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GRE Reading Comprehension Practice Test 3
Please take a moment to complete this quiz.
Read the following passage and answer the question


In this passage a Mexican American historian describes a technique she used as part of her research.

 

     Doña Teodora offered me yet another cup of strong,

 

black coffee. The aroma of the big, paper-thin Sonoran

 

tortillas filled the small, linoleum-covered kitchen, and I

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knew that with the coffee I would receive a buttered tortilla

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straight from the round, homemade comal (a flat, earthen-

 

ware cooking pan) balanced on the gas-burning stove. For

 

three days, from ten in the morning until early evening, I

 

had been sitting in the same comfortable wooden chair,

 

taking cup after cup of black coffee and consuming hot

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tortillas. Doña Teodora was ninety years old, and although

 

she would take occasional breaks from patting, extending,

 

and turning over tortillas to let her cat in or out, it appeared

 

that I was the only one exhausted at the end of the day. But

 

once out, as I went over the notes, filed and organized the

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tape cassettes, exhilaration would set in. The intellectual

 

and emotional excitement I had previously experienced

 

when a pertinent document would suddenly appear now

 

waned in comparison to the gestures and words, the joy

 

and anger doña Teodora offered.

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     She had not written down her thoughts; but the ideas,

 

recollections, and images evoked by her lively oral expres-

 

sion were jewels for anyone who wanted to know about the

 

life of Mexicanas * in booming mining towns on both sides

 

of the Mexico-United States border in the early twentieth

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century. She never kept a diary. The thought of writing a

 

memoir would have been put aside as presumptuous. But

 

all her life doña Teodora had lived amidst the telling and

 

retelling of family stories. Genealogies of her own family

 

as well as complete and up-to-date information of the

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marriages, births, and deaths of numerous families that

 

made up her community were all well-kept memories.

 

These chains of generations were fleshed out with recollec-

 

tions of the many events and tribulations of these families.

 

Oral history had proven to be a fertile field for my research

35

on the history of Mexicanas.

 

     My search had begun in libraries and archives—reposi-

 

tories of conventional history. The available sources were

 

to be found in census reports, church records, directories,

 

and other such statistical information. These, however, as

40

important as they are, cannot provide one of the essential

 

dimensions of history, the full narrative of the human

 

experience that defies quantification and classification. In

 

certain social groups this gap can be filled with diaries,

 

memoirs, letters, or even reports from others. In the case of

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Mexicanas in the United States, one of the many devastating

 

consequences of defeat and conquest has been that the

 

traditional institutions that preserve and transfer culture

 

(the documentation of the past) have ignored these personal

 

written sources. The letters, writings, and documents of

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Mexican people have rarely, if ever, been included in

 

archives, special collections, or libraries. At best, some

 

centers have attempted to collect newspapers published by

 

Mexicans, but the effort was started late. The historian who

 

tries to reconstruct the past from newspapers is constantly

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frustrated because, although titles abound, collections are

 

scarce and often incomplete.

 

     Although many hours of previous study and preparation

 

had taken me to doña Teodora's kitchen, I was initially

 

unsure of my place. Was I really an insider or were the

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experiences that had made the lives of my interviewees

 

such that, although I could speak Spanish and am Mexicana,

 

I was still an outsider?

 

     I realized, nonetheless, that the richness and depth of the

 

spoken word challenges the comforting theories and models

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of the social sciences. Mexican history challenges social-

 

science models derived solely from victorious imperialistic

 

experiences.

 

     Our history cannot be written without new sources.

 

These sources will determine which concepts are needed to

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illuminate and interpret the past, and these concepts will

 

emerge from the people themselves. This will permit the

 

description of events and structures to assume a culturally

 

relevant perspective, thus emphasizing the point of view of

 

the Mexican people. The use of theoretical constructs must

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follow the voices of the people who live the reality, con-

 

sciously or not. For too long the experiences of women

 

have been studied according to male-oriented sources and

 

constructs. These must be questioned. For the history of

 

Mexican people, the sources primarily exist in our own

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worlds. And it is here where we must begin. I often found

 

that as the memory awakened, other sources would emerge.

 

Boxes of letters, photographs, and even manuscripts and

 

diaries would appear. Long-standing assumptions of

 

illiteracy were shattered and had to be reexamined. I saw

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that constant reevaluation became the rule rather than the

 

exception. I entered women's worlds created on the margin

 

—not only of Anglo life, but of, and outside of, the lives

 

of their own fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, or priests,

 

bosses, and bureaucrats.

The author's comments in the third paragraph (lines 36-56) suggest that her research project resembles more conventional research in its







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