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Close Reading What to look out for…
Key Reminders • Marks – this will give you a guide for how much to write. 2 1 0, 2 0 etc. • Paragraphs – you will be told which paragraphs contain the answer in brackets (). Only use info from that paragraph – otherwise score ZERO! • Bold – key instructions will appear in bold. Read these carefully and follow.
Understanding • Aim is to see that you have grasped what is being said/suggested in the text. Types: Obtain particular information. Grasp feelings or ideas implied. Meanings in context. How ideas are carried on.
Obtain particular information: • ‘…find an expression…’ • You must give a quotation. • It will be either a single word or a short phrase – You shouldn’t be copying an entire sentence! • You will often be asked to ‘find evidence’ but you may come across a question which asks you to ‘explain in your own words’. Lift words – score ZERO!
Past Paper – 2008 General 3. Thurso is different from the popular image of a surfing location. (a) In your own words, describe the popular image of a surfing location. It’s hard to reconcile the popular tropical imagery of surfing with the town, a raw, exposed kind of place that enjoys little escape from the worst excesses of the Scottish climate. 4. What do the words “jewel in the crown” (Paragraph 3) suggest about Thurso East? The Caithness coastline is peppered with surfing spots, but the jewel in the crown and the target for dedicated wave riders lies within spitting distance of Thurso town centre at a reef break called Thurso East.
Give three pieces of evidence which suggest that Maes Howe is just like any other tourist attraction. • Alan, an Englishman in Historic Scotland tartan trousers, led me into a little shop to issue a ticket. The shop was housed in an old water mill, some distance from the tomb, and sold guidebooks and fridge magnets and tea towels. From the window you could see over the main road to the tomb. • Answer?
In your own words, give two reasons why the writer cannot buy a ticket in advance for the solstice. “Tell you what,” he said. “I’ll give you a ticket so you can come back tomorrow, if you like, but I can’t give you one for the actual solstice, Saturday. We start selling them at two-thirty on the actual solstice. It’s first come, first served.” Answer?
In your own words, explain what effect was created by these costumes. Around here, men wore guns as part of their everyday uniform, packing Winchesters to match their broad-brimmed hats and high-heeled boots… Their quaint costume gave even the most arthritic an air of strutting boyishness that must have been a trial to their elderly wives.
Explain clearly what made the Badland “hard-to-travel” country before reaching Fallon County. The first missionary explorers had given the place this name, a translation of the Plains Indian term meaning something like hard-to-travel country, for its daunting walls and pinnacles and buttresses of eroded sandstone and sheer clay.
Grasp ideas or feelings implied: • It is important when answering these types of questions to read behind the lines and to think about tone. • You may not be ‘given’ the answer directly in the text, but you will need to think about what the author wants you to think about or how they feel. • What does this suggest the mother thought…
General Paper 2008 17 a) How does local surfer Andy Bain feel about the competition? Tick (␣) the best answer. • very negative and angry • quite pleased but worried • excited and not really anxious b) Write down an expression to support your chosen answer. “From the surf school side of things it’s good because it’ll generate business for us,” says Bain, 33. “As a local surfer, it’s kind of like closure for me to have this competition. To say the world has now recognised Thurso as a top surfing destination makes me feel proud. A lot of people say it’s going to get crowded and exposed, but with it being a cold destination I don’t think it’s going to be that bad.”
Why do you think the writer uses “improbable” to describe the older man’s tartan trousers? • Two men were standing at the car park at Maes Howe. The taller, older man was wearing a white shirt and improbable tartan trousers. As I stepped out of the car, he shook his head sadly. The younger man was dressed for outdoors, somewhat like a traffic warden, with a woollen hat pulled down to his eyes and a navy-blue coat. For a moment we all looked at each other. The taller man spoke first.
What does the use of the word “apparently” tell you about the writer’s attitude to the idea that some people find the experience in the tomb “overwhelming”? • The walls are of red sandstone, dressed into long rectangles, with a tall sentry-like buttress in each corner to support the corbelled roof. The passage to the outside world is at the base of one wall. Set waist-high into the other three are square openings into cells which disappear into the thickness of the walls. That’s where they laid the dead, once the bones had been cleaned of flesh by weather and birds. The stone blocks which would once have sealed these graves lie on the gravel floor. And the point is, the ancients who built this tomb lined it up precisely: the long passageway faces exactly the setting midwinter sun. Consequently, for the few days around the winter solstice a beam of the setting sun shines along the passage, and onto the tomb’s back wall. In recent years, people have crept along the passageway at midwinter to witness this. Some, apparently, find it overwhelming.
What can you infer about the behaviour of people who live in the city? Explain how you arrived at your answer. Here it was a hard and fast rule for drivers to slow down and salute anyone else whom they met on the road, and it was considered a courtesy to stop and say howdy. Fresh from the city, I was dazzled by the antique good manners of the Badlands.
Analysis • Aim is to see if you can identify what technique is being used and will often force you to think about why it is used (what is the effect). Types: Questions about sentence structure, punctuation, word choice. Questions about linking (partly Understanding). How ideas are carried on.
Link Questions • Sometimes you will encounter questions which ask you about the effectiveness of a sentence… This sentence may be a link. • Remember – linking joins together the previous idea with the new topic. • Link words/phrases e.g. and, but, however, on the other hand…
Explain how this one-sentence paragraph is an effective link. His father looked at the sweating horse, and after a pause he said that that would be alright. Howard could see he knew the berries weren’t ready yet, like the ones behind the steading that they always picked; and he understood that this was a lesson being set up for him when he came home without brambles: not to tell lies. And there’d be another lesson behind this one, the real lesson: that his father had been right about that sort of new-fangled nonsense coming to grief. In spite of this, he forgot it all and slipped through the Racecourse fence. A crowd mobbed around the grandstand where they served drinks and sandwiches. He made his way through the high society of Lanark….
