Reading for the Matriculation exam in English

Reading: Part 2 from the Matriculation exam

Read the text below. Then read the questions that follow it and choose the best
answer to each question among A, B, С or D.

3 Reading texts


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The troubles


Today, much of the world will, in one form or another, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The wearing of green, drinking of Irish beverages and the occasional dying of a river mark some of the traditions associated with the holiday. Historically, it is a Catholic holiday celebrating the introduction of the religion to Ireland by St. Patrick– but these days it also has a large secular following. However, it is the holiday’s roots in Catholicism that play a major role in what residents of Ireland refer to as “The Troubles.”

As most of you know, Ireland is an island just west of the British Isle (comprised of England, Scotland, and Wales). The island itself is split into two territories: the large southern portion, called the Republic of Ireland, and the smaller northern portion, called Northern Ireland. Many citizens of the Republic of Ireland consider themselves nationalists, which is to say that they are in favor of unification of the two parts of Ireland into one cohesive Irish-ruled entity. Many citizens of Northern Island, who call themselves unionists, wish to strengthen ties with Britain rather than sever them.

Throughout the history of the region this has been a source of constant dispute, and from 1969 – 1998 it nearly erupted into a civil war. The Catholic nationalists of the Republic formed the Provisional Irish Republic Army (IRA) with the intent of ending British rule of Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the Protestant unionists formed the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) to retaliate against the actions of the IRA.

So, when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, keep in mind the turbulent history of Ireland, the Catholic holiday you are celebrating, and the implications of religious and governmental intolerance that continue even in this day and age. Perhaps, on St. Patty’s, when everyone is “Irish for a day”, the troubles can be forgotten, even it if is just for one day.

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‘Perfume’


He spent the next few days settling in on the mountain – for he had made up his mind that he would not be leaving this blessed region all that soon. First he sniffed around for water and in a crevasse a little below the top found it running across the rock in a thin film. It was not much, but if he patiently licked at it for an hour, he could quench his daily need for liquids. He also found nourishment in the form of small salamanders and ring snakes; he pinched off their heads, then devoured them whole. He also ate dry lichen and grass and mossberries. Such a diet, although totally unacceptable by bourgeois standards, did not disgust him in the least. In the past weeks and months, he had no longer fed himself with food processed by human hands – bread, sausage, cheese – but instead, whenever he felt hungry, had wolfed down anything vaguely edible that had crossed his path. He was anything but a gourmet. He had no use for sensual gratification, unless that gratification consisted of pure incorporeal odours. He had no use for creature comforts either, and would have been quite content to set up camp on bare stone. But he found something better.
Near his watering spot he discovered a natural tunnel leading back into the mountain by many twists and turns, until after a hundred feet or so it came to an end in a rock slide. The back of the tunnel was so narrow that his shoulders touched the rock and so low that he could walk only hunched down. But he could sit, and if he curled up, could even lie down. This completely satisfied his requirements for comfort. For the spot had incalculable advantages. At the end of the tunnel it was pitch-black night even during the day, it was deathly quiet, and the air he breathed was moist, salty, cool. Grenouille could smell at once that no living creature had ever entered the place. As he took possession of it, he was overcome by a sense of something like sacred awe. He carefully spread his horse-blanket on the ground as if dressing an altar and lay down on it. He felt blessedly wonderful. He was lying a hundred and fifty feet below the earth, inside the loneliest mountain in France – as if in his own grave. Never in his life had he felt so secure, certainly not in his mother’s belly. The world could go up in flames out there, but here he would not even notice it. He began to cry softly. He did not know whom to thank for such good fortune.

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Selina

I have talked to Selina about the way she looks. I have brought to her notice the intimate connections between rape and her summer wardrobe. She laughs about it. She seems flushed, pleased. I keep on having to fight for her honour in pubs and at parties. She gets groped or goosed or propositioned — and there I am once again, wearily raising my scarred dukes. I tell her it’s because she goes around the place looking like a nude magazine. She finds this funny too. I don’t understand. I sometimes think that Selina would stand stock still in front of an advancing juggernaut, so long as the driver never once took his eyes off her tits.
In addition to rape, Selina is frightened of mice, spiders, dogs, toadstools, cancer, mastectomy, chipped mugs, ghost stories, visions, portents, fortune tellers, astrology columns, deep water, fires, floods, thrush, poverty, lightning, ectopic pregnancy, rust, hospitals, driving, swimming, flying and ageing. Like her fat pale lover, she never reads a book. She has no job any more: she has no money. She is either twenty-nine or thirty-one or just possibly thirty-three. She is leaving it all very late, and she knows it. She will have to make her move, and she will have to make it soon.
I don’t believe Alec, necessarily, but I won’t believe Selina, that’s for sure. In my experience, the thing about girls is—you never know. No, you never do. Even if you actually catch them, redhanded—bent triple upside down in mid-air over the headboard, say, and brushing their teeth with your best friend’s dick—you never know. She’ll deny it, indignantly. She’ll believe it, too. She’ll hold the dick there, like a mike, and tell you that it isn’t so, I have been faithful to Selina Street for over a year, God damn it. Yes I have. I keep trying not to be, but it never works out. I can’t find anyone to be unfaithful to her with. They don’t want what I have to offer. They want commitment and candour and sympathy and trust and all the other things I seem to be really short of. They are past the point where they’ll go to bed with somebody just for the hell of it. Selina is past that point also, long past. She used to be a well-known goer, true, but now she has her future security to think about. She has money to think about. Ah, Selina, come on. Tell me it isn’t so.