1. The central argument of the passage is that the agrarian myth:
A. has no factual basis in the realities of American agricultural life.
B. is a sentimental representation of the role that agriculture played in American life.
C. accurately reflects the nature of American agriculture, both in the past and today.
D. understates the negative aspects of life on the farm in America.
Correct answer is B.
This is a Foundations of Comprehension question. It requires you to have a general understanding of the passage to make deductions and assumptions based on the inferences made by the author throughout the passage. Question 1 asks you to show an understanding of the central argument of this entire passage, based on what the author has narrated.
A. This statement is not true because the author indicates in the text that the agrarian myth “stereotypes did indeed correspond to many of the realities of American agricultural life.” Meaning, there was a factual basis upon which the myth was built. So, the myth was somewhat representative of what was happening in reality. This is not the correct response.
B. In the passage, the author explicitly states that “Americans were raised with a sentimental attachment to the rural living that represents a kind of homage that Americans have paid to the fancied innocence of their origins." This statement alone explains the sentimental significance of agriculture in American lives. This is the right answer as the text in the passage directly mirrors this answer.
C. This is a tempting response because the author has made a similar inference in the text. The agrarian myth truly reflects the nature of American agriculture in the past, however, the yeoman farmer disappeared between the years 1815 and 1860, meaning that this is no longer the nature of American agriculture today. Today, commercial farming is more prevalent, therefore this is not the right answer.
D. The author does not once mention or discuss the negative aspects of life on the farm with regard to the agricultural realities in America. This answer is incorrect.
2. The passage suggests that the agrarian myth originated:
A. in literature.
B. on country estates in Europe.
C. on small farms owned and worked by yeoman farmers.
D. among the urban elite who romanticized the virtues of the simple life of the farmer.
Correct answer is A.
This is another Foundations of Comprehension question that requires you to have an overall understanding of the passage. You are encouraged to piece together different components of the passage for the overall comprehension of the author’s argument. In this question, you are asked to derive the origins of the agrarian myth based on what the author has shared.
A. This is brief but factual, as the text expresses: “In origin, the agrarian myth was not a popular but a literary idea, a preoccupation of the upper classes, of those who enjoyed a classical education, read pastoral poetry, experimented with breeding stock or owned plantations of country estates.” This clearly states that this myth originated from literature, making this the correct answer.
B. The text states, "In origin, the agrarian myth was not a popular but a literary idea,” meaning this answer is incorrect.
C. Although small farms and yeoman farmers were central to the myth, they were not the originators of the agrarian myth. Answer C is incorrect.
D. This answer is rather tempting as the text in the passage states "In origin, the agrarian myth was not a popular but a literary idea, a preoccupation of the upper classes, of those who enjoyed a classical education, read pastoral poetry, experimented with breeding stock or owned plantations of country estates." However, recall, the only elite group mentioned by the author are the educated upper classes - there was no mention of the urban elite. This answer is incorrect.
3. Based on the passage, the agrarian myth assumes that:
I. yeoman farmers are wholesome and honest.
II. yeoman farmers are morally superior to most citizens.
III. agriculture deserves special treatment from the government.
A. I only
B. I and II only
C. II and III only
D. I, II, and III
Correct answer is D.
This is a "Reasoning Within the Text" Question. This type of question urges you to integrate different components of the text in order to respond to the question most efficiently. Here, you must evaluate the author's use of an argument or claim and determine as best as you can how it helps the author’s intentions. In this question, you are asked to determine the author’s insinuation on the assumptions of the agrarian myth.
A. Option I is correct, however, there are other options that are correct.
B. Option I and II are both correct, however, there is another correct option.
C. Option II and III are both correct, however, there is another correct option.
D. In reading options I, II, and III, all three are correct based on the passage. With regard to statement I, the author expresses "The yeoman was the incarnation of the simple, honest, independent, healthy, happy human being. Because he lived in close communion with beneficent nature, his life was believed to have a wholesomeness and integrity impossible for the depraved populations of cities." In this statement the author echoes the belief stated in statement I. With regards to statement II, the author mentions “the victory of a band of embattled farmers over an empire seemed to confirm the moral and civic superiority of the yeoman, made the farmer a symbol of the new nation, and wove the agrarian myth into its patriotic sentiments and republican idealism.” This text from the passage supports the belief that yeoman farmers were of moral superiority to most citizens. With regards to statement III, "unstinted praise of the special virtues of the farmer and the special values of rural life was coupled with the assertion that agriculture, as a calling uniquely productive and uniquely important to society, had a special right to the concern and protection of the government.” This again supports the statement made in option III. Overall, all 3 options are justified in the passage, so be mindful to read through the passage critically and ensure that no points are discounted just because too many options appear to be correct. This is often an easy way to get a question wrong.
4. Based on the passage, the agrarian myth became part of a mass creed because:
A. the country’s nationalist ideology stood in need of the kind of patriotic sentiments that the agrarian myth could provide.
B. farmers were credited with having played a major role in the American victory in the Revolutionary War.
C. most of the American population lived on family farms during the late eighteenth century.
D. the yeoman farmer, as an ideal, corresponded to many of the realities of American life in the late eighteenth century.
