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CAT 2021 Reading Comprehension Solution 01


Direction for Reading Comprehension: The passages given here are followed by some questions that have four answer choices; read the passage carefully and pick the option whose answer best aligns with the passage.

We cannot travel outside our neighbourhood without passports. We must wear the same plainclothes. We must exchange our houses every ten years. We cannot avoid labour. We all go to bed at the same time . . . We have religious freedom, but we cannot deny that the soul dies with the body, since 'but for the fear of punishment, they would have nothing but contempt for the laws and customs of society'. . . . In More's time, for much of the population, given the plenty and security on offer, such restraints would not have seemed overly unreasonable. For modern readers, however, Utopia appears to rely upon relentless transparency, the repression of variety, and the curtailment of privacy. Utopia provides security: but at what price' In both its external and internal relations, indeed, it seems perilously dystopian.

Such a conclusion might be fortified by examining selectively the tradition which follows more on these points. This often portrays societies where. . .'it would be almost impossible for man to be depraved, or wicked'. . . . This is achieved both through institutions and mores, which underpin the common life. . .. The passions are regulated and inequalities of wealth and distinction are minimized. Needs, vanity, and emulation are restrained, often by prizing equality and holding riches in contempt. The desire for public power is curbed. Marriage and sexual intercourse are often controlled: in Tommaso Campanella's The City of the Sun (1623), the first great literary utopia after More's, relations are forbidden to men before the age of twenty-one and women before nineteen. Communal child-rearing is normal; for Campanella this commences at age two. Greater simplicity of life, 'living according to nature', is often a result: the desire for simplicity and purity are closely related. People become more alike in appearance, opinion, and outlook than they often have been. Unity, order, and homogeneity thus prevail at the cost of individuality and diversity. This model, as J. C. Davis demonstrates, dominated early modern utopianism. . . . And utopian homogeneity remains a familiar theme well into the twentieth century.

Given these considerations, it is not unreasonable to take as our starting point here the hypothesis that utopia and dystopia evidently share more in common than is often supposed. Indeed, they might be twins, the progeny of the same parents. Insofar as this proves to be the case, my linkage of both here will be uncomfortably close for some readers. Yet we should not mistake this argument for the assertion that all utopias are, or tend to produce, dystopias. Those who defend this proposition will find that their association here is not nearly close enough. For we have only to acknowledge the existence of thousands of successful intentional communities in which a cooperative ethos predominates and where harmony without coercion is the rule to set aside such an assertion. Here the individual's submersion in the group is consensual (though this concept is not unproblematic). It results not in enslavement but voluntary submission to group norms. Harmony is achieved without . . .harming others.

Question: 1

All of the following statements can be inferred from the passage EXCEPT that:

  1. utopian and dystopian societies are twins, the progeny of the same parents.

  2. utopian societies exist in a long tradition of literature dealing with imaginary people practicing imaginary customs, in imaginary worlds.

  3. many conceptions of utopian societies emphasise the importance of social uniformity and cultural homogeneity.

  4. it is possible to see utopias as dystopias, with a change in perspective, because one person's utopia could be seen as another's dystopia.

Option: 1
The answer to this question can be found in the last paragraph. The author starts by saying that "utopia and dystopia evidently share more in common.... indeed, they might be twins...". He further adds "Yet we should not mistake this argument..." From this we can say that 1 is definitely incorrect, and cannot be inferred. You might wonder as to the evidence for option 2. But the author mentions "More", who was the first author of a book on Utopia, and further mentions Tommaso who also wrote a book on Utopia. We have enough evidence in the passage that shows that in literature we have enough material that have dealt with the idea of Utopia. 3 can be inferred from the last sentence of second paragraph, and 4 can be inferred from last sentence of first paragraph.

Question: 2

Following from the passage, which one of the following may be seen as a characteristic of a utopian society?

  1. The regulation of homogeneity through promoting competitive heterogeneity.

  2. A society where public power is earned through merit rather than through privilege.

  3. Institutional surveillance of every individual to ensure his/her security and welfare.

  4. A society without any laws to restrain one's individuality.

Option: 3
This is a very simple question. It can be easily answered. There is no mention of "competitive heterogeneity" in the passage. Thus 1 goes out. There is no mention of 2. 3 is true, as there is enough evidence for it in the first paragraph. 4 is the exact opposite of what utopian society wants. It wants homogeneity and uniformity, which would imply restraints on one's individuality.

Question: 3

Which sequence of words below best captures the narrative of the passage?

  1. Relentless transparency - Homogeneity - Utopia - Dystopia.

  2. Utopia - Security - Dystopia - Coercion.

  3. Curtailment of privacy - Dystopia - Utopia - Intentional community.

  4. Utopia - Security - Homogeneity - Intentional community.

Option: 4
We know that the last paragraph discusses "international community". It can be seen at the end of last paragraph. The second last paragraph discusses "homogeneity", which can be seen at the end of second paragraph. Thus 4 is the best choice.

Question: 4

All of the following arguments are made in the passage EXCEPT that:

  1. in More's time, there was plenty and security, so people did not need restraints that could appear unreasonable.

  2. there have been thousands of communities where homogeneity and stability have been achieved through choice, rather than by force.

  3. in early modern utopianism, the stability of utopian societies was seen to be achieved only with individuals surrendering their sense of self.

  4. the tradition of utopian literature has often shown societies in which it would be nearly impossible for anyone to be sinful or criminal.

Option: 1
This might be a time-consuming question, as it asks us to pick the argument that is "NOT" made in the passage. We can immediately spot choice 2. It states exact opposite of what the passage says. In the first para the author says "in More's time...given the plenty and security on offer, such restraints would not have seemed unreasonable" (it means that in More's time such restraints would have seemed reasonable), suggesting that restraints were there. 1 states the exact opposite. Thus 1 is the best choice. All the other three options are given in the passage.

CAT 2021 RC passage with solution

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