6A1 Easter Revision

Here is a suggestion for some revision over the Easter holidays. I suggest that you do around 30-45 mins of English a day and I have given you a break on the three Sundays.

  • Sat 31st March – Poet 1: choose the first poet that you are going to revise. Add to your notes on the themes, imagery, techniques etc for this poet. Write out the key quotes onto index cards and learn them well.
  • Mon 2nd April – Dancing at Lughnasa: revise your key quotes for each character.
  • Tues 3rd April – Poet 2: as above
  • Wed 4th April – QB: make a list of the conventions that are expected for each type of QB that could come up, i.e. conventions for a letter, radio talk / speech, diary entry, website article, report, memo, interview, dialogue, proposal etc.
  • Thurs 5th April – General Vision and Viewpoint: write out a detailed essay plan for an essay chosen from the papers. Practice some quality linking sentences.
  • Fri 6th April – Poet 3
  • Sat 7th April – Literary Genre: another detailed essay plan. More linking sentences.
  • Mon 9th April – Dancing at Lughnasa: revise your key quotes for each theme.
  • Tues 10th April – Poet 4
  • Wed 11th April – Essay: make a list of the conventions that would be expected in the various essay types, i.e. conventions for a speech, magazine article, short story, personal essay etc.
  • Thurs 12th April – Theme or Issue: another detailed essay plan. More linking sentences.
  • Fri 13th April – Poet 5
  • Sat 14th April – Go back over any topic that you feel is a weakness for you.

Keep an eye on the blog here. I will add extra information, notes, ideas etc over the fortnight. As always, if you have any question or difficulty, make a comment and I will reply as soon as I can.

Best of luck with the studying, and try to get some rest in too ūüėČ

Films with the theme of racism

If you enjoyed reading ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry’ then you might enjoy watching some of these movies. They all have the theme of racism as one of their central themes.

‘The Color Purple’ (1985)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg, this film is based on the novel of the same name by Alice Walker.

‘The Help’ (2011)
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work. Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Minnie.

‘The Hurricane’ (1999)
This is the story of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

‘Mississippi Burning’ (1988)
Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

‘A Time to Kill’ (1996)
Based on the novel by John Grisham, the film is about a young lawyer defending a black  man accused of murdering two men who raped his ten-year old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1962)
Gregory Peck won an Oscar for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Atticus Finch, the lawyer and father who believes that ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’

‘Cry Freedom’ (1987)
South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend and political activist Steve Biko.

‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ (1967)
Matt and Christina Drayton are a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black.

Each of these films is worth a watch. Comment below if you get the opportunity to watch one over the Easter, or if you have any other suggestions about films with similar themes.

Wordplay Wednesday – pun

A pun is a joke exploiting the different meanings of a word or the fact that there are words of the same sound and different meanings. Here are some examples:

  • I wondered why the basketball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.
  • Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
  • I couldn’t quite remember how to throw a boomerang, but eventually it came back to me.
  • I was going to look for my missing watch but I could never find the time.
  • There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.
  • The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
  • I’ve been to the dentist several times so I know the drill.

Shakespeare was famous for his use of puns. Here are some examples:

‘Richard III’ Act 1 Scene 1
‘Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York . . .’
Context: These are the opening lines of ‘Richard III’. King Richard III was the son of the Duke of York.

‘Romeo and Juliet’ Act 1 Scene 4
‘Give me a torch: I am not for this ambling.
Being but heavy, I will bear the light.’
Context: Romeo is reluctant to attend a party because he is suffering from a broken heart.

‘Romeo and Juliet’ Act 1 Scene 4
Mercutio: ‘Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.’
Romeo: ‘Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes
With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.’
Context: Romeo is reluctant to attend a party because he is suffering from a broken heart.

‘Hamlet’ Act 1 Scene 2
Claudius: ‘But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son’
Hamlet: [aside] ‘A little more than kin, and less than kind.’
Context: Hamlet is upset that his uncle Claudius has married his mother. Think of ‘kind’ as also short for ‘kindred’.

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Act 2 Scene 1
Beatrice: ‘The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well: but civil, count; civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.’
Context: Beatrice is referring to the character Claudio. There is a type of bitter orange that comes from Seville, Spain.

