Sunday, 1 November 2015

ROGER MCGOUGH: 'The Way Things Are' - Sample answer

SPM 2011 Question

The poem, The Way Things Are by Roger McGough is about a father giving advice to his child.
Explain any three of his advice.
(8 marks)

Roger McGough's poem, The Way Things Are, is about a father giving advice to his child. Firstly, when the father tells his child that 'a crown may leave a scar' even though it is 'lightly worn', taken literally, it suggests that being heavy or tight it could leave an indelible mark around the circumference of the head. This would be the way a young child would understand its meaning which is only superficial. However, from a matured perspective, the crown can refer to the burden of shouldering responsibilities and duties which may leave a long lasting and possibly adverse effect both on the wearer or others, just like those of a sovereign, a leader or even a parent.

In addition, it is with a touch of humour that the father also advises his child about 'pebbles work[ing] best without batteries'. It creates the impression that the child is so used to playing with battery-operated toys that he expects even objects in nature to require them. This piece of advice stirs the imagination making one think that the child expects a pebble to move if batteries were inserted rather than just lie on the ground, unmoving.

Furthermore, the father's advice is to help the child understand that sometimes things are not as they seem. This is shown when he points out that although the child's 'shadow is shortening', it does not mean he is 'growing shorter'. In this case only an understanding that light casts shadows of varying lengths depending on the angle it comes from, would explain it. Similarly, the advice can also be interpreted as an emphasis on finding out more about something before forming a conclusion as appearances can be deceiving.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

'Cinderella Girl' is a story about growing up.

Cinderella Girl is a story about growing up.
Discuss with close reference to the text.
[12 marks]

First, it is necessary to show that you understand the question and what 'growing up' means.

1. Examine Edward Walden's character at the start of the story.

2. Compare it to the portrayal of his character in the later part of 'Cinderella Girl'. In what
    way/s does Edward change?

3. What can you say about Edward's friend, Michael, in relation to the question.
    What does Michael say to Edward which could possibly make him realise that he needs
    to grow up?

4. Explain the role that Bella's character plays in the context of the question?

5. What do you learn about 'growing up' from the portrayal of Meg Hunter's character?

Study Bella Jones's character in 'Cinderella Girl'.


1. When do readers first meet Bella Jones in the story? What is your first impression of her based on the initial introduction to her character?

2. Describe Bella's physical appearance.

3. Explain how the boys at school view her. Consider Michael's opinion of Bella.

4. Why does she like to go out with Kevin Clarke?

5. Does Bella's character change in the course of the story? What is she like at the end of the story? What do the words 'claws sharpened' suggest?

6. Describe and comment on the way she treats Edward.

Study Meg Hunter's character in 'Cinderella Girl'


1. What is the first impression formed of Meg Hunter? How is this conveyed?
How reliable is this opinion?

2. What does Edward Walden think of her? Compare this to his mother's opinion.

3. When do readers get the opportunity to form their own opinion about Meg Hunter? How does Vivien Alcock show what Meg is really like?

4. What do Mrs Walden's words about Meg's family suggest? How do they affect Edward's perception of her? What is revealed later about Meg's relationship with her family?

Friday, 9 October 2015

Studying Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

Read the question below and then expand each of the three topic sentences that follow to answer it. Remember to provide textual evidence and embed relevant quotes from the text.

What is the significance of the title to Part 3, 'Burning Bright'?

1. 'Burning Bright' refers to Montag seeing his world from a new perspective as he develops clarity of thought and begins to search for knowledge and answers to the meaning of his existence.

2. In addition, the title also highlights an escape from tyranny when Captain Beatty dies as a result of being burned alive by Montag.

3. Finally, the atomic explosion which completely decimates the city and possibly 'other cities' as well is a form of cleansing bringing about the dawn of a new day where the light of hope shines bright for the survivors.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Sample answers to essay questions

SPM 2014 question:

Explain what the persona tells us about ageing in the poem Crabbed age and youth cannot live together by William Shakespeare.   [8 marks]

Shakespeare reveals that the persona in his poem, Crabbed age and youth cannot live together yearns to be young again as he 'abhors' being old for various reasons. Firstly, the persona views ageing as the stage in life where one needs to be looked after instead of being able to indulge in “pleasure” like in his youth. This suggests that the speaker thinks of ageing as burdensome because it is “full of care”.

In addition, ageing can be likened to winter, according to the persona because it is full of suffering like one would experience in the cold of winter. Another interpretation is that it is lonely as there are few who would keep the aged company,  just as in winter when people leave for warmer places. This is further emphasised when growing old is likened to ‘winter bare” as well suggesting that the late stage of life is desolate as it is devoid of happiness.

Throughout the poem, the persona points out that ageing is the opposite to being young. When he tells that “age’s breath is short”, it is contrasted against “Youth [which] is full of sport” meaning that physical exertion will be a challenge as one ages and makes one short of breath. The description of “age’s breath [as being] short' also suggests that his life is nearing its end, lending a morbid tone to the words.

Furthermore, line 6 reveals  that instead of being "nimble", in growing old, one would be 'lame" as the legs will no longer be able to provide the support needed to walk properly. He also tells that ageing makes him frail and afraid because instead of being "hot and bold", he is "weak and cold". No longer is the persona "wild" as in his youth but has now become a "tame" version which he views with disdain.

Finally, when the persona tries to defy age with his statement that "[his] love is young", it implies his view of age as merely a physical affliction because he still feels young inside. This explains why he tells the 'shepherd' to go away even though the time for him to depart is near; only his body grows old  as the heart still feels the thrill of life itself.

Sunday, 8 March 2015



Villasha Anbalagan - Sri Kuala Lumpur: A+
Ebony Pharamond - SMK Damansara Jaya: A
Amani Fadzlina Abdul Aziz - SMK USJ 13: A-
Wan Hay-Ley - Beaconhouse: A-
Mira Ashvini - Sri Kuala Lumpur: B+
Wong Yu Hao - Tsun Jin High School: B