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How does John Steinback convey the tension of the situation in the card-playing passage in chapter 3?

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Introduction

24/10/02 Suzi Bowen How does John Steinback convey the tension of the situation in the card-playing passage in chapter 3? To show the tension in the room in the passage, John Steinback often refers to the silence/any slight noise, the way time is passed, uses little dialogue and pays attention to minute details. The passing of time is indicated by acknowledging every small thing happens i.e. shuffling the cards made a snapping noise that everyone heard because so little was going on. "He rippled the edge of the cards nervously, and the little snapping noise drew the attention of all the men in the room" To pass the time, the men played a game of cards and occasionally tried 2 make light conversation e.g. ...read more.

Middle

He also mentions every little noise that is made such as the "snapping noise" as the cards were rippled and "a little gnawing sound from under the floor", which shows how silent the room is if every little sound is noticed. The writer uses dialogue to convey the inability of the characters to communicate their feelings. He does this by having a very small amount of talking and a lot of silence. No one speaks much, and even when they do speak they avoid the subject of candy's dog. "Candy, you can have any one of them pups you want." And although they verge near the subject of the shooting of Candy's dog, they never talk about it directly. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, the way in which Candy is lying is often referred to: "Candy lay still, staring at the ceiling" "he continued to stare at the ceiling, the rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent." This shows that Candy is the main feature in the room in which everyone is aware of. The lengths of the sentences in this passage were quite short. They were very to the point and abrupt. "It was silent outside. Carlson's footsteps died away. The silence came into the room" Doing this made the passage more emotional, showed the tension and displayed the atmosphere-the sentences not being very long showed that as little was happening in the room. This passage was made to be an emotional one and one that gave us a bigger in sight to the characters; showing some of them in a new light. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay response is directed at a question that asks about how Steinbeck creates tension in the few moments before Candy's dog is shot in the back of the head by Carlson. The candidate makes very general comments on that ...

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Response to the question

This essay response is directed at a question that asks about how Steinbeck creates tension in the few moments before Candy's dog is shot in the back of the head by Carlson. The candidate makes very general comments on that seem focused but are in fact quite vague in their analytical merit. The candidate certainly identifies the literary techniques Steinbeck uses, but the analysis is not carried to the great depth expected of an A Level English candidate. None of what is said is glaringly wrong, and it is good to know the candidate does not contradict the authorial intentions, but to improve, I would have liked to have seen a better focus on the question on a better use of analytical vocabulary.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis shown is very superficial and barely scrapes the surface of what Steinbeck is aiming to do with this scene. Creating tension is the ultimate goal. and the literary devices employed to achieve the effect are what need to be identified here. the candidate does a fair job of doing this but there is no great depth ventured to, and this essay only appears as the bones of what could be. It feels often like a lot of the analysis is mentioned as quickly as possible then moves straight onto the next points, almost in note form. To improve, the candidate should aim to address three or four different points - in the terms of this essay, these would be how Steinbeck creates tension (and as a side-note, it is best note to write an introduction that makes the reader aware of "what I am going to do in this essay" or the like, as it leaves little to the imagination and is a very low ability style of introduction) and the main bulk of the essay would consist of analysing the three/four points in great detail, rather than spreading the analysis thinly over a range of different element, some of which hold greater analytical merit than others. This kind of essay would be more cohesive and would string together better-developed ideas about Steinbeck's creation of tension, and this would improve the quality of the analysis.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is good but it appears to be so mainly due to the fact that a lot of what is written sues very simple English. The candidate cannot be penalised for this, but the QWC could be higher if the candidate concentrates on using more complex punctuation, grammatical syntaxes and ranges their vocabulary a bit more. This would also give the impression that the examiner is reading coursework from someone who is confident and displays a vast knowledge of a range of vocabulary.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 23/03/2012

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