Chapter 1: Main Ideas
Exercise 1


Choose the number of the sentence that expresses the main idea in each selection. Then click on “GO.”


1. (1) The guillotine was invented in France in 1792 as an attempt at a more humane form of execution. (2) As opposed to hanging, which often left the victim in agony for many minutes or longer, death by the guillotine was perceived to be immediate and painless. (3) However, early experiments on guillotine victims convinced many that this new machine was not as mercifully quick in delivering death as was first believed. (4) Some of the earliest experiments involved exposing the eyes of the decapitated head to bright sunlight and observing that the eyes immediately shut or squinted. (5) Likewise, pricked tongues of victims were quickly withdrawn into their mouths. (6) Since some doctors and scientists felt that these reactions were no more than muscle contractions and did not indicate mental activity, more complex experiments followed. (7) In a few instances, the eyes of a victim were observed following the voice of the experimenting doctor around a room for more than fifteen minutes after decapitation. (8) Most compelling, however, was an experiment in 1905 in which a victim was observed responding twice to the sound of his own name while disregarding other sounds and names. (9) Both times, the doctor noted that the eyes of the decapitated head opened, searched, and then focused on the doctor’s face before closing again. (10) While these experiments could not absolutely prove that a victim could actually think, feel, and suffer following decapitation, they did indicate that life held on in some form or fashion even when the head was separated from the body.
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