2017 Close reading exam practice

Question One: Prose


Personification – “where the bank reared up high and the stream snaked…”

(b) Explain how this other language feature helps you to understand the boys’ experience within the setting. You might consider how a particular mood is created and/or sustained.

The text Into the River describes a journey two young boys are taking to explore a local river to find the big eels whilst hiding from a grumpy farmer. The boys’ experience throughout their journey is displayed as difficult and challenging, but rewarding once they achieve what they have been working for. Dawe demonstrate this idea by using language features such as personification and onomatopoeia.

By using personification, Dawe describes the stream like a snake, snaking through a series of deep pools. “where the bank reared up high and the stream snaked in a series of deep pools”. By personifies the stream to a snake, it not only describes the twisting and thin nature of the path that the boys were taking, but it also shows us something about their journey. A snake is a predatorial animal, sneaking in the background waiting to pounce on its prey. This is the same as the Goldsmith who lives in a farmhouse, who will scold the boys if they are seen on his land. This personification helps us to understand the boys challenging and tiring trip of having to hide from a man of power to get to their goal and it develops the tense mood as we hope the boys will not get caught.

The idea of the snake is developed further when Dawe describes the “hissing mud” where “in some places their fists sank deep”. By using the same concept of the snake (only this time demonstrating it through onomatopoeia) the predatorial mood is sustained. We still hold the idea that the boys are the prey of the Goldsmith and that they are in his land which is why the mud is hissing at them. Another example of onomatopoeia is the “cackle of some distant tui”. By using cackling it sounds as if the birds are almost laughing at the boys, and this sustains the idea that the boys are of the target of attack as they are trespassing in someone else’s land. This helps us to understand the experience the boys had as well, as not only is the course they are taking challenging, but they also have to deal with being a target and being looked down on by nature.

The poem Into the River explains to the reader something about environments and how they adapt. In this text, the environment was making it hard for the boys to get to see the big eels as it knew the Goldsmith does not allow the boys on his land. This is an interesting idea of how an owner can change its environment and in this case, the land has morphed into a tough place for the boys with snaking streams and mud so deep it hisses. The boys had a hard experience as the man above it all, the Goldsmith, controlled the land.

One Comment

  1. The key elements are all there. I encourage 6-10 quotations if possible. To ensure an excellence – focus on the conclusions about life that the text brings you to. What does this text, through its language, help us to understand about our world?



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