Chapter 4 Main Idea
Answer the multiple-choice questions based on the content of the chapter.
1) In some instances it is possible to determine the topic from A) a detail.
B) the title of the passage.
C) the second sentence of the first paragraph.
2) Which of the following words is not another way to express the main idea? A) gist
B) central focus
C) single meaning
3) According to the author, a main idea statement is much like A) a thesis statement.
B) detailed information.
4) Many experts agree that understanding the main idea A) does not affect reading comprehension to a great degree.
B) is the most important reading skill.
C) may complicate the understanding of supporting details.
5) Specific details can include all of the following except A) main ideas.
6) Until you build prior knowledge for particular courses, understanding the main idea is likely to be A) an automatic response.
C) a conscious effort.
7) The main idea should be stated in A) one or two words.
B) a short, meaningful phrase.
C) a complete sentence.
8) A knowledgeable reader knows to determine the main idea A) before deciding on the topic.
B) before deciding on the major details.
C) after deciding on the major details.
9) Research shows that a passage is easier to read if the main idea is A) implied.
B) at the end of the passage.
C) directly stated.
10) A summary
A) demonstrates a synthesis of the material read.
B) reveals the opinions of the reader.
C) should be written in preparation for a multiple-choice examination.
Chapter 4 Main Idea
Answer the multiple-choice, main idea questions based on the content of the paragraphs.
1) He never bit anyone more than once at a time. Mother always mentioned that as an argument in his favor; she said he had a quick temper but that he didn’t hold a grudge. She was forever defending him. I think she liked him because he wasn’t well. “He’s not strong,” she would say, pityingly, but that was inaccurate; he may not have been well but he was terribly strong.
One time my mother went to the Chittenden Hotel to call on a woman mental healer who was lecturing in Columbus on the subject of “Harmonious Vibrations.” She wanted to find out if it was possible to get harmonious vibrations into a dog. “He’s a large tan-colored Airedale,” mother explained. The woman said that she had never treated a dog, but she advised my mother to hold the thought that he did not bite and would not bite. Mother was holding that thought the very next morning when Muggs got the iceman, but she blamed that slip-up on the iceman. “If you didn’t think he would bite you, he wouldn’t,” mother told him. He stomped out of the house in a terrible jangle of vibrations. (Thurber, p. 5)
A good title for this excerpt would be
A) Muggs, the Terror of the Neighborhood.
B) Me and My Mother.
C) Muggs and the Mental Healer.
2) The Cold War mentality left its imprint on politics and culture during the late 1940s and early
1950s. A certain paranoia permeated the early Cold War years. The nature of the fight against Communism contributed to the paranoia. Politicians warned Americans that Communism silently and secretly destroyed a country from within. Although allegedly directed from Moscow, its aim was subversion through the slow destruction of a country’s moral fiber. No one knew which institution it would next attack, or when. The politicians told Americans to watch for the unexpected, to suspect everyone and everything. As a result, between 1945 and 1955 a broad spectrum of institutions, organizations, and individuals came under suspicion. (Martin, J. K., 1997, p. 924)
The central focus of the passage is that
A) Cold War strategies were based in Moscow.
B) Americans should always watch for the unexpected, to suspect everyone and everything. C) the Cold War mentality left its imprint on politics and culture during the late 1940s and early 1950s in the form of paranoia.
3) Legal searches of premises include those authorized by search warrants, consent, and urgent circumstances. The Supreme Court has given considerable latitude to police in the areas of person and vehicle searches, but has been reluctant to relax the search of premises. One of the rules of the legal search of premises is that only the person in legal control can give consent. If the property is held in common by more than one holder, then any owner can give consent. If police deceive a person by telling him or her they have a search warrant when they do not, then the search is illegal because it was done by trickery rather than by consent. Perhaps the Supreme Court has been reluctant to give police total authority to search premises because of the traditional belief that “a person’s home is his or her castle.” (Bartollas & Hahn, p.149)
The gist of the paragraph is that
A) the police can search virtually anyone, any place, any time without authorization.
B) the Supreme Court has given latitude to police for vehicle and person searches but is reluctant in regard to searching premises. C) a person’s home is his or her castle.
