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AQA: An exam question a week Question 4

This question is the one that most students struggle with. It is worth the most marks in Section A and requires you to compare two texts.

For any comparison question you must point out both similarities and differences.

You must analyse language and language only which could link to words that build the Overall Tone, Words with specific connotations or Language devices (OWL).

As you read through the texts you should also be quickly highlighting loaded phrase which relate to one of the above. If you don't have time to do this when you are going through your planning stages for Question 1 2 or 3 then spend the first 5 minutes scanning and making lists of quotations or devices which are used.

If you list these in columns then you can quickly draw lines to similarities and differences.

When comparing you should be analysing language (zooming in) and commenting on the effect this could have on the reader. At a higher level you could evaluate the success of the text in meeting the Purpose Audience or Form. You can see some more detailed thoughts on this post from last year: The Dreaded Question 4

You should be structuring your work like this:

Point
Quotation
Analysis
Evaluation of Purpose, Audience or Format
Comparative Point (similarity or difference)
Quotation
Analysis
Evaluation of Language of Purpose, Audience or Format

You must try to make 3-4 points like this using 6  - 10 textual references.

Remember you must always compare to Source 3 but can choose either Source 1 or 2.

Spend 25 minutes answering:

Compare the way writers' use language for effect. 16 Marks

Source 1 is here

Source 2 is here

Source 3 is below:

December 17, Hetta
We are in the midst of a super-cold snap, with temperatures falling below -30C. I can’t go outside for more than a few moments without fully suiting up in cold-weather gear. The insides of my nostrils crackle with frost; any hair left uncovered picks up a grey sheen, as though I’ve aged 50 years in minutes. Occasionally my eyelashes freeze together. I learn that if any part of my body sticks to metal, I mustn’t panic and wrench away, or I risk ripping the skin clean off. One of the dogs, Monty, lost half of his tongue this way as a pup when he licked a metal post. It nearly killed him, and it took months of careful nursing and hand feeding in the house before he returned to work.
But while the temperatures drop, the tourist season is hotting up. Lapland’s economy depends almost entirely on a few short weeks before Christmas when visitors flood in from overseas. Suddenly it’s all go as we try to run as many safaris as possible, often working from 7am till past midnight.
We have to sprint as we make up the dog teams – usually eight-strong, with an obedient pair up front as leaders and two of the strongest dogs at the back in 'wheel’ position: the brains and the brawn respectively.
In a rush this morning, I sped with my team out of the gates and took the first corner far too quickly. The sled flipped, dragging me through the snow on my stomach until the bar slipped out of my grip. By the time I’d jumped to my feet my dogs had overtaken the team in front and started a fight; I had had to throw myself between the two teams and wrestle them apart, growling and yelling. No harm done, but my nerves are jangling and my confidence has taken a knock.
December 21, Hetta
While freeing two dogs that have become tangled in the lines, I stupidly remove my gloves in -38C, and later find the colour has drained away from the tips of my fingers. They also have an unpleasant needling sensation. 'Congratulations,’ Pasi says. 'Your first frostbite.’ I’m thrilled and show them off to everyone.
December 25, Hetta and Valimaa
This week has been hard. We seem to be working non-stop and I haven’t seen daylight in three weeks. This is the polar night. The sun will not rise above the horizon for a further 10 days. It is dark enough to use head torches for most of the day, but at noon the skies are incredible, streaked with magenta and crimson and orange.
To tell the truth, I’m running on empty. Every waking moment for weeks has been spent feeding or harnessing or sledding or shovelling snow or shovelling shit. When, on Christmas Eve, I’m sternly told off for not cleaning kennels properly, I’m so tired and it’s so unfair that I find myself in tears, sobbing into a bucket of frozen meat as I chop it into pieces.
'Oh dear,’ Dot, another of the guides, says when she finds me. 'Feeling fragile?’ I laugh. It is a bit ridiculous.
Christmas Day itself is just as dark and cold as all the other days but it feels like we’ve turned a corner: the hardest part is over. The tourists will soon return to wherever they came from, the daylight will return from wherever it went. After a Christmas feast, five of us return to the wilderness farm. I drive; others grab some sleep while they can. When we arrive, past midnight, it strikes me how lucky we are. The air is so still and the sky is so clear, the stars so incredibly bright.
Edited from an article by Cal Flyn in The Telegraph - Full article available here
Good Luck

Mr Milne

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Anonymous
26 January 2014 at 21:56

In source three, Flynn uses contrasting semantic fields. The words "frost", "freeze" and "grey", from the semantic field of dullness, connote a place where everything looks horrible, causing the reader to interpret that Flynn doesn't like the place she lives in. However, this interpretation becomes less valid as we read on, since the writer effectively contrasts that negative image created with the phrase "tourist season hotting up". The phrase suggests how Flyn always likes to find the goodness in the place, subtly suggesting how she adores the place. Additionally, the false interpretation we made of Flyn's feelings towards the place was used by Flyn to highlight how we shouldn't judge places just at first sight, as they all have something wonderful about them.

Likewise, source 2 uses contrasts, but it contrasts the change in the role of women in the airline industry, through the use of rhetorical questions, instead of specifically chosen words, which create a mood of guilt for the reader. The continuous use of rhetorical questions that the readers don't have answers to makes them doubt their own knowledge and acknowledgement of the problem that Sener is stressing. However, when we later learn that stereotypes are important in causing females to shun out the opportunity of being a pilot, we feel guilty about not doing anything to stop it. Both writers thus use contrast, but source 2 uses it to create a negative feeling of guilt within the reader - possibly so that Saner can make them realise how much of an issue this still is - unlike source 3, which uses it to show how the writer feels as if we should always search the positives in everything, as she does with the place.

