AQA Anthology Revision Pack

Past Papers and exam advice

As this Anthology was examined for the first time in January 2006, we do not have a large supply of old exam papers, and there are few Examiners’ Reports available as yet. However, previous Examiners’ Reports, although they refer specifically to the old Anthology, have made a number of general comments, which have been summarised below.

There are two questions in the exam. 

Question 1 requires you to write about a poem specified in the question, and one other poem of your choice, which has a similar theme. The Oven Bird was the poem selected for the January 2006 exam, but this doesn’t mean you can safely ignore it in your revision – it could still be useful as the ‘other poem’. The question also asked you to comment on how Frost writes about time and change – but many of his poems are on variations of this theme, so bear it in mind as you revise. In May 2006, Mending Wall was the chosen text, to demonstrate how Frost uses everyday country life to reflect deeper themes. In January 2007, the question was about how Frost writes about the natural world by reference to Nothing Gold Can Stay and one other poem. May 2007 asked candidates to write about ‘Two Tramps in Mudtime’ and the theme of work.

There will be bullet points for this question, so make sure your answer covers these. The bullet points always ask about Frost’s use of language, and his use of structure and form.

NB The Examiners have pointed out that candidates are not asked to compare, but many do, and in the Examiners’ view, this distracts candidates from answering the question as required.

Question 2 requires you to write about two of the texts in Section 2 – again, they will be on some common theme expressed in the question. The January 2006 exam asked for comment on two texts which demonstrated that the writer/speaker had strong feelings about a town or city. In May 2006 candidates were asked to write about the methods writers use to describe a town or city, and in January 2007
candidates were asked to write about the methods used by writers and/or speakers to tell a story in any two texts. May 2007 asked candidates to explorer the wayd in which spoken language is used by speakers/writers.

NB Note that the May 2006 question asked about writers only, so you must ensure that you follow the instructions to the letter. The question always asks you to write about the language methods used in each text.

Make sure you read the questions carefully before choosing your texts, so you are sure of exactly what is required. 
You have to write about four texts from the Anthology, three of which are of your choosing. It is therefore important that you choose texts which allow you to answer the question set, so you should be familiar with all of them, not just the ones you personally prefer. Appropriate choices will be rewarded, but inappropriate choices will make it difficult for you to write a good answer.

The Examiners’ Reports comment on appropriate choice each year, and here follow some more general points they have made in the past:

· Read both questions carefully and follow the instructions they give. Cover all bullet points.

· Annotation of the Anthology should be light, with no passages of continuous prose. The reason for this is that the Examiners are seeking the candidate’s response to the questions, not the regurgitation of heavy annotation. This can lead candidates into producing what the Examiners call ‘the all-purpose answer’ rather than addressing the question itself.

· You do not need to write an introduction. This is a waste of time – just go straight into the answer. (On this point, do not waste time writing out the question – the number in the margin will suffice.)

· Some candidates take the ‘tell-them-all-I-know’ approach. You will have been given some background information about the texts and writers, but reciting this is not what is required in the answer. Again, it is a waste of time that would be better spent addressing the question. Similarly, your own views on the text are not sought, just your assessment of how the writer has constructed the text.
If you do refer to the writer, make sure you use the appropriate personal pronoun!

· Avoid the ‘line-by-line, stanza-by-stanza’ approach – you will probably end up repeating what you have already said.

· Make sure you divide your time equally between the two questions. Examiners have commented on the ‘all the eggs in one basket ‘ paper, where a disproportionate amount of time has been given to one question, thus not leaving enough time to do justice to the other one. No matter how good your answer, it is only worth half of the possible total marks, so make sure you pace yourself in the exam in order to do make a good response to both questions.

· If you use any linguistic or literary terminology, make sure you know what it means, and can prove it by quoting. Quote sparingly – examiners want to read an analysis of the text, not a great tract of the original.

· The Examiners do not want your opinion of the texts, just your analysis of how they are written.

· Remember – do not compare!

