Depression Passage questions for practice

The following questions have been created to answer after reading the following adapted article originally found at the Guardian.

1) Read paragraph 1 – 5. Explain how the writer uses language to express his opinion on sadness. (6)

2) How does the context help us understand the meaning of the word ‘pathologise’ in paragraph 7. (2)

3) Read paragraph 9. How is a condescending attitude created towards the DSM through the writer’s use of language? (6)

4) What does the writer think about the sadness cures and how is this opinion created in paragraph 10? (3)

5) Read paragraph 11. Explain how this acts as a link in the passage. (2)

6) Read paragraph 12 -13. IN your own words explain what happened during the University of California case study? (3)

7) Read paragraphs 14 – 16. How does the writer use language and/or sentence structure to convey their thoughts about the different ‘wellness therapies’? (6)

8) How is the ending effective? (2)

The Ferryman’s Arms Notes

  1. Explain how the language of lines 1–10 creates an ominous and/or foreboding atmosphere.
    An ominous and foreboding atmosphere is created in the first ten lines when the speaker states “I stood with my back turned”. This suggests to the reader that there could be something behind the speaker, waiting to attack or approach him. It is reminiscent of the horror scene in which the attacker can be seen lurking behind the victim. The personification of the table ‘humming’ also creates a threatening atmosphere as the only thing that can be heard in the pub is the electricity running through the table. It suggests the pub sis eerily quiet. This quietness is reinforced in the word choice ‘deserted’ which tells us there is no one else there, not even a barperson. The back room is also referred to as ‘darkened’ the word choice here suggesting that the pub is not very well lit and is shadowy. All of this creates quite an oppressive and bleak atmosphere.

  2. Identify two ways in which the idea of duality is introduced in lines 1–10.
    There is a very clear sense of duality in the first ten lines of the poem. This begins in the phrase “with ten minutes to kill”. This is a double agent. The speaker is saying that he has a lot of spare time before the ferry comes and he needs something to fill it. However in reality it is time that kills us, as we age or get ill. The duality is continued with “I took myself on for the hell of it”. There is a clear image here of a man in a pub playing himself at pool. There are two of him – there is even a hint that he could be playing for his life further on in the poem.

  3. Identify two ways in which lines 1–10 introduce the idea of death.
    The first image of death in the first ten lines appears when the speaker states “I was magnetized by a remote phosphorescence/and drawn, like a moth, to the darkened back room.” Here the speaker compares himself to a moth and the back room of the pub to a light which attracts the moth. However, given that there is an overtone of Greek mythology and death to this poem a deeper reading of this simile shows us that actually it is his soul that is moving towards the light. There are also echoes of the western idea of being pulled towards the light when you have died.
    The second image of death appears in the phrase ‘a striplight/ batted awake in its dusty green cowl”. The metaphor which the light fitting becomes a cowl is suggestive of death’s hood and robe.

  4. Lines 11–20 describe the speaker’s game of pool. Explain how these lines develop the theme of life and death.
    In lines 11-20 the speaker states that “the black did the vanishing trick”. The word choice here could simply be talking about the ball being pocketed. However it could be a metaphor for the life of the player ending. This is his passage from the real world – the green felt of the pool table – into the underworld – the inner mechanics of the pool table.

  5. With close reference to the language of lines 21–26, explain how the arrival of the ferry is made sinister.
    The ferry’s arrival is made to sound sinister through word choice. We are told that it arrives from “somewhere unspeakable”. The place from which the ferry has come is unnameable. It suggests through the ‘unspeakable’ that it is physical impossible or painful in some way to utter the name. The sibilance in these two words also adds to that idea, as they are almost hissed out again making it sound like the ferry has arrived from somewhere dangerous or disagreeable.

  6. Discuss, with reference to examples from the poem, the symbolic importance of either light and dark or colour, in this poem.
    The light colours in this poem are all associated with life where as the darker colours come to be associated with death. There is a clear simile in the final stanza, where the

  7. Identify and explain the effect of any one allusion to Greek mythology in the poem.
    One of the allusions to a Greek myth is when the speaker ‘slots a coin in the tongue’ of the pool table. In Greek times the dead would have had coins placed on their eyes. These were to pay Charon, the ferryman, who would take them along the river Styx and into the Underworld. Here instead the speaker pays the pool table with the coins before he gets on his own ferry.

  8. ‘I got aboard early/remembering the ferry would leave on the hour/even for only my losing opponent;/but I left him there … sullenly/knocking the balls in, for practice, for next time.’
    (a) Explain the paradox in these lines.
    The speaker says he leaves the losing player behind, however he was apparently both players.
    (b) In light of the use of metaphor and symbolism in other parts of the poem, explain what you believe to be the significance of these final lines.
    These lines then imply the idea that we are both the living and the dead. We can only play the game fully until we die.