GED Reading Practice Questions | Fiction 1920-60

Read the passage beneath and answer the following five questions.

It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!

And yet I am no freak of nature, nor of history. I was in the cards, other things having been equal (or unequal) eighty-five years ago. I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time been ashamed. About eighty-five years ago they were told they were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in everything social, separate like the fingers of the hand. And they believed it. They exulted in it. They stayed in their place, worked hard, and brought up my father to do the same. But my grandfather is the one. He was an odd old guy, my grandfather, and I am told I take after him. It was he who caused the trouble. On his deathbed he called my father to him and said, “Son, after I’m gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy’s country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion’s mouth. I want you to overcome ’em with yeses, undermine ’em with grins, agree ’em to death and destruction, let ’em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.” They thought the old man had gone out of his mind. He had been the meekest of men. The younger children were rushed from the room, the shades drawn and the flame of the lamp turned so low that it sputtered on the wick like the old man’s breathing. “Learn it to the younguns,” he whispered fiercely; then he died.

Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal,” 1947

1. In the last sentence of the first paragraph the narrator says, “I am an invisible man!” Why might the narrator feel he is invisible?

A. He doesn’t know who he really is.
B. He goes unnoticed as a black man in America.
C. He hides from his past to not face the truth.
D. He doesn’t know what to do with his life.

2. What kind of tone does the following piece of literature have?

A. Longing and Regretful
B. Frustrated and Defiant
C. Thankful and Accepting
D. Shameful and Confused.

3. What is the meaning of the word exulted in the second paragraph?

A. Grieved
B. Were disillusioned
C. Were ashamed
D. Rejoiced

4. How was the narrator’s grandfather a traitor?

A. He was caught as a spy in the civil war.
B. He had gone against his family’s traditions.
C. He never fought for rights of his fellow black people.
D. He was part of the Reformation Army.

5. In the first paragraph, why does the narrator say his was naive?

A. He did know himself before this time.
B. He was looking for himself in other people.
C. He was born and raised where he was.
D. He forgot his family’s past.