Elephants - sentence structure answers

There are magazine reports that something peculiar seems to be going on: the
elephants appear to be taking revenge on human beings for past cruelties, in Africa
and India.
An eye for an eye, a tusk for a tusk… how do we break the cycle of revenge?
Do elephants truly possess the capacity for an emotion? Researchers
believe so. If they are right, we need to think again about the relationship
between humans and some animals. It is one thing to believe that we have a
moral duty to avoid cruelty towards noble beasts. It is another thing from a
practical point of view if an elephant is charging at you and saying, in effect:
'‘You killed my mother. Now it’s your turn.”
This, at least, is the rough outline of the explanation offered by scientists.
They believe that poaching, during the 1980s and before, left generations of
young elephants, young males in particular, parentless, leaderless,
traumatised and unusually aggressive. In Uganda, today, they face no
population pressures, nor is there any shortage of food. Instead, they seem to
be attacking villages and blocking roads just because they feel like it.
Or rather, because they do not like humans. As one researcher reports
from India, elephants left to their own devices in remote areas seem to be
placid and tolerant. On the other hand, ‘the more human beings they see,
the less tolerant they become’.
Given mankind’s record in dealing with other species, you can’t blame
the elephants for that. They are not stupid creatures and their memories are
indeed good enough to allow them to remember acts of cruelty and
violence: in other words, they have motive. Add opportunity and you have
what homo sapiens call revenge.
If that is so, the questions come thick and fast. Creatures capable of
bearing a grudge surely possess the elements of what we, of all animals,
would recognise as a society. Haven’t we spent millennia regarding
ourselves as the only beasts capable of understanding revenge?
So what do we actually understand by the word? With all due respect to the
raging bull elephants, it must involve some fairly primitive emotion: the
elephants are not writing letters to the press demanding an apology from the
Ugandan people, after all; they are, in fact attacking humans aggressively.
If these reports are reliable, we have a lesson on our hands. Even among the
elephants, the desire for revenge is born of pain, trauma, and cruelty. And is
that not even more so in our own species which seems wedded to revenge?
Such revenge may represent a primitive emotion, but that emotion has
enduring, destructive power. The disease is an ancient, global pandemic. Like
Uganda’s elephants we could all probably stand a psycho-therapeutic course
in anger management. The common feature, the unlikely connection, is that
the destructive pachyderms first had to be victimised before they could feel a
need for victims. There is not a human society on the planet that does not
claim the same excuse.
Ian Bell
The Sunday Herald
February 2006
A Paragraph 1 (lines 1-6)
(a) What is the purpose of the opening sentence?
 Engage the reader with
 the purpose of the article (B) What is the contrasting attitude humans have towards elephants?
 Humans want to protect them
 Humans will hurt them if being attacked
B Paragraph 2 (lines 7-12)
(a) How does ‘ This, at least, is the rough outline of the explanation
offered by scientists.’ Act as a link?
‘this at least’ refer to the previous paragraph which highlights that elephants
might attack humans
‘outline of explanation’ links to the next topic giving details about the attacks
by elephants on humans
(b) What does the writer consider to be the main reasons for the
elephants hostility to man?
 Because they want to attack – no specific reason
 Parents were taken
 Young bulls without role models
 Affected by being removed from family
 Experienced and wirnessed violence
C Paragraph 3 (lines 13-16)
(a) How does the first sentence of the paragraph act as a link?
‘or rather’ links back to the previous paragraph that there is no motive and is
going to contradict the idea that there was no reason. ‘They do not like
humans’ is identified as the motive and is then exemplified by the researcher
from India
(b) Show how the context helped you arrive at the meaning of
‘placid’ means gentle and calm. The context makes it clear as it says that the
elephants are ‘tolerant’ which means that they are laidback and accepting
and so calm as they live their lives.
(c) Briefly, what is the contrast between the two behaviours
attributed to elephants? Identify the key words which structure
the idea clearly.
 On their own they do not attack others and are gentle
 near humans they are nasty
D Paragraph 4 (lines 17-21)
(a) How does the first sentence of the paragraph act as a link?
‘that’ at the end of the sentence refers back to the mention of the elephant’s
behaviour in the previous paragraph. The phrase ‘mankind’s record ‘links
forward to the way man has behaved towards elephants ‘acts of cruelty and
(b) In what way is the phrase ‘In other words’ useful for clarifying the
argument in this paragraph?
‘in other words’ suggests a summing up of the previous paragraph that
catalogues the harms which mankind has done to elephants. This is evidence
for their motive
(c) Identify two reasons why the elephants might wish to injure man.
 They remember times when man has acted viciously
towards them
 They want retribution
 They are sometimes faced with a chance to attack man
E Paragraph 5 (lines 22-32)
(a) How does the first sentence of the paragraph act as a link?
‘if that is so’ links back to the proposition that the elephants experience the
desire to retaliate; ‘questions’ links forward to the unanswered ideas about
the concept of revenge and a need to define it.
(b) Show how the punctuation of the sentence ‘With all due respect …
aggressively.’ (lines 26- 29) helps to clarify the argument.
The colon after the phrase ‘fairly primitive emotion: prepares the reader for
an expansion on this idea, each separated by a semi colon. The first is a
humorous one ‘ they are not writing letters’ which suggests a peaceful
protest. The second expansion after the semi colon suggests their actual
reaction ‘they are, in fact attacking’ which suggests a violent protest
(c) How does repetition help to mark the shift to the importance of
the ‘lesson’ that ‘we’ have to learn?
The word ‘if’ is repeated to show a shift in the article. ‘If these reports are
reliable’ parallels ‘If that is so’ which moves the focus of the behaviour from
the elephants to the humans.
(d) Explain how the intensifiers in lines 30-32 help to strengthen the
The word ‘even‘ suggests that you would not expect the elephants to want
to retaliate for the maltreatment they have suffered. This is repeated in the
following sentence ‘ even more so’ which highlights the inevitability of
revenge – which is a human emotion. So the argument is strengthened.
F Paragraph 6 (lines 33-39)
(a) Show how the context helped you arrive at the meaning of
The word ‘pandemic’ means that it something contagious which is spread
over a wide area. The context makes this clear ‘disease’ suggests an illness
which spreads rapidly and ‘global’ suggest that it is world- wide, covering a
large area.
(b) How do the last three sentences ‘Like Uganda’s elephants …
excuse.’ Make an effective final connection between elephants
and humans?
‘Like Uganda’s elephants we …’ shows the two threads of the argument that
links humans with the elephants with what people regard as a unique trait ‘revenge’ This link is emphasised by ‘common feature’ and ‘connection’
which shows that humans and elephants are intertwined and share the same
motivation. ‘same excuse’ shows that neither have a reason for their
List of key terms (make sure you learn!!)
illustrative anecdote
turning point
point of view
parallel structure
An important sentence structure in argument is the ‘if…then…’ construction
often known as premise (if…) and consequence (then…): if you accept the
first half, you are supposedly bound to accept the second.
An intensifier is a word which we use words to make adjectives stronger: very really - extremely - amazingly - exceptionally - incredibly - remarkably particularly absolutely - exceptionally - really – quite- enough- much - far - a lot quite a lot - a great deal - a good deal - a good bit - a fair bit-highly- bitterly
You are commenting on the WRITER’S point of view NOT your own thoughts. They
seldom give very little credit to any other point of view and as a consequence
choose their evidence very selectively.