GRE Prep - Reading Comprehension


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With the ascendance of Toni Morrison's literary star, it has become commonplace for critics to de-racialize her by saying that Morrison is not just a "Black woman writer," that she has moved beyond the limiting confines of race and gender to larger "universal" issues. Yet Morrison, a Nobel laureate with six highly acclaimed novels, bristles at having to choose between being a writer or a Black woman writer, and willingly accepts critical classification as the latter.To call her simply a writer denies the key roles that Morrison's African-American roots and her Black female perspective have played in her work. For instance, many of Morrison's characters treat their dreams as "real," are nonplussed by visitations from dead ancestors, and generally experience intimate connections with beings whose existence isn't empirically verifiable. While critics might see Morrison's use of the supernatural as purely a literary device, Morrison herself explains, "That's simply the way the world was for me and the Black people I knew."Just as her work has given voice to this little-remarked facet of African-American culture, it has affirmed the unique vantage point of the Black woman. "I really feel the range of emotion and perception I have had access to as a Black person and a female person are greater than that of people who are neither," says Morrison. "My world did not shrink because I was a Black female writer. It just got bigger."

1. The author of the passage is chiefly concerned with:(A) explaining Morrison's own viewpoint on the role of her race and gender in her novels.(B) assessing the significance of the Black female perspective in the modern American novel.(C) acknowledging Morrison's success in giving voice to unknown aspects of the African-American experience.(D) presenting an argument in favor of "de-racializing" Morrison.(E) explaining why being a writer and being a Black female writer are distinct critical classifications.

2. Morrison's use of the supernatural in her novels is mentioned by the author in order to explain:(A) why some critics categorize her as a "writer" but not a "Black woman writer."(B) the distinction between drawing from one's personal experience and using a literary device.(C) the enormous critical acclaim Morrison's novels have received.(D) one way in which Morrison's novels are rooted in her experience as an African-American woman.(E) one of the universal themes that is woven throughout Morrison's novels.

1. The correct answer is (A). Notice that the first paragraph says that Morrison "bristles" at how her work is sometimes described, and that the second and third paragraphs quote her own comments. Clearly, the passage is mainly concerned with presenting Morrison's own viewpoint about her writing.2. The correct answer is (D). See the first sentence of the second paragraph, which makes clear the underlying point being made by the author in citing the use of the supernatural in Morrison's writing.




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