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Revision Videos Unit 1 Literature - Sunlight on the Grass

There are some great resources kicking around the internet to help you with your revision. This posting is aiming to collate some of these to allow you to have all your resources in the one place.

Remember -'Visible Revision' is key here. The more you write about and gain feedback about these stories the better you will become in performing under exam pressures.

I will post a range of questions at the end. Post your answers in the comments sections and I can feedback to you.

First of all - here are a collection of excellent revision videos on each of the stories put together by some people calling themselves Short and Sweet GCSE Eng  - we owe them thanks for putting together these resources which are available on Youtube but embedded below for your convenience.

On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning

Compass and Torch

Anil

The Darkness Out There

Something Old Something New

My Polish Teacher's Tie

When the Wasps Drowned

Remember your skills for each of these exams are very similar. You are looking to do the following things:

Point
Quotation
Explanations
Analysis (Zooming in on Key Words / Devices)
Alternative Interpretations
Evaluate (Zooming out linking your analysis to an over all message or issue the writer is trying to discuss)

What the examiner is looking for is some extended abstract thinking which shows you can delve into the depths of a text and look beyond the surface level meaning of a quotation.

You have 20 minutes per question in this exam so you need to be focusing on writing a lot about a little choosing one or two select quotations to use and linking them to the writer's ideas and the question. Trust your basic skills and show the examiner you can think outside of the box and you will be fine.

Here are a number of essay questions you can try:

1) How does the writer present childhood in their story?

2) How does the writer present growing up in their story?

3) How does the writer present self confidence in their story?

4) How does the writer present morality in their story?

5) How doe the writer present fate in their story?

6) How does the writer present appearances in their story?

7) How does the writer present family relationships in their story?

8) How does the writer present father son bond in their story?

9) How does the writer present death in their story?

10) How does the writer present different cultures in their story?

Ten revision questions for you to practise from. Only spend 20 minutes writing these and then post your answer so  I can give you your feedback.
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Anonymous
18 March 2013 at 19:18

In when the wasps drowned, the writer presents death by the use of a language device. This device is symbolism. The writer uses symbolism to good effect and to present that the death of one life can resemble another. The wasps injure Therese. However, they’re not the real threat to
the children. Mr Mordecai is.The wasps help to remind us of this.The body in the garden can also symbolise menace and threat. This can all be associated with death. Furthermore the writer uses foreshadowing in the story. The use of the wasps early on can show how the death of one life can bring on another in the future. By Ryan S.

18 March 2013 at 20:06

You have the content here Ryan but your expression could be improved to start to create a fluent essay. In the exam you would have 20 minutes so would be looking to make a couple of points.

Have a look at the phrases and vocabulary below and re-write the above into a fluent essay style paragraph.

Talking about writer's craft:

The author’s use of language / words / tone of voice is significant.
Imagery is significant in this section.
The imagery of .... is especially significant in this section.
The author uses setting to convey ...
The characterisation of ... is developed in this section.
Structurally, this section is significant.

Introducing Quotations

We can see this in the quotation ...
We hear the character described as ...
The word ... demonstrates this.
Arguably, the most significant words are ... and ...
The image of the ... is crucial to our understanding.

Analysing

The words suggest / imply / convey ...
This word / phrase / image / character makes me think of ... because...
This conveys feelings of ... because....
The word / image contains several ideas. For example...

Offering Alternate or Original Interpretations

From one perspective we could say ... From another we might consider...
Developing the interpretation further, we could argue that...
This links with.....
This idea is repeated when......

Evaluating

The author seems to be suggesting ...
The author is, perhaps, exploring the idea of ...
The author is explaining, illustrating, uncovering, hiding, illuminating, developing,


Start with this and then you can begin develop alternate interpretations and zoomed out evaluation.

Good start.

Chris Hambling
12 April 2013 at 16:45

In ‘On seeing the 100% perfect girl’ the writer manages to present fate in their short story through the usage of symbolism and themes of disaster and disappointment. For example this becomes most apparent in the quotation “She’s walking east to west, and I west to east.” With this simple line, the writer manages to portray the two characters as if they are two paths which are inevitably suppose to cross with each other, therefore giving us hints that at some point in our lives, our paths will always cross with another. This of course leads back to the main message of fate and destiny within Murakami’s short story – There is always someone out there for you, lives will cross with one another. In addition, one can argue that this quotation is used to develop connotations in the readers mind- persuading them to view the ‘100% perfect girl’ as something as significant as the sun. We see that she walks east to west, much like the sun which rises in the east and sets in the west. It’s almost as if the writer is trying to imply to us that we are destined to meet someone perfect as we see the sun without fail every day of our lives. In using the device of symbolism, Murakami succeeds in effecting the reader into thinking that fate is inevitable and we cannot escape it.

