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English for IBPS- Passage practice set 

Henry Varnum Poor, editor of American Railroad Journal, drew the important elements of the image of the railroad together in 1851, ―Look at the results of this material progress...the vigor, life, and executive energy that followed in its train, rapidly succeeded by wealth, the refinement and intellectual culture of a high civilization. All this is typified, in a degree, by a locomotive. The combination in its construction of nice art and scientific application of power, its speed surpassing that of our proudest courser, and its immense strength, are all characteristic of our age and tendencies. To us, like the telegraph, it is essential, it constitutes a part of our nature, is a condition of our being what we are.‖

In the third decade of the nineteenth century, Americans began to define their character in light of the new railroads. They liked the idea that it took special people to foresee and capitalize on the promise of science. Railroad promoters, using the steam engine as a metaphor for what they thought Americans were and what they thought Americans were becoming, frequently discussed parallels between the locomotive and national character, pointing out that both possessed youth, power, speed, single-mindedness, and bright prospects.

Poor was, of course, promoting acceptance of railroads and enticing his readers to open their pocketbooks. But his metaphors had their dark side. A locomotive was quite unlike anything Americans had ever seen. It was large, mysterious and dangerous; many thought that it was a monster waiting to devour the unwary. There was a suspicion that a country founded upon Jeffersonian agrarian principles had bought a ticket and boarded a train pulled by some iron monster into the dark recesses of an unknown future.

To ease such public apprehensions, promoters, poets, editors, and writers alike adopted the notion that locomotives were really only ―iron horses,‖ an early metaphor that lingered because it made steam technology ordinary and understandable. Iron horse metaphors assuaged fears about inherent defects in the national character, prompting images of a more secure future, and made an alien technology less frightening, and even comforting and congenial.

Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson saw the locomotive as an agent of domestic harmony. He observed that ―the locomotive and the steamboat, like enormous shuttles, shoot every day across the thousand various threads of national descent and employment and bind them fast in one web,‖ adding ―an hourly assimilation goes forward, and there is no danger that local peculiarities and hostilities should be preserved. To us Americans, it seems to have fallen as a political aid. We could not else have held the vast North America together, which we now engage to do.

1. Which of the following claims would the author of the passage most agree with?

A. The railroad undermined America‘s progressive tendencies.

B. Railroad promoters like Poor denounced Jeffersonian agrarian principles.

C. The Ameicans in general were against the railroad

D. Ralph Waldo Emerson thought that the railroad would harm America.

E. Americans generally supported the development of the railroad.

2. The passage is primarily concerned with which of the following?

A. criticise one interpretation of the early American railroads

B. discuss the early years of the railroad and its connection to the American character of the time.

C. suggest that railroads were the most important development in the history of America

D. describe the apprehension with which most of the Americans greeted the early railroads

E. assert that Americans were tricked into believing that the railroads were beneficial for them

3. According to the passage, which of the following is most likely to be true about Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s beliefs?

A. He felt that Americans should adhere strictly to Jeffersonian agrarian principles.

B. He thought that the railroad was as important as the telegraph.

C. He felt that technological progress would help to unify Americans.

D. He thought that railroad promoters were acting against America‘s best interests.

E. His metaphors had a dark side to them

4. Suppose that an early nineteenth-century American inventor had developed a device that made it easier to construct multi-story building. How would early nineteenth-century Americans be expected to react to this invention?

A. They would not support society‘s use of such a device.

B. They would generally support society‘s use of such a device.

C. They would have no opinion about society‘s use of such a device.

D. They themselves would not use such a device.

E. They would initially view such a device with skepticism


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