This year we are having the IGCSE for some subjects. One of them is Literature, and in the exam we will have to work on an unseen paper. That’s why our teacher, Pat Chujman, gave us some tips and advice on how to do this part of the exam. Here is a summary of them I did with Belén Alonso.
The Moving Finger
- Edith Wharton was an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and designer. She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921.
Birth: January 24, 1862
Death: August 11, 1937
Edith Newbold Jones
January 24, 1862
August 11, 1937 (aged 75)
2) EEUU, New York
3) Edith Wharton wrote several of her novels there, including The House of Mirth (1905), the first of many chronicles of life in old New York.
4) Wharton drew upon her insider’s knowledge of the upper class New York «aristocracy» to realistically portray the lives and morals of the Gilded Age.
5) GOTHIC: Description Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.
UNCANNY: Strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.
In Literature we are reading “Romeo and Juliet”. Before reading Act 2, our teacher, Jackie Kramer, told us to make a “previously on Romeo and Juliet” that will work as the prologue of this act. I worked with Serena Braun. Here is our work:
After a fight between Capulets and Montagues in the streets of Verona, Prince Escales told everyone that if he saw someone else fighting he would sentence that person to death. At the same time, Romeo was depressed and heartbroken because Rosaline, the woman he loved, didn’t love him back. Anyway, he is informed about a Capulet party where she will go and decides to go just to see her. From the other hand, Juliet talks with her mother and the nurse about marriage, and tells them she is not prepared to marry yet, and that she is not interested in Paris. At the party, Romeo and Juliet fall in love and kiss. But later, they found out that they were enemies, and that their love was prohibited.
In our last Literature class we worked on literary devices and our teacher left us the following activity to work on:
- You’re sad – metaphor
- You’re tired – hyperbole
- You’re cold – oxymoron
- You want peace in the world – use a symbol
- Think of a setting to highlight you’re depressed. Give details.
- A bee is bothering – use alliteration
- You feel uncomfortable in a room – personification
- You’re bored – simile
1. My heart is broken.
2. My body is killing me.
3. I’m bowling cold.
4. I don’t want any crows flying in the sky, just white doves.
5. I feel as if I was walking on a rainy gloomy day and the drops were my tears.
6. While the bee bothered my boss became mad.
7. I feel as if the walls were staring at me.
8. I’m as bored as if I was in school.
The Open Boat-Activity
By: Paz Bernusi, Mora Malenchini and Felicitas De Simone
1) Why is the Oiler given a name (Billie)?Why are the others only referred to generally?
The name of the Oiler is given because he is the different one. All of them were the ones whose destiny was to survive but his destiny was different, he needed to die, he needed to save the others. Billie is the special one, he is not as the others.
2) Why is that the Oiler dies and not anyone else?
Billie is the one who dies because according to determinism things happen because they are meant to. His destiny was to die and save the others, he was the weakest and that’s why he needed to die, to save the fittest, like Darwin’s theory explains.
3) Why is the view of Nature presented in this story?
Nature’s view is that humans are less powerful than her, that she has control of what happens to people and can decide their destiny. Things always depend on her as she has more power than anyone.
4) What is the view of the men presented in
The view of men is that they depend on nature, they can die in any moment because nature decides what happens to them. Nature is always stronger than the person, no one can challenge nature because they will always end up losing.
5) How do the men in the Open Boat relate to each other?
To reach land they needed each other. Each of them had a role and without each other, probably they would have all died. They all needed to row and were always changing places so that no one was very tired. If they were alone none of them would have survived.
6) What “patterns” or “repetitions” do you find in the story? How are these important to understand the story?
The colors white, grey and black are mentioned all throughout the story. Each of them represents something and gives us a foreshadowing of what will happen. This is very important to understand each of the parts of the story and to know if what is happening is good or bad for them. Black is shown to represent death, chaos and destruction. Grey means emotionless and dull. White is the positive color, it represents purity, protection and goodness.
7) Where does the narrator seem to ‘intrude’ into the story? Is this distracting? Is it effective?
The narrator intrudes himself in the story when he judges the characters on it. This is something that makes us reflect, we do not know if what the narrator is telling from someone is what is really going on or if it is his own opinion, his own judgement. It’s distracting. For example when he says that Billie died because he was the weakest one, probably him and the characters of the story didn’t think the same about him. It may have been the narrator’s own opinión.
