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Title: The Siege
Dates:12thSeptember
Aims: How do we put a novel in context?
What happened in Leningrad?
Keywords: context, Leningrad, Survival
What do we know about Leningrad?
‘Leningrad’ is one of the names given to Russia’s second largest city (after Moscow).
Until the Russian Revolution of 1917, the city was called St Petersburg (after Czar
Peter the Great who founded it in 1703) and it was Russia’s capital and seat of
government. In August 1917, following the first wave of the Russian Revolution, the
city was renamed ‘Petrograd’. Six months later, Russia’s capital and seat of
government was transferred to Moscow because the civil war raging nearby made the
city unsafe. Then, in 1924, after the death of Vladimir Lenin, one of the main leaders of
the Russian Revolution, the city was renamed ‘Leningrad’. The city continued to be
called Leningrad until the fall of Communism in the 1990s, when it was given its
original name of St Petersburg again.
Situated near to the Arctic Circle on the coast of the Baltic Sea in north-west Russia,
St Petersburg (Leningrad) has a climate notable for long, severe, snowbound winters,
and very short summers during which ‘day’ never really becomes ‘night’.
The Siege of Leningrad?
The siege of Leningrad
The siege of Leningrad began in September 1941, less than two months after Hitler’s
armies invaded the Soviet Union (on 22 June). By the beginning of September, the
German forces had cut off Leningrad by land. The only way for goods to be
transported into and out of the city was over Lake Ladoga from Soviet-occupied
Finland. The actual siege continued for 900 days, ending in 1944, although the
duration of the novel The Siege is only one year.
Date: 13th September
Title:
The Siege
Aim:
How we would cope with a Siege?
Writing about a Siege in different styles
Keywords:
Under siege
At the centre of the novel is what happens when a city of civilised individuals
finds itself besieged, with the food running out and a viciously cold winter setting
in.
·
·
How do you think that you might react in this situation?
How do you think you would survive?
In your group, discuss these questions. Consider the following in particular:
Food
Heating
Clothing
Work
Schools
Transport
Family
Other
people
Working
Sanitation
Hospitals
Medical
services
Write a diary entry of your experiences during an
imaginary siege. (200 words)
Write the first few paragraphs (W<W<W<W<W)
of a newspaper report on a siege
Write a school history book style paragraph on an
imaginary siege (200 words)
Under siege
At the centre of the novel is what happens when a city of civilised individuals
finds itself besieged, with the food running out and a viciously cold winter setting
in.
·
·
How do you think that you might react in this situation?
How do you think you would survive?
In your group, discuss these questions. Consider the following in particular:
Food
Heating
Clothing
Work
Schools
Transport
Family
Other
people
Working
services
Sanitation
Hospitals
Medical
Title:
Aim:
Date: 13th September
The Siege
How we would cope with a Siege?
Writing about a Siege in different styles
Keywords:
There are thirty chapters in The Siege. In order to understand the novel, it is easier to break these
chapters up into sections. I have divided the novel into FOUR main narrative sequences which ‘tell
the story’. These are:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Before the siege
The siege begins
The height of the siege
Epilogue
–
–
–
–
Chapters 1–5
Chapters 7–15
Chapters 17–29
Chapter 30
There are also other chapters, or parts of chapters, which I have called ‘Interludes’ or an ‘Aside’,
depending upon their length. These are:
1.
2.
3.
Interlude 1–
Interlude 2–
Aside
Mikhail’s Diary (Chapter 6 & part of Chapter 9 – pages 71–5)
Pavlov and the administration of the city (Chapters 14, 16 & 27)
–
Marina’s account of her affair with Mikhail (Chapter 22)
We will consider the narrative sequences first, followed by the Interludes and the Aside.