Furthermore, the writer presents fate through their short story by showing us a sad tale of a love-struck character who fails to secure his relationship with his ‘100% Perfect Girl’. Our character pursues his romantic-interest throughout the story and begins to build fantasies in his head about talking to her. However, he does not fulfil his fantasies and the 100% perfect girl is ‘Lost in the crowd’. The writer chooses to end the short story on ‘A sad story, don’t you think?’ Here, the writer uses the device of rhetorical questioning to build a sympathetic opinion towards the character, thus completely changing our outlook on destiny and fate. Before, we were given hints that opportunities will always inevitably come to us, however, this entire story shows us that your fate is only what you make it and that you have to take all opportunities that are given to you – as if Murakami is warning us.
Despite this, we can argue that Murakami is showing us that destiny is not real as our character does not succeed. Conclusively, this can affect the readers into doubting fate entirely as the writer does not necessarily deliver a clear message – whether destiny is real or not. It drops the hint that destiny is only present in fairytales through the usage of lines which are common in children’s stories such a ‘Once upon a time’ and ‘there lived a boy and a girl’. Again, this adds to my confident conclusion that Murakami is displaying to us that you are responsible for succeeding in opportunities that are randomly given to you.

12 April 2013 at 17:07

This is top level Chris. Did you time yourself and do this in 20 minutes? You are ticking off all the skills required: Analysis, Range of Interpretations and Evaluative detail.

That is your simple formula to the Short Stories section.

If you have done this in 20 minutes then 30 Marks to you. If not I'll discount the last paragraph and give you 27 marks.

Now you would have a second question of:

How does the writer present fate in a story of your choice?

What would you do?

Chris Hambling
12 April 2013 at 17:15

Ahhh brilliant!
Yes, I used the online stopwatch thing and set it to 20 minutes.
For the second part I'd most likely choose Something old, something new and talk about how the writer uses contrast between the two cultures to imply that two paths can cross despite the background and distance between them. And again, taking opportunities by both hands and such. Or even talk about how its so obscure, but the writer uses this to show that if something feels right - do it.

Or was I suppose to write a proper answer?
But thank you anyway!

Chris Hambling
20 April 2013 at 20:09

In ‘Something Old, Something New’ the writer manages to present fate through the usage of two entirely different cultures joining together in celebration for the marriage of a Scottish man and Islamic woman. For instance, this is an example of contrasting. In using this technique, the writer succeeds in showing the readers that fate is always present in our lives and could even lead us somewhere half-way around the globe – that is how strong it is. It shows us that all opportunities can take us extremely far and that we shouldn't turn our back on them. For example, this becomes clear to us in the lines “But he was driven by his feelings, that was why he was here, that was why he had crossed boundaries and seas.” Of course, we can immediately take from this line that the Aboulela is trying to imply that in cases such as this, you should follow what you are feeling rather than thinking – more like following you heart than your head. Because the character follows his heart rather than his head, it takes him to distant lands, meeting new people and marrying the love of his life. In conclusion to this point, we can argue that this leads back to the overall message that Aboulela is incorporating in this story: take EVERY opportunity, follow your feelings – not your thoughts and mind. However, we can also debate that the writer uses this line to show us that you must put in the extra effort to make these opportunities happen. You will have to overcome obstacles and travel certain distances – much like the character has had to do or otherwise you will not fulfil your fate or destiny. Things will not just land at your feet.
In addition, we see themes of fate presented in the story through the writer’s choice of structure. For example, the most significant section is the very first line, of which is only 4 words long is “Her country disturbed him”. We can see in this simple quotation the characters fear of the situation he is in, yet he has still chosen to be there because he is following the path that has been set for him. The word ‘disturbed’ demonstrates the characters personal opinion of the country itself: different, strange and somewhat intimidating. We readers gather these opinions through the connotations of ‘disturbed’. This suggests that even though he is somewhere he probably doesn't even like, he still feels compelled to marry this woman due to fate and destiny. Being with this woman feels correct even though he hardly knows her. From this perspective we can say that the writer uses this to display themes of fate, but we can also offer an alternative interpretation and state that Aboulela uses this line to show themes of love in the short story. We can even debate that it’s used to tie both interpretations together; perhaps the writer is trying to show us that fate and love go hand-in-hand. The reader can instantly take from this story that on most occasions love will drive you to achieve anything you want. And so, this also relates back to the writers main message that you have to overcome obstacles – it’s not going to be easy. But if you try, you will succeed.

21 April 2013 at 13:37

Again this is a good piece. You are ticking off the higher level thinking points with the Analysis, Alternate Interpretation and Evaluation.