8) What do you think about the ending to the story (after we found out that Billie, the Oiler, dies)? Is this truthful, or is the narrator being ironic?
In our opinion the ending is ironic, we think that the writer wants to use irony when Billie dies because for us if he died and did it for the others it is because he is the strongest one, the fittest one, not the weakest one.
9) Why did Crane use the structure he did—the seven sections with Roman numerals?
He uses this structure to represent the Seven
Gods of the sea that are part of nature and are always defining the destiny of the sailors. Also the seven represents eternity and spirit. This is related to their journey in the boat and how much they change throughout it.
Pathways to interpretation
1)Consider the biographical context and connections.
The story connects with the narrators biography. He knew how being in a situation like that one was like. He had experienced it. He could explain very well every feeling, every moment, everything that went through the mind of the men in the boat because he also had been through that. This is connected to the story when it is narrated. The narrator can explain very vividly how the situation of the men was.
2) Consider the historical context and connections.
The story is connected to Naturalism and Determinism. In those times, people used to believe in this theories. Naturalism is the theory that explains that nobody can challenge Nature as she will always win and has the control of what happens to us. This is connected to the story because the men in the boat were always depending on Nature. She decided what happened to them. They couldn’t fight against her. Also, Determinism is shown. Determinism explains that things are determined, we can’t decide what happens to us. We can’t change things. We have a destiny. This theory is actually similar to Naturalism, the men in the story had a destiny and couldn’t change it. The Oiler should die as he was the weakest, the others should survive as they were the fittest.
Patterns in “the open boat”
1) Uses of and references of COLORS:
The colors that appear are white, gray and black.
- White: It is a positive color, associated with purity, virginity, innocence, light, goodness, protection and perfection. He uses white, for example, to describe how the water was, with this we can notice that by using white to describe water he is expressing the transparency and the purity of it.
- Gray: Emotionless moody color that is typically associated with meanings of dull, dirty and dingy, as well as formal and conderrative. He uses in a moment gray to say how a shadow is, so we can observe that gray is a scary and negative color.
- Black: It is a negative color, it represents death, chaos, destruction and that the end of the world is coming. In many parts of the story he uses the color “black” and in one of those parts he writes it to talk about the black shadow of a house. Maybe with “black” he wanted to express what he thought, that was that he did not have a good omen on that house.
3) References to ANIMALS: The only animal mentioned in the story is the gull, that represents communication and community. In the boat communication and community were very important. All the men needed each other and needed to communicate to work as a community and survive. Also, for the people in the boat, the gull meant happiness and hope because they knew that they were near land.
8) Hints or clues or foreshadowing about the Oiler.
In the story the death of the Oiler is foreshadowed for example when he started saying the verse and explaining what it was about. The verse talks about a soldier dying and saying that he might never see his own native land ever again. This is very related to the story because the Oiler was like the soldier of the captain, he was his right hand and would do whatever for him and to help, even die. This is why when he says that the soldier would never see his native own land again it foreshadows that him, as the soldier of the captain would die to save him and never go back to his land and normal
9)References to DEATH or DEAD SLEEP:
When sleeping is mentioned it symbolizes death. The men in the boat were always tired and wanted to sleep, this can symbolize that they were always close to death and could possibly die. This is also related to the death of the Oiler too. He started feeling very tired, and some time later he died. This is a clear foreshadowing of death by using sleep as a symbol of it.
10) The ENDING- – are they really “interpreters”?
In the ending the characters failed interpreting the death of the Oiler. They thought they won the battle against nature, and that the Oiler had been ill-fated. But really they didn’t won, one of them sacrificed to save the others, and nature took his life. The death of one ruins the possibility of winning because winning is not ending with a friend dead.
11) Do the men in The Open Boat overcome Nature, or are they spared by Nature?
The men in the story couldn`t overcome Nature, it is impossible as Naturalism explains. Nature is always superior. Men depended on her, they were spared by Nature. The men at the end of the story thought that they had won the battle against Nature but actually they hadn’t, they had lost it as Billie had died. The Nature decided that he should die and they could do nothing about it because she was and is, more powerful than anyone.
