TOEFL >> Reading >> In the reading part of the TOEFL exam, Passages require understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas.

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TOEFL Reading - Worksheet 4

Read the passage and choose the best answer to each question.

1. In the first paragraph, what is NOT the meaning of the word "pervaded"?

  1. contaminated
  2. spread through
  3. permeated

2. In the first and second paragaphs, what is NOT the meaning of the word "norms"?

  1. exceptions to standards of behavior
  2. expected standards of behavior
  3. expected patterns of behavior

3. What was NOT an American cultural norm during the 1950s?

  1. women as breadwinners
  2. men as breadwinners
  3. conformity

4. What can be inferred from the third paragraph?

  1. People could buy Ginsburg's poem after the court's decision.
  2. Ginsburg went to jail.
  3. Ginsburg's poem could not be distributed.

5. What was one effect of television?

  1. It helped solidify uniformity in American society.
  2. It helped challenge cultural norms.
  3. It helped the rebellious writers.

6. In the third paragraph, what does the word "their" refer to?

  1. writers who were beats
  2. writers who supported cultural norms
  3. writers who were conformists

7. In the last sentence of the third paragraph, what does the word "it" refer to?

  1. the poem, "Howl"
  2. the novel, "On the Road"
  3. a critique

8. Where does the sentence -- "Musicians and artists rebelled as well." -- best belong?

  1. at the beginning of the last paragraph
  2. at the end of the last paragraph
  3. at the end of the second paragraph

9. In the last paragraph, what is the meaning of the word "staid"?

  1. dignified
  2. fun
  3. rebellious

10. What does the passage imply?

  1. The beat generation of the 1950s made possible the social revolution, including racial integration, of the 1960s.
  2. The 1950s was a period of great turmoil and rebellion that set back social progress.
  3. As compared with the 1960s, the writers and artists of the 1950s produced little of lasting value.

The Culture of the 1950s

During the 1950s, a sense of uniformity pervaded American society. Conformity was common, as young and old alike followed group norms rather than striking out on their own. Though men and women had been forced into new employment patterns during World War II, once the war was over, traditional roles were reaffirmed. Men expected to be the breadwinners; women, even when they worked, assumed their proper place was at home. Sociologist David Riesman observed the importance of peer-group expectations in his influential book, The Lonely Crowd. He called this new society "other-directed," and maintained that such societies lead to stability as well as conformity. Television contributed to the homogenizing trend by providing young and old with a shared experience reflecting accepted social patterns.

But not all Americans conformed to such cultural norms. A number of writers, members of the so-called "beat generation," rebelled against conventional values. Stressing spontaneity and spirituality, they asserted intuition over reason and Eastern mysticism over Western institutionalized religion. The "beats" went out of their way to challenge the patterns of respectability and shock the rest of the culture.

Their literary work displayed their sense of freedom. Jack Kerouac typed his best-selling novel "On the Road" on a 75-meter roll of paper. Lacking accepted punctuation and paragraph structure, the book glorified the possibilities of the free life. Poet Allen Ginsberg gained similar notoriety for his poem "Howl," a scathing critique of modern, mechanized civilization. When police charged that it was obscene and seized the published version, Ginsberg won national acclaim with a successful court challenge.

Tennessee singer Elvis Presley popularized black music in the form of rock and roll, and shocked staid Americans with his ducktail haircut and undulating hips. In addition, Elvis and other rock and roll singers demonstrated that there was a white audience for black music, thus testifying to the increasing integration of American culture. Painters like Jackson Pollock discarded easels and laid out gigantic canvases on the floor, and then applied paint, sand and other materials in wild splashes of color. All of these artists and authors, whatever the medium, provided models for the wider and more deeply felt social revolution of the 1960s.

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