You rattled through Paper 1,  Question 1 listing four details as instructed. This was a straightforward information retrieval question and there’s no reason, carelessness aside, why you shouldn’t get the full 4 marks.

Next, you tackled Question 2 and this was definitely as little harder. The question began with the word How so you knew you had a more difficult job on your hands. And it was all about explaining how the writer had used Language to describe something.

Now for Question 3 – the Structure question!

Typically, this will ask you something like this:

How has the writer used structure to interest the reader?

Seems like a tall order, but remember, like Question 2 before it, the exam paper provides you with 3 bullet points that you need to address, the first of these being …. What does the writer focus on at the start?

The examiner has given you a hand by inviting you to deal with the opening of the Source first of all. So let’s take a look at how you might answer the first bullet point in Question 3.

I’m using the opening 14 lines from a novel by Muriel Spark called The Comforters.

Here’s the extract from the Source:

On the first day of his holiday Laurence Manders woke to hear his
grandmother’s voice below.

‘I’ll have a large wholemeal. I’ve got my grandson stopping for a week,
who’s on the B.B.C. That’s my daughter’s boy, Lady Manders. He won’t eat white bread, one of his fads.’

Laurence shouted from the window, ‘Grandmother, I adore white bread
and I have no fads.’

She puckered and beamed up at him.

‘Shouting from the window,’ she said to the baker.

‘You woke me up,’ Laurence said.

‘My grandson,’ she told the baker. ‘A large wholemeal, and don’t forget to
call on Wednesday.’

Laurence looked at himself in the glass. ‘I must get up,’ he said, getting
back into bed. He gave himself seven minutes.

There’s a free download at the bottom of this post so you might want to grab that now before you go any further.

OK, so now take a good look at the Source and jot down what you think is going on here in terms of structure.

When you’re ready, here are the main points we came up with:

  • dialogue between grandmother and grandson
  • Relationship between grandmother and grandson
  • Character of grandmother and grandson
  • Biographical details with regard to grandson
  • Scene setting

Next, these ideas need to be written so that you get the maximum number of marks. Remember, we’re just dealing with the first of the three bullet points that were listed in Question 3.

So here’s the end result using the ideas above. Take a look and see what you think.

The opening of the Source is structured so that the reader can begin to experience the warm, close relationship between the grandmother and her grandson.

This is helped by the writer’s careful use of dialogue between the grandmother and the baker, as well as the grandson’s attempts to override his grandmother’s remarks about him.

The writer adds humour by placing an initial narrative focus on the embarrassed reaction of Laurence to what he hears on waking as his grandmother talks boastfully about him.

The humour in the embarrassment Is made sharper as he hears her inventing details about him including her claim that he won’t eat white bread and that this is “one of his fads”.

The humour is compounded by the fact that the grandmother all but ignores her grandson’s comments and merely “puckered and beamed at him” in a mischievous manner. In addition, this reveals her affectionate and indulgent pride in her grandson.

The opening of the Source also provides just enough biographical details about Laurence to help the reader to understand him more as well as his relationship to the events as they are just beginning to unfold.

Hopefully you’ve found that helpful as a demonstration of how to tackle the first of the three bullet points in Question 3 – the Structure question.

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