Category Archives: national 5

Critical Essay Writing

I know you guys think this is hard, and you think I’m mad when I say this is easy – but it really is! You do need to know all your quotes though, and it is SUPER important that you remember you essay structure. You are making an argument in your critical essay, a critical one, where you investigate and analyse the text. You should be making a clear POINT at the start of each paragraph, backing it up with clear EVIDENCE from the text, EXPLAINING how these quotes develop your point and finally LINKing it back to the main question.

This gives a minimum of four sentences in each paragraph of the essay. If you are sitting Higher, you should be putting in A LOT more analysis on your quotes. You should also be using more than one quote in some of your paragraphs. This will give you a PEEEEL structure in some of your paragraphs.

This sounds like a lot of work, but if you have selected your quotes carefully, then they are actually going to do most of the work for you.

Let’s take a closer look. We’re going to take The Kite Runner as our sample text. The 2018 Higher class have been studying this and they have chosen the following quotes:
1. ‘it was the look of the lamb’

2. ‘Coward! Coward!’
3. ‘in thin, raspy voice: ‘Yes.”

4. ‘There is a way to be good again’

5. ‘My body was broken… but I was healed. I laughed.’

6. ‘You will not refer to him as that Hazara boy in my presence again. He has a name and it is Sohrab.’
7. ‘It was only a smile, nothing more, but I’ll take it.’
8. ‘For you a thousand times over.’

That’s the quotes sorted out. Now we need to think about setting up an essay. Your introduction is important because it sets the scene. Take a look at these questions from the 2015 Higher paper:

4. Choose a novel or short story in which the method of narration is important. Outline briefly the writer’s method of narration and explain why you feel this method makes such a major contribution to your understanding of the text as a whole.

5. Choose a novel or short story in which there is a moment of significance for one of the characters. Explain briefly what the significant moment is and discuss, with reference to appropriate techniques, its significance to the text as a whole.

6. Choose a novel or short story which has a satisfying ending. Discuss to what extent the ending provides a successful conclusion to the text as a whole.

The first question is answerable but it’s not something we’ve focused on in class. Question 5 and 6 however are perfect for us. Take a look at the sample intro’s below. I’ve put them side by side so you can see how similar they are, and that we are simply tailoring our response to suit the actual question. Note how they use the same idea but tweak it to fit the question:

Now on to the first paragraph. We need to make clear our line of thought here, utilise our evidence and tie it back to the main argument of the text. Take a look at these two:

See how they use the exact same evidence and analysis? The POINT is more or less the same, but worded to suit the intent of the question, the same thing has happened with the link back to tie it in to the question.

Let’s take a look at the rest of both essays and see how the conclusion would work:

And that’s it!

(And yes, I am aware there are some grammatical and spelling errors in the above, but I think we can live with them for just now in the name of having Prelim revision materials!)

Scottish Set Text Revision

Below you will find two sets of questions. These can be applied to all the Jackie Kay poem’s in order to revise for the exam. That’s 12 pieces of extra Scottish Set Text revision! Please make sure you are doing it if you want to succeed!

1. From the first eight lines explain how the writer makes clear the speaker’s emotions from her use of language. (6)
2. Pick out four main points from lines 8 to 16. (4)
3. What mood does the poem end in? Pick out evidence to support your answer from the text. (2)
4. Kay’s poems often focus on family relationships. Referring to this poem and at least one other poem by Kay, show how she does this with her writing. (8)

1. What mood is set at the start of the poem in the first four lines? Pick out evidence to support your answer. (4)
2. From the last twelve lines explain how the writer makes clear the speaker’s emotions from her use of language. (6)
3. In your own words, pick out two main ideas from the poem. (2)
4. Time is often explored in Kay’s poems. Referring to this poem and at least one other poem by Kay, show how she does this in her writing. (8)

Lord of the Flies – Charcater essay on Ralph

Choose a novel with a character who you find interesting. With reference to the text show how the writer made the character interesting.

In The Lord of the Flies by William Golding Ralph is a very interesting character. In the novel a group of boys become stranded on a desert island and must fight to survive. Ralph is a compelling character because he is the one who fights to keep civility alive amongst the boys and tries to stop them becoming savages. We can track how he does this throughout the novel.

The first way Ralph proves to be interesting is when he establishes a sense of order on the island. He finds a large conch and gathers the boys together and tells them “I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak, they won’t be interrupted”. We can see clearly here that there is a sense of democracy, any boy who wishes to speak will be given the chance to do so. The idea that they won’t be ‘interrupted’ shows that Ralph expects the boys to listen to each other and give each other respect even if they don’t agree with one another. Ralph is also clearly the leader here as he is the one in charge of where the conch goes. This makes Ralph interesting as he is clearly the authority figure and he is clearly in charge at this point.

Ralph continues to exert his authority over the boys. The younger boys begin to slack off from their work and the older boys don’t pay attention to the fire and so Ralph shouts “I’m calling an assembly” and the boys immediately gather at the point. This shows that Ralph is still the boss at this point and it shows the boys still have a sense of civility as they conform to Ralph’s instructions. This is interesting because it shows Ralph is still able to control the boys at this point and there is still a sense of a functioning society.

