Some important quotes from ‘Sive’ Act 1 Scene 1

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It is important to know some quotes to support any points you want to make about ‘Sive’ and so here is a list of some important ones from Act 1 Scene 1.

‘Am I to be scolded, night and day in my own house? Ah! ’twas a sore day to me my son took you for a wife. What a happy home we had before you came into it! Fitter for you  to be having three or four children put from you at this day of your life.’
Nanna to Mena

‘You have nothing else to do but talk. Saying your prayers you should be, at this hour of your days, instead of cackling with your bad tongue . . . Where was your poor amadawn of a son before I came here? Pulling bogdeal out of the ground with a jinnet, going around like a half-fool with his head hanging by him . . . you give me the puke with your grandeur. Take out your dirty doodeen of a pipe and close your gob on it, woman. I have something else to be doing besides arguing with you.’
Mena to Nanna

‘Out working with a farmer you should be, my girl, instead of getting your head filled with high notions. You’ll come to no good either, like the one that went before you!’
Mena to Sive

‘Some day that pipe will take fire where you have hidden it and you’ll go off in a big black ball of smoke and ashes.’
Mena to Nanna

‘If I do, ’tis my prayer that the wind will blow me in your direction and I’ll have the satisfaction of taking you with me. Aha, you’d burn well, for you’re as dry as the hobs of hell inside you. Every woman of your age in the parish has a child of her own and nothing to show by you.’
Nanna to Mena

‘You are like all the matchmakers: you will make a rose out of a nettle to make a bargain.’
Mena to Thomasheen

‘Isn’t she a bye-child? . . . Tell her you will bell-rag her through the parish if she goes against you. Tell her you will hunt the oul’ woman into the county home. Think of the 200 sovereigns dancing in the heel of your fist. Think of the thick bundle of notes in the shelter of you bosom.’
Thomasheen to Mena

‘Be silky then, be canny! Take her gentle. Let it out to her by degrees. Draw down the man’s name first by way of no harm. You could mention the fine place he have. You could say he would be for the grave within a year or two and that she might pick and choose from the bucks of the parish when he’s gone.’
Thomasheen to Mena

‘Why should that young rip be sent to a convent every day instead of being out earning with a farmer. Good money going on her because her fool of a mother begged on the death-bed to educate her.’
Mena to Thomasheen

‘Aren’t ye in the one bed sleeping? Ye will have yeer own talk. You will come round him aisy. You weren’t born a fool, Mena. I know what it is like in the long long hours of the night. I know what it is to be alone in a house when the only word you will hear is a sigh, the sigh of the fire in the hearth dying, with no human words to warn you. I am a single man. I know what a man have to do who have no woman to lie with him. He have to drink hard, or he have to walk under the black sky when every eye is closed in sleep.’
Thomasheen to Mena

‘Money is the best friend a man ever had.’
Mike to Mena

‘Never! . . . if the sun, moon and stars rained down out of the heavens and split the ground under my feet . . . never! ‘Twill never come to pass while I have the pulse of life in me! What the devil has got into you that you should think of such a thing? Even when I was a boy Seán Dóta was a man. The grave he should be thinking of. What young girl would look a second time at him, a worn, exhausted little lurgadawn of a man.’
Mike to Mena

‘No! No! A million times no! It would sleep with me for the rest of my days. It would be like tossing the white flower of the canavaun on to the manure heap. It is against the grain of my bones, woman. Will you think of it? Think of what it is! Sive and that ‘oul corpse of a man, Seán Dóta!’
Mike to Mena

‘Be careful, let ye, and keep a watch. If ’tis a thing ye’re caught together there’ll be no more peace in his house.’
Nanna to Sive and Liam

‘I’ll wait until the crack of dawn, anyway.’
Liam to Sive

‘I would marry nobody but you, Sive, I love you. How would I marry anybody but you!’
Liam to Sive

‘Like your snake of a cousin loved her mother moryeah and fooled her likewise. Like your snake of a cousin that tricked her mother with the promise of marriage and left her a child with no name.’
Mike to Liam

‘You know as well as I do that he would have married her. You know he went across to England to make a home for her but he was drowned. He never knew she was with child when he left.’
Liam to Mike

‘You will not command the lives and happiness of two people who love each other.’
Liam to Mike

