Thoughts on 2019 A-Level Paper 3

2019ALevelP3

“Predictably unpredictable.” In a season of first decades, Galapagos Islands and vaccine industries, there was little by way of curveballs for both Lit papers.

While I was expecting broad concepts and terms in relation to the mind and self, the paper still surprised with the broadness of ‘self-understanding’, ‘preoccupation’ and ‘consciousness of self’ which truth be told, really could apply to almost any interpretation of the mind and self. Here are my thoughts on the questions and possible approaches to the three sections: Continue reading “Thoughts on 2019 A-Level Paper 3”

Truly

Perfect Places

In our introductory JC1 Paper 3 lecture, we leaped into Lorde’s ‘Perfect Places‘, replete with the dilemmas and discontents of youth, and opened the doors to analysing patterns and words in literary texts.

This post takes the lecture on a journey to the familiar ‘Home’, drawing connections on the mind and self between the two songs. If you feel rather lost about ‘analysis‘, this post provides some guidance by examining a few words for meaning and effect. For our readers in JC2, you may find that the first section wanders (unintentionally) into unseen poetry comparison territory.

Continue reading “Truly”

Why Compare?

In the now-iconic ‘2 mothers in a hdb playground’, Arthur Yap gives us these quintessentially Singaporean lines from two mothers comparing their children, ah beng and kim cheong (italics mine):

ah beng is so smart,
already he can watch tv and know the whole story
your kim cheong is also quite smart,
what boy is he in the exam? […]

kim cheong eats so little.
give him some complan. my ah beng was like that,
now he’s different, if you give him anything
he’s sure to finish it all up.

We compare people, places, things all the time in real life. We might even argue, Bloom’s Taxonomy be d**ned, that comparison is a cognitive skill on its own: our understanding of the world around us, particularly unfamiliar terrain, is shaped by what we already know, or what we are well acquainted with. When we travel to foreign lands, our observations are often filtered through a Singaporean lens, where “Oh, it’s so messy here” or “They are really laidback here” is always already a reflection of our own experience back home. Like in Yap’s “2 mothers”, comparison can be used to confirm our own understanding of our context (i.e. Singapore) and affirm ourselves (i.e. my son is better than your son). The same would surely apply to the Sony/Microsoft, DC/Marvel, Samsung/Apple fanboy wars.

Continue reading “Why Compare?”

I Smell a Bat

Now that the curtains have been unveiled, we are free to welcome Mr. Ian Tan into the team! Check out his excellent “How to Read a Poem” series on YouTube, which should prove very useful to your grasp of the unseen for H2 Paper 3 and poetry comparison in H2 Paper 1. Read on for a few more selections from Mr. Tan’s series

Mind
Richard Wilbur

Mind in its purest play is like some bat
That beats about in caverns all alone,
Contriving by a kind of senseless wit
Not to conclude against a wall of stone.

It has no need to falter or explore;
Darkly it knows what obstacles are there,
And so may weave and flitter, dip and soar
In perfect courses through the blackest air.

And has this simile a like perfection?
The mind is like a bat. Precisely. Save
That in the very happiest of intellection
A graceful error may correct the cave.

Continue reading “I Smell a Bat”

Questions on the Unseen

Post-Mid Year Section A Review

You were invited to ask me questions about either poem, analysis / response skills or how to go about dealing with specific evidence on Mentimeter. As Prince Charming observes, better to be a toad than a t*rd! Find my responses below. Also remember to head over to the Essays section to read a selection of ‘good’ responses from the Mid Year Exam – the same password applies.

Continue reading “Questions on the Unseen”

Unpinning the Dress

ITMFL2

In this extension tutorial, 17-E1 examines the use of voice and rhythm to Christine Chia‘s pithy and potent ‘New Year Dress’.  Remember to apply the skills of picking out (for voice) perspective, tone, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, (for rhythm) pauses, end-stopped lines and enjambment from our retread of Larkin’s ‘Mr Bleaney’. 🙂

New Year Dress

A dress is not just a dress
when your mother gives it to you
with the instruction that you
must wear it on the first day
of Chinese New Year.                                      5
You’ll never buy anything like that
but you put it on,
so that she’ll be happy,
radiant in front of the relatives
because she birthed you,                                10
clothed you, owned you,
like the dress she gave you.

> ‘.’ <

Write a critical paragraph on the above poem, relating it to the portrayal of the relationship between parent and child. You may respond to the guiding questions below, or roam free. Upon completion, let Mr. Lim know and await a few less-than-motherly words of affection. If given the green light, your newly clothed paragraph can see the light of day – post it as a comment here. Remember to leave your name somewhere!

> ‘.’ <

What

  • Who is the persona, and what are her feelings about the ‘New Year Dress’?

How

  • Why does the poem employ the second-person point of view (‘you’)? What is the tone, or attitude towards the dress?
  • Which words in lines 1-9 express the persona’s tone? Identify patterns of words (e.g. conjunctions, modal verbs, adjectives) and closely analyse how they evoke the tone.
  • Comment on the progression (change in effects) in lines 10-12, considering 1-2 features listed below:
    – Enumeration, or the listing of verbs (birthed, clothed, owned)
    – The repetition of ‘you’ at the end (i.e. epistrophe) and the pauses after ‘you’
    – The shift from enjambment (lines 1-5) to end-stopped lines (lines 10-12)

Why

  • What does the persona’s attitude towards the dress suggest about her relationship with her mother?
  • What can we say about the relationship between a parent and a child in general?

‘Strange Fruit’ Paragraph Review

Hi people, Ms Yeo and I originally intended to use our first tutorial this week to review the paragraph you wrote on the poem ‘Strange Fruit’, and it is with a strange mix of joy and self-annoyance that we did not. I would go as far as to say that all the work I received was very encouraging indeed, in that everyone sought to analyse the poem for methods, evidence and effects… and no one attempted to ‘explain’ what was going on in the poem. With that in mind, I personally did not want to dedicate a tutorial to covering skills most of you have mastered, and so ask that you use your next two tasks to work on your strengths and areas for improvement!

Led by the guiding questions, many paragraphs ably analysed the external effects on the reader, with some detailing your experience of the work: being lulled into calmness by one line, surprised by the next, drawn back into the illusion of safety, and shocked out of your slumber. Being aware of ‘how the reader feels’ is important because it tells us you are aware that the text is, well, an ‘experience’ constructed with methods, in order to evoke effects and make a particular statement (purpose). Keep this up, especially as we move into analysing our two dramatic texts, Measure for Measure and Woman in Mind, as the effects on stage (e.g. fantastical, comic, tense) will often differ from the effects on their respective audiences.

Some, though not all, were able to support this with a pattern of evidence and close analysis of specific evidence. On the bright side, everybody was able to identify methods and analyse at least some evidence. What I’d like to see everyone also do is identify 2-3 bite-size quotations that fall under the method you are listing. If you are selecting ‘crows to pluck’, I would expect you to also consider ‘sun to rot’ and ‘wind to suck’ as they all present a sense of destruction or from the perspective of the fruit, a complete vulnerability to the violence of nature. Continue reading “‘Strange Fruit’ Paragraph Review”