AS English Literature Revision (The Struggle for Identity in Modern Literature)

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Assessment Objectives

Rough Overview- Paraphrased.

AO1- Show that you've understood the extract. Use of technical words, correct grammar and sophisticated writing style all come under this. The essay structure and your interpretations of the text also come under this.

AO2- Identify relevant aspects of LANGUAGE, STRUCTURE and FORM. Link these to the question and interpret how they shape the meaning and support the writer's intentions. Link in wider reading both specifically and with depth.

AO3- Exploring the connections and links between texts. Understanding ALTERNATIVE READINGS and links with wider reading texts (overlap with AO2 if comparing LSF)

AO4- Context. Understand how context influences not only how the writer feels but also the way in which they are expressing their thoughts. Also note how the cultural, political and historical influence of the time would affect how the texts were received at the time compared to how they are received now.  

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Prose Wider Reading- Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid

Context: Published 1980, concerned with feminism and the struggle of women but it is at a time where women may be struggling more silently rather than legally etc.


"Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it."
   - Idea that women need protecting from harrassment etc as a form of freedom, interesting debate about whether the struggle for freedom and therefore identity is about the ability to do things or be kept from harm.

 "I want to be held and told my name"
   - Importance of individual name in terms of identity. Removing or changing someone's name = removing their sense of self. 

Structure and form point:
- Unreliable narrator as it is recorded after incident, however we do get a first-personal perspective of the struggle, which allows the reader to connect more fully with the struggle. 

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Prose Wider Reading- Alice Walker: The Color Purpl

Context: Struggle for black women- so both race and gender issues. Links two struggles together and shows how oppression of any kind is impossibly difficult. Also addresses religion etc. Plethora of struggles for identity.

 "Have you ever found God in Church? I never did."
- Religion and specifically The Church are oppressing rather than liberating Celie.

"Dear God" and "Dear Nettie"
- Form point that it is epistolary (written in letters), so descriptive at first but eventually develop and become more complex and about her feelings and thoughts- showing the development of her as a character. Letters from Nettie are read through Celie's eyes. One person perspective.

"He say"/"She say" and other colloquialisms
- Celie's education level is shown through the poor spelling and grammar. This shows her struggle in a first-hand way to the reader. 

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Irvine Welsh- Trainspotting (1993)

Context: Struggles include: drugs as a means to escape, lack of "place" in the world, etc. The disconnect from reality is shown, but it is through choice.

"Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career."
- Short, sharp sentences which satire the notions of how people "should" live their lives. 

"Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?"
- Shows how intrinsic heroin becomes to the characters in terms of both their lives and identities. Heroin shapes them and is them.

"aboot" and "tae"
- Colloquialisms used to express the identities of the characters (same as in the Colour Purple)

 Form point:

- Get different points of view from different characters but one main character (Renton) remains the voice of "reason".

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Drama Wider Reading- Brian Friel: Translations (19

Context: Irish struggle for identity, set in 1800s. Parallels between past and current struggles. Focus is on language etc.

"I am a barbarian in this place because I am not understood"
- Importance of language and how one group may oppress another based upon this.

 "Take me away with you, George"
- Maire looking for an escape from Ireland so she can have a perecived "better" life

Language barrier- as shown through stage direction "Each not speaks almost to himself/herself" is a huge issue. Irish are losing their identities as the English are taking over and renaming yet there is a disconnect between them because neither can fully understand the other. 

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Drama Wider Reading- Arthur Miller: Death of a Sal

Context: Denouncing the American Dream ideal, showing how the struggle to be perceived as "successful" may lead to a loss of identity and true happiness.

"Biff Loman is lost"
"He could be big in no time"
Willy feels that his children MUST be rich and "successful" in their careers.

Buildings box in and loom above Willy's house, showing how insignificant he has become. Stage directions and symbolism are very important in the play in general- Linda's stockings foreshadow Willy's affair.

Disconnect between reality and ideals are shown through Willy's flashbacks and memories of his brother Ben- "When I was seventeen I walked into the Jungle and I was twenty one when I walked out. And by God I was rich!"

Willy clings onto this as an example of the "get rich quick" ideal.

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Poetry Wider Reading- Lemn Sissay: Bearing Witness

"Bearing witness to the signs
 of white sandstorms in black minds
 of waves from the west with white dagger crests
 scratching the black beach's back."

Black and white beach imagery used to vividly show the pain and oppression caused for black people by white people.

Words "white" and "black" make the meaning overtly obvious- in no way subtle yet still uses a metaphor to express feeling.

Sandstorms and waves are powerful, "daggers" are sharp, dangerous and can inflict pain. 

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Poetry Wider Reading- Allen Ginsberg: Howl (1956)

Context: Struggles include personal freedom and confinement and life being pre-set for a person. There is a rejection of the general rules of life- having to work and follow the law and live as everyone else without reaching happiness outside of these things.

"run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality"

- comparison of reality and life to a drunken taxicab: creates a mental image for the reader of urban chaos representing 

"Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! "

- Short phrases/words with repetition of the exclamation mark show the incresing distress felt by the persona/writer. The pace of the poem quickens which adds to the notion of despair and avoids monotony. 
"Moloch!" is a God- but here used as a metaphor for capitalism and industrial civilisation


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Poetry Wider Reading- T.S. Eliot: The Love Song of

"To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet"
- struggle to express self without putting on a persona or a "face"

"That is not what I meant at all./ That is not it, at all"
- Struggle to understand and communicate with others

"I have measured out my life in coffee spoons"
- Reflecting on how life has passed by in a mundane way, daily objects are used throughout poem to show the futility of day to day life.

"I grow old... I grow old..."
- Struggle for time, life passes by the narrator at an alarming speed and he is coming to terms with being uncertain whether everything is "worth it after all"

"How should I begin? /To spit out the ****-ends of my days and ways?"
- Comparison of his life to the end of a cigarette: days are gone, and all that is left is a useless and unpleasant end/memory that no longer serves a purpose.

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