english a language and literature n.
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English A Language and Literature. Paper Two. Topics. To what extent are the books products of the times and places in which they were written?

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  • To what extent are the books products of the times and places in which they were written?
  • To what extent do they reflect something of the personality and life experience (upbringing, education, politics, relationships, careers, influences) of their authors?
  • What would they have meant to readers at that time?
  • To what extent are they still relevant to us?
  • What is that you particularly like or love about either or both of them?
paper two
Paper Two
  • Answer one essay question only.
  • You must base your answer on at leasttwo of the Part 3 works you have studied.
instructions on exam paper
Instructions on exam paper

Answer oneessay question only. You must base your answer on at least twoof the Part 3works you have studied. Answers which are not based on a discussion of at least two Part 3 works will not score high marks. Your answer should address the ways in which language, context and structure contribute to your reading of each work.

part three books
Part Three books


  • George Orwell. 1984 (published 1949)
  • Naguib Mahfouz. The Thief and the Dogs (published 1961 in Arabic, 1984 in English)
  • HL only: Mohsin Hamid. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (published 2007)

List your books in the same style

typical questions
Typical questions
  • Why might two of your Part 3 works be considered 'timeless'?
  • With regards to two literary texts, explain why authors may have chosen to depict events in a particular sequence or order.
  • How do two literary works both reflect and challenge the spirit of the times in which they were written?
…address the ways in which language, contextand structure contribute to your understanding of each work.
  • Language
  • Whattypes of vocabulary are used? Why? How do those types help us to understand the idea in the text?
  • How do various types of formal versus colloquial terms add to the context and understanding of the character or setting?
  • Whatstylistic devices can we name that help us to understand text?
devices in works of fiction
Devices in works of fiction


  • Imagery
  • Diction > tone
  • Characterization
  • Irony
  • Symbolism
  • Allegory
  • Humour / Pathos


  • Themes
  • Genre (Dystopia, thriller, memoir)
  • Satire
  • Allusion



The circumstances or conditions in which the book was written and is read.

  • The context of composition
  • The context of interpretation
context of composition
Context of composition
  • How did the time and place in which the work was written influence how the author felt and what she/he thought?
  • How did the work affect the readers at that time? How was it received by different readers?
  • What impact did the context have on their response to the work?
context of interpretation
Context of interpretation
  • The set of beliefs, values, knowledge which readers bring to understanding the work.
  • Culture
  • Education
  • Expectations
  • Knowledge of literature
  • Knowledge about the author and the book
  • Reading skills
  • Plot or narrative
  • The setting

Some basic concepts

  • Narrate: tell a story
  • Narrative: tool for putting events into some kind of logical order, usually chronological
  • Narration: the act of telling a story
  • Narrative technique: direct or indirect, point of view
  • Narrative voice: the «person» telling the story

Plot or narrative structure

  • Linear or chronological
  • Circular
  • Fragmented or disjointed


  • Narration
  • Exposition
  • Description
  • Characterization
  • Dialogue (direct and indirect)
  • Narrator’s comments (intrusive)

Narrative voice

  • 1st, 3rd, 2nd person point-of-view
  • From whose point of view?
  • Is the point of view omniscient, selectively omniscient or objective
  • Narrative voice: what is the tone of «voice» telling you the story?

Plot Structure:

  • Is there a “back story”?
  • In what order are the events presented ?
  • How does the writer develop the story?
  • Are there flashbacks or flashforwards?
  • Is there foreshadowing?
  • Does the narrative cover a long or short period of time?
  • Does the plot move quickly, slowly, changes of pace?
  • Are there frequent changes of place?
  • Are there unexpected twists in the plot?
  • Does the writer create suspense?
  • How does the author resolve the plot (ending?)?

Make notes on each of the books under these headings

  • Language
  • Context
  • Structure
  • Characters
  • Themes
  • Write an essay on one of the topics from this presentation.
  • Refer to at least two of the books.