ACT Reading Practice Test 95: PROSE FICTION

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 novel Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr (©1984 by Harriet Doerr).

Here they are,. two North Americans, a man and a
woman just over and just under forty, come to spend
their lives in Mexico and already lost as they travel
cross-country over the central plateau. The driver of the
5station wagon is Richard Everton, a blue-eyed, black-
haired stubborn man. On the seat beside him is his wife,
Sara. She pictures the adobe house where they intend to
sleep tonight. It is a mile and a half high on the out-
skirts of Ibarra, a declining village of one thousand
10souls. Tunneled into the mountain is the copper mine
Richard's grandfather abandoned fifty years ago
during the Revolution of 1910.

Dark is coming on and, unless they find a road,
night wiB trap at this desolate spot both the future oper-
15ator of the Malaguefia mine and the fair-haired unsus-
pecting future mistress of the adobe house. Sara
Everton is anticipating their arrival at a place curtained
and warm, though she knows the house has neither
electricity nor furniture and, least of all, kindling beside
20the hearth. There is some doubt about running water in
the pipes. The Malaguefia mine, on the other hand, is
flooded up to the second level.

"Let's stop and ask the way," says Sara. And they
take a diagonal course across a cleared space of land.
25But the owner of this field is nowhere in sight.

"We won't get to Ibarra before dark," says Sara.
"Do you think we'll recognize the house?"

"Yes," he says, and without speaking they sepa-
rately recall a faded photograph of a wide, low struc-
30ture with a long veranda in front. On the veranda is a
hammock, and in the hammock is Rich,flrd's grand-
mother, dressed in eyelet embroidery ankl holding a
fluted fan.

Five days ago the Evertons left San Francisco in
35order to extend the family's Mexican history .and patch
the present onto the past. To find out if there was still
copper underground and how much of the rest of it was
true, the width of the sky, the depth of the stars, the air
like new wine. -To weave chance and hope into a fabric
40that would clothe them as long as they lived

Even their closest friends have failed to under-
stand. "Call us when you get there," they said. "Send a
telegram." But Ibarra lacks these services. "What will
you do for light?" they were asked. And, "How long
45since someone lived in the house?" But this question
collapsed of its own weight before a reply could be
composed.

Every day for a month Richard has reminded Sara,
"We mustn't expect too much." And each time his wife
50answered, "no." But the Evertons expect too much.
They have experienced the teuible persuasion of a
great-aunt's recollections and adopted them as their
own. They have not considered that memories are like
corks left out of bottles. They swell. They no longer fit.

55Now here, lost in the Mexican interior, Richard
and Sara remember the rock pick Richard's grandfather
gave him when he was six. His grandfather had used
the pick himself to chip away copper ore from extru-
sions that coursed like exposed arteries down the slopes
60of the mountains

"What does he know about mining?" Richard's
friends have asked one another. "What does she know
about gasoline stoves? In case of burns, where will they
find a doctor?" The friends learn that the Evertons are
65taking a first aid manual, antibiotics for dysentery, and
a snakebite kit. There are other questions relating to
symphony season tickets, Christmas, golf, sailing. To
these, the answers are evasive.

A farmer, leading a burro, approaches the car from
70behind. He regards the two Americans. "You are not on
the road to Ibarra," he says. "Permit me a moment."
And he gazes first at his feet, then at the mountains,
then at their luggage. "You must drive north on that dry
arroyo for two kilometers and turn left when you reach
75a road. You will recognize it by the tire tracks of the
morning bus unless rain has fallen. But this is the dry
season."

"Without a tail wind we won't be bothered by the
dust," says Richard, and turns north.

80He is mistaken. The arroyo is smooth and soft with
dust that, even in still air, spins from the car's wheels
and sifts through sealed surfaces, the flooring, the dash-
board, the factory-tested weather stripping. It etches
black lines on their palms, sands their skin, powders
85their lashes, and deposits a bitter taste on their tongues.

"This must be the wrong way," says Sara, from
under the sweater she has pulled over her head.

Richard says nothing. He knows it is the right way,
as right as a way to Iba,rra can be, as right as his deci-
90sion to reopen an idle mine and bring his wife to a
house built half of nostalgia and half of clay.

1. The passage is told from what point of view

A. First person, narrated by a minor character
B. First person, narrated by a main character
C. Third person, narrated by a voice outside the action of the story
D. Third person, narrated through the perspective of one character

2. What does the passage suggest about how many, if any, preceding visits the Evertons have made to Ibarra?

F. They have visited Ibarra before, but not for several years.
G. They have been to Ibarra regularly to visit Richard's grandmother.
H. They visited Ibarra once before to examine the Malaguefia mine.
J. They have not been to Ibarra prior to this visit.

3. The main point made in the eighth paragraph (lines48-54) is that:

A. when everything is carefully planned, there's no risk of disappointment
B. older relatives should not try to persuade family members to change lifestyles.
C. people cannot live on their own memories but should instead look to the future.
D. it's unwise to form expectations based on other people's enticing stories of another time.

4. Based on the passage, how does the house in Sara's thoughts most likely compare to the actual house where the Evertons plan to sleep?

F. Sara's imagined house is much more inviting than the actual house.
G. Sara pictured a house that's nearly a perfect copy of the actual house.
H. The actual house is much grander than Sara is imagining.
J. The actual house is just as uninviting as the house in Sara's imagination

5. It could most reasonably be considered ironic that while Richard and Sara's copper mine:

A. is located on the side of a mountain; they get lost traveling cross-country to Ibarra.
B. was abandoned in 1910, Sara still remembers the rock pick Richard was given when he was six.
C. is located near the village of Ibarra, no one has lived in the house for several years.
D. is flooded to the second level, the house is likely to be without running water.

6. Richard thinks he and Sara will recognize the house where they intend to sleep because:

F. it's made of adobe
G. Richard's. grandmother described it to them
H. they have seen an old photograph of it
J. it's the only house with a veranda

7. As it is used in line 37, the phrase "the rest of it" refers to the:

A. amount of copper still left to be dug out of the mine
B. stories that Richard and Sara have heard about the natural appeal of the region.
C. town of Ibarra that Richard is anxious to find out more about
D. close friends they left behind along with their old lives in San Francisco.

8. The services mentioned in line 43 specifically refer to:

F. symphony tickets and sailing excursions
G. medical aid and antibiotics.
H. electricity and running water
J. telephone calls and telegrams

9. The list "symphony season tickets, Christmas, golf,sailing" (line 67) is a reference to Richard and Sara's

A. unwillingness to spend money frivolously
B. concerns about heading for Ibarra.
C. recreational opportunities in Mexico
D. former social lives in San Francisco.

10. According to the passage, the farmer tells the Evertons that it's the dry season to make the point that the:

F. tire tracks of the bus should still be visible on the road
G. drive to Ibarra will be hot and dusty.
H. Evertons should reach Ibarra before it begins to rain.
J. Evertons should have brought drinking water with them