Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Would you Adam and Eve it?

A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shallows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.
The rich imagery with which Steinbeck begins Section 6, the powerful conclusion, evokes the novella’s dominant themes. After killing Curley’s wife, Lennie returns to the clearing that he and George designate, at the beginning of the book, as a meeting place should they be separated or run into trouble. Here Steinbeck describes much of the natural splendor as revealed in the opening pages of the work. The images of the valley and mountains, the climbing sun, and the shaded pool suggest a natural paradise, like the Garden of Eden. The reader’s sense of return to a paradise of security and comfort is furthered by the knowledge that George and Lennie have claimed this space as a safe haven, a place to which they can return in times of trouble.
This paradise, however, is lost. The snake sliding through the water recalls the conclusion of the story of Eden, in which the forces of evil appeared as a snake and caused humanity’s fall from grace. Steinbeck is a master at symbolism, and here he skillfully employs both the snake and heron to emphasize the predatory nature of the world and to foreshadow Lennie’s imminent death. The snake that glides through the waters without harm at the beginning of the story is now unsuspectingly snatched from the world of the living. Soon, Lennie’s life will be taken from him, and he will be just as unsuspecting as the snake when the final blow is delivered.

This is from...


You should so, like, go there and like read stuff from it, right, 'cos it's just got like so many more of stuff like this on it and it's dead brilliant like isn't it?

and the chief examiner says...

Of Mice and Men: John Steinbeck
Once again, this was an overwhelmingly popular choice of text: little wonder, perhaps, as it continues to engage and challenge the widest range of candidates who often produce uplifting and engaging responses.

Question 6
This question elicited a very wide spectrum of responses. Weaker responses focused only on the passage with no reference to the novel as a whole; often, these responses were overly imaginative and found symbols in everything and anything with no convincing supporting reference. However, better responses were sometimes hugely sophisticated and showed excellent powers of close textual analysis. Minute details were related to philosophical concepts with panache; candidates ranged round the novel with confidence to explore their ideas. There was some really sensitive analysis of the image of the heron and the water snake.

Question 7
This was a very popular question: one senior examiner commented that candidates "performed brilliantly". There were, of course, pitfalls: some candidates lost focus on sadness other than very briefly at the beginning and the end, then wrote about loneliness, the dream, events and/or characters. The best responses stopped and thought, then went on to challenge the premise of the task and identify some optimistic features: friendship, loyalty and the ending suggesting some sort of better future despite the inevitability of the final tragedy. An interesting observation was that only hardened Carlson and those without a dream like Slim could be happy. Most candidates, at all levels, considered Steinbeck's methods with confidence; better candidates were very skilful in this area.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Words from the mark scheme ... part 2

...and here are a few phrases from the description of an A grade poetry essay...

Answers are likely to include:

Treatment of at least 4 poems, including 2 pre-1914 and 2 post-1914.

Exploration and development of question

Sensitive and critical response to situation / character / meaning

Developed / analytical comment on writer's intended meaning and purpose

Comparison and contrast

Evaluation of poems

Analysis of detail

Evaluation of writer's use of language, structure, form end effects on readers

Comparisons between writer's techniques

Words from the mark scheme

It might be helpful to consider some of these words and phrases from the mark scheme to an Of Mice and Men question...

Answers are likely to include:

Exploration and development of the novel's events/themes/characters

Sensitive and critical response to characters

Reference to The American Dream

Sensitive analysis of detail

Convincing and imaginative interpretation of text

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A rabbit-centric reading

When does an interest become an enthusiasm?  When does an enthusiasm become an obsession?  When does an obsession become worrying?


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Poetry or Stand Up...You decide


This is a link to Armitage doing his thing at the Latitude Festival in 2008.  You've got to admire this.

It goes without saying that I take absolutely no responsibility for comments made by other YouTube users.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

I ain't gonna say nothin'...I ain't gonna say nothin'

Select a quotation about or said by Lennie.  Repeat it in a post and write about what it reveals about Lennie's character.

"Lennie...imitated George exactly."

"Lennie smiled...Strong as a bull."

"Lennie sat  in the barn and looked at the dead puppy..."

"It ain't  no lie.We're gonna do it.  Gonna get a little place an' live on the fatta the lan'"

"Lennie obeyed him." (When George tells him to kneel down by the river and look at the hills)