For students of ‘Hamlet’, follow this link for more puns from the play¬†with their explanations:


Time for a challenge
Are there any more puns you know of? I would be particularly interested in seeing if any of you can remember puns that we noted while studying our poetry!

Reading after ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’

When you have read ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ you might like to read one of more of the following novels which contain similar themes to Mildred Taylor’s book:

‘The Friends’ by Rosa Guy
Phyllisia comes from the West Indies to stay in Harlem, New York, where she becomes a friend of Edith who is poor and neglected. It is an unusual alliance, but both girls need each other in order to survive the city.

‘Hal’ by Jean MacGibbon
Hal has her own problems, and her strict parents are only one of them. She takes pity on Barry, a friendless and suffering boy who is a mere onlooker at teenage life.

‘Walkabout’ by James Vance Marshall
Mary and Peter are the sole survivors of a plane crash in the Australian desert. An aboriginal boy saves them and brings them back to civilisation, but tragedy strikes as they reach safety.

‘Basketball Game’ by Julius Lester
When Allen’s family move to Nashville, Tennessee, they discover that they are the only black family in the street. Neither Allen nor Rebecca, the girl next door, take any notice of this until racial prejudice places barriers in their way.

‘No Tigers in Africa’ by Norman Silver
Teenager Selwyn Lewis emigrates from South Africa to England, hoping to leave a guilty past behind. But his strict upbringing prevents him from making friendships and his inherited prejudice creates his own problems. The effect of a white South African upbringing is seen quite starkly in Selwyn’s dilemma.

‘The Keeper of the Gate by Beverley Birch
When twelve-year old Sarah comes home to Kenya after a holiday in England she sees Africa in a different light. A mystery develops around the figure of Muniri, and the truth about the Africa she loves lies beyond the solution to this mystery.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
Set in the Deep South. Scout and Jem Finch help their lawyer father to defend a Negro charged with the rape of a white girl. A remarkable novel that captures the atmosphere of a hostile town and its way of life. Like Mildred D. Taylor’s book, the story is seen through the eyes of children.

Wordplay Wednesday – etymology

Etymology is the study of word origins – where they come from and how and where they were created. Many words that we use today come from different languages that have evolved and changed over time. To discover where a word comes from often puts it in an entirely new light. The following are some interesting and amusing examples.

Meaning: (n.) a person who murders someone for political or religious reasons
Etymology: In the literal sense an assassin was a person who used cannabis. The root of the word, which entered English in the 16th century comes from the Arabic for ‘hashish eater’. It was first used in reference to the Nizari branch of Ismaili Muslims who ruled part of northern Persia in the 12th and 13th centuries, during the time of the Crusades. Renowned as militant fanatics, they were reputed to use hashish before being sent to murder the Christian leaders.

Meaning: (n.) 1. exaggerated or aggressive patriotism 2. excessive or prejudiced support or loyalty for one’s own cause, group or sex
Etymology: Named after Nicolas Chauvin, a Napoleonic veteran noted for his extreme patriotism.

Meaning: (n.) a danger or risk; (v.) to risk the loss of
Etymology: The term evolves from the Arabic ‘al zahr’, meaning ‘the dice’. In Western Europe the term came to be associated with a number of games using dice, which were learned during the Crusades in the Holy Land. The term eventually took on the connotation of danger because, from very early on, games using dice were associated with the risky business of gambling and con artists using corrupted dice.

Meaning: (n.) a violent and aggressive man, especially a criminal
Etymology: Thug comes from the Hindi word thag ‘swindler, thief’, and beyond that goes back to ancient Sanskrit. The original Thugs were an organisation of robbers and assassins in India, followers of the goddess Kali, who waylaid and strangled their victims in a ritually prescribed manner. The modern sense, denoting any violent man, was first recorded in 1839.

Meaning: (adj) of little value or importance
Etymology: Trivial entered Middle English from Latin trivium ‘place where three roads meet’, from tri- ‘three’ and via ‘road, way’. A medieval trivium was an introductory course at university involving the study of grammar, rhetoric and logic. In the Middle Ages seven ‘liberal arts’ were recognised, of which the trivium contained the lower three and the quadrivium the upper four (the ‘mathematical arts’ of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music). This association with elementary subjects led to trivial being used to mean ‘of little value or importance’ from the 16th century.

