Aspects of Narrative & A2

Aspects of Narrative & A2

exam breakdown

Rime of the ancient marinerPosted by Year 12 Thu, February 20, 2014 12:01:12

Section A - Question 1

This question is out of 21 and will be a question along the lines of 'How does Author X tell the story in Chapter/Part ___?'

The key thing to note with this question is you are marked only for AO2 - which essentially is about analysing how the author uses structure, form and language to shape meanings. Therefore, logically it makes sense to structure your answer so that you have a paragraph or so dedicated to each of these three components of the AO2. This question is not about writing what 'something could mean, but on the other hand what others may think it means', it is about detailing to the examiner the different literary techniques or the aspects of narrative used by the author.

Before you delve into this though, I would advise to include a short introductory paragraph which outlines what happens in chapter X. This only needs to be two, maybe three sentences long at most, just so it puts your answer into context, and demonstrates to the examiner that you know what happens in this chapter.

So, the way to structure your answer to this question is as follows:

1. Short introductory paragraph which outlines the main events that happen in the chapter/part.

2. Paragraph on the author's form/language. Other things to comment on could be the language used in relation to the narrator's feelings. Is the narrator happy or melancholic? Then comment on how this is significant. Does the narrator's language change during the chapter/part, or does his tone change? If so then comment on this and say how it adds significance to the chapter. Further, you can comment on any of the above then relate it to its purpose/destination, does the component you talk about affect anything later on in the novel/poem?

3. Paragraph on the structure of the chapter. You should use this paragraph to talk about whether the chapter/part is told chronologically or not, and how does this then shape the reader's view of the novel/poem? Comment on whether the author has purposely created gaps in this chapter or missed out a certain time period, or suddenly gone from Spring to Summer in the chapter, etc. Commenting on time and how it passes in the chapter can sometimes be quite a unique, but effective thing to talk about in the question. These are all significant components of how the author tells the story - if these are present, then pull them out and comment explicitly on how they shape meanings. Is there a cyclical structure to how the chapter is told? How does the structure of this chapter go on to affect other chapters later on or previously in the novel/part? Obviously, you don't need to comment on all of these ideas, the best way is to just pull out one or two of these points then expand on them.

4. Paragraph on the narrative perspective. This is something that will vary quite a lot dependant on the text you are doing. Aspects to include in this paragraph are things like what form of narration is present - is it first person, what different voices are present? etc. It is best to state what type of narration is featured at the start of your paragraph. Then, you can comment on whether the narrator is reliable, or if he is biased. Comment on how the narrator deals with integrating with other secondary characters, and the effect this might have on his narration/storytelling. Comment on any use of different view points during the narration, and how this is significant to the story, and what implication might come about because of this. Always link these back to the 'overarching' story - how they give effect to the rest of the novel/part

5. Paragraph on setting. Commenting firstly on where the narrator has started off in this chapter/part and where he ends up (in context of the setting) and why this may be significant. Remember, you don't get marked for AO4 in this question, so don't waste your time talking about context, as that is used in the next question.

Section A - Question 2

Again, this question is out of 21, however the type of question asked here will vary immensely, so it is hard to detail a specific structure to your answer. This question will be linked to the previous question in section A - although it may not seem like it. The examiners choose this question carefully with the view that it has a relation to an event or something specific from the question asked on telling the story in chapter X. Therefore, you should try and make some sort of small connection in your answer that links to the chapter you previously spoke about.

Typical questions asked will be along the lines of: “How far do you agree with..” “What is your view of author X's use of..” "To what extent is.." just to give you a rough idea of what you may encounter.

Now for this question, you get most of your marks for AO3 - which is analysis and evaluation of different interpretations of carefully selected references (e.g quotes). So here you need to make sure that rather then saying 'Author X does this because..' you should say things like 'It could be seen that author x does this because... however, others may be of the view that author x does this due to...' Those aiming for the top marks may include an evaluation point following that, so something like 'Overall, the more fitting view is that...' or 'The latter is more likely/has more weight as...' What you really get marks for is saying why the author has included this, what effect it may give, what effect it may not give, etc.

Something I saved from reading through the examiners report on past papers for this exam is this: Strongest candidates are those who agree with the statement and give alternative interpretations on meaning and give both sides to arguments. This underlines what I have said. The bad answers will be those that just outline a balanced argument, which leaves the examiner in limbo until you finally conclude it, thus letting the examiner know whether or not you agree/disagree with the question. The best answers will be those who have a strong view at the foundation of their argument, one where the examiner knows whether you are agreeing or disagreeing with the question throughout your answer, rather than having to leave it to the end to find out. You can do this and still give alternative interpretations which go against what you are arguing, just make sure that it is clear.

A final thing to comment on in this question, you are marked on AO4 - Context. This is in my opinion the hardest thing to do well in this exam, as you have to be able to think up your own relevant piece and apply it to a certain part of your answer. What can work is to make a list of different context sentences, and try to remember core parts to these, and then use 2/3 of these in your answer to the question. Context needs to be worked into your answer well, it will make the examiners cringe if they see context which has been evidently forced into your essay, just so you can 'tick the AO4 box'. So, the best way to do this is to try memorise 4/5 context sentences, which you can adapt and apply to your answer.

Section B

This question is out of 42 and is the big one of this exam. Here you must write about a minimum of three texts and write a piece on them.

This answer is assessed on everything except AO4 - context, so again there is no point including specific contextual references as there are no marks gained for them. Focus on writing in this answer about things like imagery, symbolism, themes, structure, form, language, contrast, any foreshadowing, juxtaposition, use of narrator and these different aspects of narrative and literary devices in your answer. Talk about how these narrative methods shape meanings, add significance to the text, why they may have been used, what the reader thinks as a result of them and the like. Make sure you really utilise your AO3 again here giving a variety of interpretations, but also evaluate these to make it clear which you think has more strength to it.

Your answer here again is hard to structure beforehand as the variety of questions asked is so vast, but if you focus on the above and apply them to the question you are given then you should gain good marks.

Something you might want to consider, although it is by no means essential, is to include a critical quote. If done well and seamlessly, it will demonstrate further reading and understanding to the examiner, and will look very impressive. The best way to do this is to research these beforehand, perhaps finding say three and try to memorise them. If you are clever in your research then you will pick three that are quite versatile so you are able to apply them no matter what the question is. The bottom line is that something like a critical quote, worked well into your answer will look great, so I would advise you dedicate some time to finding two or three, with the view of using only one, maybe two in the real thing.

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