Source 3 also uses the repetition of the word "so". In this context, the word "so" is subtly used to highlight the inner feelings of love that the writer shares for this place. Alongside this, there is a clever use of triplets, where Flyn plays around with the general convention of having an 'and' to group the final two words, by using the 'and' first and then the comma. This is effective because it creates a sense of unpredictability, which has been used by Flyn to highlight how this place is always full of surprises for her. Another reader might interpret her feelings of complete love not through Flyn's use of triplets, but through her use of "incredibly bright". The use of the word "bright" can be seen as ambiguous because it could simply be seen to highlight the beauty that Flyn sees in this place, while it could have been skilfully used to suggest her feelings that this place, although not yet perfect, has prospects of becoming perfect for her later in the future, which is suggested through the connotations of prospect in "bright".

On the other hand, source 2 threads many different comparatives throughout the text, but these comparatives all decrease in size, with "less" becoming "few", for example. These comparatives have the effect of consistently reminding the reader of the minuscule amount of female pilots, while the decrease in the comparative's size could be interpreted to represent how Saner was expecting that the proportion of female pilots would have blossomed more than it has done.

I did this in 26 and a half minutes, probably because I hadn't read the other texts before, which I would have done in the exam. Also, could you create a 'question of the week' for the English Literature 1H exam - one on the short stories next week, and then one on OMAM for the following week, and then the short stories again?

28 January 2014 at 22:11

Again this is a strong piece - your analysis and evaluation of the articles is where the strength is in this answer but I would like to see you make more effective comparisons.

At the moment this reads as if you are analysing the texts separately even though you use discourse markers to suggest comparison.

You strengthen this by looking at similar uses of devices for different effect or different devices used to create a similar effect. This will tighten the comparative links you make and allow you to add further depth to your evaluative phrases.

I do have posts with Questions for the short stories (10 in one post) and Of Mice and Men - try clicking the Literature Tab. and searching through there. As much as I'd like to develop a question a week, I've only got time to cover AQA and IGCSE Language. I will update some Literature Question closer to the exam and Easter holidays.

Out of interest - how did you find this blog and which school do you attend?

28 January 2014 at 22:14

This would be a Band 4 answer. I'd give it 13 / 16

Anonymous
28 January 2014 at 23:56

Ah, thank you so much. I quite like thinking of analysis, and thinking of the different effects it can have, but I do agree that I need to work creating perceptive comparisons - I'll try to focus more on comparison when answering the next question four that you post.

I'll post my answers to some of the questions there then.

I think the blog is fantastic. The resources are very helpful, and I can follow through the posts easily. Also, navigating around the site is simple, as I can find the resources that I'm looking for with ease. I'm definitely going to be using this site for exam revision. I attend a school in West London - Featherstone High.

Anonymous
31 May 2014 at 13:04

In source 3 Flyn uses language such as the adverb ‘sternly‘ to highlight how the job is actually serious and not all fun and games. The word ‘sternly’ suggests that it is difficult because if something is stern its arduous and takes a lot of determination to get past. So the writer successfully uses language because the word highlights to the audience how difficult is actually is and that you have to tough . Therefore it fulfils its purpose of showing the harder side of the job. Similarly in Source 2 the writer uses language to highlight how difficult it is for women to become a pilot however they use a more positive adverb ‘actively’ that highlights that it happens a lot. But they put the adverb in front of ‘actively barred women’ which now highlights the fight women had to have because they were constantly and ‘actively’ being shot down highlighting it is a hard job being a pilot when you are a female. Source 2 is perhaps more effective than source 3 because it subtlety uses positive and negative language next to each other instead of just plain outright saying it was ‘stern’.

However also in source 3 they use language such as the adjective ‘bright’ to highlight what an amazing experience it is. The descriptive word creates an image of how amazing it is because it could suggest that the experience shone above all others as it is bright.. This successfully highlight to the audience how good it was because of the positive message it produces and how the reactions to Lapland are positive. However contrasting to source 3 ,source 2 does describes what is seen as an amazing experience in a more shocked way as it says the passengers on the plane were ‘scared’ because of the women pilot. So it highlights through the adjective scared that they were shocked at the experience because being ‘scared’ highlights that it must have came as a surprise in order to scare them. This effectively highlights how the experience must have been amazing because its something they didn’t expect it and it is unusual so it must have been amazing to see. However source 3 is perhaps more effective because an amazing experience is highlighted more to the audience through positive language as it is seen as a positive thing.

However in source 3 they also highlight that although it is an amazing experience it is getting busier. They highlight this through the metaphor ‘Tourist season is hotting up’ The use of the word ‘hotting’ in the metaphor suggests that Lapland is actually hotting up (when in reality it is really cold) the use of the word hotting highlights how it is still unusual as its unusual to be ‘hot’ but as hotting suggests a lot of energy and crowds highlights its getting busy. This successfully highlights how busy it is getting to they audience through the use of the contrast between how cold it is and how many tourists there are boldly highlighting to the audience that this is the place to go. Similarly in source 2 it talks about how the ‘entire crew’ are women. This highlights that it is getting busier and although it is still unusual to see women at this point in time the ‘entire crew are women. The word entire overexerts the situation making it seem like a lot of women are pilots showing the audience how far we have come and successfully proving that actually they are more accepted because the word ‘crew’ Highlights a team so it highlights the sexism should fade with a little help.


Is this okay only had time to write four paragraphs. I think I just end up repeating myself. Also sir do you have any links to other sources? Thank you.

1 June 2014 at 18:31

Your skills are great here. Well done. You probably have enough detail in here to get into Band 4 13/16 maybe even 16/16! Well done.

Have you been through any of the other source questions on the blog?

1 June 2014 at 18:32

Another quick paragraph would have certainly secured the full marks

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