Copyright 2001 © Laraine Flemming.
Copyright is granted exclusively to instructors and students using textbooks written by Laraine Flemming. General distribution and redistribution are strictly prohibited.
Directions: Read each paragraph. Then in the blanks that follow write the inference you think could effectively function as a topic sentence for the paragraph.
1. Found in the Northeast, the hognose snake is a fearsome-looking creature, with a big head and flaring nostrils that give the snake its name. Frightening in appearance as it is, the hognose is even scarier looking when threatened. If it feels itself under attack, the hognose assumes the appearance of a cobra. It raises its head and puffs up the hood of skin around its neck. Like the cobra, the hognose also spits and weaves in an effort to keep would-be attackers at bay. But unlike the cobra, the hognose has no deadly venom to back up its dangerous looking display. If the snake senses that its menacing behavior and appearance are not making a strong enough impression, it resorts to a less aggressive tactic. The hognose rolls over on its back, opens its mouth and pretends to be dead, apparently hoping against hope that playing possum will save it from attack.
2. In 1900, there were eight thousand cars in America. By 1910, there were almost half a million, and by 1915, there were close to two million cars on the road. Suddenly everyone seemed to know what a spark plug was and people as well as cars were being called "self-starters." The expression "jaywalking" entered the language right along "car crashes" and "blowouts." Already in 1908, petty thieves were taking cars for joyrides, and by 1910 teenagers were using the words "park" and "neck" only when their parents werent around. Although the expression "autobubling" -- going out for a ride with no particular destination -- didnt have a long life, other words that entered the language at the same time, like "station wagon" and "motorcade," are still with us.
3. Barbie dolls used to be subject to harsh criticism for suggesting that the ideal form for girls was one that was pretty much unattainable by females not produced on an assembly line. G.I. Joe dolls, however, were not considered much of a cultural threat, unless of course you were antimilitary. But the G.I. Joe doll has undergone a startling change in appearance. The G.I. Joe Extreme doll now sports a red bandana and a menacing look. Even more striking is the dolls new bodybuilder physique. With its slender waist and huge, bulging biceps, Joes current body has the cut look that experts say is attainable only through the consumption of dangerous steroid drugs. With almost 18 percent of high school seniors already taking illegal steroids to bulk up, one wonders if Joes fabulous new body isnt sending the wrong message to impressionable little boys. Do we really want to encourage them to think they should grow up to look like G.I. Joe Extreme? Since Mattel, the makers of Barbie, have talked about releasing a doll with a smaller bust and thicker waste, why not market a G.I. Joe with average biceps and a bony chest?
4. In 1941, David Sarnoff, the head of NBC, had big dreams for televisions future. Said Sarnoff, It is our hope that television will help strengthen the United States as a nation of free people and high ideals. Given that dream, one wonders what Sarnoff would think if he were alive today. How might he respond to televisions prime time programming with its heavy emphasis on situation comedies and cop shows? After all, its not clear how either one does much to foster a nation of free people or high ideals. Sarnoff, who also complained that competition made good products rather than good people, might be shocked by the number of commercials that litter the screen. They dont do much to serve the national interest, except, of course, to suggest that we are all free to shop till we drop. Its doubtful that this is the kind of freedom Sarnoff had in mind when he predicted televisions bright and shining future.
5. Italian visitors to our shores are sometimes taken aback when they are served what Americans think of as authentic Italian food. With its Italian-sounding name, Chicken Tetrazzini, for example, would seem to be the perfect dish to make an Italian tourist feel right at home. In fact, Chicken Tetrazzini was named for an Italian -- opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini -- but it was invented in New York. Veal Parmigiana and even spaghetti and meatballs are also both American creations. The Italians are not the only ones who might be puzzled by dinner entrees that supposedly originated in their country. Most Russians never tasted anything that resembles our Russian salad dressing; the same is true for the French and French dressing. Then, theres that famous French cold soup, Vichyssoise. It was invented in New York, some time around 1910. Likewise, that staple of Chinese meals, the fortune cookie, first saw the light of day, not in Peking but in Los Angeles. In truth, fortune cookies are as American as apple pie.
Last change made to this page: May 19, 2004