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General Knowledge
For Testing until 12/31/2023

Question 2 of 10

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Reading Subtest

Competency 1—Knowledge of key ideas and details based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

From this passage one could infer that the author

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Correct Response: B.