SSAT Reading Question 218: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 218

7. In lines 41–42, Paul shuddered and threw his hands behind him because

  • A. his teacher had touched his hand
  • B. he could not answer the teacher's question
  • C. his teacher had hurt him
  • D. he was afraid of the teacher

Correct Answer: A


A is correct. This story is presented as an example of the contempt which all the teachers knew Paul felt for them and which he seemed to make no effort to conceal. Paul shuddered and thrust his hands violently behind him when the English teacher attempted to guide his hand as he worked at the blackboard. "The insult was so involuntary and definitely personal as to be unforgettable. In one way and another he had made all his teachers, men and women alike, conscious of the same feeling of physical aversion." Paul’s reaction had nothing to do with not being able to answer the question (choice B) or being hurt by the teacher (choice C). Likewise, there is no indication that he was afraid of the teacher (choice D) or that he wanted to strike the teacher (choice E). The passage says only that the teacher "could scarcely have been more hurt and embarrassed had he struck at her."

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