The language of Literature Texts 28 and 29

January 24, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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A Taste of the language of Literature Texts 28 and 5 Lesson Objectives: To examine two linked texts Explore the form, structure and narrative stance of literary writing Comparative analysis

Context of Production • Charles Dickens was one of the great popular writers of his day. Writing in the Victorain era, he popularised ‘realism’ in his writing; depicting the struggles of the poor and the tyranny of the powerful through vivid characterisation. His writing is now seen as social commentary for the Victorian era. • Oliver Twist is set in a workhouse, a typical institution where poor children would end up, working for the rich. The children were exploited and treated poorly, often receiving meagre portions of food for hours of labour. • By the time James Berry had moved to Britain from Jamaica in 1948, it was a whole different society in Britain. With the influx of immigration, came a whole new culture of food and its availability. No longer was healthy, nutritious food only for the middle classes. • Whereas Oliver Twist documents the class divisions and with it the food restrictions that poor people had to endure, James Berry’s poem celebrates not only the closing of class divisions but also cultural divisions.

Exam Focus • Typical Exam Question: – How do the writers of these two texts convey their attitudes towards and ideas about experiences of food.

Critical Response Activity Decide which overview best describes each text Oliver Twist

The Coming of Yams and Mountain Honey

a. A social commentary about the hardships of the Victorian workhouse.

a. A celebration of the coming together of two cultures through food.

b. A criticism of the way in which poor children were treated by the ruling classes.

b. A criticism of the UK, through contrasting it to the beauty of the Caribbean.

c. An insight into how people in the Victorian era lived and the food that they ate.

c. A nostalgic reminiscence of the poet for his home country

Write a short paragraph that sums up the significant similarities and differences between the two texts.

Commentary • Both texts highlight contrasts in society; for James Berry it is the differences between Jamaica and London, and for Charles Dickens it is the contrast between rich and poor. • The texts are very different in their tone and mood. James Berry’s poem is very much a celebration that two cultures can come together despite being worlds apart and can combine successfully. However, for Charles Dickens the contrast between rich and poor is a division that cannot be closed; illustrated by the difficulty in communication between the poor Oliver and the rich Mr Bumble.

Key Terms - Narrative • Stance – the position and attitude adopted by the narrator towards the events described or narrated • Persona – a narrator or voice created by a writer (in prose or verse) who is different from the writer himself • Omniscient narrator – a narrator who has a complete overview of the story and can move freely between different characters and scenes with full knowledge of what happens

Narrative Stance


First Person: author

The author writes as himself using the first person

First Person: persona

The author creates a character (persona) from whose first-person point of view the story is told

Third Person: omniscient

An all-knowing author is not directly present in the story but simply relates it – and has access to the thoughts and feelings of all the main characters

Third Person: indirect/ restricted

The author uses the third person but only to express the inner feelings and point of view of some characters – perhaps even just one.


Form In poetry: • what genre of poem is it? (sonnet, ballad...) • How is the poem broken down into stanzas? • Is there a regular pattern (length, rhyme, metre) being followed? In prose narrative: • what genre of prose is it? • was it written as a single text or produced in instalments? • what is the narrative stance of the story? • how is the text broken down into chapters and other sections? • how are the three elements of narrative employed (narration – description – dialogue)? In drama: • what genre of drama is it? • How is it organised into acts and scenes? • what use is made of dialogue, monologue, soliloquy and other dramatic methods to tell the story?

Structure All kinds of literary text: • How does the text start? • What kind of sequence does the text follow? Does it: - develop an idea logically, like an argument? - include any digressions or diversions? If a narrative, does it: - tell a story in chronological sequence? - use flashbacks and other devices that break away from this order?

• How does each stage of the text relate to the previous one and lead on to what comes next? • Where are the points of real tension, crisis and climax, and how are they resolved? • How does the end conclude or resolve the previous ideas and problems?

Oliver Twist

The Coming of Yams

How many paragraphs/ sections is the extract divided into?

How many stanzas are in the poem and how many lines are in each stanza? Is there a pattern?

How evenly is description and dialogue distributed?

Is there a rhyme pattern of any sort?

Are there any moments of tension and if so is there anything noticeable about the paragraph lengths or the sentence lengths?

How does the structure of the poem relate to any of the feelings and attitudes being explore?

Oliver Twist

The Coming of the Yams

Set in two main sections; first of all a description of the room and the boys – to emphasis the hunger and desperation of the inhabitants of the workhouse. Secondly, the description of the action that takes place when Oliver asks for more...

12 stanzas, 45 lines in total – unequal amount of lines in each stanza

More description than dialogue. After each section of dialogue there is more description.

No rhyme pattern

Repetition of the phrase – ‘please sir I want some more’ emphasises the need for more on Oliver’s part and the shock at hearing such as phrase on the part of the master.

The structure is irregular. This could reflect the displacement felt by the narrator. It could signify the ‘irregularity’ of seeing such bright sun ripened colours among the typical London scenery.

Critical Response Activity • You already have lots of notes on the two texts and are almost ready to do the exam question. There’s still more to organise though... • In the exam you only have 45 minutes to write about the texts. This isn’t enough time to write about EVEYTHING in both texts • You still need to talk about language and style, so from the list, your task is to select the most significant features of each text – place them in rank order

Oliver Twist Feature

The Coming of the Yams Rank order


Sibilance used in lines 12 – 13

Alliteration and sibilance on line 1

Animalistic imagery to describe the boys’ hunger

Semantic field of unusual Caribbean fruits

The description of the master compared with the description of the hungry boys

Sensory Images

The use of verbs to create atmosphere

The tone change in stanza 9

Syntactic parallelism

The imperative used in the penultimate stanza which addresses the reader directly

Repetition of the word ‘bowl’


Rank order

You should now be ready to write a response • How do the writers of the two texts convey attitudes towards and ideas about experiences of food.

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