aqa anthology short stories l.
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AQA ANTHOLOGY SHORT STORIES. AQA ANTHOLOGY. Flight by Doris Lessing Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit by Sylvia Plath Your Shoes by Michele Roberts Growing Up by Joyce Cary The End of Something by Ernest Hemmingway Chemistry by Graham Swift Snowdrops by Leslie Norris Summary.

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aqa anthology

Flight by Doris Lessing

Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit by Sylvia Plath

Your Shoes by Michele Roberts

Growing Up by Joyce Cary

The End of Something by Ernest Hemmingway

Chemistry by Graham Swift

Snowdrops by Leslie Norris


  • The old man keeps pigeons which he cares for, showing his kind, caring nature.
  • The granddaughter is growing up and he does not like this.
  • His mood is influenced by his granddaughter’s appearance. He becomes troubles, angry and over-protective. He thinks she is too young to be ‘courting’.
  • The description of her boyfriend, Steven, from the old man’s point of view is very negative and he seems like a violent youth.
  • He is angry as he does not want her to grow up.
  • She remains defiant, showing she is older now and can stand up to him.
  • He is powerless, as when he goes to his granddaughter’s mother (his own daughter) she tells him not to be so silly.
  • He feels empty and alone and cries.
They give him a pigeon as a peace offering. He seems childish as he accepts it.
  • He feels shut out by their grown up nature.
  • He lets his favourite pigeon go, almost as if he feels this is symbolic of having to let his final granddaughter go.
  • The woman, his granddaughter, watches this, mixed with the doves.
  • The doves all return, but there is no mention of the pigeon who is gone forever.
  • His granddaughter is in tears at the end as she perhaps realises finally why her grandfather is so upset.
  • He is described as grandfather at the end and just old man at the beginning, an indication that he has become more of a person to her at the end.
superman and paula brown s new snowsuit
  • Set in Boston, USA.
  • The first section deals with the author’s dreams which are colourful and imaginative.
  • Superman dominates the dreams and gives a sense of innocence, freedom and liberation.
  • Superman games are played at school, but only by the writer and David, making them outsiders. Another outsider joins them as the villain. They seem childish and innocent at this time.
  • The dream Superman looks like the narrator’s Uncle Frank which shows the narrator’s admiration for him.
  • The backdrop of war gives a sense of foreboding to the second half of the story.
The child’s world continues with the birthday party of Paula Brown, which is full of traditional children’s things.
  • Seeing the film about Japanese prisoners of war makes the narrator sick and begins the start of reality into the story as Superman doesn’t come to save the day.
  • When they play Chinese tag the narrator is blamed, falsely for the accident and there seems no way out, no help.
  • The narrator is clearly an outsider now and no one comes to help.
  • Even the Superman figure of her Uncle does not seem to help much, although he does not shift the blame fully.
  • The language and imagery at the end suggest the frustration of the narrator at the unfairness of it all.
  • Suddenly from childish innocence, there is the harsh realisation of the real world, which is not a nice and fair place.
  • Everything changes forever from this point.
your shoes
  • A monologue from the point of view of a mother.
  • She is talking to the shoes, gradually we feel less sympathy for her.
  • Her daughter has run away, but she seems more concerned about how she feels than about her daughter.
  • She likes order in her life and hates the chaos that her daughter’s disappearance has caused.
  • She imagines the squalor that her daughter may now be living in and hates the idea of it, begging for money and maybe prostitution.
  • We hear about the cause of her disappearance, her father has called her some terrible things.
  • She takes the attitude that when she was young they weren’t spoilt and that they have given her everything she wanted, but this is contradicted by the curtain incident, which shows that they gave her everything they wanted her to have, not what she wanted.
She expresses unhappiness with the ‘mob’ she got in with at school.
  • She is surprised her daughter hasn’t taken her new shoes, but they are a reminder of her mother’s controlling nature and she would not want them.
  • They are not good at expressing feelings, which is ironic as that is what the passage is doing, but it is too late now.
  • Her attitude to her daughter shows she does not understand she is growing up.
  • She feels her daughter is ‘empty headed’ and labels both her and her friends as undesirables, showing her prejudices.
  • Her background may explain why she feels this way as she felt insecure as a child.
  • She dislikes her mother and feels her daughter is turning out like her.
  • Her own marriage turns out to be just a re-bound, so her whole life is based on a lack of love.
  • She feels a failure and that everyone is blaming her for this. She wallows in her own self pity.
  • There is a worrying sense of insanity at the end, she talks to the shoes as if they are her daughter and holds them close to her. Perhaps if she had done this when her daughter was there then none of this would have happened.
growing up
  • The wild garden reflects the wildness of the girls.
  • There is a clear divide between daughters and father, they do not fully communicate with him, but then he does not with them either.