You could show a greater grasp of the craft of the writer by picking out devices to show you have an awareness of the appropriate terminology within English. This would give you a well rounded top mark answer.

I think between the two pieces you'd gain 27 marks out of 30.

Well done.

Chris Hambling
17 May 2013 at 10:54

In ‘Compass and Torch’ the writer manages to present families, portraying it as a fragile and delicate relationship where a confrontation between two members of said family could have drastic effects on others in the household. This is mainly seen in the usage of somewhat forced-ignorance with some of the main characters; particularly the son and mother. This is implied shortly after a minor argument, in the lines “I found my torch” where the mother replies “’Oh good!’ She said quickly, wrenching a look of bright enthusiasm.” With this line here, we readers can begin to understand the boy’s knowledge of the arguments and confrontation, yet he still chooses to turn a blind-eye to what has previously happened. It’s almost as if the reader is trying to show us that even in times like these, children are able to trigger a sense of maturity. When zooming in on the quotation, ‘Wrenching’ suggests the forcefulness of the mother’s ‘mask’ that she seems to be putting on for the child, to prevent him from being affected by the arguments. We can debate that this is also used to show that the mother doesn't think or know that the child is mature enough to cope with the arguments, so she encourages his ignorance for his well-being. We can even argue that this is used to show the mothers immature side as she patronisingly congratulates the boy. This could've been used to show the great contrast between an adult and a child in times of confrontation and mere ‘bickering’. Conclusively, this relates back to what the reader is trying to illustrate within her story: due to such strong love between families, we always seem to choose to bury negative feelings within ourselves to prevent causing harm to one another. Like we love our family too much to express our inner feelings and opinions, in-case it causes disruption. And so, we turn a blind-eye to it.
Furthermore, within ‘Compass and Torch’ the writer successfully presents families, showing us that families are the main influence on who we become in the future. For example we see this in the very last line “For years to come... the boy will feel the deep thudding of their hooves.” The usage of symbolism here implies that whatever happens to you now will have an effect on you in the future, i.e. the disruption that is constantly going on within the family will echo throughout the child’s life, whether he likes it or not – it is uncontrollable. In addition, we can argue with confidence that these memories will be somewhat negative with the usage of the word ‘thudding’. This word suggests that the thoughts won’t be graceful and cheerful, but forced and perhaps hostile as a horses hooves thud the earth beneath them, leaving a print behind – Much like the mother and father’s hostility with each other, leaving a wound or ‘print’ behind on the child.
However, we can debate an entirely different interpretation on this quotation. For instance, this quotation and symbolism could have been used to suggest the child’s freedom as he leaves the family – free like a horse, thudding the ground beneath him – stomping out the bad memories as he goes to lead his own life. It could've even been used to show the fathers care and concern for the child, showing his true inner love for him beneath his quiet and mysterious cover.
Again, this still relates back to the writers overall message; showing us that the smallest of things between two people can still have an effect on those who are most innocent. It can even affect said person throughout the remainder of their life, and so, families are but delicate relationships. Things are not easy.

18 May 2013 at 15:55

Well done Chris. This is a highly successful analysis of the text. Your writing is becoming more formal and you are using the appropriate terminology for an English exam. The one thing I could pick out is the use of 'zoom in'. Remember this is an analogy to help us focus on the quotation perhaps:

'When closely analysing...' or 'When looking deeper into...' would be more appropriate.

This is certainly Band 5 work. You should be proud.

18 May 2013 at 21:53

How does the writer present growing up in their story?

In 'When the wasps drowned' , the writer presents growing up through the use of symbolism. This is apparent in the line 'leaning across to her, I took the ring from Therese's thumb and slipped it onto my left index finger'. This presents growing up as the ring is symbolic for maturity which is often seen through growing up. An alternative view of this would be that when the girl puts the ring onto her left index finger, this would suggest marriage which implies maturity and shows signs of growing up.

Additionally, the writer also uses personification to present growing up through suggest a sense of expectation around the girl as she has to make a decision which should be made by an older and more mature person. This is shown in the line 'suddenly the day around us seemed unbearably quiet, as if everything was holding its breath'. This quotation suggests a sense of expectation through the phrase ' as if everything was holding its breath' because this is usually happens when there is a sense of expectation about what will happen next and because she has to make this decision it suggest that she believes that she is grown up and mature enough to make the right decision. Alternatively, the quotation could also convey a sense of anxiety because she may not be grown up enough t make such an important decision at her age because she may get it wrong. We could also argue that the sense of expectation could also suggest that there is an expectation that she will make the right decision about what to do.

