Easter Supported Study April 2015 Close reading question types • • • • • • • • • • Own words. Summary. Context. Linking. Word Choice. Imagery. Tone. Sentence Structure. Effective opening paragraph. Effective conclusion. Remember If you are asked about “language” then you may be able to write about: Word Choice Imagery Tone Sentence Structure Keep your W.I.T.S about you! Remember your key strategies: • read the passage very carefully before attempting the questions. • read the title and the sub-heading carefully. • read each question very carefully and look to see how many works it is worth. • make sure that you work out which type of question it is. • use the correct methods for answering each question type. • don’t answer in sentences. • ensure that your answers are sufficiently detailed. Own words practice Using your own words, explain how J.K. Rowling is “fortunate” (3) JK Rowling is fortunate in that the reason for her fame exists at one remove from her. Harry is nothing to do with who her parents were, or how good she looks on television. He is the product of her imagination, interacting with the imagination of millions of others. Just as the books, with their literary allusions and cultural quirks, borrow from other traditions, so the wizard world is held in common. Internet sites discuss the plot, translators try to render “Hogwarts” in other languages. Harry is public property in a way that his creator, despite the dustbins and long lenses, is not. Three from: • Her success is not a result of her family connections. • Her success is not due to her appearance. • Her success is because of her talent and creativity. • The public talk about her novels, not about her. Explain fully and in your own words why the writer was “astounded” (3) Years ago, when my own children still went to bed neatly scrubbed in fresh Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas and sheets scented with fabric conditioner rather than stale sweat, I watched a documentary on the late, great John Peel, in which the famously easygoing DJ was reduced almost to tears when talking about the state of his teenage son’s bedroom—the arguments it triggered and the feelings it evoked in him. I was astounded. What a disproportionate reaction! How bizarrely out of character! Three from: He was usually very relaxed and laid-back. His response to his son’s bedroom was excessive His response was strange. His response was not as she would have expected (it was not like him). Linking questions practice In a time of economic hardship, we are seeking out the simple and cheap—family entertainment that makes us feel part of something bigger. But the popularity of such shows may be traced back even further—to the emergence of 19th-century periodicals which relied on reader contributions. Reality TV is merely a manifestation of a very, very old craving. We love sentimental stories; we love a tear jerker, and shows like The X Factor are no more crass or exploitative than cheap sensational 19th-century fiction. Yet it seems that 21st-century viewers are looking for more than just simple entertainment. Part of the attraction is the sense of control The X Factor gives us: the sense that we can put right wider social wrongs by voting for our favourite contestants and that although our lives are being shaped by forces beyond our control—such as government cutbacks, widespread job losses or social deprivation—the ability to have a say in what happens to others in reality TV shows gives us back a much-needed sense of power. “simple entertainment” links back to the previous paragraph where we are told how we have been enjoying types of entertainment similar to reality tv since the 19th century. “looking for more than” links forward to where we are told that people enjoy reality tv due to the power and control it gives us over what happens. Years ago, when my own children still went to bed neatly scrubbed in fresh Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas and sheets scented with fabric conditioner rather than stale sweat, I watched a documentary on the late, great John Peel, in which the famously easy-going DJ was reduced almost to tears when talking about the state of his teenage son’s bedroom—the arguments it triggered and the feelings it evoked in him. I was astounded. What a disproportionate reaction! How bizarrely out of character! Now, of course, I understand only too well where those feelings came from. The powerlessness, the sense of failing in your parental duties, the feeling of not being considered, not respected. The fact is that even the most laidback parents can find that children’s bedrooms become emotional battlefields within the family home. According to Professor Tanya Byron, a clinical psychologist, this could be because the mess plays right into our deep-seated fears as parents. “those feelings” links back to the previous paragraph where we are told of John Peel’s dramatic emotional response to seeing the mess of his son’s room. “I understand” links forward to where we are told of some of thoughts and emotions that many parents feel about this subject. Word choice practice Explain how the writer’s word choice helps to show the negative effects of fame (4) The missing part of the Cinderella story is what happens when she puts on the glass slipper and disappears into the palace. Rowling filled in the blanks, describing to Jeremy Paxman how she has to cope with begging letters, journalists rifling through her bins, photographers lurking on the beach, and strangers accosting her in the supermarket. “lurking” This has connotations of suspicious and inappropriate behaviour, spying, hidden... This emphasises that Rowling has to tolerate suspicious and inappropriate behaviour from photographers who hide from her and spy on her from a distance. “accosting” This has connotations of unwanted attention, hassled, harassed... This emphasises that Rowling is often the victim of unwanted attention from people she does not know who hassle and harass her when she is trying to live