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AP English Language and Composition
Multiple Choice -- January 18
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This passage is taken from an autobiographical work written in the mid-twentieth century.


    Up on the corner lived a drunk of legend, a true phenomenon,
who could surely have qualified as the king of all the world’s winos.
He was neither poetic like the others nor ambitious like the singer
(to whom we’ll presently come) but his drinking bouts were truly
awe-inspiring and he was not without his sensitivity. In the throes     (5)
of his passion he would shout to the whole wide world one concise
command, “Shut up!’’ Which was disconcerting enough to all who
heard (except, perhaps, the singer), but such were the labyrinthine
acoustics of courtyards and areaways that he seemed to
direct his command at me. The writer’s block which this produced  (10)
is indescribable. On one heroic occasion he yelled his obsessive
command without one interruption longer than necessary to take
another drink (and with no appreciable loss of volume, penetration
or authority) for three long summer days and nights, and
shortly afterwards he died. Just how many lines of agitated prose   (15)
he cost me I’ll never know, but in all that chaos of sound I sympathized
with his obsession, for I, too, hungered and thirsted for
quiet. Nor did he inspire me to a painful identification, and for
that I was thankful. Identification, after all, involves feelings of
guilt and responsibility, and, since I could hardly hear my own        (20)
typewriter keys, I felt in no way accountable for his condition. We
were simply fellow victims of the madding crowd. May he rest in
peace.
    No, these more involved feelings were aroused by a more intimate
source of noise, one that got beneath the skin and worked             (25)
into the very structure of one’s consciousness—like the “fate’’
motif in Beethoven’s Fifth or the knocking-at-the-gates scene in
Macbeth. For at the top of our pyramid of noise there was a singer
who lived directly above us; you might say we had a singer on our
ceiling.                                                                                       (30)
     Now, I had learned from the jazz musicians I had known as a
boy in Oklahoma City something of the discipline and devotion to
his art required of the artist. Hence I knew something of what
the singer faced. These jazzmen, many of them now world-famous,
lived for and with music intensely. Their driving motivation was         (35)
neither money nor fame, but the will to achieve the most eloquent
expression of idea-emotions through the technical mastery of
their instruments (which, incidentally, some of them wore as a
priest wears the cross) and the give and take, the subtle rhythmical
shaping and blending of idea, tone, and imagination                       (40)
demanded of group improvisation. The delicate balance struck
between strong individual personality and the group during those
early jam sessions was a marvel of social organization. I had
learned too that the end of all this discipline and technical mastery
was the desire to express an affirmative way of life through             (45)
its musical tradition and that this tradition insisted that each
artist achieve his creativity within its frame. He must learn the
best of the past, and add to his personal vision. Life could be harsh,
loud, and wrong if it wished, but they lived it fully, and when they
expressed their attitude toward the world it was with a fluid style     (50)
that reduced the chaos of living to form.
     The objectives of these jazzmen were not at all those of the
singer on our ceiling, but, though a purist committed to the mastery
of the bel canto style, German lieder, modern French art
songs, and a few American slave songs sung as if bel canto, she    (55)
was intensely devoted to her art. From morning to night she
vocalized, regardless of the condition of her voice, the weather,
or my screaming nerves. There were times when her notes, sifting
through her floor and my ceiling, bouncing down the walls and
ricocheting off the building in the rear, whistled like tenpenny           (60)
nails, buzzed like a saw, wheezed like the asthma of Hercules,
trumpeted like an enraged African elephant—and the squeaky
pedal of her piano rested plumb center above my typing chair.
After a year of noncooperation from the neighbor on my left I
became desperate enough to cool down the hot blast of his phonograph  (65)
by calling the cops, but the singer presented a serious
ethical problem: Could I, an aspiring artist, complain against the
hard work and devotion to craft of another aspiring artist?

1. The speaker in the passage can best be described as a person who
(A) is committed to developing his skills as a writer
(B) is actually more interested in being a musician than in being a writer
(C) has talent as both a musician and a writer
(D) is motivated very differently from the jazz musicians that he describes
(E) aspires to greatness but knows that he will never achieve it
 
2. That the speaker “sympathized with’’ the drunk’s “obsession’’ (lines 16-17) is
ironic chiefly because the drunk
(A) agitated the speaker purposely and distracted him from his writing
(B) was not “poetic’’ (line 3) and had no basis for his obsession
(C) actually disturbed the speaker less than did the singer
(D) had little “sensitivity’’ (line 5) and was undeserving of sympathy
(E) was a major source of the noise from which the speaker wished to escape

3. It can be inferred that the speaker and the drunk were “fellow victims’’
(line 22) in that
(A) both had lost control of their passions
(B) neither received support from friends or relatives
(C) each had in a different way proven to be a failure
(D) neither was any longer able to feel guilt or responsibility
(E) both were tormented by distracting disturbances

4. In context, the word “intimate’’ (lines 24-25) is best interpreted to mean
(A) suggestive and lyrical
(B) tender and friendly
(C) inexorably penetrating
(D) sensual and charming
(E) strongly private

5. The speaker mentions Beethoven’s Fifth and Macbeth (lines 27-28) as examples of
which of the following?
(A) Masterly creations flawed by insidious motifs and violent scenes
(B) Works of art famous for their power to annoy audiences
(C) Splendid artistic achievements often performed unsatisfactorily
(D) Artistic compositions with compelling and unforgettable elements
(E) Classic masterpieces with which everyone should be familiar

6. The description of the “delicate balance’’ (line 41) achieved at jazz jam sessions
contributes to the unity of the passage in which of the following ways?
(A) As a contrast to the situation in the speaker’s neighborhood
(B) As a condemnation of the singer’s lack of talent
(C) As a parallel to the drunk’s attitude toward the world
(D) As an indication of the essential similarity between art and life
(E) As a satirical comment on the speaker’s own shortcomings
 
7. According to the speaker, the jazz musicians that he knew as a boy attempted to
do all of the following EXCEPT
(A) become technical masters of the instruments on which they performed
(B) blend forms such as the slave song and the spiritual into carefully
structured performances
(C) achieve individuality and virtuosity within the confines of their musical
tradition
(D) communicate their beliefs and attitudes in a positive manner through their
performances
(E) combine their talents with those of others in extemporaneous group
performances

AP English -- Taryn Barber -- Largo High School -- 2006/2007