Title:
The Siege
Aim:
Characterisation
Date: 16th September
Writing about a Siege in different styles
Keywords:
Focus: Characters
By the end of Chapter 1, we have met four out of five of the main characters in the novel, Anna, Mikhail, Kolya
and Marina. Russian people generally have up to four names: a first name; a patronym (father’s name) usually
ending with ‘-ich’ for a male and ‘-ovna’ for a female; a family name; a ‘pet name’ used by family or close friends.
The characters
Using a separate sheet, fill in the details for each of the four characters, as they occur.
Keep the chart safe, adding to it as you read through the novel, with page references and brief quotations cited
as evidence. Use the chart to make a record of what you learn about each character.
Title:
The Siege
Aim:
Characterisation
Date: 16th September
Writing about a Siege in different styles
Keywords:
Focus: Characters
Character traits
Consider the three main adult characters, Anna, Mikhail and Marina. Who do you think is:
·
·
·
·
·
·
·
the most practical?
the most unrealistic?
caring?
thoughtful?
the most altruistic (thinks most of others)?
artistic?
formal in speech?
Find evidence in the text to support your choice as you read. There may be more than one of the
characters with each trait.
Title:
The Siege
Aim:
Characterisation
Date: 16th September
Writing about a Siege in different styles
Keywords:
Who is Anna?
We
are told in the chapters in Narrative Sequence 1 that Anna works as a
nursery assistant for a woman called Elizaveta Antonovna.
Imagine that you are Elizaveta and you have to write a report about her.
Make the report very formal, including the following headings:
Ø
Full name
Ø
Family background
Ø
Attitude to work
Ø
Attitude to the children
Ø
General character
Ø
Recommendations
Refer closely to the text as you write the report.
Title:
The Siege
Aim:
Setting
Date: 20th September
Analysing the setting in the first sequence
Keywords:
The paragraph beginning “These are hard times ...” on page 1, and ending
“... in that van this time.” on page 2 refers to life in the Soviet Union under the
leader Stalin in the period leading up to the Second World War.
·
Why is this paragraph important at the beginning of the novel?
·
What does it tell you about the lives of ordinary people in Leningrad
before the siege begins?
·
In what ways does this paragraph convey the sense of terror that
everyone lived under during this period? Consider the language used, the
sentence lengths and the images used.
The countryside around Leningrad
Write a brief descriptive paragraph (150-180 words) about
each of the following:
Ø
Anna's dacha (country house)p. 3-4, 8, 10, 15, 16, 18, 35-36
Ø
Marina's dacha p. 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32,
Ø
The journey Anna makes from her dacha to Marina's 23, 28,
29, 35
Choose one of your descriptive paragraphs
and turn it into a persuasive Real Estate
advertisement
Title: The Siege - style
Date: 27th September
Aim: What is point of view?
What point of view is used in 'The Siege' and why?
The use of tenses and their effects
Keywords: point of view, style, tense
What would be your Russian name?
first
name
patronym
family
name
pet
name
In literature, particularly novels, a
is the related experience of the narrator, or storyteller, not that
point of view
of the author. In The Siege, the point of view often seems to shift from one perspective to another. There are four
points of view available to an author:
·
·
·
·
First person
the narrator is a character in the story
Second person
unusual and difficult to manage
Third person limited
picking one character and following him or her
Third person omniscient shifting from character to character with
knowledge of everyone’s thoughts and actions
In this novel, Helen Dunmore uses all four points of view. The first-person point of view occurs rarely, mostly in
the ‘Interludes’.
The second-person point of view occurs just as rarely, usually to draw the reader into the story at a point of
description or when a setting is being explored. Most common are the two third-person points of view.
On pages 4-6 of Chapter 1 we are introduced to Anna' s father, Mikhail, through a third-person
omniscient point of view description of his appearance “in front of a magazine committee”. Rewrite 250 words of
this passage from a first-person point of view as if Mikhail is telling Anna about the incident.
·What changes do you have to introduce? What difference does this make to the reader’s (your) understanding
of what happened?
Title: The Siege - narrative sequence 2
Aim: Working on the Luga Line
Who are the minor characters?