Ralph sees that the boys are starting to move away from their civility as time passes and he tries to remind the boys of who they are. The older boys let the fire go out and Ralph, furious at them asks “Are we savages or what?” The tone of this is angry and he is trying to tell the boys that they need to behave better. The loss of fire is a loss of hope of rescue. Letting the fire go out suggests that some of the older boys aren’t actually fussed about getting off the island. This scene is interesting because it shows Ralph is starting to feel exhausted from being the only authority figure and he is getting frazzled at trying to get so many boys to conform to rules that will ultimately save them.

Ralph starts to lose his authority when Jack begins to openly challenge him. Jack punches Piggy and steals his glasses in order to restart the signal fire, Ralph calls him out on it saying “That was a dirty trick” and we are told “Ralph felt his lip twitch”. Ralph is openly identifying Jack’s deviant actions whereas in the past he would have let Jack away with it. He is trying to control Jack here. His lip twitching is an involuntary action but it betrays Ralph’s dislike for Jack. This scene is interesting as the group of boys can now see the split between Jack and Ralph and will be forced to take sides, and Ralph here actually looks weaker because he is not using brute strength.

Finally Ralph loses control of the boys completely but refuses to join them as he still clings to civility over savagery. When Simon is mistaken for the Beast and murdered Ralph is the only one who will admit “that was Simon, that was murder” and when they are finally rescued and the naval officer asks jokingly had they killed anyone Ralph responds “Only two” and Golding reveals “The officer knew when people were telling the truth. He whistled softly.” Ralph’s first statement is just that, a clear acknowledgement that the boys’ savage behaviour has led them to kill someone. Ralph’s response to the naval officer implies that the boys could have ended up killing more boys if rescue hadn’t occurred. Ralph is not scared of the truth. Ralph is interesting because he is the one boy on the island who has matured and grown a strong moral centre prizing civility over savagery.

In conclusion, Golding makes Ralph an interesting character by showing him grow as a leader and then remain the only boy who will not succumb to savagery by joining Jack’s group. Ralph is there to show us what could happen when savagery takes over from civility.

Lord of the Flies – Character essay on Jack

Choose a novel with a character who you find fascinating. With reference to the text show how the writer made the character fascinating.

William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies is a novel in which Jack is a fascinating character. In the book a group of boys are stranded on a desert island and must work out how to survive. Golding makes Jack a fascinating character as he makes him change from a darling little boy into a terrifying and reckless young man. We can explore how this change takes place.

At the start of the book Jack is clearly still confined by society’s rules and still wants to be seen as good. We know this as in the scene where he catches a pig he struggles to kill it and we’re told ““he hadn’t because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh”. Here, the word choice of ‘enormity’ tells us that Jack finds killing the pig a big deal, he struggles to murder a living thing as he’s never done this before. The description of the knife ‘descending’ reinforces this as even though the knife is traveling a short distance to Jack it feels like an eternity as he tries to commit a big act of killing. The words ‘living flesh’ shows Jack still empathises with the pig and doesn’t want to kill it. At this point it is clear Jack still wants to follow normal rules and thinks that hurting things is wrong.

Jack begins to change slowly and develops a crazy and violent side. We see this when his hunting job starts to take over his mind and we are told Jack had a “compulsion to track down and kill things that was swallowing him up”. The word ‘compulsion’ suggests that this feeling is not something Jack has any control over; it is almost instinctive for him or a crazy addiction. This is reinforced by the idea that this feeling was ‘swallowing’ him up, it was a feeling or thought that was taking over his life and killing a pig became the only thing he could think about. There’s a possibility that Jack became so fixated as he felt like a failure and less masculine for failing to kill the pig in the first place and now wants to kill one to prove he is a man. This makes Jack fascinating as it is difficult to understand how someone could want to kill something, or be so fixated on that, unless they were going crazy in some way.

Jack does finally manage to kill a pig but all this seems to do is make him madder and badder. He leads a group of boys after they kill the pig and starts a war dance around the carcass chanting “Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill the blood”. This is quite a disturbing scene, the boys appear far too young for such ferocious actions. The chant shows how savage they have become under Jack’s instructions. The words ‘cut’ and ‘spill’ are quite visceral and forceful and the boys are acting far more maturely and savagely than we’d expect them to. This makes Jack seem fascinating as he is now convincing the other boys to become savages too.

Jack’s behaviour develops again when he begins to challenge Ralph’s authority on the island. When the boys are discussing who will go up the mountain and find the beast Jack says he will go and yells at Ralph “coming?” This is clearly asked in a challenging and mocking tone. Jack doesn’t believe Ralph will go up the mountain because he is too scared and Jack will be able to prove to the boys that he should be their brave new leader. This is fascinating because we see Jack try to manipulate the situation so he can wrestle control from Ralph and lead the group.

Jack finally gets what he wants and becomes the chief of all the boys. However his control of them is through fear rather than love and we are told he was “the boy who controlled them” which is best seen when he interacts with Roger – “Jack had [Rodger] by the hair and was brandishing a knife”. The word ‘controlled’ suggests that Jack is a massive dictator but the ‘boy’ suggests that his leadership is immature. The scene with Roger is worrying as it shows Jack dominating the other boys through force and threat. This is fascinating as we see Jack reach the worst version of himself all caused by being on an island without rules.

In conclusion, Golding creates a fascinating character in Jack by making his personality develop from a reasonably pleasant boy to one who begins to challenge authority and eventually become the authority on the island. He is a brute force who has been included to show what happens if the rules are taken away. Jack is the little savage in all of us.