Anonymous
18 May 2013 at 22:48

How are family relationships presented in 'Compass and Torch'?

In 'Compass and Torch', Baines presents family relationships through the use of symbolism. The phrase "two torches" illustrates that both the father and the son know what they want their relationship to be like, with the "two torches" symbolising how they both have the same idea for their relationship.
By looking closer at the quotation it is clear to see that the writer wants to convey to the reader that both the Father and Son have a similar idea for the future of their relationship. I have come to this assessment because the word "torch" has connotations of navigation and direction portraying that both the father and the son know the direction in which they want their relationship to go.
An alternative interpretation for the symbolism of the "torch" is that a vision for a relationship is vital if it is to be successful.
Looking further out at the general theme of Baines' short story it is clear to see that she believes that a vision for a relationship is vital and that both Father and Son recognise this because of the fact that they have both brought a "torch". Baines is successful in creating this effect on the reader.
Another way by which Baines presents relationships in 'Compass and Torch' is through the change in narrative perspectives.
By changing the narrative perspective from third person limited to third person omniscient, Baines conveys that when the Father and Son 'drift apart' in their relationship, they attempt to make it work again. Unfortunately this is done to no avail.
When the narrative perspective is third person limited, the reader only experiences the story from one point of view. On the other hand, when the narrative perspective changes to third person omniscient, the reader experiences an unbiased point of view from an individual who plays no part in the story. This sliding narrative perspective portrays that at points in a relationship, problems will be encountered.
An alternative interpretation on the changing narrative perspective is that problems will be encountered in every relationship and these must be faced. Baines is successful in creating this effect on the reader.
Looking at the theme of the short story it is illustrated by Baines that problems will be encountered in relationships.

Adam Cox

Please could you mark this and tell me where the marks are awarded and where I could improve. Thank you

19 May 2013 at 11:13

Good Josh - you are showing the skills needed to access some of the higher grades. Make sure in your point you are answering the questions:

'In 'When the wasps drowned' , the writer presents growing up through the use of symbolism.'

This does not fully answer the 'how' part of the question. You would want to state something like 'The writer presents growing up as difficult through the use of symbolism.'

Be careful when you use the phrase 'alternate view' - what you write after this is not an alternate view it is developing your original interpretation.

This is a good effort and with a little bit of tweeking can gain top grades.

19 May 2013 at 11:20

Your analysis of the story is very strong Adam but the overall answer lacks a bit of fluency in the writing. Try to link ideas and link sentences using connectives and linking phrases to show the examiner that you can link the complex points you make. The analysis and evaluation are high level but it doesn't quite sit together in the fluency of your writing.

See this post for ideas.

http://milneenglishaccident.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/watch-your-language-sounding-smrt.html

Anonymous
19 May 2013 at 14:13

Mr Milne, i don't understand what you mean by "zooming out" and linking my analysis. Could you please elaborate and give me an example so i know what to do for my exam tomorrow.

19 May 2013 at 14:28

Zooming out means linking what you've found in the quotation to the message the writer is trying to explore:

Look at the answer from Chris Hambling above:

“For years to come... the boy will feel the deep thudding of their hooves.” The usage of symbolism here implies that whatever happens to you now will have an effect on you in the future, i.e. the disruption that is constantly going on within the family will echo throughout the child’s life, whether he likes it or not – it is uncontrollable. In addition, we can argue with confidence that these memories will be somewhat negative with the usage of the word ‘thudding’. This word suggests that the thoughts won’t be graceful and cheerful, but forced and perhaps hostile as a horses hooves thud the earth beneath them, leaving a print behind – Much like the mother and father’s hostility with each other, leaving a wound or ‘print’ behind on the child.
However, we can debate an entirely different interpretation on this quotation. For instance, this quotation and symbolism could have been used to suggest the child’s freedom as he leaves the family – free like a horse, thudding the ground beneath him – stomping out the bad memories as he goes to lead his own life. It could've even been used to show the fathers care and concern for the child, showing his true inner love for him beneath his quiet and mysterious cover.


Again, this still relates back to the writers overall message; showing us that the smallest of things between two people can still have an effect on those who are most innocent. It can even affect said person throughout the remainder of their life, and so, families are but delicate relationships. Things are not easy.'

The paragraph I have separated from the main text is zooming out. Once he has thoroughly analysed the quotation he then states what he feels the writer is trying to explore in their story.

Does that make sense?