Sentence Structure Questions • When faced with a question of this type, you should think about the following: • Is the sentence noticeably long/short? • Is it a proper sentence? What is missing? • Does it fit a type of sentence e.g. command, question etc. • Has punctuation been used in an interesting or odd way? • Are there any words in the wrong order? In particular, has anything been placed at the beginning or delayed till the end?
Punctuation: … ellipsis Dots often used to tail off at the end of a sentence or to show a gap in speech. : colon Often used to introduce a list, a quotation, an explanation. Expands on an idea which comes before the colon. - dash Sometimes used like brackets to add in information in the middle of a sentence or used to tag on an extra piece of info. ‘ ‘inverted commas Often used to indicate speech, to mark of quotation or to suggest that something is ‘so called’. ( ) brackets Gives additional information which is not really necessary – the rest of the sentence makes sense without it.
Word Choice • A good habit to get into is answering word choice questions by explaining what the word normally means (denotation) or by saying what it makes you think of (connotations). • You must focus your answer on the ideas that are suggested/implied etc.
“The road… tapered to infinity…”Explain how the content and structure of the second sentence in Paragraph 3 help to make the meaning of this expression clear. Hill lead to hill let to hill, and at each summit the road abruptly shrank to half its width, then half its width again, until it became a hairline crack in the land, then a faint wobble in the haze, then nothing.
Comment on the writer’s use of word choice and sentence structure in her description of the clouds in the final sentence of Paragraph 14. (Note – both word choice & sentence structure are worth 2/1/0) • There was a breeze, and the shivery call of a curlew descending. On all sides there are low hills, holding the plain between them. To the south, the skyline is dominated by two much bigger, more distant hills, a peak and a plateau. Though you wouldn’t know it from here, they belong to another island, to Hoy. Above these dark hills, in horizontal bars, were the offending clouds.
By close reference to the final sentence, show how the writer creates the impression of a “hub-bub” at the auction by (a) word choice and (b) sentence structure. Through all the hub-bub, the slithering of seaboots, the clattering of boxes, the chugging of engines, the shrieking of seabirds, the slurping of tea from enamel mugs, white-coated auctioneers immemorially grunt their prices, and lorries rumble away over the cobbled quays.
16 (a) What impression does the writer wish to convey in the first sentence?(b) Explain two ways in which the sentence structure contributes to this impression. There was shouting through a loudspeaker, increased roaring of the engines, throbbing of planes, a movement of the crowd to get the best place on the rails, people running in their fashionable clothes.
Imagery Questions • You will often be asked to explain why a comparison is effective. • Think about the picture created. • Think about what is being suggested (emotion/idea). • Think about why it is suitable.
Past Paper – 2008 General • 5. “... a fast-moving, barrelling monster ...” (Paragraph 3) Explain fully why this is an effective description of the wave. • 18. “He may as well be going to surf on the moon ...” (Paragraph 14) What does this comparison suggest about Thurso? • Robertson, 23, who has been surfing since he was four, criss- crosses the globe with his fellow WQS competitors in pursuit of the best waves and a place on the coveted WCT tour. He may as well be going to surf on the moon for all he knows about Thurso East, but that’s part of the appeal.
Identify the figure of speech used by the writer to describe the Standing Stones of Stenness. What does it suggest about the stones? • To reach Maes Howe I took the road that passes over a thin isthmus between two lochs. On the west side is a huge brooding stone circle, the Ring of Brodgar. On the east, like three elegant women conversing at a cocktail party, are the Standing Stones of Stenness. The purpose of these may be mysterious, but a short seven miles away is the Neolithic village called Skara Brae.
Other image related questions “…blisters and eruptions that scarred the prairie…”Explain what this expression adds to the writer’s description of the area in Fallon County. Why does the expression “… his blades slicing into the river’s skin” suggest a sense of danger?
Other Key Reminders • If you are asked about style, think formal or informal. Informal = chatty; Formal = serious/factual • If you are asked about the tone of the passage, ask yourself if the writer come across as serious/factual, humorous, angry, sarcastic…
Technique Reminders • Alliteration – repeated consonant sounds over a few words in the same sentence e.g. She sailed swiftly to the shore. • Onomatopoeia – word reflects the sound made e.g. plop, bang, whoosh. • Repetition – if a word appears more than once, clearly it is to highlight a particular idea. • Contrast – putting two opposing ideas together to highlight their difference. • Jargon – technical words only used by specialists such as legal jargon (beneficiary, conveyance) or computer/technical (cache, encryption).
Other Key Features • You may come across questions on linking – how ideas are joined together. Some words act as links e.g. but, and, however. • You may be asked to identify contrast in ideas – where two things are put together to compare differences or to mark opposites. • You may be asked about style. This usually appears when there is a change between formal and informal language.
Evaluation • Aim is to make you think about what the writer wanted to achieve in the text as a whole and to pick up on the techniques they have used. These questions normally appear at the end of the paper. You will also find questions which ask you to evaluate the writer’s opinion, argument or attitude. You should always refer to the text in detail – which means it’s good to quote! *You will often be asked how appropriate the title of the text is*