In our Literature class we have read the poem «One art» and now we have to answer in pairs the following questions:
1. What do you think the poet means by «the art of losing» and how serious is she about this idea?
2. How important is the poem’s form to your reading of it?
3. What effect does the refrain have upon your understanding of the poem’s tone? How does the meaning of this single line change throughout the piece?
4. What are we actually meant to believe about the poet’s reaction to her losses?
5. How honest is the poet with herself? With her readers?
This is the poem:
By Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979
This are the answers:
1. The poet by saying «the art of losing» means that losing is something that is inevitable so she says that learning how to deal with it is not difficult. That moving on after losing someone or something is not a disaster, that it is an art we all can do as it isn’t hard to master.
2. The poem’s form is very useful to understand the message as it has a lot of repetition. It is always reminding us that «the art of losing is not hard to master» and puts different examples to prove it so that we can see how what she says is right. Also when she changes her mind instead of putting three lines per stanza she puts four in the last one, she changes her opinion and changes the format.
3. At the end of each stanza the poet always goes back to the idea that «the art of losing is not hard to master» and that «none of this will bring disaster» but when she starts explaining her point with examples we can see that she is wrong because it depends on what you lose. She starts by keys, losing a key is not a disaster, this can be solved. Then places and names. Well, this is more important than objects but it is not the end of the world. But by the time we reach the end she talks about «my mother’s watch», probably the fact of losing it does not make you feel sad because of the object but because of the value you give to it. And finally a person. Losing a person is something difficult and she realizes this and when she says this she doesn’t say «the art of losing isn’t hard to master», instead she says «the art of loosing isn’t TOO hard to master» and this makes a big difference.
4. We can notice that she thinks that losing material things is nothing serious and that this is not a disaster for us, that it is not important. But when she talks about losing things with a value that can’t be replaced she changes her mind and says it is not «too» difficult when she knows it is.
5. The poet is not honest with herself or with us. She wants to convince herself and us about something that is not real. «The art of losing isn’t hard to master». Well no, it is. Losing something or someone is difficult because you can never get exactly what you had. Sometimes things are not important for us for what they arw but for what they mean for us.
Here there is a presentation that our Literature tacher showed us in class and that we have analyzed.
Our Literature teacher told us to answer some things in our blog that are posted in hers.
1.The poem is about a girl whose mother had died and that was new in a school. She had died her hair blue and the new school had sent her back home because of this so her and her father try to fight against the school conformity and lack of understanding. The school said that dying her hair blue was forbidden because it was «not done in the school colors» so at the end one a black friend dyes her hair grey, white and yellow, the school colors. The school could do nothing, it was done in the school colors, right?
2.Intention of Adcock (the writer): The intention of the writer seems to be for schools and people to understand teenagers. Nowadays many teens feel that nobody understands them, that they do not belong to the society because the society does not accept them for who they are and neither do schools. This is something that, thanks to the poem, I realized we need to change, we need to accept people for who they are and not because who we want them to be and this is what the writer wants us to think when we read the poem.
3/4.The poem makes us feel as if we are reading a story because the writer uses a technique based on punctuation that makes us keep o reading and this is something we usually find in stories. In most of the stanzas there is not a finished idea. If we start reading it we cannot stop because to finish the whole idea we need to keep on reading until the end. This is very important for the poem because it is not the same if we finish a concept in a paragraph or if we do not finish it until the poem ends. Each stanza is like a chapter of a book that always ends in a way that makes you keep on reading until the end.
5.The headmistress and the teachers sound ridiculous because Adcock uses irony to describe their speech. For example when he says: «You wiped your eyes, also not in the schools colors». This makes what they say sound nonsense and ridiculous because they do not let students dye their hair because they do not accept their styles, not because it is «not done in the school colors», they think that for going to school everybody needs to look the same and does not let them choose, they obligate them.
8.The tone of the poet is sad (blue, grief), gloomy. She looks upset of what the society is nowadays. The poem reflects unfairness, discrimination, conformity, rebellion and lack of understanding. At the end the feelings change it is more based on empathy, friendship and solidarity because of the black friend that supported her.