Anonymous
19 May 2013 at 15:08

On 'Compass and torch' the relationship between the boy and the farther are symbolized between a compass and a torch. The compass was forgotten throughout their camping trip portraying that they are both lost as on the other hand the torch was remembered symbolizing that the use of light which conveys a sense of hope in the relationship. 'Two torches are for father and son to back each other up' The use of the touch is a sign to one another that despite their differences the use of light opens more doors and portrays a sign of trust for each other as the torch is used to 'back each other up'

On the other hand we see at the end of the story the writer says 'The man gently takes away the torch' The writer seems to convey a sense of lost hope as he 'gently' takes the torch away portraying that the little hope between their relationship is slightly slipping.

Throughout the text the use of horses symbioses the boys commutation towards his farther. 'in his dreams the boy
will see their wild fringed eyes and feel the deep thudding of their hooves' animals can’t communicate and the use of the quote symbioses that the fact that because the boy can't communicate haunts him for the rest of his life.

19 May 2013 at 16:50

This is a good piece and shows high level thinking with your analytical approach to your quotations.

To develop this you could focus on key words within your quotations and / or offer an alternative interpretation of your quotation.

For the top band you could add a sentence or two relating your analysis to what you 'key idea' you think the writer is trying to explore in the text.

Just have a look at your last bit of analysis:

'animals can’t communicate and the use of the quote symbioses that the fact that because the boy can't communicate haunts him for the rest of his life. '

I see what you mean here but it isn't as clearly expressed as I think you wanted it to be - can you re-write that sentence adding in a sentence evaluating writer's ideas?

Well done.

Anonymous
19 May 2013 at 17:01

Due to animals not being able to communicate the use of a horse symbolizes that the boy tries to connect with his farther but fails to leaving him isolated? which could haunt him in his dreams. I think the writer is trying to create some sort of a night mare which scares him, The boy also compares himself to an animal who relates to his emotions creating some sort of barrier between him and his farther.

Not sure if this is any better?

19 May 2013 at 17:22

Your explanation of your analysis of that quotation is a lot clearer well done. You are beginning to bring your evaluative point in:

'I think the writer is trying to create some sort of nightmare here, which scares the boy'

is a good start but if we add in something like:

'I think the writer is trying to create some sort of nightmare here, which scares the boy exploring the idea of the lasting effect the lack of relationship with his father will have on the boy'

It would move up a band in terms of marking.

Anonymous
19 May 2013 at 19:23

Thank you for explaining more about zooming out. Also would the writing frame mentioned at the top of this page be okay to use for the "To Kill A Mockingbird" section of the exam tomorrow?

Anonymous
19 May 2013 at 19:29

And also, could you please help me find some quotes (3-4) for all the seven stories which could be really helpful for answering in detail/depth for most questions? it would be really helpful.

Olivia Riser
19 May 2013 at 19:32

In Something Old, Something New when the man sees the Nile for the first time, it's described as 'a child's blue' is this in the third person or the first because the man then says about the Nile being full of 'blood death and bones' ?

19 May 2013 at 19:32

In the story 'When the wasps drowned' The writer presents the idea of growing up. This is a big theme throughout the whole of the story. This is shown by the line "I'd fashioned a bikini from a pair of pink knickers". this tell the reader that she has not got a proper bikini so she has to make one. Her mum may think that she is not old enough to have a bikini. The word "Pink" traditionally is a colour for young girls and the fact that she is using a pair of pink knickers to produce a bikini says that she likes the colour pink but wants to try and look older than she actually is. This could also mean that she has not got enough money to buy one but still wants to look good and sunbathe

19 May 2013 at 21:03

Yes - these skills are key any time you are asked to analyse a text in English. They apply across the board.

19 May 2013 at 21:04

If you watch the videos they have key quotations. My advice is:

The short stories often have a lot of key detail in their first and last pages so check these first. Each story also has key symbols which will be key in your answer.

The Polish Teacher’s Tie – The Tie and the Poem of the Bird lost in the Mine.
When the Wasps Drowned – The Dream and the Hand / Ring
The Compass and Torch – The Forgotten Compass / The Two Torches and the Horses
The 100% Perfect Girl – The Story within the Story.
The Darkness Out There – Mrs Rutter’s Appearance, Packers End and Nether Cottage, Darkness.
Anil – The Stars, The Tree and the Murder.
Something Old Something New – The Setting (Desert, Nile, The City)

19 May 2013 at 21:09

The whole text is 3rd Person Limited told from his point of view only. Everything is through his eyes.

19 May 2013 at 21:17

Good Molly,

In your opening point you need to make sure you are answering the question directly:

'In the story 'When the wasps drowned' The writer presents the idea of growing up.'

should be:

In the story 'When the wasps drowned' The writer presents the idea of growing up as...'

Looking at your last line it doesn't really fit because you haven't answered the question in your first line so it comes across as a little bit random.

Your last step of improvement would be to zoom out. What do you think the writer is trying to say about growing up?

