Ways to produce better Literature answers

18 Sep, 2016 - 00:09 0 Views

The Sunday News

Presented today are ideas which can be used to improve answers of Literature from various examination boards. I believe the ways proffered here can work well for all students.

Students should not be confused by the term prose fiction as this is just a literary work that is wholly or partly imagined or theoretical. Examples are novels. We are merely talking about understanding various facets of Literature through the study of novels, short stories or unseen passages.

As you study characters in prose fiction consider the following questions. Your answers to these questions will help you acquire a detailed knowledge of the characters in the text you study. These questions encourage you to appreciate the various ways in which writers present characters. Five main aspects of character: What does a particular character look like? What does the character do? What does the character say and think?

What do other characters say and think about the character? How does the character develop as the text progresses? Features of character to explore: What does the character add to the plot? How big a role does the character play in the text? How does the writer describe the character’s appearance? How does the writer describe the character’s personal qualities? Are there deliberate contrasts or conflicts with other characters? Is the character at odds with society in which they live?

An additional note on setting: Setting refers to where the action takes place. It is where the characters’ thoughts, words and actions are situated. There may be more than one setting in the novel or short story, and a particular setting may change as the story progresses. Tense refers to the form of a verb, which shows the time when an action happened. Just like setting changes in a text, mood is likely to change as the story progresses.

The following checklist might help students to appreciate both the setting and mood of a text. Presented here are five key questions for exploring the setting. Which key words are used to describe the setting? Is the setting described in physical terms? Does the writer use language which appeals to particular senses? In what ways do characters interact with the setting?

Does the setting represent an aspect of the themes?

We also have questions which might help explore the mood. Which key words are used to capture a particular mood? How is description used to convey mood? How does dialogue contribute to the mood? Are there any clear shifts in the mood? Where and why do the shifts in mood occur? As you analyse novels or short stories, take note of key terms like the narrator. A narrator is the person who tells the story in a novel or short story. What happens is told through their words.

A first person narrator is an actual character in the novel. All the events of the novel are told through the character. We see the events and other characters through their eyes. First person characters can communicate: what they themselves think, what they themselves have heard and what others have told them. Some writers use stream of consciousness writing to capture clearly the character’s thoughts and feelings. Stream of consciousness is a particular technique prose writers can use to convey a person’s mind as it moves from thought to thought.

Use of literary terms. Writers make deliberate choices about the language they use. At times they describe different word sounds like, assonance, alliteration, rhyme and many others. They use some or all of the following devices: imagery, rhetorical questions, humour and others. However, note that literary terms as these stated can be useful only as a starting point for analysis. It is improper to merely list or describe the devices used by writers. You need to comment on how writers use words to create particular effects. Quality of your analytical comment is more important than being able to simply spot particular literal devices.

Ways of developing an informed personal response to a prose text: The following checklist helps you appreciate the detail of prose texts: both the content and the ways in which the content is presented. How does the writer begin the text, develop the plot, present the main themes for deeper meanings? How does the writer introduce and develop characters? How does he or she establish settings, convey the mood and shifts in mood? How do they use first or third person narration, sequence or organise events and above all, how do they end the story?

A third person narrator is often referred to as an omniscient (all knowing) narrator. This type of narrator is able to comment on everything that all other characters say, think and do. It is imperative for students to understand narrators because an important question for readers of prose fiction is, “Who is telling the story? Who is first person narrator? What is their relationship with other characters? Who and what do they approve and disapprove of? What information can they reveal?

Is the narrator reliable or unreliable? Third person narrator: Who do they approve and disapprove of? Do they provide explicit judgements about other characters? What information can they reveal? Do they identify closely with a particular character? Reading prose and other forms of Literature with suggested questions in mind helps in understanding the text.

Answers produced for examinations with such knowledge are high class.

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