· Finally, remember –most of the texts in Section 2 ARE NOT POEMS! In fact there is only one poem, Text 20. The rest are from various different genres, and your answer should demonstrate that you are aware of the language requirements of different genres.


Text 1 Mending Wall

Man’s attempts to control Nature unsuccessful – ‘Something there is…..’ Two men working together, but Frost questions his neighbour’s views on walls. The two are separated by temperament as well as the wall. Comments on the mysterious power of Nature and the primaeval appeal of woods. Suggestions of supernatural power – spells, elves.

Poem written in one continuous verse. Blank verse – why? - but iambic pentameter. Use of alliteration, humour, assonance, repetition and simile. Neighbour described as somehow part of a more primaeval time, like the woods themselves.

Text 2 After Apple-Picking

Poet is tired after a day at work. He describes his tiredness but then questions its significance. Is it like the woodchuck’s hibernation ‘Or just some human sleep?’

The poem is can be seen as a metaphor for life – the man is tired from working at the harvest, but also aware of the approach of the end of his life - the ‘great harvest’ he desired could also mean his life’s work, his family.

Poem rhymes irregularly. There is alliteration and repetition, and sight, sound and smell are recalled. Significantly, the ladder is ‘Toward heaven still’. Hints of sleep/dreaming occur throughout the poem ( the ‘pane’ of ice).

Text 3 The Road Not Taken

Frost made light of constant attempts to interpret this poem, but it could be seen as a comment on the inevitable dilemmas of life, times when people have to make a choice. The two roads facing the traveller are equally unworn and, although he says he took ‘the one less travelled by’, it seems that they were equally unworn.

Regular rhyme and structure – each stanza has five lines and four stressed syllables per line. The setting is rural, probably spring as the woods are green and leafy and both paths bend out of sight so the traveller’s choice is difficult.

The last verse acknowledges that he may look back years later, wondering, as we all do, how life would have turned out had he taken the other path. The poem does not advise – there is nothing to guide the traveller, as in life. But he does speculate how this choice might be viewed in later life.

Text 4 The Oven Bird

Sonnet form. The bird is a summer visitor and when its song is heard, it is a sign that summer is coming to an end and Autumn approaching.

Use of alliteration, repetition and images of spring, summer. Spring birdsong is over, and spring flowers have died down – midsummer flowers are not so plentiful and leaves will soon start to fall in Autumn.

Metaphor for life – the ‘diminished thing’ we have to make something of could be the remainder of the year, or the remainder of our lives. (Frost’s life?)

Text 5 Birches

Man attempting to bend Nature to his will – Frost knows that the bent birches are the result of ice storms (Nature), but prefers to think they have been bent by a boy swinging on them, he was obviously once that boy.

Written in blank verse but mostly in iambic pentameter, with some variations. There is a lot of alliteration, simile, metaphor, and some beautiful descriptions of the sound and sight of the ice-laden trees before the ice falls from them – this is compared to ‘the inner dome of heaven’ falling.

There is some comment on the boy who lived too far from town to play with others so had to make his own amusements. He did have to take the cows out in the morning and in again at night, but was obviously free to play at other times (unlike t he boy in Text 13).

Woods and trees seen as a metaphor for life again – Frost wishes he could go up towards Heaven for a while, to see his way more clearly from the top of a tree, then come back to start over. But, as in so many of these metaphorical poems, he says he does not want to end his life on earth yet – he is not ready.

Text 6 Putting in the Seed

Sonnet form. Ostensibly about planting seeds in spring, but also about his love for his wife and their creation of their children. Alliteration, contrast of textures of apple petals, smooth beans and wrinkled peas. Alliteration and strong language to describe the seed emerging from the earth (child emerging from the womb?)

Text 7 Dust of Snow

A simple poem, two four-line verses with regular rhyme and no punctuation except the final full stop.

Demonstrates how Nature can lift the mood, and how we can find joy in a simple thing.

Text 8 Nothing Gold Can Stay

Short poem, regular rhyme scheme. Alliteration. Comments on the transitory nature of life, particularly youth. Alludes to the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Inevitability of change.