a normal life. Show how any two examples of the writer’s word choice create sympathy for the character of Oliver Twist (4) That is where Dickens came in. Many books were banned under apartheid but not the classics of English literature. Pupils arriving hungry at school every day were captivated by the story of a frail but courageous boy named Oliver Twist. The book was a revelation. Systemised oppression of children happened in England too! They were not alone. Slave labour, thin rations, and cruel taunts were part of a child’s life in the world outside as well. “frail” This has connotations of weak, vulnerable, undernourished, unhealthy... This creates sympathy as it emphasises how weak, vulnerable, undernourished and unhealthy Oliver Twist was in the novel. “slave labour” This has connotations of hardship, cruelty, loss of freedom, no rights, no dignity... This creates sympathy for Oliver Twist as it emphasises that he had his freedom and rights taken away from him and that he lived a life of cruelty and hardship. Context questions practice Explain how the context enables you to work out the meaning of the word “detritus” (2) The other morning, I found myself on my knees in my son’s bedroom, sobbing into a rather iffy smelling sock. All around me was the detritus of 16-year-old male life: piles of discarded clothes of indeterminate cleanliness, BB gun pellets, shards of glass from the mirror shattered by said BB gun. I counted five towels, all damp and heaped on the floor. One smelt as if it might have started sprouting its own fungal lifeform. On the plus side, there were also plenty of books, mostly school textbooks, which had been put to ingenious uses: a handy breakfast tray (with bowl and spoon virtually welded to the front cover), a prop to jam open the window. The word “detritus” means mess and rubbish. The author refers to the fact that all around her son’s room there were “piles of discarded clothes” and “shards of glass”. This emphasises that her son had left many broken and abandoned belongings around his room, making it very untidy. Explain how the context enables you to work out the meaning of the word “virtual” (2) The X Factor, brainchild of Simon Cowell, is the most popular programme on Saturday night. Each week, hundreds make the pilgrimage to be part of the live audience, and millions of us tune in at home to watch. As a result, many of us will spend more time in the virtual company of the contestants than we do with our real-life friends and family. In a modern world in which local communities have become increasingly fractured, where relatives live further apart from each other than ever before and where one in five of us will never speak to our neighbours, Cowell’s creation seems to be filling the void. The word “virtual” means created by technology or computers. The author refers to the fact that millions of people regularly “tune in” to watch the XFactor and that we see people in the show more than we see people we know in “reallife”. This emphasises that the relationships we have with people on the X-Factor are not real, they are simulated by technology. Tone questions practice Explain how the author uses language to create a tone of disapproval (2) And yet despite the fact that more of us seem to be tuning in than ever before, relatively little is known about who watches and why. All we know is that The X Factor—even if it signifies the disintegration of civilised society—is a reality-television phenomenon. So why, after a decade of phone-in rows, vote rigging accusations and celebrity-hungry wannabes with bloated egos, does the British public remain so in love with reality television? “wannabes” This has connotations of inferior, inadequate, delusion, talentless... This emphasises how the author believes that the X-Factor competition attracts people who are delusional as well as being talentless and inadequate performers. “disintegration” This has connotations of damage, destruction, erosion, harm... This emphasises that the author believes that the X-Factor competition is actually harmful to our society and it is causing damage and destruction to it. Explain how the author uses language to create a reassuring tone (2) Some people dislike texting. Some are bemused by it. But it is merely the latest manifestation of the human ability to be linguistically creative and to adapt language to suit the demands of diverse settings. There is no disaster pending. We will not see a new generation of adults growing up unable to write proper English. The language as a whole will not decline. In texting what we are seeing, in a small way, is language in evolution. “There is no disaster pending” is a short sentence. This is used to emphasise the author’s point that texting is not harmful, damaging or destructive to the English language and that we should not be concerned about it. “evolution” This has connotations of adapting, improving, changing, progress... This emphasises the author’s point that texting represents how the English language is constantly changing, adapting and improving for the better. Imagery questions practice Explain why “pilgrimage” is an effective use of imagery (3) It is a Saturday night in the northernmost fringes of London. Outside an anonymous building with blankedout windows, a discarded plastic bag swirls in the breeze. At first glance it seems a miserable place. But in fact this is where dreams are made and broken. Because this is where, every weekend, The X Factor goes live. The X Factor, brainchild of Simon Cowell, is the most popular programme on Saturday night. Each week, hundreds make the pilgrimage to be part of the live audience, and millions of us tune in at home to watch. “pilgrimage” is a metaphor. The author is comparing travelling to be part of the XFactor audience to a pilgrimage. Just as a pilgrimage is a profound and spiritual journey of great importance, so too was the journey to be part of the X-Factor audience an almost holy and religious experience for some people. This is effective as