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Comprehension

COMPREHENSION
A comprehension exercise consists of a passage, upon which questions are set to test the students's ability to understand the content of the given text and to infer information and meanings from it.
Here are a few hints :
1. Read the passage fairly quickly to get the general idea.
2. Read again, a little slowly, so as to know the details.
3. Study the questions thoroughly. Turn to the relevant portions of the passage, read them again, and then rewrite them in your own words, neatly and precisely.
4. Use complete sentences.
5. If you are asked to give the meaning of any words or phrases, you should express the idea as clearly as possible in your own words. Certain words require the kind of definition that is given in a dictionary. Take care to frame the definition in conformity with the part of speech.



Specimen

Read the passage below and then answer the questions which follow it.
It has been part of Nelson's prayer that the British fleet might be distinguished by humanity in the victory which he expected. Setting an example himself, he twice gave orders to cease firing upon the Redoubtable, supposing that she had struck because her great guns were silent ; for as she carried no flag, there was no means of instantly ascertaining the fact. From this ship, which he had thus twice spared, he received his death. A ball fired from her mizzen-top which, in the then situation of the two vessels was not more than fifteen yards from that part of the deck where he was standing, struck the epaulette on his left shoulder about a quarter after one, just in the heat of action. He fell upon his face on the spot which was covered with his poor secretary's blood. Hardy, who was a few steps from him turning round, saw three men raising him up. "They have done for me at last, Hardy !" said he. "I hope not !" cried Hardy. "Yes." he replied ; "my back-bone is shot through !" Yet even now not for a moment losing his presence of mind, he observed as they were carrying him down the ladder, that the tiller-ropes which had been shot away, were not yet replaced and ordered that new ones should be roped immediately. Then that he might not be seen by the crew, he took out his handkerchief and covered his face and his stars. Had he but concealed these badges of honour from the enemy, England perhaps would not have had cause to receive with sorrow the new of the battle of Trafalgar. The cockpit was crowded with wounded and dying men ; over whose bodies he was with some difficulty conveyed, and laid upon a pallet in the midshipmen's berth. It was soon perceived, upon examination, that the wound was mortal. This, however, was concealed from all, except Captain Hardy, the chaplain, and the medical attendants. He himself being certain, from the sensation in his back, and the gush of blood he felt momently within his breast, that no human care could avail him, insisted that the surgeon should leave him and attend to those to whom he might be useful.

Questions

1. What is meant by 'supposing that she had struck' ?
2. How can Nelson be said to have been partly responsible for his own death ?
3. What do you understand by the 'mizzen-top' ?
4. Why did Nelson insist that the surgeon should leave him and attend to others ?
5. What qualities in Nelson's character are revealed by this passage ?



Answers

1. 'Supposing that she had struck' means 'thinking that the men in the ship had surrendered'.
2. Nelson ordered his men two times to cease firing on the Redoubtable. From the same ship a ball was fired at him and brought about his death. He was thus partly responsible for his death.
3. The 'mizzen-top' is the platform round the lower part of the mast nearest the stern.
4. Nelson was certain that it would be impossible to save his life. He, therefore, insisted that the surgeon should leave him and attend to others.
5. His patriotism, his humanity and his powers of endurance are revealed by this passage.

Read each of the passages carefully and answer the questions given below it.

1. The next ingredient is a very remarkable one : Good Temper. "Love is not easily provoked." Nothing could be more striking than to find this here. We are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness. We speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing, a matter of temperament, not a thing to take into very serious account in estimating a man's character. And yet here, right in the heart of this analysis of love, it finds a place ; and the Bible again and again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements in human nature. The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous. It is often the one blot on an otherwise noble character. You know men who are all but perfect, and women who would be entirely perfect, but for an easily ruffled quick-tempered or "touchy" disposition. This compatibility of ill temper with high moral character is one of the strangest and saddest problems of ethics. The truth is there are two great classes of sins- sins of the Body, and sins of Disposition. The Prodigal son may be taken as a type of the first, the Elder Brother of the second. Now society has no doubt whatever as to which of these is the worse. Its brand falls, without a challenge, upon the Prodigal. But are we right ? We have no balance to weigh one another's sins, and coarser and finer are but human words ; but faults in the higher nature may be less venial than those in the lower, and to the eye of Him who is Love, a sin against Love may seem a hundred times more base. No form of vice, not worldliness, not agreed of gold, not drunkenness itself does more to un-christianise society than evil temper. For embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for taking the bloom off childhood; in short for sheer gratuitous misery-producing power, this influence stands alone. Jealousy, anger, pride, uncharity, cruelty, touchiness, doggedness, sullenness - in varying proportions these are the ingredients of all ill temper. Judge if such sins of the disposition are not worse to live in, and for others to live with than sins of the body. There is really no place in Heaven for a disposition like this. A man with such a mood could only make Heaven miserable for all the people in it.