Your analytical skills are exam ready. Well done!

Anonymous
14 July 2013 at 17:51

In compass and torch, Baines uses short sentences to show the limited relationship between the father and son. The boy feels so desperate for his fathers attention but when he asks a question, his father answers restrictedly. The son says: "Dad, hey do you think that horse wanted something to eat?" He is trying to make some conversation, trying to prove that his father is better than what his mother is making out.
The father replies just one word "maybe" which shows that the relationship is very weak and is almost presented as a broken relationship. Also the beginning of the story is shown as the end: "The road ends at a gate". This could easily be interpreted as the end of their relationship before it has even had the chance to begin. It tells us that there are barriers stopping the relationship from going any further. It's like the 2 characters have to find their own way in the relationship and if they don't, they will fail.
Baines addresses the father and son as "man and "boy" which signifies the lack of relationship.
The father is trying so hard to impress the son, that he ignores him on the expedition. He wants to make the trip with his son as perfect as possible but he only ends up ruining it and causing the relationship between them to break down and shatter into pieces. All the way through the story, the boy makes excuses for his father's bad attitude and does not blame his father for not talking to him.

I've got some more 2 write but im in a hurry at the moment so this is what I have got so far.

17 July 2013 at 19:55

You make some interesting points here and these could be extended to develop a well put together exam essay.

There are two things, I would target:

1) Try to extend your analysis by looking deeper into the quotation highlighting other possible interpretations.

2) Link your analysis to your argument and look at how and why Baines develops the argument overall.

You may wish to look at my post 6 Steps to Top Level thinking.

E.g.

Baines addresses the father and son as "man and "boy" which signifies the lack of relationship but also relates to the distance in how they both wish to be perceived. This could also relate to the boy's wish to become and man despite the man's seeming lack of engagement in the child's life. Here Baines effectively highlights the limited nature of the relationship developing the impression that divorce often alienates members of the family

Anonymous
12 April 2014 at 16:38

In the ‘Compass and Torch’ family relationships are presented as brittle and uneasy. There are many quotations which set an awkward sense, ‘He is watching the man: the way he strides to the gate’ this quote is important as it creates a tense tone. The fact the son is referring to his father as ‘man’ shows his father is an outsider to him. The way the father just ‘strides’ to open the gate could represent the idea that the man needs to open the gate to access a relationship with is son, however he doesn’t take this seriously. He also doesn’t know how to- he is without his compass. The title of this story could foreshadow relationships as a Compass is a device for finding your way, neither of them has a compass so there isn’t a way to work out their relationship. The Torch could signify that they want their relationship to work and see where they want to be however they don’t have the compass to get there.
In the third paragraph we find out from the sons angry mother what the father and son are going to do, “take him camping up a mountain! Talk about macho avoidance activity!” this shows that the father may feel awkward about bonding with his son so choses to go out on an activity which escapes intimacy and talking about feelings.
Line 47 “He is looking away, seared by the glitter of anxiety in his little boys eyes” this shows that the man is nervous and he has forgotten how to behave around his son.

Mia E-B

17 April 2014 at 19:09

Feedback - Mia E-B

Your opening section is very good but the last couple of quotations you use are not analysed in depth enough. I'd put you at the bottom of Band 4 if you could do the same for another story.

Make sure you avoid repeating this shows - some phrases are suggested in my post 'Sounding SMRT'

This is a solid answer. Well done.

10 April 2015 at 19:30

Hi, I have tried the question about the theme of truth and lies:

One way in which Dunmore expresses the theme of truth and lies is through the fact that Carla doesn't tell Steve that she is not a teacher. Instead she decided to tell him 'let him think what he wanted to think. I wasn't lying.' The key word here is 'lying' as she is stating that she is not in the wrong. However it could also suggest that she is questioning herself. The fact that she needed to tell herself that she 'wasn't lying' could show that she was unsure if she had done the right thing. This then makes the reader consider whether or not it is best to always tell the truth or if it is ok to lie, if it protects you.

Another way in which Dunmore expresses the theme of truth and lies is through Carla's openness and honesty about things in her life other than her occupation. This is seen by her telling 'him about Jade. I told him about the songs my mother taught me in Polish' I can tell that she is being truthful here as towards the end of the story we see the headteacher, Carla's boss, say 'I didn't realize you were Polish' showing she hadn't told people about this before. I think this element of the story makes the reader believe it is better to be open and honest as you learn things about yourself. This is especially seen at the end of the story as when the head says 'I didn't realize you were Polish' Carla responds with 'Nor did I'

A final way in which Dunmore shows the theme of truth and lies is by Carla lying to herself about her importance. We find out at the beginning of the story that Carla excludes herself from the term 'colleauges' and the heads 'staff' because according to her 'Colleagues don't wear blue overalls and white caps and work for £3.89 an hour.' This shows that she is lying to herself saying she is unimportant.As she is the only person telling her she is not a 'colleague' This would make the reader believe that only you can hold yourself back in life.

