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AP English Language and Composition
Multiple Choice -- February 1
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This passage is taken from a twentieth-century book about China.


Throughout her history China had believed herself the center     

of civilization, surrounded by barbarians. She was the Middle

Kingdom, the center of the universe, whose Emperor was the Son

of Heaven, ruling by the Mandate of Heaven. Convinced of their

superior values, the Chinese considered that China’s greatness               (5)

was owed to principles of social order over a harmonious whole.

All outsiders whose misfortune was to live beyond her borders

were “barbarians’’ and necessarily inferiors who were expected,

and indeed required, to make their approach, if they insisted on

coming, bearing tribute and performing the kowtow in token of              (10)

humble submission.

From the time of Marco Polo to the eighteenth century, visiting

Westerners, amazed and admiring, were inclined to take China

at her own valuation. Her recorded history began in the third

millennium B.C., her bronzes were as old as the pyramids, her               (15)

classical age was contemporary with that of Greece, her Confucian

canon of ethics predated the New Testament if not the Old.

She was the inventor of paper, porcelain, silk, gunpowder, the

clock and movable type, the builder of the Great Wall, one of the

wonders of the world, the creator of fabrics and ceramics of exquisite    (20)

beauty and of an art of painting that was sophisticated

and expressive when Europe’s was still primitive and flat . . . .

When at the end of the eighteenth century Western ships and merchants surged against China’s shores, eager for tea and silk

and cotton, they found no reciprocal enthusiasm. Enclosed in the            (25)

isolation of superiority, Imperial China wanted no influx of

strangers from primitive islands called Britain or France or Holland

who came to live off the riches of the Middle Kingdom bearing

only worthless articles for exchange. They had ugly noses and

coarse manners and wore ridiculous clothes with constricting                 (30)

sleeves and trousers, tight collars and coats that had tails down

the back but failed to close in front. These were not the garments

of reasonable men.

A past-oriented society, safe only in seclusion, sensed a threat

from the importunate West. The Imperial Government raised                 (35)

every barrier possible by refusals, evasions, postponements, and

prohibitions to foreign entry or settlement or the opening of formal

relations. Splendidly remote in the “Great Within’’ of the

Forbidden City of Peking, the court refused to concern itself with

the knocking on its doors. It would admit foreign embassies who           (40)

came to plead for trade treaties only if they performed the ritual

of three genuflections and nine prostrations in approaching the

Son of Heaven. British envoys, after surmounting innumerable

obstacles to reach Peking, balked at the kowtow and turned back

empty-handed.                                                                                     (45)

1. The principal contrast employed by the author in the passage is between

(A) past and present

(B) wisdom and foolishness

(C) Imperial China and Europe

(D) civilization and barbarism

(E) technology and art


2. In paragraph 2, which of the following rhetorical devices is most in evidence?

(A) Appeals to authority

(B) The massing of factual information

(C) The use of abstract generalizations

(D) Impressionistic descriptive writing

(E) The use of anecdote


3. The primary rhetorical function of lines 14-22 is to

(A) provide support for a thesis supplied in lines 1-2

(B) provide evidence to contrast with that supplied in the first paragraph

(C) present a thesis that will be challenged in paragraph three

(D) introduce a series of generalizations that are supported in the last two


(E) anticipate objections raised by the ideas presented in lines 12-14


4. Lines 14-17 contain which of the following?

(A) Elaborate metaphor

(B) Parallel syntax

(C) A single periodic sentence

(D) A compound subject

(E) Subordinate clauses


5. In the last sentence of paragraph 2 (lines 18-22), which of the following words is

parallel in function to “inventor’’ (line 18)?

(A) “clock’’ (line 19)

(B) “one’’ (line 19)

(C) “creator’’ (line 20)

(D) “art’’ (line 21)

(E) “Europe’s’’ (line 22)


6.In line 28, “bearing’’ modifies

(A) “Imperial China’’ (line 26)

(B) “strangers’’ (line 27)

(C) “primitive islands’’ (line 27)

(D) “riches’’ (line 28)

(E) “Middle Kingdom’’ (line 28)


7. The point of view expressed in “They . . . men’’ (lines 29-33) is that of

(A) the author

(B) present-day historians

(C) eighteenth-century British merchants

(D) eighteenth-century Chinese

(E) present-day Chinese


8. The word “importunate’’ (line 35) is reinforced by the author’s later reference to

(A) “prohibitions to foreign entry’’ (line 37)

(B) “formal relations’’ (lines 37-38)

(C) “knocking on its doors’’ (line 40)

(D) “the ritual of three genuflections’’ (lines 41-42)

(E) “empty-handed’’ (line 45)


9. Which of the following best describes the first sentence of paragraph 4

(lines 34-35)?

(A) The author’s interpretation of China’s situation in the late eighteenth century

(B) An objective summary of eighteenth-century Europe’s view of China

(C) A challenge to the opinions in paragraph 3

(D) A restatement of the ideas in paragraph 2

(E) A conclusion rebutted by information in paragraph 4


10. Which of the following characteristics of Imperial China or Britain is most

emphasized in paragraph 4?

(A) Britain’s adaptability to foreign customs

(B) Imperial China’s aloof and insular attitude toward Europeans

(C) Imperial China’s wisdom in relying on tradition and ceremony

(D) Britain’s desperate need for foreign trade

(E) The splendor of the Imperial Chinese court


11. The tone of the passage is best described as

(A) scornful and unsympathetic

(B) reverent and respectful

(C) acerbic and cynical

(D) serious but faintly condescending

(E) irate but carefully judicious

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