Past exam questions on Cultural Context

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2011
‘A reader can feel uncomfortable with the values and attitudes presented in texts.’ Compare the extent to which the values and attitudes that you encountered, in at least two texts on your comparative course, made you feel uncomfortable. [70]
or
‘The roles and status allocated to males or females can be central to understanding the cultural context of a text.’
(a) Show how this statement might apply to one text on your comparative course. In your answer you may refer to the roles and status allocated to either males or females, or both. [30]
(b) Compare how the roles and status allocated to males or females, or both, aided your understanding of the cultural context in two other texts on your comparative course. [40]

2009
‘The main characters in texts are often in conflict with the world or culture they inhabit.’ In the light of the above statement, compare how the main characters interact with the cultural contexts of the texts you have studied for your comparative course. [70]
or
‘Understanding the cultural context of a text allows you to see how values and attitudes are shaped.’
(a) Show how this statement applies to one of the texts on your comparative course. [30]
(b) Compare the way in which values and attitudes are shaped in two other texts on your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts.

2007
Imagine that you are a journalist sent to investigate the cultural context of the worlds of the three texts from your comparative course.
(a) Write an articel on the cultural context that you found most interesting. [30]
(b) In a second article compare the cultural contexts of the other two worlds with each other. [40]
or
‘The cultural context can have a significant influence on the behaviour of the central character/characters in a text.’ Compare the way in which the behaviour of the central characters in at least two of your texts is influenced by the cultural context of those texts. [70]

2006
‘The cultural context of a narrative usually determines how the story will unfold.’
(a) Compare the way in which the cultural context influenced the storyline in two of the texts you have studied in your comparative course. [40]
(b) Show how the cultural context influenced the storyline in a third text you have studied.[30]
or
‘Understanding the cultural context of a text adds to our enjoyment of a good narrative.’ In light of the above statement write an essay comparing the cultural contexts of the texts you have studied in your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. [70]

2003
Write an essay in which you compare the texts you have studied in your comparative course in light of your understanding of the term, the cultural context. [70]
or
(a) With reference to one of the texts you have studied in your comparative course, write a note on the way/s in which the cultural context is established by the author. [30]
(b) Compare the ways in which the cultural context is established by the authors of two other texts on your comparative course. [40]

2002
‘A narrative creates its own unique world in which the reader can share.’ Write a response to the above statement in which you compare the texts you have studied as part of your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. [70]
or
(a) What is your understanding of the term Cultural Context in relation to any one of the texts in your comparative course? Support your view by reference to at least one key moment from your chosen text. [30]
(b) Compare two other texts from your comparative course in the light of your understanding of the term Cultural Context as you have discussed in in part (a) above. Support the comparisons you make by reference to at least one key moment from each of these two texts.

Films on the Leaving Certificate course

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Students sitting the Leaving Cert in June 2013 have the option of studying one of the following films:

‘As You Like It’ (Kenneth Brannagh)
‘Children of Men’ (Alfonso Cuarón)
‘Casablanca’ (Michael Curtiz)
‘The Constant Gardener’ (Fernando Meirelles)
‘I’m Not Scared’ (Gabriele Salvatores)
’32A’ (Marian Quinn)

Students sitting the Leaving Cert in June 2014 may choose one of these:

‘Garage’ (Lenny Abrahamson)
‘Much Ado About Nothing’ (Kenneth Brannagh)
‘Children of Men’ (Alfonso Cuarón)
‘Casablanca’ (Michael Curtiz)
‘I’m Not Scared’ (Gabriele Salvatores)
‘Bladerunner’ (Ridley Scott)

Have you seen any of these movies? What is your opinion of them?

Cultural Context of ‘How Many Miles to Babylon?’ and ‘Sive’

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Cultural Context (referred to as Social Setting at Ordinary Level) focuses on the society in which the story is set. We look for evidence of the beliefs and values held by the author and characters. The social, religious, political and economic structures of society are considered here. The different roles of men and women, the notion of race, social class, customs and rituals and the importance of work can also be included in a definition of Cultural Context.

