Writing in Context The Exam
Exam specifications • Worth 1/3 of total marks • Required to write an extended piece for a specified audience and purpose, exploring ideas and using detail from at least one text (Shark Net or Enduring Love) • Required to base your writing on unseen stimulus material or prompts associated with the ideas and/or arguments suggested by Context of “Whose Reality?”
Exam criteria Section B – Writing in Context • understanding and effective exploration of the ideas, and/or arguments relevant to the prompt • effective use of detail from the selected text as appropriate to the task • development in the writing of a coherent and effective structure in response to the task, showing an understanding of the relationship between purpose, form, language and audience • control in the use of language appropriate to the purpose, form and audience.
Advice • Students must write their selected text on the cover of their script book (this will be their main focus for the task) • Other texts may be referred to • Students should write in whatever form they consider effective and appropriate for the audience and purpose • May be written in expository, persuasive or imaginative style • Must use the prompt as the basis for their writing and must draw directly from the ideas/ arguments in their selected text
Expected qualities – High Range • 9–10 • Demonstrates an insightful grasp of the implications of the prompt, and perceptively explores its conceptual complexity using an appropriate strategy for dealing with it. • Achieves an assured, cohesively structured piece of writing in an appropriate form, successfully integrating, in a sophisticated way, ideas suggested by the selected text/s. • Makes fluent and effective use of language appropriate to the purpose and audience specified in the task.
Context in Enduring Love • The balloon accident gives rise to the question of who let go first - “everyone claims not to have been first” (p.41) • The concept of various versions of reality/ distortions of reality is encountered from the outset • The text shows how our mind lets us down when we try to determine what really happened
Context in Enduring Love • Three competing realities dominate the text (Joe, Clarissa and Jed). Each character interprets events differently and their respective interpretations are incompatible • Narrative point of view must also be considered. We are often seeing things through the eyes of Joe, even when he attempts to provide with an insight through the eyes of Clarissa.
Different perspectives on reality • Three main characters present very different perspectives on the events: • Joe – believes he is being stalked by an obsessed/ deluded lover • Jed – believes he has been brought to Joe by divine intervention • Clarissa – believes that Joe is undergoing a psychological crisis
Different perspectives on reality • Joe represents the scientific and practical (Science) • The balloon accident for him represents a “comforting geometry” in which the participants occupied a “state of mathematical grace”
Different perspectives on reality • Clarissa represents the artistic and passionate (Art) • She recalls Logan’s fall, telling Joe “how a scrap of Milton had flashed before her: Hurl’d headlong flaming from th’Ethereal Sky”
Different perspectives on reality • Jed represents the spiritual and emotional (Religion) • He asks Joe to pray by the body of Logan: “God has brought us together in this tragedy…”
Different perspectives on reality • Joe is engaged in a story-telling exercise and despite his desire for accuracy in retelling, there is nevertheless a subjective viewpoint presented • Joe sees his subjectivity as a prison: “We were prisoners in a cell, running at the walls, beating them back with our heads. Slowly our prison grew larger.”
Unreliable versions of reality • Having multiple perspectives means it is difficult to determine the truth • Memory can be faulty, we can misconstrue events • Clarissa wonders whether Jed is a figment of Joe’s imagination. • Jean Logan believes her husband was having an affair, but Joe recognises her version of events was “a theory, a narrative that only grief, the dementia of pain, could devise” (p.123)
Unreliable versions of reality • The events in the restaurant leave Joe questioning his own version of the shooting: • “We lived in a mist of half-shared, unreliable perception, and our sense data came warped by a prism of desire and belief, which tilted our memories too.”
Whose version of reality? • As Joe is the first person narrator we are given access to his reality • We can only guess at Jed’s thought processes • Joe says “What I describe is shaped by what Clarissa saw too, by what we told each other in the time of obsessive re-examination that followed.” (p.2) – but to what extent is this true?
Whose version of reality? • Joe wishes to see a broader perspective “I see us from three hundred feet us, through the eyes of the buzzard…” • In Chapter 9 Joe tells us the story from Clarissa’s perspective, but it is still seen through his own eyes, rather than having the true objective story-telling of an omniscient narrator.
Distortion of reality • Joe’s breakthrough moment is when he discovers the concept of de Clerambault’s Syndrome. He describes it as “a dark, distorting mirror that reflected and parodied a brighter world of lovers…” (p.128) • Describes Jed Parry’s world as one of “emotion, invention and yearning”
Distortion of reality • Jed simply filters out anything that does not fit with his version of reality • But we are all on some level distorting reality – Joe also would like to believe that he is part of that “good society” and therefore presents his view that he did not let go of the rope first.
