SSAT Middle Level Reading : Determining Authorial Attitude in Literary Fiction Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SSAT Middle Level Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Determining Authorial Attitude In Literary Fiction Passages

Passage adapted from Peter and Wendy (1911) by J.M. Barrie

Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for the next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake up in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.

Which of these opinions would the narrator be most likely to have about children?

Possible Answers:

Their thoughts are disorganized. 

They have short attention spans.

They are disobedient. 

They have only wicked thoughts. 

Correct answer:

Their thoughts are disorganized. 


The narrator doesn't say anything about the children being disobedient, so we can eliminate that option. The narrator does mention that the children have some "naughtiness and evil passions," but they also have "prettier thoughts," some even as "nice as a kitten," so we can eliminate that option "Children have mostly wicked thoughts." And though the narrator also mentions that the children's thoughts have "wandered during the day," he next describes the mother as she tidies up her children's thoughts, emphasizing the messiness of the children's minds rather than their lack of attention span. "They have disorganized thoughts" is our best answer.

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