15 May 2015 at 21:05


Baines uses the symbol of the torch because it has more than one connotation to present ideas about the relationship between boy and father. The symbol of the torch is used to symbolize how the boy and father are trying to “light up” their relationship which is a common motif found through-out the story. When the boy speaks to his father about the torch, he says “two torches are for light-ing a bigger space in the wilderness”. This shows that the boy wants to spend time with his dad by lighting up places they have never been which a father and son should do. The symbol of the light may have a significance to hope and how the boy wants to find the relationship between the two of them. However this is quickly apposed when the word “wilderness” is said. This word has a nega-tive meaning since the word wilderness conjures the image of an empty and neglected area. This could suggest that the boy is lighting up a place and there is nothing to be found suggesting that there is nothing for the boy to explore with his father by this, the idea of a weak bond is furthered on when the boy ask asks the father “What colour is your torch, Dad”. The father says “Er… it’s green”. The ellipsis makes the reader read it as though the father is answering the boy half heart-edly, suggesting to the reader when the father talks about their relationship which is represented as the torch he cannot answer fully and confidently which could show that the father is not ready for a proper relationship between the two them and that he sometimes have to have a second thought when answering. Moreover to further my point of why their relation ship is weak, the boy decides “his dad hasn’t looked at the torch, hasn't studied it like Jim” This suggests that Jim has actually learnt about the relationship which is symbolized as the torch and his Dad has not.

On the contrary it is Jim, the step father who seems to approve of the son more. This is evident when Jim is checking the torch and he “gently twisted the barrel to make the bulb come on” “Point-edly approving, handling it back” The adverb ‘gently’ signals the amount of care and attention Jim has to the relationship. The fact that the bulb switched on could also display that there is a rela-tionship between the boy and Jim. The bulb also has a meaning of hope also since it resembles light and it is for “lighting a bigger space in the wilderness” Even though it is small compared to the vast darkness it shows the that there is a spark in the relationship between Jim and the Boy.

The compass is a key symbol in this prose. A compass is used for navigating, finding the rightly and keeping us safe. In this story the father is shown to forget his compass when he’s trying to find it he groans saying “I didn't bring a compass” The fact that the dad forgets this equipment to find the right way and keeping on track he forgets it at home. This is symbolize how the father is losing his way in the relationship with his son.

17 May 2015 at 14:43

This is a strong analysis of the story. Well done. This would put you into the second top band gaining between 19-25 marks more likely to be right at the top than at the bottom. The highest skill that you could add to this is that of evaluation. Try using evaluative adverbs such as 'successfully, clearly.' etc to your analysis but also widen your viewpoint of the story linking to something the writer might be trying to tell us about the life of a father and son after a divorce.

This is a good answer if it was done in the appropriate time conditions. Well done and good luck for Monday.

Mr Milne

17 May 2015 at 14:59

Hi thank you for the feedback. Can you elaborate what you mean by by evaluative adverbs and can I have a few examples In my work please. Thanks

Anonymous
17 May 2015 at 15:50

How does Helen Dunmore present appearances in my polish teacher's tie?

The insignificant and almost worthless ora surrounding Carla's character is a recurring theme throught my polsih teacher's tie. As a result Carla is discovered to be increasingly decpetive and secretive to obscure her irrelevance and therefore portray herself in a more positve light. Dunnmore signifies carla's worthlessness in the opening line "I wear a uniform, blue overall and white cap". The integration of her uniform is utilised to portray her identiity. It's what defines as oppossed to a unique characteristic and highlights the mundane perception of her persona. This is further illustrated by the use of the colour symbolism "white cap". The colour white is often associated with nothingness and the absence of any pattern or vibrance to her uniform signifies the lack of meaning associated with her charcter and her job.

Subsequently, carla's appearance is further conveyed to be insignifcant when conversing with the hedmaster evidenToryn the line 'Oh.' He said. 'Yes. Of course, mrs carter.' Firstly the use of "oh" highlightes hesitation on the headmaster's behalf. Dunnmore wishes to distinguish the alternating prestiges of the headmaster and carla and by integrating oh the headmaster is suggesting he is surprised by the fact carla is speaking to him, again elluding to the miniscule statues of carla, especially in comparison to the headmaster. Furthermore the headmaster addresses Carla as Mrs carter. By addressing her with formality the lack of friendship in their relationship is abundently obvious considering that colleages would usually address each other by their first names. Instead the headmaster addresses her as mrs carter associating her with her low paid job and again highlighting her insignificance. In addition this particular quotation foreshadows later on the same page when carla states It made it seem more like talking to him when i used his name. This quotation highlights carla's desire to be appreciated and acknowledged for more than her job depictes her to be.