Correct Answer is B.
This is a “Reasoning Within the Text” question. This question requires you to deduce knowledge from the passage and determine which is the most suitable answer. The best approach is the method of elimination, which helps to determine which response best represents the statement the author advocates for.
A. In the passage, the author did not explain this to be a necessity that needed to be filled. This is a phenomenon that naturally arose from the American Revolution. Answer A is incorrect.
B. The author’s explanation of the shift of the agrarian myth from upper classes to become a part of the “mass creed” was highlighted in the following text found in the passage: "The roots of this change may be found as far back as the American Revolution which, appearing to many Americans as the victory of a band of embattled farmers over an empire, seemed to confirm the moral and civic superiority of yeoman, made the farmer a symbol of the new nation, and wove the agrarian myth into its patriotic sentiments and republican idealism.” Evidently, this answer is correct.
C. In this passage, the author does not explicitly state or imply that most of the American population lived on family farms in the eighteenth century. However, he expressed that there were “large numbers of the kind of independent yeoman idealized in the myth.” As a result, this is not the correct answer.
D. This answer appears tempting; however, it is important to remember the context in which this information is mentioned. The author only discusses this in the context of the relative truth of falsehood of the agrarian myth, not in the context of explaining why the agrarian myth became a part of the mass creed. This answer is therefore incorrect.
5. According to the passage, the agrarian myth implied that yeoman farmers were:
A. honest entrepreneurs.
B. classically educated.
C. sentimentally patriotic.
D. happy and industrious.
Correct answer is D.
This is a Foundations of Comprehension question, which requires you to have an overall comprehension of the passage, so one can make deductions and assumptions based on the inferences made by the author throughout the passage. Question 5 asks you to show an understanding of the central argument surrounding the nature of yeoman farmers in the agrarian myth based on what the author has narrated.
A. Although yeoman farmers had been identified by their being honest individuals, they were not identified as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a concept that was introduced in the nineteenth century with regards to farmers where “the cash crop converted the yeoman farmer into an entrepreneur.” This answer is incorrect.
B. In this passage, the author refers to the upper classes as someone “who enjoyed a classical education” and those who were owners of plantations and country estates. They were also the originators of the agrarian myth. Therefore, this is not the correct answer.
C. The passage implies that the agrarian myth inspired and symbolized sentimental patriotism, not necessarily insinuates that the yeoman farmers themselves were patriotic. This answer is incorrect.
D. In the text, the author implies that yeoman farmers' happiness could be attributed to the wholesomeness of the lives they led. The text states “the yeoman was the incarnation of the simple, honest independent healthy happy human being…” and “his life was believed to have a wholesomeness and integrity impossible for those….” Furthermore, the author discusses the productivity of the farmer by expressing “they were a hardworking lot in the old tradition.” Overall, this is the most suitable response, so D is correct.
6. Which of the following assertions, if true, would most weaken the main point of the passage?
A. The contribution made by American farmers to victory in the Revolutionary War has been greatly exaggerated.
B. The agrarian myth was what might be called “a noble lie”: it was false but generally beneficial.
C. The agrarian myth played a part in the thinking of only a handful of Americans during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
D. American farmers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had very little in common with the idealized yeoman farmer of the agrarian myth.
Correct answer is C.
This is a “Reasoning Beyond the Text” question. This will prompt you to extrapolate concepts from the passage. Considering the tone of the author and his argument, the best way to approach this question is through the process of elimination.
A. This point contradicts the truth, however, it does not seriously weaken the argument as the author has already implied that his view of the contribution the farmers made for the victory in the American Revolution may have been more of a perception than reality. “The roots of this change may be found as far back as the American revolution, which appearing to many Americans as the victory of a band of embattled farmers over an empire, seemed to confirm the moral and civic superiority of the yeoman, made the farmer a symbol of the new nation, and wove the agrarian myth into its patriotic sentiments and republican idealism.” This answer is incorrect.
B. This statement will have very little effect on the argument and may even serve to reinforce it. The author asserts in the passage that there were definitely some truths to the agrarian myth during the eighteenth century. However, the author still mostly viewed it as a sentimental ideal, stating “The agrarian myth represents a kind of homage that Americans have paid to the fancied innocence of their origins.” Furthermore, the author used phrases such as “ideal man” or “ideal citizen” to reinforce the idea that the yeoman symbolized positive traits contributing to its nationalist ideology. This is unlikely the correct answer.
C. This statement completely contradicts the author’s assertion that the agrarian myth “was clearly formulated and almost universally accepted in America during the last half of the eighteenth century.” This is the most suitable response as it most weakens the author’s argument.
D. This statement would not significantly weaken the argument as the author expresses that the agrarian myth idealized the yeoman farmer. “The agrarian myth represents a kind of homage that Americans have paid to the fancied innocence of their origins.” Moreover, the author also proceeded to express the extent to which the nineteenth-century farmer represented a departure from the agrarian ideal of the yeoman farmer. This answer is incorrect.
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