4) In the early 1900s, a few theorists studied European kings and members of royal families who ruled several centuries ago, and suggested that great (i.e., wealthy, high status) men become leaders. Such individuals, they suggested, possess superior traits that foster their emergence into leadership positions. Those born to privilege, to private tutelage, to great wealth, and in countries espousing the divine rights of kings emerge as “leaders” or at least heads of countries. However, as we have discussed, headship is not leadership—holding a position and leading people toward mutually desirable goals are two very different activities. This “great men as leaders” theory failed to take into account the rise of the educated masses and the movement of nonaristocrats, as well as women, into leadership positions. (It is interesting to note that despite the great influence on nations by women such as Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, and Catherine the Great, the reigns or influence of women were not studied.) Such was the case as the effects of the Industrial Revolution were being felt, and upward mobility in organizations, such as factories, was not based on social position but on ability and hard work. The focus on the great man theories is only on the leader, not on interaction with others; indeed, not on any dimension relating to followers. As scholars pondered the notion of great men as leaders, some began to realize that leadership existed in places other than castles, especially in those democratic societies that were becoming increasingly influential in the socioeconomic/political map of the world. (Witherspoon, pp.10–11)
The primary thesis of the passage is that
A) scholars have come to realize that leadership has existed in places other than castles and among the privileged.
B) the leaders of the Industrial Revolution were more competent than European kings.
C) only great men, wealthy with high status, have been great leaders.
5) The spleen is a fist-shaped organ located on the left side of the body just under the diaphragm. You might think that the spleen, like the appendix, was relatively useless since we tend to remove it whenever it is ruptured. While it is true that an individual can live quite well without a spleen, s/he tends to be much more susceptible to blood infections. It would appear that the spleen is a filtering site for bacteria and other invading cells. There is a high concentration of both T-cells and B-lymphocytes in the spleen that detect any non-resident cells, match them against known invaders, and produce antibodies if appropriate. The spleen also will remove dead cells and other debris from the blood. If the spleen is removed, the individual is up to 50 times more susceptible to infection, particularly diseases such as pneumonia and malaria. (Atkinson, p. 27)
The best title for this paragraph is
A) “New Research Shows the Spleen’s High Concentration of T-cells.”
B) “The Spleen: As Useless as the Appendix.”
C) “The Spleen: More Crucial to Your Well-Being Than You Think.”
6) The Chesapeake colonists experienced shorter, less fertile lives than their New England counterparts. In 1640, for example, Chesapeake migrants had no more than a 50 percent chance of surviving their first year in America. Hot, steamy summers fostered repeated outbreaks of malaria and typhoid fever, which along with dysentery and poisoning from brackish drinking water, killed thousands. New England’s drinking water was safe, although Puritans generally preferred home-brewed beer, and the harsher winter climate helped kill off deadly germs. As a result, the Puritans enjoyed longer, healthier lives. In New England, 20 percent of all Puritan males who survived infancy lived into their seventies, and even with the hazards of childbirth, Puritan women lived almost as long. (Martin et al., p. 59)
What is the controlling idea of the paragraph?
A) Chesapeake colonists had a low death rate during their first year in America.
B) Chesapeake colonists experienced shorter, less healthy lives than the New England Puritans.
C) Puritans preferred home-brewed beer to drinking water.
7) A widespread custom throughout Peru among the Inca was to bury the bodies of dead males with all of their most prized possessions and with their most beautiful and best-loved women. They believed in the immortality of the soul; it was common to find magnificent tombs where dead men were buried with their possessions, women and servants, and a great quantity of food and wine, along with their weapons and ornaments. It was customary to bury the dead in a sitting position. In the vicinity of Machu Picchu, the dead were buried seated upon a magnificent stool, fully adorned. Cadavers were placed on a large carved stone in a ceremonial burial spot and mourned for a time before burial. In some provinces the dead might be sewn into fresh llama-hide and kept in their relative’s house. Families of the deceased would stay in small, private caves and, for a time, mourn the departed loved one. When a chief died, the Peruvians buried him with his greatest treasures, living women and boys, and others who had been good friends of his, believing that they would be reunited in the afterlife where they could enjoy their food and drink together. The sacrificial victims were convinced by the priests that they were going to serve the god whom they loved. They were given a lot of chicha (wine) to drink in goblets made of gold, while songs relating their virtue in giving up their lives to serve their gods were chanted by the priests. They were then strangled by the priest and buried near the shrine in their graves. These people were highly honored among the Inca. (Shasta, p. 2)
Which of the following best reflects the topic of the passage?
