ACT Reading Practice Test 81: HUMANITIES

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.

HUMANITIES: Passage A is adapted from the essay "Truth in Personal Narrative" by Vivian Gornick (©2008 by University of Iowa Press). Passage B is adapted from the article "Fact and Fiction in A Moveable Feast" by Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin(©1984 by Hemingway Review).

Passage A by Vivian Gornick

Once, in Texas, I gave a reading from my memoir
Fierce Attachments. No sooner had I finished speaking
than a woman in the audience asked a question: "If I
come to New York, can I take a walk with your mama?"
5I told her that, actually, she wouldn't want to take a
walk with my mother, it was the woman in the book she
wanted to walk with. They were not exactly the same

Shortly afterwards, I attended a party in New York
where, an hour into the evening, one of the guests
10blurted out in a voice filled with disappointment, "Why,
you're nothing like the woman who wrote Fierce
Attachments!" At the end of the evening she cocked her
head at me and said, "Well, you 're something like her."
I understood perfectly. She had come expecting to have
15dinner with the narrator of the book, not with me;
again, not exactly the same.

On both occasions, what was desired was the pres-
ence of two people who existed only between the pages
of a book. In our actual persons, neither Mama nor I
20could give satisfaction. We ourselves were just a rough
draft of the written characters. Moreover, these charac-
ters could not live independent of the story which had
called them into life, as they existed for the sole pur-
pose of serving that story. In the flesh, neither Mama
25nor I were serving anything but the unaesthetic spill of
everyday thought and feeling that routinely floods us
all, only a select part of which, in this case, invoked the
principals in a tale of psychological embroilment that
had as its protagonist neither me nor my mother but
30rather our "fierce attachment.

At the heart of my memoir lay a revelation: I could
not leave my mother because I had become my mother.
This complicated insight was my bit of wisdom, the
history I wanted badly to trace out. The context in
35which the book is set-our life in the Bronx in the
1950s, alternating with walks taken in Manhattan in the
1980s-was the situation; the story was the insight.
What mattered most to me was not the literalness of the
situation, but the emotional truth of the story. What
40actually happened is only raw material; what matters is
what the memoirist makes of what happened.

Memoirs belong to the category of literature, not
of journalism. It is a misunderstanding to read a
memoir as though the writer owes the reader the same
45record of literal accuracy that is owed in newspaper
reporting or historical narrative. What is owed the
reader is the ability to persuade that the narrator is
trying, as honestly as possible, to get to the bottom of
the tale at hand.

Passage B by Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin

50The dividing line between fiction and autobiogra-
phy is often a very fine and shaky one, and Ernest
Hemingway's autobiography of the artist as a young
man is a case in point. As nearly all readers know,
Hemingway's fiction contains numerous autobiographi-
55cal elements, and his protagonists are often conscious
projections and explorations of the self. At the same
time, Hemingway's openly autobiographical writings.
Green Hills of Africa and A Moveable Feast, are barely
more autobiographical than his fiction, and, in many
60ways, just as fictional.

A Moveable Feast is particularly complex because
Hemingway was clearly conscious that it would be his
literary testament. Thus, in writing it, he dealt with
issues which had been important to him and he settled
65old scores. Among the reasons which motivated his por-
trayal of self and others were the need to justify him-
self for he felt that he had been unfairly portrayed by
some of his contemporaries, the desire to present his
own version of personal relationships as well as the
70desire to get back at people against whom he held a
grudge, the need to relive his youth in an idealized
fashion, and the wish to leave to the world a flattering
self-portrait. Thus, A Moveable Feast could hardly be
an objective portrayal of its author and his contempo-
75raries, and the accuracy of the anecdotes becomes an
issue that can never be entirely resolved.

While it is impossible to verify everything
Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast, one might con-
clude that he invented and lied relatively seldom about
80pure facts. When he did so, it was usually in order to
reinforce the pattern he had created-i.e., a negative
portrayal of literary competitors and an idealized self-
portrayal. He clearly overlooked a great deal of mate-
rial, distorted some, and generally selected the episodes
85so that they would show him as innocent, honest, dedi-
cated, and thoroughly enjoying life. A Moveable Feast,
in fact, appears as a fascinating composite of relative
factual accuracy and clear dishonesty of intent.

1. The main purpose of the first two paragraphs of Passage A (lines 1-16) is to:

A. establish the popularity of Gornick's book by indi-cating that people wanted to meet her after reading the book.
B. introduce the idea that the characters in Gornick's memoir are not exactly like their real-life counterparts.
C. illustrate Gornick's frustration with some of her readers.
D. suggest that Gornick's memoir should be classified as fiction, not as nonfiction.

2. Which of the following quotations from Passage A most directly relates to the party guest's disappointment upon meeting the author of Fierce Attachments ?

F. We ourselves were just a rough draft of the writ-ten characters (lines 20-21).
G. I had become my mother (line 32).
H. This complicated insight was my bit of wisdom (line 33).
J. The story was the insight (line 37)

3. According to Passage A, Gornick believes the heart of her memoir to be:

A. the walks she took with her mother in Manhattan.
B. the revelation that she had become her mother.
C. her childhood experiences in the Bronx.
D. her shared history with her mother.

4. According to Passage A, Gornick believes that mem-oirs belong to the category of:

F. journalism.
G. personal diaries.
H. historical narratives.
J. literature.

5. According to Passage B, the protagonists in Hemingway's fiction are often:

A. composites of Hemingway's friends.
B. based on Hemingway's family members.
C. projections of Hemingway himself.
D. completely made-up characters.

6. Based on Passage B, the question of accuracy in A Moveable Feast is particularly difficult because:

F. Hemingway used the book to create a particular portrait of himself and his contemporaries.
G. Hemingway's contemporaries were writing con-flicting memoirs during the same time period.
H. Hemingway could not produce any documents to support his stories.
J. Hemingway said his memory was excellent, but others doubt this.

7. Which of the following statements best expresses the opinion the author of Passage B seems to have about A Moveable Feast ?

A. It stands alongside Hemingway's fiction as one of his best works.
B. It is a complex example of a book that combines fact and fiction.
C. It provides an accurate look at a specific time in Hemingway's life.
D. It should be read with other books from the same time period.

8. Based on the passages, Gornick's and Hemingway's approaches to writing their memoirs are similar in that both writers:

F. put real characters into wholly fictional situations.
G. wanted to portray themselves in a flattering way.
H. were motivated to settle old scores and present their own versions of personal relationships.
J. used only material from their lives that served the story they each wanted to tell.

9. Based on the passages, it can most reasonably be inferred that Gornick and Hemingway would agree that when it comes to a writer's responsibility to be truthful in a memoir:

A. the degree of truthfulness should be the same as that for fiction.
B. if a writer can't remember the exact details of a certain event, that event should be left out of the memoir.
C. it is more important to create an artistic whole than to relate only facts.
D. the writer should only include incidents that have documented evidence to support them.

10. Another author wrote the following about the role of truth in memoir: A memoir is a story, not a history, and real life doesn't play out as a story. Which passage most closely echoes the view presented in this quotation?

F. Passage A, because it offers a story about what happens when you meet someone who doesn't live up to your expectations.
G. Passage A, because it stresses that what happens in life is only raw material for a memoirist.
H. Passage B, because it states that Hemingway viewed A Moveable Feast as his literary testament.
J. Passage B, because it states that Hemingway seldom lied about pure facts.