  • Mr and Mrs Quick seem to neglect their daughters with his work and her social life.
  • The daughters are presented as untidy and dirty, certainly not the sweet innocent daughter figures the father imagines them to be.
  • He almost seems scared of his daughters and when Jenny and Kate do communicate with him, it is in a savage manner.
  • They are violent to the dog. The language becomes angry, violent and fragmented to emphasise the horror of the situation.
  • Robert Quick is shocked, but his remonstration is pathetic and results in the savage game where his daughters attack him like a wild animal.
  • He almost seems like a bullied child here.
  • They talk to him like he is at least an equal and, in fact, inferior to them when they inspect the plaster they have placed on his cut.
  • They show adult seriousness and responsibility when handing round cake at the tea party their mother holds.
  • He realises they have changed, grown up and he is older too, their relationship has changed.
the end of something
  • The closing down of the mill and the slumbering town shows that once something has outlived its usefulness it has to end. This can be linked to the end of Nick and Marjorie’s relationship.
  • The atmosphere when Nick and Marjorie visit is one of emptiness, loneliness.
  • They fish, but there seems little sense of closeness between them. It is difficult to tell what their relationship is or how old they are.
  • Nick advises Marjorie on how to fish. He seems the character with the skill.
  • The catching of a trout is exhilarating.
  • Nick is irritated by Marjorie knowing everything. He feels he taught her. There is a lack of warmth and contact between them.
  • When she urges him to tell her what’s wrong he says that their relationship isn’t fun, but is he also referring to life in general?
  • There is an atmosphere of sadness as there is no argument, she just leaves him after he claims life isn’t fun.
  • Bill arrives and it seems Nick had planned to split up with Marjorie all along.
  • Nick needs time to think after it is all over.
  • There is a sense of life going on as Bill eats a sandwich.
  • The passage explores relationships and how painful the end of a relationship can be.
  • The first section shows the fond relationship the narrator shares with his Grandfather.
  • This all changes after the seemly unsinkable boat they sail sinks representing a death.
  • Ralph is an unpleasant figure to the narrator and is presented as being loud and coarse. He seems powerful and large, but is kept under control by the narrator’s mother.
  • The Grandfather is gradually made more of an outsider despite the fact they live in his house.
  • The Grandfather has looked after his daughter and Grandson since the narrator’s father died.
  • Grandfather tries to wind up Ralph by eating slowly and generally being difficult.
  • The shed is a place of safety and is a mini home.
  • People change is a clear message of the piece. This can be linked to Grandfather’s experiments with Chemistry as he changes things on the surface, although deeper down they stay the same.
  • The narrator’s mother seems to decline under the influence of Ralph and alcohol. She seems trapped under his influence.
Ralph is described as being like an animal.
  • The narrator plans to throw acid in Ralph's face, showing the hatred held for him.
  • Visited by his father in a dream the narrator feels his mother is to blame for the sinking of his boat and the end of the good relationship they all once had. He also convinces himself that his mother killed his own father. He needs a scapegoat.
  • This is all prevented by his Grandfather’s death.
  • Pathetic fallacy is used where it is raining to reflect the mood of the sad scene.
  • The official verdict was suicide, but the narrator feels there was more to it, blaming his mother for shutting him out of their lives.
  • The end is a poignant and sad memory of his grandfather catching the boat as he always used to. He is gone but the memory remains.
  • The passage opens with language of a parent talking to a young child, showing this is about young children.
  • The father seems especially big compared to the small children. He almost seems to keep them safe and warm from the harsh weather outside.
  • The Meredith boy is being buried, at only 20 this is a clear tragedy. He was friendly with Miss Webster, the young boy’s teacher.
  • School seems a happy place, with warmth, laughter and interesting things to do.
  • There is a large build up to seeing the snowdrops, it is an exciting voyage of discovery for the boys.
  • Miss Webster arrives later, all in black from the funeral. She is clearly upset, but tries to put on a brave face.
The boy doesn't understand what has happened and thinks she is sad because of her trapped finger.
  • Miss Webster doesn’t finish the story but takes them to see the snowdrops at the time the funeral is due to begin.
  • The snowdrops are examined, to the backdrop of the funeral.
  • When the boy wants to ask Miss Webster suddenly she is gone and her back is to them. There is a hardness about her as she is now fully adult and not involved in their childish world.
  • The snowdrops are fragile, like human life and human emotions.
  • The ending is sad, with the children frightened as Miss Webster cries in the middle of them, unable to contain her grief anymore.
  • There is a clear gap between the harsh adult world and the innocence of children.
  • Some of the stories present the changes from childhood to adolescence.
  • They look at how adults cope with their children getting older.
  • They examine the relationships children and young adults have with each other and how they deal with them.
  • It is important to compare two stories in exam answers.