A) An overview of the burial customs for Incan males
B) The Inca: a barbaric tribe
C) Incas and their belief in the immortality of the soul
8) A critic once called James Thomson Callender “the most outrageous and wretched scandalmonger.” Callender, a pioneering journalist, during the 1790s published vicious attacks on George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and other leading political figures. Today, Callender is best known as the journalist who first published the story that Thomas Jefferson had a decades-long affair with one of his slaves.
Born in Scotland in 1758, Callender became a clerk and writer and an early proponent of Scottish independence from Britain. Indicted for sedition in 1793, he fled to Philadelphia, where he made a living as a congressional reporter.
Profoundly suspicious of Alexander Hamilton’s financial program and his pro-British views on foreign affairs, Callender used his pen to discredit Hamilton. In 1797 he published evidence—probably provided by supporters of Thomas Jefferson—that Hamilton had an adulterous extramarital affair with a woman named Maria Reynolds. Callender also accused Hamilton of involvement in illegal financial speculations with Reynolds’ husband, an unsavory character who had been convicted of fraud and dealing in stolen goods. Hamilton acknowledged the affair, but denied the corruption charges, claiming that he was a victim of blackmail. Nevertheless, Hamilton’s public reputation was hurt, and he never held public office again. (Martin et al., p. 218)
Which of the following best states the main idea of the passage?
A) James Callender was the most outrageous and wretched scandalmonger.
B) Both Jefferson and Hamilton had extramarital affairs.
C) James Callender published vicious attacks on prominent 1790s political leaders, even ruining the reputations of some.
9) There are millions of people who are in love and in pain because their love is not returned. Chances are, several people you know are going through the painful process of falling out of love. Falling out of love is usually a natural, although painful, process. Most people can and do fall out of love without help. Time heals, they meet other people, and their lives go on. On the other hand, for some of us the loss of a love can be almost overwhelming—an obsession, an intense, enduring, immobilizing pain.
In order to “fall out of love,” first and foremost, we need to realize that “falling in love” is not a rational process. It’s not planned or reasoned. It is an intense emotional and intuitive experience. A lot of it is magic and chemistry. Because falling in love is emotionally learned, it has to be emotionally unlearned if you are going to fall out of love. That is why insights, rational thinking, and exploring the reasons you fell in love are all inefficient and ineffective. The whys of your love can be intriguing, but it is unlikely that knowing them will help you stop the pain of being in love with someone who does not love you. You need to ask yourself if you want to stop the pain, and the way you stop that pain is not by talking about it or by looking for insights. It is by dealing with that pain in a direct, systematic way.
(Phillips, pp. 19; 24)
The central thought of this paragraph is that
A) everyone naturally heals from the loss of love.
B) love is not a rational feeling; it is emotionally learned and therefore must be emotionally unlearned.
C) for those whose love is not returned, there is no healing process.
10) The greatest artist of romantic protest was the Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746–1828), whose paintings and drawings depicted the senseless brutality of war and oppression. In 1808 Goya was court painter in Madrid when Napoleon’s army invaded Spain to overthrow the weakened Spanish monarchy. Spanish citizens rose in sporadic but violent resistance to the French army, fighting the first guerrilla war. The uprising generated mutual reprisals of extreme brutality, which Goya sketched in a horrifying series called The Disasters of War. Goya’s protest is best captured in the painting Executions of the Third of May, 1808. The picture portrays the execution of Spanish insurgents in Madrid by a French firing squad. The scene is presented with such a raw truthfulness that the picture has been called the “explosion of modern painting.” (Bishop, p. 326)
The primary thesis of the passage is that
A Goya’s most famous painting was the Disasters of War, which depicted Napoleon’s brutality.
B Goya protested the senseless brutality of war and oppression through his paintings and drawings.
C Francisco Goya was a great artist who participated in the first guerilla war against the
Chapter 4 Main Idea
Based on the content of the chapter, answer the following questions. Write “T” if the statement is true, and “F” if the statement is false.