Text 9 Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Four verses, with regular rhyme scheme, but this is altered for the last verse – for emphasis? Note how third line in each verse carries the rhyme scheme for the next verse. Alliteration and some repetition at end. Emphasises the mysterious, primaeval power of woods and their beauty. Metaphor for life – does he mean he has things to do before the end of the night, or before the end of his life?

Text 10 The Need For Being Versed in Country Things

Nature carries on – only Man sighs for the past and what might have been. Regular verses and rhyme scheme, alliteration, simile, repetition. Inevitable renewal of Nature - but the man-made house is not renewed. Only someone who knew nothing about ‘country things’ would imagine the ‘phoebes wept’ for the destruction of the house. (Phoebes are birds whose cry is a sobbing sound).

A mood of sadness is created here, but it is obvious Nature does not feel this nostalgia – life goes on and the birds do not mourn the past.

Text 11 Two Tramps in Mudtime

Nine verses, with regular rhyme scheme. 

Use of birds and animals to describe capricious weather at that time of year. The weather is fully described, and Frost’s enjoyment of the physical work of chopping wood. This is balanced by the need for work of the two tramps who approach him . The poem ends with a philosophical statement about work and love.

Use of alliteration, direct address to reader. Sympathy is evoked for the tramps and the way they have to live. The rhythm of the poem could almost reproduce the rhythm of Frost’s work as he chopped the wood. He enjoyed this work, but realised that for the men it was a matter of necessity.

Text 12 The Most of It

Another poem about Man’s isolation from Nature, and Nature’s indifference.

No verses, but a regular rhyme scheme. The poem cleverly creates a desolate landscape, in which Man stands alone. There is alliteration, simile and repetition (many lines begin with And…..’

Note the powerful words used in the description of the buck as it emerges from the water.

Text 13 ‘Out, Out –‘

Blank verse and deliberately dispassionate language make this poem very effective – Frost was moved by the story he heard of this accident on a neighbouring farm.

The people involved had a hard life – they had to work, even the children, in order to survive. They were unaware of the beauties of nature surrounding them, so intent were they on their work – they worked from need, not from love of it.
Frost uses alliteration, repetition and personification (the buzz-saw is depicted as a dangerous animal crouching and waiting to pounce). 

Frost shows sympathy for the boy, and his sadness at how easily a life can be snuffed out.

Text 14 Hyla Brook

Almost in sonnet form – one extra line – and a varying rhyme scheme
Alliteration and repetition and some beautiful imagery are used to describe this little brook that runs through Frost’s property. The cycle of seasons and the love of home and family are expressed in this poem.

Themes for Section 1

Nature as a metaphor for (Frost’s) life
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9

Power and mystery of nature
1, 5, 12

Use of birds, animals
2, 4, 7, 20, 12, 14

Importance of work
1, 2, 6, 11, 13

Frost’s religious views
2, 5, 8, 11

5, 13

Love of home, family
5, 8, 14

Seasons, weather
1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 14

Symbolism of trees and woods
1, 2, 3, 5, 9

Inevitability of change, cycle of life
4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14


Text 15 The Key Note

Genre: novel. Description of a ‘perfect’ town in which the inhabitants are not happy, despite the efforts to provide for their ‘welfare’.

· Use of irony/humour
· Simile, metaphor
· Negative vocabulary
· Emphasis on sameness and monotony
· Comment on gap between rich and poor
· Ironic comment on religion, particularly parody of Gloria Patri
· Rhetorical question and answer
· Repetition – endless quotation of ‘examples’
Use of narrative and anecdote

Text 16 To Dr Lewis

Genre: epistolatory novel. Written in late 18th century, so there are complex sentences, long paragraphs and archaic words. Comments unfavourably on the fashionable crowd and all the new buildings that have been erected in Bath to cater for them. Much social comment. This piece is commenting on another ‘purpose-built’ town which does not ‘work’ as intended.

