College Entrance Exam Reading Comprehension Questions 37-45

Paul Crenshaw

It was the men who did the choosing for the monster. As they always had, they picked the girl for her purity from among the village women, all the elder men coming together to inspect her. Her maidenhead must still be intact to mollify the monster, because in that time and for that purpose it meant something.

After the inspection she was bathed and washed by the other women, her hair perfumed, roses and oils rubbed into her skin. Girls with small shaky fingers braided her hair while the men watched. The women held her gown for her, a dress so sheer they could see her skin through it. Some of the older women clucked their tongues at the watching men, but also held them—they could not stop what was coming anymore than the monster could change his nature, and what might happen to them all then?

She was taken from the village as the sun was setting. All the villagers watched her go. If there were those among them who did not approve of what was about to happen, they did not say. Occasionally, through the long winter nights, it occurred to one of the women to fight back against the men and the monster and the sacrifice of their own, but whatever woman dreamed this denial would eventually realize she had no voice in the matter. Some things cannot be changed, she would think.

As the men led the girl from the village, the women prayed for her and the men watched. Already they knew the monster would be stirring in the coming darkness. Already its grunts and groans could be heard, a creature driven by its desires, led by its lust and held by its hunger.

The elders chained her to the sacrificial stone where the younger men were waiting. In the last light the girl’s sheer gown did not stop the sunlight. The younger men gave her drink until her eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped against the stone, red with the sacrifice of virgins. When they heard the monster coming, the elders left her there. They did not look back, not even as it happened. Some might say shame had taken hold of them. The women had already gone inside, unable to watch.



37) How do the villagers see the girl? How do the men see her? What do the other women think?

38) Who/what is the monster?

39) What happens to the girl?

40) Why doesn’t someone stop it? Why don’t the women? Why don’t the men?

41) Is the girl unconscious at the end?

42) What is she wearing?

43) How much did she have to drink?

44) What is the moral of this story?

45) What is the reader supposed to understand that the villagers do not?


about the author