Meaning: (n.) offence or annoyance
Etymology: Umbrage is first recorded in the late Middle Ages. It comes from Latin ‘umbra’ meaning ‘shadow’. The first meaning of umbrage in English were ‘shade or shadow’ or a ‘shadowy outline’. The latter sense¬†gave rise to the meaning ‘ground for suspicion’, which led in turn to the current meaning. Umbrage is also related to the words umbrella, sombre, umber and adumbrate.

The poetry of Adrienne Rich

In order to be able to anwer a comprehensive essay on the poetry of Adrienne Rich, be sure that you know each of the following aspects of her work. Make notes on each heading to supplement the work done in class.

– Power and powerlessness
– Relationships, especially marriage, and their breakdown
– Conflict
– The role of women in a patriarchal society
– Art and artistic ambition
– The personal and the political
– Escaping the past
– Language
You must be able to quote to support your analysis of each theme.

What techniques are frequently used in Rich’s poetry? You must be able to identify them (through quotation) and also comment on their function and their effectiveness.

Ensure that you are able to comment on the form / structure of each of Rich’s poems. Why has she chosen to structure a poem in a particular manner? Does the structure reflect the theme? If so, how and why?

Comment on Rich’s style of poetry i.e. confessional, the use of a speaker etc. What effect does her style have on you? Does it appeal to you?

The images in Rich’s poems are unusual, interesting and evocative. Choose at least three images from each poem that you are studying and be sure that you can describe what they depict and why they appeal to you.

Know a little about Rich’s life. You won’t be asked directly about her life story, but it will give you a greater understanding of her work.

Personal Response
Use plenty of ‘I’ sentences in your essay. For example:
– ‘I enjoyed the way Rich writes about a figurative storm as well as an actual one in ‘Storm Warning’.’
– ‘I found ‘Diving into the Wreck’ quite difficult to understand at times.’
– ‘The poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ was very appealing to me.’
– ‘I disliked¬†Rich’s negative attitude towards men and the way she portrayed Aunt Jennifer as such a victim.’
Your personal response is personal to you and so cannot be learned from any notes. It must be developed through knowing and understanding each poem. A personal response will be expected from you, even if the question does not explicitly ask for it.

However, the key to doing well on an essay about the poetry of Adrienne Rich, as well as any other essay, is to answer the question that is asked. Summarising the poems or simply writing everything you know about Rich will not benefit your essay.

Wordplay Wednesday – pleonasm

Pleonasm is an unusual word for a simple idea. Pleonasm is the use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning. Students who use redunant words in their writing will lose marks for the coherence of their piece of work. If a word is not necessary and does not add to the overall meaning of the sentence, then leave it out.

Some common pleonasms are in the list below. Remove the superfluous word and you will not detract from the overall meaning of the expression:

absolutely essential
advance planning
alternative choice
ATM machine
basic necessities
blend together
brief summary
closed fist
completely annihilate
consensus of opinion
current trend
desirable benefits
drop down
end result
fellow classmates
fly through the air
green in colour
harmful injuries
look ahead into the future
meet together
natural instinct
old cliche
past memories
personal opinion
proposed plan
re-elect for another term
regular routine
three a.m. in the morning
unintentional mistake
very unique

Here are some pleonastic sentences from celebrities:

‘And that’s a self-portrait of himself, by himself.’
Richard Madeley

‘It looks like being a busy weekend on the ferries, particularly Saturday and Sunday.’
Peter Powell

‘It was a sudden and unexpected surprise.’
Old Bailey correspondent for the BBC

‘I never make predictions, especially about the future.’
Samuel Goldwyn

‘It’s deja vu all over again.’
Yogi Berra

‘Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.’
Samuel Goldwyn

‘Sometimes you can observe a lot by just watching.’
Yogi Berra

‘The answer’s an affirmative yes.’
Nigel Mansell

‘I don’t normally do requests, unless I’m asked to.’
Richard Whiteley

‘The robbery was committed by a pair of identical twins. Both are said to be aged about 20.’
Paul Hollingsworth

‘Smoking can kill you, and if you’ve been killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.’
Brooke Shields

‘Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it’s so incredible, it’s unbelievable.’
Tom Landry

Feel free to comment on your favourite (or most hated), or add your own pleonasm.