The reality of the text • Joe makes it clear from the outset that he is constructing a story: • “The beginning is simple to mark…”, yet he goes on to suggest that a beginning is an arbitrary concept (“an artifice” / “as notional as a point in Euclidean geometry”)
The reality of the text • Joe makes several references to him being a character in a story: • “What idiocy, to be racing into this story and its labyrinths…” (p.1) • “I knew it was only when they reached us that their story could continue.” (p. 173)
The reality of the text • Suggestion that this reality is the stuff of novels and movies, not real life: • “For this was preposterous, the kind of thing that happened to Bugs Bunny, or Tom, or Jerry, and for an instance I thought it wasn’t true….” (p.15)
Context in The Shark Net • Focus on the way that memory has the capacity to shape a reality. Drewe, as the storyteller, shapes the narrative yet his memory inevitably falters with the passing of time • Drewe says “memory may falter and portraiture is a highly subjective endeavour…” (p.361)
Memory and reality • Drewe is selective about the vignettes he chooses to include in his narrative • His memories of Perth as a young boy reveal the clear, open skies and wide horizons, but also the parental restrictions
Memory and reality • For Drewe he is telling the story as an adult and his recollections are filtered through the eyes and perspective that comes with adulthood • It is often the feelings and emotions that Drewe remembers with certainly and, arguably, these feelings shape the way he views the past.
Memory and Reality • Memory can distort and alter reality. • Drewe’s memory of Eric will inevitably have been influenced by what he learns about Eric later in life. • He says at the beginning of the novel that “Even in a short time I’d come to realise that most murders looked more like bank tellers or economics teachers or crayfishermen. But he didn’t. When he smiled and preened like that he looked like a murderer. “(p.12).
Memory and Reality • Similarly his guilt about his mother’s death will impact on the way he remembers her. • Drewe acknowledges that with her death ‘The orderly world seemed turned on its head’ (p.264) and reality changes as does his sense of who he is.
Multiple realities • Conveys a sense that various realities can exist at the same time • Dreweinhabits a different world to that of his parents. • His father is a “Dunlop” man – totally committed to his company and its products. • His mother finds it difficult to adapt to her new life in Perth away from the “ordered Melbourne world of frosty lawns and trimmed hedges”
Multiple realities • Drewe attempts to give the reader an alternative insight into the reality of Eric. • He is a murderer, but also a father who finds joy hearing his mentally handicapped son say the word “starfish” • We are simultaneously fascinated and revolted by Eric
Multiple realities • Drewe’s recollections of Eric have another layer, in that he is a journalist reporting on the events. • Sally, Eric’s wife, says “It never dawned on me… he could kill anybody. I knew he was a liar, a cheat, a thief – you couldn’t do nothing about that. But not a killer.” We are provided with a greater insight into Eric through Drewe’s interview with his wife.
Multiple realities • Eric is the alter-ego for Drewe – he represents the darker side of his nature • Drewe hints at the two sides of his personality: ‘my body was divided down the middle by a dotted line, I could feel my good half and my bad half.’ (p.254).
The imagination and reality • The act of remembering will inevitably be shaped and altered by imagination. • Drewe presents himself as having a vivid imagination (playing Tarzanand Sophisticated Lady; imagining the lions coming into his room; imagining the foundations crumbing under his home etc). How much does this reveal an altering/ distorting of reality?
The imagination and reality • We are reminded throughout about the connection between reality being remembered and recreated. • The “Saturday Night Boy” episodes are clearly works of fiction, yet they are informed by encounters and episodes based on fact too.
The imagination and reality • The literary techniques also remind us of how reality is shaped by the imagination. • The extended metaphor of the ‘shark net’ is used to illustrate the fears that encircled Perth at the time • Similarly The Shark Net is a satire of Perth at the time. He lampoons the fears and conservative attitudes and therefore creates a work of fiction where the reader is left questioning what the reality might have been.
A prompt • ‘What people remember shapes their understanding of themselves and their world.’ Use the prompt as the basis for a piece of writing exploring the idea that what people remember shapes their understanding of themselves and their world. Your piece is to be published in an anthology written by VCE students for the wider school community. You must draw on ideas and issues suggested by a text or texts from the list above.