In order to write a comparative essay on ‘How Many Miles’ and ‘Sive’, start to write notes comparing and contrasting the two texts under the following headings, remembering to make reference Key Moments:

  • The effects of poverty on the characters – helplessness, disease, honour, desperation, violence, pride
  • Customs and Traditions
  • The Role of Women
  • Class Structures – one’s level in society dictates who has money, status, education, power etc.
  • Family life experienced by the characters – How does family influence actions? Obedience, love, duty, violence
  • The treatment of death
  • The attitude towards marriage
  • The attitude to education

Remember that it is the quality of your links that will determine your grade!

Towards an understanding of the Cultural Context of ‘Sive’

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Here are some questions to help you forge your own understanding of the Cultural Context of the play ‘Sive’ by John B. Keane. Write a comment on this post answering one of the questions and remember to use quotation to support every point you make.

  1. What is good about Sive’s life in the play?
  2. In what way is her life restricted?
  3. What do you think of Thomasheen’s attitude to marriage?
  4. Describe society at that time in your own words.
  5. How is family life for Sive depicted?
  6. How important are the circumstances of Sive’s birth in the play?
  7. Choose a key moment in the play that is pivotal in describing the social world for a modern reader.
  8. How important is money in ‘Sive’?
  9. Compare and contrast the attitudes of Nanna and Mena towards Sive.
  10. What is Thomasheen’s attitude towards women in the play?
  11. Who has power in ‘Sive’ and how do they gain that power?
  12. To what extent is society in ‘Sive’ male dominated?
  13. Describe some of the customs and traditions described by Keane in this play.
  14. Discuss Keane’s treatment of education in this play.

Past exam questions on Theme or Issue

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2011

‘A reader’s view of a theme or issue can be changed or reinforced through interaction with texts.’

Compare the extent to which your understanding of a theme or issue was changed or reinforced through your interation with at least two texts on your comparative course. [70]

or

‘The study of a theme or issue can offer a reader valuable lessons and insights.’

(a) Identify and discuss at least one valuable lesson or insight that you gained through the study of a theme or issue in one text on your comparative course. [30]

(b) Compare at least one valuable lesson or insight that you gained, from studying the same theme or issue (as discussed in (a) above), in two other texts on your comparative course.

The valuable lesson or insight may be the same, or different, to the  one discussed in (a) above. [40]

2009

‘Important themes are often expressed in key moments in texts.’

Compare how the authors of the comparative texts studied by you used key moments to heighten your awareness of an important theme. [70]

or

(a) Choose a theme from one text you have studied as part of your comparative course and say how it helped maintain your interest in the text. [30]

(b) Compare how the theme you have dealt with in part (a) is treated by the authors of two other texts from your comparative course to maintain the reader’s interest. [40]

2008

‘The comparative study of a theme or issue allows the reader / viewer to gain a variety of viewpoints on that theme or issue.’

(a) Describe the viewpoint on your chosen theme or issue that emerges from one of your comparative texts. [30]

(b) Compare the viewpoints on the same theme in the other two texts that you have studied. [40]

or

‘There are key moments in a text when a theme comes sharply into focus.’

Compare how key moments from the texts you have studied brought a theme or issue into sharp focus. [70]

2006

‘In careful reading / viewing of key moments of a text we often find important themes or issues which are developed in the text as a whole.’

(a) Compare how key moments of two texts you have studied in your comparative course raised an important theme or issue. [40]

(b) In the case of a third text show how a key moment helped in your understanding of the same theme or issue discussed in part (a). [30]

or

‘The dramatic presentation of a theme or issue can add greatly to the impact of narrative texts.

Write an essay comparing how the presentation of a theme or issue, common to the texts you have studied for your comparative course, added to the impact of the texts. [70]

2004

‘Exploring a theme or issue through different texts allows us to make interesting comparisons.’

Write an essay comparing the treatment of a single theme that is common to the texts you have studied for your comaparative course. [70]

or

‘Any moment in a text can express a major theme or issue.’

(a) Choose a moment from each of two texts you have studied for your comparative course and compare the way these moments express the same theme or issue. [40]

(b) Show how a third text you have studied expresses the same theme or issue through a key moment. [30]

2002

‘A theme or issue explored in a group of narrative texts can offer us valuable insights into life.’

Compare the texts you have studied in your comparative course in the light of the above statement. Your discussion must focus on one theme or issue. Support the comaprisons you make by reference to the texts. [70]

or

(a) Compare the treatment of a theme or issue in two of the texts you have studied as part of your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. [40]

(b) Discuss the treatment of the same theme or issue in a third text in the light of your answer to part (a) above. [30]

2001

‘Narratives can broaden our understanding of a theme or issue.’