Please try and get back to me today as my exam's tomorrow :)

17 May 2015 at 19:50

Quan

Evaluative adverbs; clearly, successfully, subtly, effectively etc

'The ellipsis makes the reader read it as though the father is answering the boy half heart-edly, SUBTLY suggesting to the reader when the father talks about their relationship which is represented as the torch he cannot answer fully and confidently which could show that the father is not ready for a proper relationship between the two them'

17 May 2015 at 19:55

Anonymous -

You're showing depth of analysis here which will gain you most of your marks. There are two things you can do that will develop higher marks.

1) Focus on the accuracy of your writing - I don't know whether these are typos or errors but accuracy is worth 8 marks out of the 68.

2) See Quan's comment above - evaluative adverbs and linking to an overall theme or idea a writer is exploring will allow you to access the highest band of marks.

Anonymous
17 May 2015 at 20:54

HOW IS FAMILY LIFE PRESENTED IN WHEN THE WASPS DROWNED.
In the story when the wasps drowned, lively presents a distant relationship between the children and the mother. Eveline reveals to the reader that ‘mum was out at work all day’ which shows she has little connection between them during the day as she is portrayed as a single parent who is working all the time so she can afford to provide them with the basic necessities such as ‘fish fingers’. From this we can interpret that the mum doesn’t play a hands on role in the family and she even makes the eldest child cook the food she brings. the fact that she buys fish fingers could show that she doesn’t have much time to cook a proper meal as she is busy being the breadwinner which could rub on to the fact she isn’t the best mother. Alternatively, it could be better than nothing as she could have let them no food and then Eveline would have to worry about another issue of food and what to feed her and younger 2 siblings. This makes the reader feel sympathetic towards Eveline as she has the burden of looking after younger siblings who are a big responsibility. They may feel as though she is being forced to grow up too early as she is just a young child and the mother should be more responsible for her actions. However, when the mum does come home she is proven to be a loving one as she ‘gentl(e)y’ cooed to Therese. This shows she is making up for her absence during the day and being there for her child when she needs it most. Then again, Eveline ‘wants(ed)’ her mums voice in her ear to comfort her also which could suggest the mother doesn’t treat all her children equally and this makes us feel, as the reader sorry for Eveline as she is being denied of a fundamental thing which is a mothers duty to provide.
There is a great bond between Eveline and her siblings and it is clear to see that she plays a great role in their life. When they discover the body Eveline and her siblings use a ‘plastic bucket’ to cover it up. The bucket being plastic could show she is trying to keep calm and handle the situation the best as she can and a plastic bucket is something you take to the beach to play with and this could symbolise she is trying to lessen the seriousness of the situation so her siblings aren’t too worried and afraid. This is also shown whilst making the decision when she replies ‘eventually’ to Therese. The use of the adverb eventually could show that she is making the most fully informed decision so she doesn’t worry her siblings and so they don’t become traumatised by the whole experience. This could show she is playing an important part in their lives as is evaluating the options and making a decision thereafter. Some could say she is being silly and the first things she should have done was to contact the police so they wouldn’t be diverting the court of justice. The audience may feel concerned for her as they wonder what she is thinking and why she isn’t doing the right thing and reporting the dead body at the bottom of their garden.
Could you please get back to me soon as my exam is in less than 12 hours :D
Thanks

17 May 2015 at 20:58

You are doing a lot of explaining of the relationship but there isn't enough focus on analysing the language that the writer uses. Try returning to your quotation and offering interpretations or connotations of one or two words.

Good luck tomorrow.

Mr Milne

Anonymous
17 May 2015 at 21:22

So sir, should I have actually analysed the word 'plastic' and said things like its artificial and is made to a purpose and in the same way Eveline is doing the same to her siblings by making them think a certain way?
I'm not sure if this sounds silly but my teacher goes on about conceptualising all the time so the fact that fish fingers are also formed and artificial this kind of rubs on to her and the way she acts? Also when she fakes lipstick with smarties- shows her innoncence and the audience feel sorry for her because she is being forced to grow up before her time
I don't know if I am just being silly though?
I am sorry for any inconvenience and I'll need all the luck I can get because
I am aiming for an A.
Thank you very much.

Anonymous
7 July 2015 at 20:08

Hi sir, I have just started school. I have to do short story about how baines presents good and dad in compass and torch... Please can you help me..

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