Keywords: Narrative, Characterisation
What was the Luga line?
Date: 4th October
Title: The Siege - narrative sequence 2
Date: 4th October
Aim: Working on the Luga Line
Who are the minor characters?
Keywords: Narrative, Characterisation
There are six significant incidents in Chapters 7 and 8 related to the working party to
which Anna belongs.
Using the storyboard framework (on a separate sheet), recount each incident in some
detail. You should use both words and pictures
Event 2
Event 3
Event 5
Event 6
Event 1Anna digging on the Luga
Line.
Event 4
Title: The Siege - narrative sequence 2
Date: 4th October
Aim: Working on the Luga Line
Who are the minor characters?
Keywords: Narrative, Characterisation
There are six significant incidents in Chapters 7 and 8 related to the working party to
which Anna belongs.
Using the storyboard framework in Chart 5 (on a separate sheet), recount each incident
in some detail. You should use both words and pictures
Event 2
Event 3
Event 5
Event 6
Event 1Anna digging on the Luga
Line.
Event 4
Title: The Siege - style
Date: 27th September
Aim: What is point of view?
What point of view is used in 'The Siege' and why?
The use of tenses and their effects
Keywords: point of view, style, tense
Minor Characters
There are only a few real ‘minor characters’ in The Siege. In Narrative Sequence 2
we meet, or meet again,
Vasya Sokolov
Katya (Katinka)
Evgenia
(Chapters 7 and 12)
(Chapters 7 and 8)
(Chapters 7, 8 and 10)
Write a couple of paragraphs (200 words min) about each of these characters using
these prompts. Remember to use quotations and cross reference page numbers:
Ø
How much do we learn about each one?
Ø
Do we know what they look like?
Ø
The two female characters are very different. In what ways?
Ø
Anna?
Evgenia will reappear later in the novel. What does she represent for
And for the reader?
Write a couple of paragraphs (200 words min) about each of these characters using these prompts. Remembe
to use quotations and cross reference page numbers:
Ø
How much do we learn about each one?
Ø
Do we know what they look like?
Ø
How is Elizaveta different from the other two characters?
Title: The Siege - Relationships
Date: 10th October
Aim: look at themes within the text
look at the different relationships in the text.
Keywords: Themes, relationships, character
In Narrative Sequence 2, the text explores what is probably one of the most
important themes of the whole novel - human relationships. In particular,
these include:
t
t
t
t
Man and woman as husband and wife
Man and woman as lovers
Mother and child
Woman to woman friendship
·
Draw a chart with each of the above as a heading. Write down the
characters who belong in each. They may appear in more than one. Find
interesting quotations to support your choices.
·
Draw a simple spider diagram or a mind-map with Anna at the centre
and other characters branching off. Show the intersection and development of
these relationships.
Title: The Siege -
Date: 17th October
Aim: look at themes within the text
look at the different relationships in the text.
Keywords:
character
Please try and use specific references from the text in your answers.
Ø
Is it significant that Andrei does not appear until Section 2? Why?
Ø
He is Siberian, not a'Leningrader'. Why is this important?
Ø
How do his views affect our thoughts about the other characters?
Title: The Siege - Style
Date: 4th November
Aim: To analyse Dunmore's use of dramatic devices in Sequence 3
Keywords: scene-setting, Voice over, off stage
Helen Dunmore uses a number of ‘dramatic devices’ in The Siege. The use of the
present tense is one of these. Others include:
1. Scene-setting
Older playwrights often write very long passages introducing each Act or scene in their
plays. Look up some plays by George Bernard Shaw for good examples of this. Today,
films often begin with an aerial view that ‘zooms in’, giving the audience a ‘wider
perspective’ before focusing on the character or a group of characters.
·
Can you think of some films which do this?
2. Voice-over
This device is often used in films to give us the thoughts of characters. At the beginning
of Chapter 23 (pages 217-19) we ‘hear’ Mikhail’s thoughts as he lies dying, printed in
italics and using first person point of view.