· Humour, irony, satire
· Similes and metaphors
· Much comment on inconvenience of new buildings and lack of planning, using simile and examples
· Sympathy expressed for invalids and ‘chairmen’
· Very scathing about the new fashionable crowd that has moved in – very sarcastic vocabulary used here
· Final comment on inflated prices and the value of true friendship

Text 17 from Family Matters

Genre: novel. Memories of the past conjured up by some old photographs, showing the changes that take place over time.
An almost dream-like atmosphere is set by the use of the air conditioner, blanking out the noise from outside, so it seems that the two men are cocooned from the world . This creates a very effective setting for Yezad to conjure up memories as he looks at the photographs . Later on the atmosphere is continued when the air conditioner is switched off and ‘the silence seemed eternal……’

· Use of dialogue
· Description of scenes
· Memories of parents, friends, neighbours, childhood 
friends and games
· Recall of food, smells, tastes
· Narrative, anecdote

Text 18 Our Town

Genre: Drama. The play is set in a small American town, in 1901. It is staged with very little scenery and the Stage Manager addresses the audience throughout in a friendly, conversational tone. The audience is invited to imagine the setting as it is described. A picture is created of a town that has grown, where many descendents of the original settlers still live, and where everyone knows everyone. The ‘new people’, however live on the other side of the tracks and their church is there as well. An ideal community, but some newcomers are excluded. Shows how a community grows naturally.

· Conversational tone
· Use of dialect
· Gentle humour
· Descriptions of people
· Anecdote
· Note the fin al remark

Text 19 Request Stop

Genre: Drama. A brief sketch, practically a monologue by the Woman. Pinter was an exponent of the Theatre of the Absurd, and had a keen ear for dialogue.

The sketch deals with the way people are reluctant to ‘get involved’, particularly in big cities like London. The Woman appeals for support from others in the bus queue, then resorts to establishing herself - first in the queue, ‘born just around the corner’.

· Reluctance to engage in conversation with strangers
· Mistrust of foreigners (although the Woman can’t seem to distinguish between someone who is ‘up from the country’ and a Peruvian – the Man is accused of being both!)
· The tirade is illogical and threatening – much reference to ‘your sort’.
· Humour – at the end we realise that the Small Man’s original response to the Woman was right!

Text 20 London Z to A

Blank verse. Divided into three short verses and one longer one. The first two verses use images of plants to describe how the city is constantly changing. The third verse reverses this imagery of living, growing things by referring to the ‘marble city’ -the original city, of which only the ‘barbarous’ street names remain, a reminder of the distant past.

The final verse recalls the past as the poet drives down ‘remembered gone roads’ - recalled by pub names. There is a lot of nostalgia here, use of simile, metaphor alliteration and, finally, the vivid re-creation of a cattle drive, sparked by the sight of a very famous South London pub.

Text 21 Chapters 21 and 22

Genre: The Bible. Extract from the Book of Revelations, divided into numbered verses. This describes the ultimate ideal city whose inhabitants will live there in perpetual bliss after the Day of Judgement.

Use of simile – the city is ‘as a bride adorned for her husband’, and is afterwards referred to as ‘she’. Many precious and semi-precious stones are mentioned, and pure gold, to emphasise the beauty of the place. The size is described, and the number 12 is significant.

Text 22 September 1666

Genre: diary. Pepys’ famous description of the Great Fire of London. The sentences are long and complex, with many archaic words and few paragraphs, but there is a wealth of descriptive detail here as Pepys watches the progress of the fire and all the people moving around, fleeing the path of the fire and moving their possessions out of its way.

A very strong sense of community is depicted here, as everyone helps everyone else, giving them shelter and taking in their goods. Pepy’s love of London is evident, as is his humanity and his grief at watching the destruction of his beloved city. He mentions many people by name, and even expresses pity for ‘the poor pigeons’. The fire is described as something hellish – a ‘horrid malicious bloody flame’.

Text 23 Growing Up

Genre: memoir, autobiography. Nostalgic recall of the street where she grew up, remembered with affection and humour, despite the deprivation and poverty. Obviously a strong community spirit here, as people shared what they had, even though it wasn’t much.