Compare the texts you have studied in your comparative course in the light of the above statement. Support your comparisons by reference to the texts. [70]

or

‘A key moment in a narrative text can illustrate a them or issue very powerfully.’

(a) Choose one of the texts you studied as part of your comparative course and show how an important moment from it illustrates a theme or issue. [30]

(b) Write a short comparative commentary on one key moment from each of the other texts you have studied in the light of your discussion in part (a) above. [40]

‘How Many Miles’ table of contents

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‘How Many Miles to Babylon?’ is written in a stream of consciousness format. The novel is presented as a series of memories that Alec has in the hours before his execution. Jennifer Johnston has not structured these memories into chapters as that is not the way we remember events from our lives – it would be unnatural.

However, for ease of study, we can refer to different episodes in the novel. Below I have listed 19 episodes and given their relevant page numbers.

  • Episode 1 – pages 1 – 3
  • Episode 2 – pages 3 – 13
  • Episode 3 – pages 13 – 15
  • Episode 4 – pages 15 – 20
  • Episode 5 – pages 20 – 22
  • Episode 6 – pages 22 – 30
  • Episode 7 – pages 30 – 39
  • Episode 8 Part 1 – pages 39 – 49
  • Episode 8 Part 2 – pages 49 – 62
  • Episode 8 Part 3 – pages 62 – 70
  • Episode 9 – pages 70 – 93
  • Episode 10 – pages 93 – 97
  • Episode 11 – pages 97 – 105
  • Episode 12 – pages 105 – 112
  • Episode 13 – pages 112 – 121
  • Episode 14 – pages 121 – 124
  • Episode 15 – pages 124 – 126
  • Episode 16 – pages 126 – 132
  • Episode 17 – pages 133 – 149
  • Episode 18 – pages 149 – 156

Some quotes from ‘How Many Miles to Babylon?’

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Here are some quotes from ‘How Many Miles’ that will be useful for your revision. They paint a bleak picture of life in the trenches and so can be used very well when answering a question on General Vision and Viewpoint. The imagery can be used when answering a question on Literary Genre. They are also a great example of descriptive writing.

‘We landed at Le Havre where, owing to intense confusion about transport, we had to camp for several days. The men complained constantly. The major created more rules. We were ordered not to eat pork when we got up near the front, as the pigs that remained alive, not many I may say, fed and grew temptingly fat on human flesh. English, French, German. The pig is no chauvinist, all races, are the same to the curly-tailed pig. The countryside was dismal. We were all permanently wet. Eventually we were packed into a train and then unpacked at Bailleul fairly late in the evening. It was still raining. We marched the last ten miles to West Outre that night along a road cobbled with stones larger than duck eggs and greasy with mud and horse dung. The centre of the road though pitted by the heavy traffic was paradise compared to the edges where we were forced to spend most of our time wading through mud above our ankles and spattered with filth with the constantly passing transport lorries. The men, of course, complained. Our base was, and has remained, a small derelict farm. A wall with a high metal gate shut us in from the road. There were two barns, one on each side of the yard, for the men, and a squat stone farmhouse where Major Glendinning, Bennet and myself, the N.C.O.s, and the orderlies set up house. In the distance we could hear the big guns, and now and then over to our right the sound of musketry fire, rather too close for total comfort. From time to time the ground shook under us and the few remaining windows would rattle in their frames. There was a wild-looking mongrel who padded his way from room to room searching for his masters and stole any food you took your eyes off for a moment. He was indifferent to either pats or blows from the men, his only interest left being survival.’

p. 73-74

 

‘It was beginning to rain. The wind was blowing straight in our faces and the drops were like a million needles almost puncturing the skin. We pulled up the collars of our coats and hunched ourselves in the saddles like Jerry in an effort to keep warm. A dead horse lying by the side of the lane, its body swollen by whatever chemical changes were going on inside it, was the only visible sign of violence. The noise of shelling folded and unfolded in the distance. The rhythmic beat of the horses’ hooves and the creaking of our saddles were the only noises that I was completely conscious of.’

p. 82

 