When writing summaries, it is acceptable to copy most of the author’s
1) words. 1) ______
2) The ability to summarize is a requisite for writing papers. 2) ______
3) Recognizing the main idea is considered a secondary reading skill. 3) ______
4) The main idea of a passage is the central message that the author is trying
to convey. 4) ______
5) Personal opinions should always be included as part of a summary. 5) ______
6) Specific details may include incidents, facts, steps, and/or definitions. 6) ______
Expert readers use the same strategies to determine the main idea of 7) familiar as well as unfamiliar materials. 7) ______
Already knowing something about the topic at hand is the key to easy
8) reading. 8) ______
9) Main ideas are always directly stated. 9) ______
In longer reading selections, several major ideas may contribute to 10) developing the overall main idea. 10) ______
Chapter 4 Main Idea
Write an appropriate title for the paragraphs below based on their content.
1) By 1350 Europe was bulging at the seams with people, but the knowledge and technology were not yet in place to facilitate the movement of people to distant regions to relieve overpopulation. Then, suddenly, a frightening disaster relieved the population pressure. Italian merchant ships trading in Muslim ports in the eastern Mediterranean hauled rats as well as cargoes back to their home ports.
These rats carried fleas infested with microbes that caused bubonic plague. The plague, or “Black Death,” spread mercilessly through a populace already suffering because of inadequate diet and unclean personal hygiene. When the plague struck the Italian city of Florence in 1348, for example, between half and two-thirds of the population of 85,000 died. (Martin et al., p. 12) Title for this paragraph:
2) Americans are often casual about apologies. “Sorry about that” and “Excuse me” slip easily from our lips. It is not this way for the Chinese and Japanese. For them, to make an apology means to lose face. This is a serious matter, hitting at their sense of identity and understandings about relationships. Apologies are not taken lightly. In China and Japan, apologies require just the right words, spoken in a precise tone of voice. They even require the right clothing. When the United States mistakenly took the Chinese embassy in Belgrade for a terrorist center and bombed it,
President Clinton apologized on television. Chinese officials were outraged at Clinton, and the
Chinese media refused to broadcast the tape. Why? It was too casual to be a “real” apology. When Clinton made his statement, he was outdoors and wearing a polo shirt. (Henslin, p. 42)
Title for this paragraph:
3) Suppose for a bitter moment that you are homeless and have to live on the streets. You have no money, no place to sleep, no bathroom. You do not know if you are going to eat, much less where. You have no friends or anyone you can trust, and you live in constant fear of rape and violence. Do you think this might be enough to drive you over the edge? No one will talk to you, and you withdraw more and more into yourself. You begin to build a fantasy life. You talk openly to yourself. People stare, but so what? They stare anyway. Besides, they are no longer important to you. How long would it take us to exhibit bizarre behaviors if we were homeless—and hopeless? The point is that just being on the streets can cause mental illness—or whatever we want to label socially inappropriate behaviors that we find difficult to classify. Homelessness and mental illness are reciprocal: just as “mental illness” can cause homelessness, so the trials of being homeless, of living on cold, hostile streets, can lead to unusual and unacceptable thinking and behavior. (Henslin, pp. 238–239)
Title for this paragraph:
4) Nguyen Thi Hoan, age 22, thanked her lucky stars. A Vietnamese country girl, she had just arrived in Hanoi to look for work, and while she was still at the bus station a woman offered her a job in a candy factory. It was a trap. The woman took her into the country to “get supplies.” There some men took her to China, which was only 100 miles away. Nguyen was put up for auction, along with a 16year-old Vietnamese girl. She was traded from one bride dealer to another until she was taken to a Chinese village. There she was introduced to her new husband, who had paid $700 for her. Why are tens of thousands of women kidnapped and sold as brides in China each year? First, parts of China have a centuries-long tradition of bride selling. Second, China has a shortage of women. (Henslin, p.
Title for this paragraph:
5) A contemporary example of arranged marriage comes from Japan, where about 25 to 30 percent of all marriages are arranged. A “marriage drought” makes it very difficult for young people to find desirable partners. As a result, professional “go-between services” modeled after the more traditional type of arranged marriage, have arisen. The match between the two persons must be that of equals to avoid embarrassment to either family. The objective criteria for mate selection through an arranged marriage are based on family standing such as reputation, social rank, or lineage and also the selected person’s schooling, salary, or attractiveness. Since the marriage exists primarily to fulfill social and economic needs, concerns such as incompatibility, love, and personal fulfillment are not relevant. Instances in which marriages must be terminated frequently bring a great sense of shame and stigma to the entire family and kin group. As a result, divorce is practically unknown or occurs only infrequently. (Eshleman, p. 255)
Title for this paragraph: