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The question below is from previous year CAT question from CAT 2019 exam comes from CAT Reading Comprehension: As defined by the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan…
Find out by answering this question which tests an aspirant’s CAT VARC skills:
Q. 1: The word “topophobia” in the passage is used:
1. the following extract from paragraph 4, “and just as a beloved landscape is suddenly revealed, so too may landscapes of fear cast a dark shadow over a place that makes one feel a sense of dread or anxiety—or topophobia” gives the definition of topophobia. therefore, topophobia is a feeling of dread towards certain landscapes or spaces and places. thus, option 2 is the correct answer since this meaning is in conformity with the meaning expressed in option 2. option 1 has not been mentioned in the passage at all. the passage is about topophilia and its antonym topophobia and the term ‘topography’ has not been mentioned in the passage. eliminate option 1. the term ‘topophobia’ has not been used in a metaphorical sense in the passage. the passage has only given the literal meaning of ‘topophobia’. thus, option 3 is eliminated. “topophobia” signifies feelings of dread or anxiety towards certain spaces and places and not towards any set of people. thus, option 4 is also eliminated. hence, the correct answer is option 2.
2. “not contradicting” is a double negative. therefore, the question can be reworded as “which of the following statements, if true, could be seen as agreeing with the arguments in the passage?” we have to identify the statement which agrees with the arguments in the passage. option 1 is not borne out by the passage. the passage gives several factors for peoples’ attachment to a particular place but it does not rank them in importance or degree of intensity. therefore, we cannot conclude that the most important, even fundamental, response to our environment is our tactile and olfactory response. thus, option 1 is eliminated. option 2 is true according to the passage. the following extract, “topophilia connotes a positive relationship, but it often is useful to explore the darker affiliations between people and place. patriotism, literally meaning the love of one’s terra patria or homeland, has long been cultivated by governing elites for a range of nationalist projects, including war preparation and ethnic cleansing.” this extract from paragraph 4 is in conformity with option 2. option 3 is also not borne out by the passage. paragraph 3 talks about the architects’ attempts to replicate topophilia with neo-traditional design motifs in new suburbs but the passage goes on to say that its effects were disappointing and not up to the mark. secondly, and most importantly, the passage does not mention that architects’ ever collaborated with their clients. thus, option 3 is eliminated. option 4 is also not true according to the passage. the following extract from paragraph 1, “his 1974 book set forth a wide-ranging exploration of how the emotive ties with the material environment vary greatly from person to person and in intensity, subtlety, and mode of expression” contradicts option 4 completely. hence, the correct answer is option 2.
Q. 3: In the last paragraph, the author uses the example of “Residents of upscale residential developments” to illustrate the:
3. the passage mentions, “residents of upscale residential developments have disclosed how important it is to maintain their community’s distinct identity, often by casting themselves in a superior social position and by reinforcing class and racial differences.” this clearly implies social exclusivism based on racial or class superiority as stated in option 1. option 2 contradicts the passage. upscale developments are designed to reinforce racial and class superiority from other people and not to minimize them. eliminate option 2. option 3, too, is contradicted by the passage. upscale developments exacerbate race and class divisions. they are not sensitive to race and class in the slightest. option 4 is not borne out by the passage. upscale developments are not “nationalist projects” at all. secondly, they do not produce a sense of dread or topophobia but reinforce class and racial superiority. hence, the correct answer is option 1.
Q. 4: Which one of the following best captures the meaning of the statement, “Topophilia is difficult to design for and
impossible to quantify . . .”?
4. refer to paragraph 3. the paragraph mentions that architects’ and planners have attempted to create topophilia by building new suburbs in neo-traditional design motifs. its effects have rarely been long lasting in terms of intensity or affinity among people. different people seem to develop a sense of topophilia for different spaces such as “henry david thoreau, evoking a marvelously intricate sense of place at walden pond, and tuan, describing his deep affinity for the desert.” therefore, peoples’ sense of affinity is deeply personal or “subjective” with different people having an affinity for different spaces and this factor cannot be accommodated for by architects. this points to option 4 as being the correct answer. option 1 does not give the meaning asked for nor can it be implemented. it contradicts the passage. if architects build spaces objectively, (that is with a basis in observable facts rather than feelings or opinions) then they would probably have to ask each and every individual residing in a new suburb (for example) about their likings for particular landscapes. since different people have an affinity for different landscapes (as shown in the extract above) it would not be possible for architects’ to be able to accommodate every type of landscape asked for. therefore, architects cannot design their spaces objectively. if they could, that would imply that their creations would be topophilic. thus, option 1 is eliminated. option 2, too, does not give the meaning asked for in the question. “anomie” means “social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values.” thus the meaning of option 2 as implied is: the deep social instability of modern urbanization led to urbanism’s intricate sense of place. this meaning contradicts the meaning asked for. the passage clearly mentions that modern architects failed in designing places that people would have an affinity for while option 2 suggests that the architects succeeded in building spaces that were topophilic. thus, option 2 is also eliminated. option 3 may be true but does not give us the required meaning asked for. the passage mentions the fact that philosophers are the best interpreters of topophilia but implies that architects are not. this option does not give us the meaning asked for as to the reason topophilia is difficult to design for and impossible to quantify. hence, the correct answer is option 4.
Q. 5: Which one of the following comes closest in meaning to the author’s understanding of topophilia?
5. according to the passage, topophilia is the affective bond between people and their physical surroundings. this bond may be aesthetic appreciation, acquired taste for certain landscapes or even a tactile or olfactory attachment. it is different from topophobia – meaning feeling a sense of dread or anxiety about a place – since topophilia connotes a positive relationship. to sum up, topophilia is the positive attachment to a certain physical surrounding. a topophobic state of mind does not indicate a positive attachment to a particular place. eliminate option 1. topophilia is about the physical landscape only. eliminate option 2. option 4 is mentioned in the passage but does not give the meaning of topophilia. in fact, it does not offer any meaning at all. option 4 can also be eliminated. option 3 comes closest in meaning to topophilia because the meaning of topophilia – a positive attachment to a certain physical surrounding – is reflected in people referring to their country as “motherland” or “fatherland.” these two terms have a definite, positive connotation. hence, the correct answer is option 3.