9. We can see what the writer feels about schools and conformity by the symbolism, sound devices and imagery he uses. At the beginning of the poem he explains that Heidi wanted to dye her hair but not of any color, of blue. This color represents sadness, sorrow and grief. This is a way of expressing and representing what Heidi felt and also probably what also Adcock felt too. Also when talking about the friend at the end we can notice that she is described as a black girl and black represents sadness and death.
10. The rebellion in the poem made us find it vulnerable because of the main reason Heidi had for rebelling, her mother’s death. Also I think that this is because when talking about society, schools, conformity and lack of understanding I share my views with the poet and most of us do as we know how being teenagers is and probably we have been in a situation in which we feel like Heidi does in the poem.
11. The poem says that «The battle was already won» because as I have mentioned before there was a fight in which the school fought against Heidi and her father and at the end the last two win and a black friend from Heidi forms part of the team as she also dyes her hair. The battle was based on the difference of opinion between the school (who doesn’t accept Heidi’s hair) and Heidi, her father and the black friend had (understand Heidi’s behavior).
In our literarure class we read «The fall of the House of Usher» from Edgar Allan Poe and in pairs we did the following analysis of the characters that appear in the story. I worked with Serena Braun.
The Narrator: He is an old friend of Roderick Usher, the protagonist of the story. One day he receives a letter from him begging him to come to his house and telling him that he needed his help because of a malady he had. The narrator felt the obligation of going, he couldn’t let his friend down in a situation like that one. When he arrived the house he realized the bad condition of his friend, his sister and the house in which he lived, The House of Usher. All of them seemed to be about to break down or die, they had a terrible aspect, actually a similar one. In his time in the house he read books and talked a lot with Roderick, thanks to this the narrator noticed Roderick’s strange behaviours and feelings that were not common and started suspecting that his friend needed to say something but couldn’t. In the story the narrator talks about things that can be real but that can also be hallucinations or dreams, he does not know how to distinguish the rational from the supernatural so we never know what is real and what is not.
Roderick Usher: He is the main character in the story. He suffered from a malady that all his family had before, extreme senses. He also had a very serious mental disorder. He wanted to die because he didn’t want to suffer anymore but at the same time he was scared. He needed to say something important but could not. He always felt things and acted in strange ways. He was completely mad, he decided to put his sister inside a coffin when he knew she was alive. He knew this because of several things like the faint blush upon the bosom of the face that his sister had when they were burying her. In my opinion Roderick buried his sister because of the connection these two had. If madeline died he would die too so he put her in a coffin were he knew she wouldn’t escape and where she would die, but although it was difficult to escape, things didn’t go as he expected. Roderick and his sister used to be part of a beautiful and very rich family that lived in the House of Usher when it was in good conditions, actually it was empressively nice and full of joy before things changed.
Madeline: She was Roderick’s sister. She suffered from catalepsy, an illness in which she seemed to be dead for aproximately two days but in which she was actually alive and woke up after some time. She was mad. Her condition was terrible. It was so bad that once she heard his brother say that he knew she was about to die and that she would die before him. She was buried alive in a coffin and tried to escape for days, she screamed, cried but nobody helped her. The only person that could hear her was his brother because of his extreme senses but didn’t help her to escape because he wanted her to die so that he would die too because of the connection I mentioned before that would kill him too if she died. At the end of the story she escapes from the vault and dies with her brother. After this the house falls down and brakes into millions of pieces. I think that this also has something to do with the death of Madeline and Roderick, the last of the Ushers, and the connection they had with the house.
Character Summary: All the characters in the story are very different in my opinion but have something in common, they all want to break free from the malady. In the story I think that the narrator left the house because he was scared, the only reason why he didn’t go before was because of his friend. Before leaving the house the narrator was also starting to act in a strange way as well as Madeline and Roderick before dying. In my opinion the house was the main cause of their strange behaviour, the malady and it also was what connected Madeline and Roderick and was starting to connect the narrator too. I think this because at the beggining of the story the Ushers were the only ones that were mad but at the end the narrator was starting to act like them too and had a lot more similarities and connections with them at the ending than at the beggining and this is beacause the more time they spent in the house the creziest each of them got.
Today Pat, our Literature teacher, showed us a of presentation gothic literature which we can connect to The House of Usher, the story we are reading.