Comprehension PassagesPractice Sets - English

Solved Comprehension Passage 23


The shoemaker had for ages suffered from a heart condition and five years ago, after an attack, it had appeared as though he would have to either sacrifice his business upon the auction block and live on a pittance thereafter; or put himself at the mercy of unscrupulous employees who would in the end probably ruin him. But just at the moment of his darkest despair, a Polish refugee, Sobel, appeared one night from the street and begged for work. He was a stocky man, poorly dressed, with a bald head, severely plain face and soft blue eyes prone to tears over the sad books he read. Though he confessed he knew nothing of shoemaking, he said he was apt and would work for very little if Feld taught him the trade. Feld took him on and within six weeks the refugee rebuilt as good a shoe as he, and not long thereafter expertly ran the business for the shoemaker.

Feld could trust him with anything, and did frequently, going home after an hour or two at the store, leaving all the money in the till knowing Sobel would guard every cent of it. The amazing thing was that he demanded so little. His wants were few; in money, he was not interested in nothing but books, it seemed. These he lent one by one to Feld’s daughter Mirian together with his profuse queer written comments, manufactured during his lonely evenings, which his daughter, from her fourteenth year, read page by page.

Feld’s conscience bothered him for not insisting that his assistant accepts a better wage than he was getting, though Feld had honestly told him he could earn a handsome salary if he worked elsewhere, or maybe opened a place of his own. But the assistant answered, somewhat ungraciously, that he was not interested in going elsewhere. Feld frequently asked himself what kept him there, why did he stay? He finally told himself that the man no doubt because of his terrible experiences as a refugee, was afraid of the world.

1. After his heart attack, Feld feared that he would have to
A) take in several employees to help him in his work
B) teach his daughter, Miriam, the trade of shoemaking
C) give up the business immediately and rest in a hospital
D) sell his business for very little and live as a poor man

2. Sobel begged for work for a pittance
A) because he confessed that he knew nothing of shoe-making
B) because he admitted that he was a poor man
C) because he clearly said that he belonged to Poland
D) because he declared that he was a man of honesty

3. Feld trusted Sobel and
A) he left the money to the latter’s care
B) he sent him out on business errands
C) he found that Sobel never told a lie
D) he felt that people of Poland were honest

4. Feld was a man of conscience
A) because he had the love for the poor
B) because he wanted to sell his shoes at a low price
C) because he felt that Sobel could get a better salary elsewhere
D) because he had given employment to Sobel

5. Sobel was not interested in going elsewhere
A) because he had started to love Feld’s daughter Mirian
B) because he wanted to help Feld
C) because of his terrible experiences as a refugee, he was afraid of the world
D) because he wanted to work honestly

Answer Key

1. D 2. A 3. A 4. C 5. C

Solution with explanation

1. Option ‘D’. The extract from the second line of the passage – he would have to either sacrifice his business upon the auction block – is clear to understand that he would have to sell it for very little. AUCTION = a usually public sale of goods or property, where people make higher and higher bids  (= offers of money) for each thing, until the thing is sold to the person who will pay most; e.g.

The  painting will be sold at auction next week.

2. Option ‘A’. The sentence in line 6 of the passage is clear to understand that he begged for work for pittance as he knew nothing of shoemaking. PITTANCE = a very small amount of money, especially money received as payment,  income, or a present; e.g.

He works hard but he’s paid a pittance.

3. Option ‘A’. TILL = the drawer in a cash register (= a machine which records sales in a shop, and in which money is kept) or the cash register itself; e.g. Next time you have the till open, could you give me some change? We use FORMER or LATTER for two persons/things, not more than two. For the first person/thing we use FORMER and for the second we use LATTER; e.g.

Rohan and Rohit are friends, but the former is more intelligent than the latter. So here LATTER means Sobel.

4. Option ‘C’. CONSCIENCE = a person’s moral sense of right and wrong, viewed as acting as a guide to one’s behavior

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)

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