A Guide to the GRE/Reading Practice 2

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Reading Practice 2[edit]

Black Elk Speaks chronicles author John Neihardt's conversations with a shaman of the Oglala Sioux tribe in the early 20th century, and is most well known for its 5 subject's recollection of the Battle of Little Bighorn, or as the author calls it, “The Rubbing Out of Long Hair” in reference to the Sioux name for General Custer. At age 13, Black Elk had participated both in 10 this battle as well as the subsequent altercation at Wounded Knee. However, a focus on the book for these recounts would be misplaced, not only because they are told some forty years after the events occurred, 15 but also because the majority of the work is dedicated not to the Sioux Wars of the late 1800s, but to the spiritual and cultural traditions that Neihardt sought to capture, including the rituals in which the 20 author of the book participated firsthand. 1. The author of the passage holds which of the following views about the book Black Elk Speaks?

(A) It contains a reliable contemporary account of the incidents at Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee. (B) It is the most comprehensive chronicle of Sioux spiritual traditions of any work to date. (C) References to the book for its chronicles of the Sioux Wars miss a greater point of the book. (D) It is also known by the title “The Rubbing Out of Long Hair.” (E) Its author did not have any experience with Sioux culture.

2. Based on the passage, Neihardt's purpose in writing Black Elk Speaks was to do which of the following?

(A) interview a survivor of Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee (B) contrast the views of the Oglala Sioux to that of other Indian tribes (C) describe changes in Sioux life in the early 20th century from their traditional way of living (D) document aspects of traditional Sioux culture (E) capture the entire history of the Sioux Wars of the late 1800s


Comments[edit]

Answers to Practice Questions[edit]

1. (C)

This can be inferred from the phrase in lines 11-13, which state that a focus on the accounts of the Sioux conflicts is misplaced.

Choice (A) is incorrect because the author never attests to the reliability of the accounts of Little Bighorn in the book; indeed, the author suggests they may be somewhat compromised given the great stretch of time. Answer (B) is incorrect because the passage makes no claim that the book is the most reliable account. Choice (D) is wrong because “The Rubbing Out of Long Hair” refers to Little Bighorn itself, not the book. (E) is directly contradicted by the passage - the author of Black Elk Speaks interviewed a Sioux shaman.


2. (D)

This comes from lines 17-20. Neihardt wasn't predominantly concerned with interviewing survivors of the Sioux Wars as stated in answers (A) and (E) or contrasting the Sioux with others as in answer (B) - indeed, no other Indian tribes are mentioned. Likewise, nothing explicitly mentions the changes discussed in answer (C). Neihardt's purpose was to document Sioux culture.