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Gcse Prose Study Comparison

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How does the author create atmosphere in 'Zero Hour' and 'Examination Day' For this essay I will examine how authors use setting and characterization to create atmosphere. I will compare two science fiction stories by two authors. The stories that I am going to analyze are Zero Hour written by Ray Bradbury in 1951 and the second story is Examination Day written by Henry Slesar in 1958. What you notice about these two stories is that they are both written in the 1950s shortly after World War II. It was a period where technology was developing, and when people became very interested in alien life. Zero Hour is about an invasion by aliens in the streets of America. This happens when a child is playing with her friends outside in the lawn and suddenly an explosion takes place. The parents of Mink take cover in the attic of the home and then there is a cliffhanger when Mink says 'Peekaboo' just outside the attic door. Examination Day is a more futuristic story and where the author looks at the future. It is about a boy who has an intelligence test. Those people who get a score above the normal limit have to be killed. Unfortunately this child is too clever and he dies. The story Zero Hour is set in the future and this can be shown when the writer states: 'Overhead the rockets flew, and beetle cars whispered by on the streets...' ...read more.


This story uses language to create atmosphere. This is emphasized by the use of question marks: 'Drill says you're dangerous. Know why?' The sentence above shows when the writer uses question marks, by inserting the question mark he creates atmosphere. This is because he wants us to know why he is dangerous, the writer could've not inserted the question mark and that could have been okay. Due to him inserting it makes us want to read on and see why he is so dangerous. Another example of question marks and short sentences can be seen when Mink says: 'Mom?" A hesitation. "Dad?" A waiting, a silence. The quote above shows emotive words and clever speech to get the attention of the parents. It has question marks to make the atmosphere tense by calling their names out separately. Also uses short sentences to make it more exciting, Examination Day is set in a house and is also set on the main character's birthday, Dick who is going to become twelve. In this story the house is similar to Zero Hour full of suspense and is tense. This can be because it is very quite and both parents have one child, making them the main character and focus on them and create atmosphere. This story is tense all throughout just like an exam would be. This can be seen when the Dick's father mentions about exam: "It's just a sort of Government intelligence test they give at the age of twelve. ...read more.


When he goes in the building he is called by a different name: "Your names Richard Jordan?" "Yes sir." This shows us that the people in the building are very formal and take everything carefully. This can also create tension by calling him by a more formal way. By calling him formally it can be strange as they could be strangers and he does not know who they are. He is probably not use to being called by that name. The boy also asks a lot of questions in the story. This could be due to his intelligence. This can be seen when: "How far is the sun away?" This shows the boy is clever and asking questions leads to answers. As the father does not answer a few questions this creates atmosphere. After analyzing both stories I found both stories were well written. I found in Zero Hour .The atmosphere changes a lot ie. Being cool at the start and then changing it to becoming panicky, frightening to create atmosphere. In Examination Day it remains tense and is full of suspense and is very much like and exam day. Zero Hour and Examination Day both have a lot of language used ie. Question marks, exclamation marks, similes, metaphors and imagery. However I did not find any similes or metaphors in Zero Hour .Both stories have good endings. For Zero Hour it is left on a cliffhanger and the ending to Examination Day is very dramatic. After reading both stories I prefer Examination Day as it is easier to read and there is more language used. By Usman Bapu ...read more.

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