SAT Literature Practice Test 4

Directions: This test consists of selections from literary works and questions on their content, form, and style. After each passage or poem, choose the best answer to each question.

Let’s take a look at some modern poetry.

SAT Literature  Practice test on “Brass Spittoons”  by Langston Hughes

SAT Literature Practice Test 4 on “Brass Spittoons”  by Langston Hughes

SAT Literature Practice on “Brass Spittoons” by Langston Hughes line 25, 30

“Brass Spittoons” by Langston Hughes line 35

* a spitoon is a receptacle for spit (usually in a public place)

By the way, “Brass Spittoons” was written by Langston Hughes, one of the most prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

1. In line 31, “a bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord,” the author is most likely

A. making an analogy
B. describing a glorious church scene
C. using alliteration to emphasize a point
D. comparing the bowls to the cymbals on the following line
E. suggesting that poetry is like prayer

2. The list of cities in lines 2-5 implies

A. the narrator is educated in geography
B. the narrator is reading a newspaper
C. the poem could be occurring in any of these cities
D. the poem is an extended analogy
E. the cities are symbols of oppressed people

3. In lines 20-21, “Two dollars buys shoes for the baby” is an example of

A. personification
B. haphazard alliteration
C. repetition of a phrase
D. economic calculation
E. illustrative allusion

4. The narrator of the poem is most likely

A. in charge of the hotel maids and janitors
B. generous with his tips
C. proud of his work
D. an outspoken critic
E. a stingy father

5. The narrator is best characterized as

A. honest and reverent
B. selfish and complaining
C. ignorant and obliging
D. hard-working and dutiful
E. religious and childlike

6. Which of the following best describes the nature of the poem in its entirety?

A. A realistic pastoral scene
B. An eloquent description of a place
C. A religious allegory
D. A didactic narrative
E. An impassioned portrait

7. The rhythm of the poem adds to the poem’s theme in which of the following ways?

I. It mimics the actions of the speaker.

II. It contrasts the secular with the divine.

III. It adds to the lyricism of the poem.

A. I only
B. II only
C. III only
D. I and II only
E. I, II, and III

8. The last three lines emphasize which of the following?

A. The hopelessness of the speaker’s situation
B. The emptiness of the speaker’s job
C. The fragility of the speaker’s faith
D. The speaker’s perseverance
E. The comfort the speaker finds in his spirituality

9. The lines “Hey, boy!” (11, 16, 30, 35) are most likely

A. the speaker calling his son
B. a derogatory command
C. an impolite greeting
D. an urban colloquialism
E. the speaker’s conscience

10. The poem suggests that

A. poverty is arduous
B. thriftiness is a virtue
C. brass is a recently discovered metal
D. imagination offers escape
E. good things come to those who wait

QuestionCorrect AnswerYour AnswerResultExplanation
1C00Alliteration is definitely used, so (C) is the answer. There is no analogy (A). He is not describing a scene in church (B). The brass is compared to cymbals; the bowls are not (D). The poem never talks about poetry (E).
2C00The author lists the cities to imply that the narrator could be any man in any city (C). There is no evidence that the narrator is educated in geography (A). There is no evidence of a newspaper in the poem (B). There is no extended analogy (D). The cities do not function as symbols (E).
3A00There is personification and alliteration in this line, but it is obviously intentional and not haphazard, so the answer is (A), not (B). Nothing is repeated (C). Although two dollars does involve economics, this is not the purpose of the phrase (D). There is no allusion (E).
4C00The narrator is a man who cleans spittoons in hotels for a living. He dedicates his work to God, so he is proud. He is not in charge (A). He is not the one tipping (B). He is not outspoken as a critic (D). There is no evidence he is stingy, just poor (E).
5D00The narrator works hard to polish the spittoons to provide for his family (D). He may be reverent, but we have no examples of his honesty (A). He is not selfish (B). We don’t know if he is ignorant (C). The narrator has a family, so he is not childlike. Being called “boy” is an insult (E).
6E00At the end of the poem we know a lot about this narrator and what motivates him, so (E) is the best answer. There is no nature in the poem (A). Places are not described (B). The poem is not an allegory (C). The poem is not trying to teach something (D).
7E00The rhythm at the beginning mimics the polishing motion of the narrator as he cleans spittoons, so Statement I is true. The secular (cleaning) is short and staccato, while the divine (the religious imagery) is characterized by longer, more flowing sentences, so Statement II is true. And the rhythm makes the poem melodious, so Statement III is true.
8E00The poem ends with the speaker finding meaning in his job because he does it for God (E). The poem does not say the situation is hopeless (A). The man finds meaning, so the job is not empty (B). The narrator’s faith does not waiver (C). There is nothing that says he will persevere (D).
9B00The lines are spoken by the boss. They are a command for the narrator’s attention and are derogatory because they call him “boy” and don’t address him by name (B). The speaker does not talk to his son (A). The boss is calling the narrator, not greeting him (C). It is not urban slang (D). The speaker’s conscience is not in the poem (E).
10A00The cities mentioned and the difficult situation of the narrator mean that poverty is tough (A). It does not mention thriftiness (B); rather, it talks about poverty. We don’t know when brass was discovered (C). Imagination is not talked about as a means of escape (D). We don’t know that good things will come to the narrator (E).

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