GED Reading Practice Questions | Fiction 1960-Present

Read the passage beneath and answer the following five questions.

And Sonny hadn’t been near a piano for over a year. And he wasn’t on much better terms with his life, not the life that stretched before him now. He and the piano stammered, started one way, got scared, stopped; started another way, panicked, marked time, started again; then seemed to have found a direction, panicked again, got stuck. And the face I saw on Sonny I’d never seen before. Everything had been burned out of it, and, at the same time, things usually hidden were being burned in, by the fire and fury of the battle which was occurring in him up there.

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Yet, watching Creole’s face as they neared the end of the first set, I had the feeling that something had happened, something I hadn’t heard. Then they finished, there was scattered applause, and then, without an instant’s warning, Creole started into something else, it was almost sardonic, it was Am I Blue. And, as though he commanded, Sonny began to play. Something began to happen. And Creole let out the reins. The dry, low, black man said something awful on the drums, Creole answered, and the drums talked back. Then the horn insisted, sweet and high, slightly detached perhaps, and Creole listened, commenting now and then, dry, and driving, beautiful, calm and old. Then they all came together again, and Sonny was part of the family again. I could tell this from his face. He seemed to have found, right there, beneath his fingers, a damn brand-new piano. It seemed that he couldn’t get over it. Then, for a while, just being happy with Sonny, they seemed to be agreeing with him that brand-new pianos certainly were a gas.

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Then Creole stepped forward to remind them that what they were playing was the blues. He hit something in all of them, he hit something in me, myself, and the music tightened and deepened, apprehension began to beat the air. Creole began to tell us what the blues were all about. They were not about anything very new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it must always be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.

James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues,” 1965

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1. What point of view is this story told from?

A. Second-person
B. Outside perspective
C. First-person
D. Narrative

2. What is the best definition for the word sardonic used in the second paragraph?

A. free
B. playful
C. humorful
D. cynical

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3. How does the narrator describe Sonny’s change in the second paragraph?

A. like he was a the only one on stage
B. like he had never played piano before
C. like he was playing from his heart
D. like he found a new piano

4. In the second paragraph, what metaphor does the author use to describe the bands playing ?

A. a conversation
B. playing new piano
C. the first time playing piano
D. a dream

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5. Life is best represented symbolically in this story by what?

A. the blues
B. the stage
C. the instruments
D. audience

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