·
Read the passage carefully. How does Helen Dunmore express the fact that
Mikhail is dying? Why do his ‘thoughts’ become shorter?
3. Events happening ‘off-stage’
In plays written by the ancient Greeks, there is little action on stage. Characters
describe battles and deaths rather than act them out. Shakespeare sometimes does
this in his plays, also.
·
In Narrative Sequence 3, there is one major event affecting Mikhail that
happens ‘off-stage’. What is this event?
·
What effect does this event have on the reader?
·
What does the event tell us about our attitudes to death?
Title: The Siege - Style
Date: 4th November
Aim: To analyse Dunmore's use of dramatic devices in Sequence 3
Keywords:
‘Echoing’ and ‘Pre-figuring’
‘Echoing’ and ‘Pre-figuring’
In The Siege there are a number of scenes which ‘echo’ earlier scenes, or which
‘pre-figure’ later scenes, depending on which way you look at them. These help
to keep the reader alert while reading, as well as binding parts of the narrative
together. In Narrative Sequence 3, as the story comes to a climax, these
become significant. Consider the following scenes:
Ø
Ø
Ø
Anna drawing Marina in Chapter 19 (pages 184–6)
Marina's raspberry and cloudberry jam in Chapter 28 (pages 266–9)
The Vasya Sokolov incident in Chapter 29 (pages 277–9)
·
Find the passages earlier in the novel which correspond to each of these
incidents. Analyse the differences between the two passages, then complete
Chart 6 (on a separate sheet).
·
them.
Add other scenes of a similar kind to your chart, as you come across
Title: The Siege - Style
Date: 8th November
Aim: To analyse Dunmore's use of dramatic devices in Sequence 3
Keywords: motifs, symbols.
We have looked at ‘motifs’ in earlier activities (Make sure to highlight and cross
reference any more references to the motifs in this sequence). In Narrative
Sequence 3, one or two of these motifs gain in importance and begin to act as
symbols, representing everything that the reader thinks of when presented with
them.
In Narrative Sequence 3, the two most important symbols are the ‘burzhuika’
and ‘home’. The first is an object, the second is an idea.
1.
The burzhuika
This is a simple wood-burning stove or room-heater. In the immense cold of the
Leningrad winter, it is the Levin family’s only method of heating.
·
Think about the idea of heating a house or an apartment. What methods
are used today?
·
Can you imagine having only one method of heating in your house?
What difference would it make to your lifestyle?
·
Think about the importance of keeping warm in the cold months.
2. Home
There is a traditional saying in English, “Home is where the heart is”.
·
What does 'home' mean to you? Think of everything that comes to mind
when you say the word ‘home’.
·
Draw a mind-map to show your ideas.
Title: The Siege - Themes
Date: 8th November
Aim: To analyse Dunmore's use of Themes throughout the novel
Keywords:
Life and Death
Three significant characters die in Narrative Sequence 3 of The Siege.
However, none of these deaths actually ‘happens’ as part of the story.
Read the following passages carefully,
(a)
Chapter 21, pages 203-5: “Anna massages Andrei’s legs ... “ to “
‘Of
course he will.’ “
(b)
Chapter 28, pages 257-8: “Nine days now since her father’s
death” to “ ...
the dead lie on the floor in puddles of ice.”
(c)
Chapter 29, page 274: “‘Kolya what are you talking about?’ “ to “ ...
‘and
where your queen goes.’ “
The first to die is Vanka, the baby of Zina and Feyodor, the Levins’
neighbours; the second is Mikhail; the third is Marina.
·
In what ways does Helen Dunmore show that life triumphs over
death in these passages?
·
Write a short paragraph about this, considering the following
questions:
Ø
Ø
Ø
Ø
When does each person die?
How does each person die?
What is happening when each death is reported?
What is Anna’s role in each of these reports?
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