‘It would be pointless to say that I wasn’t frightened. Night and day the palms of my hands were sticky with sweat. It oozed constantly from the roots of my hair and lay in cold streaks on my forehead and neck. It wasn’t the thought of my death that made me sweat, there were moments in fact that to die would have been preferable than to continue to live. I was afraid that one day I might wake up and find that I had come to accept the grotesque obscenity of the way we lived. Bennett and I shared a dug-out. It was about six feet high and eight feet long. We slept in our flea bags on a pile of comparatively dry straw that rustled all night long as if armies of creatures were marching and counter-marching through it. Bennett had an enviable facility for sleeping at any time of the night or day. He would lie there on the rustling straw, eyes shut, mouth slightly open, looking like a tired, untroubled child. I lay down because I knew I could no longer stay on my feet. I knew I had a duty to rest, but I found great difficulty in sleeping, and when I did get to sleep I would be awakened what always seemed like a few moments later by nightmares. I sound sorry for myself. I was. I worked out a system for getting through the day which consisted in concentrating on my own petty discomforts and indispositions to the exclusion of everything else except the bare bones of duty. It was the art of not looking beyond the end of your nose, and, for what it was worth, it kept me going. I have always been prone to chilblains and at this stage had them burning away not only on my fingers and toes, but also up the backs of both legs where they had been rubbed raw by my boots. I allowed the pain to obsess me completely in the hope that this way I might become blind to everything else.’

p. 84-85

 

‘The bambardment had let up a little. The men had nothing to report. Jerry was on his own down at the furthest end of one of the trenches. The duckboarding had rotted away out there and he stood in about a foot and a half of water.’

p. 89

Past exam questions on General Vision and Viewpoint

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2014

‘The extent to which a reader can relate an aspect of a text to his or her experience of life, helps to shape an understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of that text.’
Discuss this view in relation to your study of one text on your comparative course. [30]
With reference to the text you referred to in 1 (a) above and at least one other text from your comparative course, compare how two other aspects of the texts (excluding the aspect discussed in 1(a) above) influenced your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of those texts. [40]

or

‘Significant events in texts and the impact they have on readers often help to clarify the general vision and viewpoint of those texts.’
With reference to three texts on your comparative course, compare the ways in which at least one significant event in each text, and its impact on you, helped to clarify the general vision and viewpoint of these texts. [70]

2012

‘The general vision and viewpoint of a text can be shaped by the reader’s attitude to a central character.’
Compare the extent to which your attitude to a central character helped shape your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of at least two texts on your comparative course. [70]

or

‘Various aspects of texts can provoke a range of emotional responses in readers which aid the construction of the general vision and viewpoint.’
With reference to one text on your comparative course, what aspects of the text shaped your emotional response and helped you to construct the general vision and viewpoint of that text? [30]
With reference to two other texts on your comparative course, compare the aspects of these texts that shaped your emotional response and helped you to construct the general vision and viewpoint of these texts. [40]

2010

”The general vision and viewpoint of a text can be determined by the success or failure of a central character in his / her efforts to achieve fulfilment.’
In the light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. [70]

or

How did you come to your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint in any one of the texts you read as part of your comparative course? [30]
Write a comparison between two other texts on your course in the light of your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint in those texts. [40]

2007

‘A reader’s understanding of the general vision and viewpoint in influenced by key moments in the text.’
Choose a key moment from one of your chosen texts and show how it influenced your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint. [30]
With reference to two other chosen texts compare the way in which key moments influence your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of those texts. [40]

or

‘The general vision and viewpoint is shaped by the reader’s feeling of optimism or pessimism in reading the text.’
In light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. [70]

2005

‘Each text we read presents us with an outlook on life that may be bright or dark, or a combination of brightness and darkness.’
In light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. [70]

or

With reference to one of the texts you have studied in your comparative course, write a note on the general vision and viewpoint in the text and on how it is communicated to the reader. [30]
Compare the general vision and viewpoint in two other texts on your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. [40]

2003

‘The general vision and viewpoint of texts can be quite similar or very different.’
In the light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts on your comparative course. [70]

or

What did you enjoy about the exploration of the general vision and viewpoint in any one of the texts you read as part of your comparative study? Support your answer by reference to the text. [30]
Write a short comparison between two other texts from your course in the light of your answer to part (a) above. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. [40]