it emphasises how many people get so much happiness from the X-Factor that they want to travel there to experience it and show their love and devotion. Explain why “Hurricane Katrina” is an effective use of imagery (3) Part of the problem is that as our children grow up, we expect them to show the same consideration and empathy as adults. Wrong, says Professor Byron. “Adolescence is about making the transition from dependent child to independent adult. There are all these changes happening. The biological, psychological and social elements are thrown into a big washing machine and whirled about. It’s all part of the process, but it’s confusing.” But that doesn’t mean we have to accept that one room in our home will look permanently as if it has had an encounter with Hurricane Katrina. “It’s still OK to set boundaries for adolescents, just different boundaries,” says Professor Byron. “It’s OK for there to be family contracts that say these are the rules. “Teenagers need to understand that life isn’t all about their needs. A family is like a team. You all work together and pull your weight.” “Hurricane Katrina” is a simile. The author is comparing the bedroom to somewhere touched by a hurricane. Just as somewhere touched by a hurricane would be completely destroyed and devastated, so too was the bedroom in an extremely messy and untidy condition. This is effective as it emphasises Prof. Byron’s point that parents should not have to tolerate their children’s bedrooms being excessively dirty, unkempt and uncared for. Sentence Structure Practice Explain why the author has used one type of sentence structure in this paragraph (2) One mother says that her 13-year-old daughter regards it as an invasion of her human rights if she goes into her room or tells her to tidy up. “She has the best room in the house, in the loft, and regards the shower room next door as ‘her bathroom’. But there are pressing reasons why I have to go up there: she leaves the windows open in all weathers, she uses my expensive hair products and hides them, she takes a fancy to certain items of clothing that don’t belong to her, which I otherwise might never see again and she drops her hated school uniform in a heap on the floor so if I didn’t pick it up, she’d go to school looking like a tramp. Now there’s a new one: I’ve been used to finding apple cores in various states of putrefaction in her room for years, but since having fixed braces fitted, she can no longer bite into them, so guess where I have to go looking for my chopping boards and sharp knives?” The author has used a colon to provide a list of the reasons why the mother has to go and inspect her daughter’s room from time to time. The author has used a list. “She leaves the windows...tramp” This is to emphasise the number and variety of different reasons why the mother needs to go and inspect her daughter’s room from time to time. Explain why the author has used one type of sentence structure in this paragraph (2) “Sometimes our reaction is about recognising that they are growing up and moving away and that we won’t always be able to tidy up for them. They’re going to have to look after themselves. Adolescence is a very chaotic time emotionally. The trivia of life—the towels on the floor, the washing not put away—can be a safe area for parents to vent worry and tension.” The author has used parenthesis. This is to provide us with more information which explains what the author means by the minor aspects of life. Effective opening paragraph Explain one reason why this is an effective opening to the passage (2) Tennis players are a funny bunch. Have you noticed how they always ask for three balls instead of two; how they bounce the ball the same number of times before serving, as if any deviation from their routine might bring the world collapsing on their heads? The author has used a rhetorical question. “Have you noticed...on their heads?” This is to involve and engage the reader in the article and to encourage the reader to think about the point he is making regarding how tennis players are very superstitious. The author has used a short sentence. “Tennis players are a funny bunch”. This is used to grab the reader’s attention straight away and to give impact to his point that tennis players often behave in a very strange and superstitious manner. Effective Conclusions Explain how this provides an effective conclusion to the passage (2) Perhaps this, in the end, is the key to Cowell’s success: he acknowledges that we crave the appearance of reality, but that we also want the reassurance of a happy ending for those who deserve it and retribution for those who do not. Either that or we just want to laugh at the man with the comb-over singing an out-of tune Mariah Carey song. The author mentions that one of the reasons why we watch reality tv is because we enjoy watching people making fools of themselves. (“we just want to laugh at the man with the combover singing an out-of tune Mariah Carey song”) This links back to lines 54-57 where the author mentions how much we love laughing at the deluded and talentless people on shows like the X-Factor. (“A part of us just loves it when people are awful and embarrass themselves”) Summary questions Using your own words, summarise the main points the author is making about the popularity of reality tv shows (5) • Being on the X-Factor could be the start of someone’s career or the end of their hopes and ambitions. • The X-Factor has become very popular, attracting a huge audience. • Many people see the people on reality tv shows more than they see their own family members. • Many people develop relationships with the contestants on these shows despite having never met them. • Some people use their “relationship” with these contestants as a substitute for their own friends and family. • Most people know that reality tv shows are artificial and designed to make money, but we still enjoy them anyway. • We watch these shows so that we can feel a part of the dream of normal people just like us.