Questions

1. What is the popular notion about "bad temper" ?
2. How is bad temper "the vice of the virtuous" ?
3. Which class of sins is worse, and why- sins of the body, sins of the disposition ?
4. Mention some evils of bad temper ?
5. Why, according to the author, will there be no place in Heaven for bad-tempered folk ?
6. Find words from the passage which mean: breaking up ; running ; scandalising ; souring ; easily offended.

2. All Great Thinkers live and move on a high plane of thought. It is only there can breathe freely. It is only in contact with spirits like themselves they can live harmoniously and attain that serenity which comes from ideal companionship. The studies of all great thinkers must range along the highest altitudes of human thought. I cannot remember the name of any illuminative genius who did not drink his inspiration from fountains of ancient Greek and Hebrew writers ; or such among the moderns as were pupils in ancient thought, and, in turn, became masters in their own. I have always thought that the strongest argument in favour of the Baconian theory was, that no man, however indubitable his genius, could have written the plays and sonnets that have come down to us under Shakespeare's name who had not the liberal education of Bacon. How this habit of intercourse with the gods makes one impatient of mere men. The megnificent ideals that have ever haunted the human mind, and given us our highest proofs of a future immortality by reason of the impossibility of their fulfilment here, are splintered into atoms by contact with life's realities. Hence comes our sublime discontent. You will notice that your first sensation after reading a great book is one of melancholy and dissatisfaction. The ideas, sentiments, expressions, are so far beyond those of ordinary working life that you cannot turn aside from one to the other without an acute sensation and consciousness of the contrast. And the principles are so lofty, so super-human that it is a positive pain, if once you become imbued with them, to come down and mix in the squalid surroundings of ordinary humanity. It may be spiritual or intellectual pride that is engendered on the high plane of intellectual life. But whatever it is, it becomes inevitable. A habitual meditation on the vast problems that underline human life, and are knit into human destinies- thoughts of immortality, of the littleness of mere man, of the greatness of man's soul, of the splendours of the universe that are invisible to the ordinary traffickers in the street, as the vastness of St. Peter's is to the spider that weaves her web in a corner of the dome- these things do not fit men to understand the average human being, or tolerate with patience the sordid wretchedness of the unregenerate masses. It is easy to understand, therefore, why such thinkers fly to the solitude of their own thoughts, or the silent companionship of the immortals ; and if they care to present their views in prose or verse to the world, that these views take a sombre and melancholy setting from "the pale cast of thought" in which they were engendered.



Questions

1. On what plane must great thinkers live and move ?
2. Is a liberal education necessary to produce great literature ?
3. Why does the reading of a great book, according to the author, make one melancholy and disappointed ?
4. What are the things that make it hart to understand the average human being ?

3. This romantic life in Kashmir was drawing to its end after three glorious months. Miss Joan was leaving a week earlier than Mrs. Rhodes, and about two days before she left I took her alone to the hotel for dinner. We walked to the hotel in perfect silence, a silence so heavy that I could hardly breathe. The hotel seemed to be far away and yet not far enough. That night, as I served her at table the temptation to touch her was overpowering, and I had almost forgotten myself when I dropped her coffee cup, which made me pull myself together and realize my position and my caste. On the way home there was a bridge over the canal to be crossed. She stopped on the bridge without a word, so I stopped beside her looking on to the calm water of the canal shining between the gigantic chenar trees. In the distance a gramophone was playing and the music floated over the water. We stood for a long time without saying a word to each other. I think the parting was disturbing her. There was something which she could not have explained and which she was trying to express. It might have been just a fancy of her own, or it may have been the subconscious knowledge of the secret, consuming passion of her attendant that was affecting her on this calm and beautiful night as we tarried on the bridge. It seemed to me that we stood there for ages, as if neither of us dare break the magic spell of night and music. Our houseboat was only a few yards from the bridge, and the Goodnight was the only word that passed between us as we parted- everything then went into the darkness. The Mail lorry came up to the bridge to take her away from the romantic city of Srinagar- and away from me. After she had taken her seat I put a woollen rug over her knees to keep her warm on the journey, and she handed me a ten-rupee note as a parting gift and sweetly said Good-bye. I watched her wave her hand till the lorry was out of sight. Then I realized what I had lost, and lost for ever.



Questions

1. What was the matter with the attendant as he walked with Miss Joan to the hotel ? Why did they not talk to each other ?
2. After reading the passage can you give reasons to show what caste the attendant belonged to ?
3. The author mentions the chenar trees of Kashmir. Give a brief but graphic description of these trees.
4. "I think the parting was disturbing her." Was it the romantic atmosphere of the surroundings, the thought of having to leave Kashmir, the kindness of her attendant, or thoughts of home that were the cause of the disturbance ?
5. Why does the author call Srinagar a romantic city ? Give the meaning of "romantic." Show how it may apply to Srinagar.
6. Why did Miss Joan give the attendant a ten-rupee note ? Do friends do such things ?

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