Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main point of the passage?

Aabid on June 4 at 05:28PM

Can someone explain why A is incorrect and why B is right?

A) seems to do a better job of explaining the causal relationship outlined in the passage's 3rd paragraph of how the warring tribes and the need for communication was the impetus for the use of wampum as a political tool. B) seems to make the formation of the HC the key point of the passage, but to me it was a vehicle to explain wampums use as a political tool and not just a form of currency as Europeans used it. Can someone explain why both B is correct and why A is wrong?

Reply

Emil on June 5 at 08:01PM

Hi Aabid,

(A) does indeed give a pretty strong summary of the argument about how Wampum started as sacred objects, and then became used for non-religious purposes. I think there are two issues with this, both of which are not obvious.

First, (A) fails to discuss two major elements of the passage, the western misconception of Wampum as money, and second, the role of wampum in one particular political role- the encoding of the constitution of the confederacy. Both of these are important parts of the passage, that are mentioned in (B), but not in A.

More convincing in my view is that (A) appears to actually contradict the details of the passage. A tells us that the Wampum originated as a combination of important strings of beads, however the passage (beginning of the second paragraph) actually tells us that Wampum originated as loose beads, not strings. This feels minor (and frankly is), but the main point cannot contradict the passage, so this alone is likely reason enough to eliminate A.

For B, I don't disagree that the formation of the confederacy is not the sole important thing in the passage- and in fact I think I agree that it was used to illustrate the point about Wampum being an important tool of political communication. That said, I read B much closer to the idea that Wampum was communication, and that eventually enabled the confederacy, rather than the idea that the HC was the most important thing. In other words, I would rephrase B as "Wampum was not just money, but also communication, which we see most strikingly in the constitution of the confederation." That is, I think B is centering the argument, and highlighting the importance of the HC as the most striking example the argument employs.