The passage is taken from 'The Rule of the Road', an essay written by a twentieth century essayist.
A stout old lady was walking with her basket down the middle of a
street in Petrograd to the great confusion of the traffic and with no
small peril to herself. It was pointed out to her that the
pavement was the place for pedestrians, but she replied: 'I'm going
5 to walk where I like. We've got liberty now.' It did not occur
to the dear old lady that if liberty entitled the pedestrian to
walk down the middle of the road, then the end of such liberty
would be universal chaos. Everybody would be getting in
everybody else's way and nobody would get anywhere.
10 Individual liberty would have become social anarchy.
There is a danger of the world getting liberty-drunk in
these days like the old lady with the basket, and it is just as well
to remind ourselves of what the rule of the road means. It means
that in order that the liberties of all may be preserved, the
15 liberties of everybody must be curtailed. When the policeman,
say, at Piccadilly Circus steps into the middle of the road and
puts out his hand, he is the symbol not of tyranny, but of liberty.
You may not think so. You may, being in a hurry, and seeing
your car pulled up by this insolence of office, feel that your
20 liberty has been outraged. How dare this fellow interfere with
your free use of the public highway? Then, if you are a
reasonable person, you will reflect that if he did not interfere with
you, he would interfere with no one, and the result would be that
Piccadilly Circus would be a maelstrom that you would never
25 cross at all. You have submitted to a curtailment of private liberty
in order that you may enjoy a social order which makes your
liberty a reality.
Liberty is not a personal affair only, but a social
contract. It is an accommodation of interests. In matters which do
30 not touch anybody else's liberty, of course, I may be as free as I
like. If I choose to go down the road in a dressing-gown who
shall say me nay? You have liberty to laugh at me, but I have
liberty to be indifferent to you. And if I have a fancy for dyeing
my hair, or waxing my moustache (which heaven forbid), or
35 wearing an overcoat and sandals, or going to bed late or getting
up early, I shall follow my fancy and ask no man's permission. I
shall not inquire of you whether I may eat mustard with my
mutton. And you will not ask me whether you may follow this
religion or that, whether you may prefer Ella Wheeler Wilcox to
40 Wordsworth, or champagne to shandy.
In all these and a thousand other details you and I please
ourselves and ask no one's leave. We have a whole kingdom in
which we rule alone, can do what we choose, be wise or
ridiculous, harsh or easy, conventional or odd. But directly we
45 step out of that kingdom, our personal liberty of action becomes
qualified by other people's liberty. I might like to practice on the
trombone from midnight till three in the morning. If I went on to
the top of Everest to do it, I could please myself, but if I do it in
my bedroom my family will object, and if I do it out in the streets
50 the neighbors will remind me that my liberty to blow the
trombone must not interfere with their liberty to sleep in quiet.
There are a lot of people in the world, and I have to
accommodate my liberty to their liberties.
We are all liable to forget this, and unfortunately we are much
55 more conscious of the imperfections of others in this respect than
of our own. A reasonable consideration for the rights or feelings
of others is the foundation of social conduct.
It is in the small matters of conduct, in the observance of
the rule of the road, that we pass judgment upon ourselves, and
60 declare that we are civilized or uncivilized. The great moments of
heroism and sacrifice are rare. It is the little habits of
commonplace intercourse that make up the great sum of life and
sweeten or make bitter the journey.
1. The author might have stated his ‘rule of the road’ as
A. do not walk in the middle of the road
B. follow the orders of policemen
C. do not behave inconsiderately in public
D. do what you like in private
E. liberty is more important than anarchy
2. The author’s attitude to the old lady in paragraph one is
3. The sentence ‘It means....curtailed’ (lines 13-15) is an example of
4. Which sentence best sums up the author’s main point? sat
A. There is a danger....lines 11-13
B. A reasonable.... lines 56-57
C. It is in the small matters....lines 58-60
D. The great moments....lines 60-61
E. It is the little....lines 61-63
5. A situation analogous to the ‘insolence of office’ described in paragraph 2 would be
A. a teacher correcting grammar errors
B. an editor shortening the text of an article
C. a tax inspector demanding to see someone’s accounts
D. an army office giving orders to a soldier
E. a gaoler locking up a prisoner
6. ‘Qualified’ (line 46) most nearly means
7. The author assumes that he may be as free as he likes in
A. all matters of dress and food
B. any situation which does not interfere with the liberty of others
C. anything that is not against the law
D. his own home
E. public places as long as no one sees him
8. In the sentence ‘ We are all liable....’ (lines 54-56) the author is
A. pointing out a general weakness
B. emphasizing his main point
C. countering a general misconception
D. suggesting a remedy
E. modifying his point of view
1.Correct Answer: C
The author is using the ‘rule of the road’ as a metaphor for social conduct. The whole extract is telling us to behave considerately toward others. Hence, answer C.
2.Correct Answer: A
The author refers to the old lady as ‘the dear old lady’, and yet he is disapproving of her behavior. He is assuming a tone of superiority and hence is best described as ‘condescending’. (Sardonic is mocking, or scornful, and is too strong for this case. Intolerant is not quite right because he is more pointing out the fault in her attitude than showing a lack of tolerance for her as a person.) sat
3.Correct Answer: D
The sentence, "It means that in order that the liberties of all may be preserved, the liberties of everybody must be curtailed," is an example of a paradox - an apparently contradictory statement. (Hyperbole is gross exaggeration; cliché is overused expression; simile is a comparison; and consonance is words with similar sounds.)
4.Correct Answer: B
The author’s main point is the need to behave with consideration...this is best covered by his statement in lines 56-57, "A reasonable consideration for the rights or feelings of others is the foundation of social conduct."
5.Correct Answer: C
The insolence of office is a situation in which an official who is doing his duty stops us and questions our behavior. It also has to be something that we at first resent, but then have to admit is socially necessary. This is best conveyed by answer C.
6.Correct Answer: C
To check a word meaning, go back to the sentence and insert another word of your own. In this case, replace the word ‘qualified’ - "But directly we step out of that kingdom, our personal liberty of action becomes qualified by other people's liberty." A word like ‘limited’ will fit best.
7.Correct Answer: B
The author gives numerous examples of things he can do with total freedom (lines 31-40). But he makes it clear that any activity that interferes with someone else’s liberty should not be permitted (lines 44-54).
8.Correct Answer: A
The author comments that, "We are all liable to forget this, and unfortunately we are much more conscious of the imperfections of others in this respect than of our own." In this he is pointing out that we are all likely to have this fault - hence answer A.
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