A. is fascinated by the girls.
B. is new at his job.
C. dislikes his manager.
D. feels socially inferior to Queenie.

4. It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that the narrator aspires to be seen as:

F. romantic and poetic.
G. intellectual but rebellious.
H. tough but cultured.
J. principled and heroic.

5. Based on the narrator's account, life in his hometown is characterized by all of the following EXCEPT:

A. a tendency toward conformity.
B. an awareness of class hierarchy.
C. a mistrust of organized religion.
D. people knowing one another's business.

6. According to the narrator, which of the following articles of his clothing is the property of the store?

F. His shirt
G. His coat
H. His bow tie
J. His galoshes

7. When the narrator refers to Queenie "getting sore now that she remembers her place" (lines 39-40), he is most likely referring to the fact that she is:

A. much younger than Lengel and himself.
B. backed up by her two friends.
C. a stranger to this town.
D. wealthier than Lengel and himself.

8. Details in the passage most strongly suggest that the narrator's decision to quit ended up seeming most admirable from the point of view of:

F. himself.
G. the manager.
H. his parents.
J. Queenie.

9. The narrator indicates that Lengel the manager is extremely:

A. forgiving.
B. observant.
C. skeptical.
D. philosophical.

10. According to the passage, the narrator's decision to quit is most strongly motivated by his desire to:

F. impress the girls.
G. rebel against his parents.
H. get out of his hometown.
J. finally stand up to Lengel.