· Use of dialogue (in dialect) to describe the various people
· Physical descriptions
· Anecdote and narrative
· Details of jobs and means of earning a living
· Description of social conditions
· Children’s games and pastimes
· Details of the poverty and hard life lived by many
· Informal, conversational tone
· Wealth of descriptive detail

Text 24 Speech to the Labour Party Conference, 2002

Genre: political speech. This speech will have been carefully written and possibly even rehearsed before it was given. He is sure of the approval of his audience – all Party members – only party members attend party political conferences. He addresses the Chair, and starts by refuting Thatcher’s famous remark that ‘there is no such thing as society. The main theme of this speech is building houses – and communities (although, as we have seen in other texts, it seems that, although houses and towns may be purpose-built, communities cannot be created).

· Establishes a friendly tone, involving his audience – and the electorate. Use of his and PM’s first names, much use of ‘we’, ‘you’ and ‘our people’
· Other rhetorical devices – repetition (rule of three), rhetorical questions – and answers, commands, use of short and long sentences
· A few swipes at the Tories
· Much use of ‘you know, ‘let me tell you’ to involve audience
· Anecdotal evidence
· Direct address to ‘Rachmans’ – use of terms like ‘rip off’
· Finishes by urging electorate to vote for a third term, cleverly using reference to ‘the third way’

Text 25 Transcripts 1 and 2

Having seen many examples of scripted dialogue and speech in extracts from novels and plays, and the carefully-written speech above, now we have the opportunity to examine two transcripts of real speech, and the difference between scripted and real speech are immediately obvious.

Transcript 1 is an interview with a man who lives and works in Milton Keynes, which was the flagship ‘New Town’ when these began to be built in the 1970s under The New Towns Act. The man talks about the advantages and disadvantages of living in Milton Keynes and it quickly becomes apparent that, despite the clever planning and landscaping (although he later says that the place is beginning to show signs of wear and tear) the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. There is obviously no sense of community or neighbourly spirit, and the interview shows clearly that these cannot be purpose-built, however cleverly houses and towns are designed.

The speech is quite fluent when he describes the well-planned environment – and then the high suicide and unemployment rate. When he describes the I nhabitants, and talks about the two occasions on which he was burgled, we see the pauses, use of conversational fillers as he searches for words, and the backtracking as he recalls details. He constructs a narrative as he tells the story of being burgled.

Transcript 2 is an interview with a lady who has lived in the Catholic community of Belfast all her life – in fact she is being interviewed in the house she was born in. This transcript clearly shows a strong sense of community, in which people know each other, and have done for years.

She recalls the parts of Belfast where her family lived before returning to this house, her first jobs as a young girl, and living through ‘the troubles’. There is much mention of people and places which are long gone, and it is obvious that this person knew and knows the city well.

The interviewer’s questions are given, and the woman recalls people and events. There are a lot of pauses and use of ‘fillers’ and backtracking as she remembers more detail. She talks about people, tells anecdotes and uses narrative, often involving the interviewer – ‘you know what I mean.’

There is humour here in the story of the man who was intent on fixing his car, oblivious to the gun battle raging around him.

Although she lived through some dangerous times, there is no hint of the discontent about the place exhibited by the man in the previous transcript.

In both, look for:

· Incomplete words and phrases
· Dialect features, grammatically ‘incorrect’ sentences, demotic lexis and idioms
· Fillers
· Repetition
· Self-correction, ‘editing’

Themes for Section 2

Nostalgia for the past/childhood
16, 17, 18, 20, 23

Strong sense of community/neighbourliness
17, 18, 22, 23, 25/2

Lack of sense of community 
15, 16, 19, 25/1

‘Purpose-built’ towns/communities
15, 16, 21, 24, 25/1

Use of humour/irony
15, 16, 18, 19, 23, 25/2

Constructing a narrative/anecdote
15, 17, 18, 23, 25/1, 25/2

Changes over time
16, 17, 20

Poor social conditions
15, 23, 24, 25/1

Expressing affection for a city/town
18, 20, 21, 22, 23 (although this is more centred on the street /community where she lived)

Dislike of a place
15, 16, 25/1

© Carrie Devine 2007