WJEC – THE LONGER QUESTION Part 2

Here is the thing promised in the last piece published. It is just an example. Please note where the paragraphs begin and how. If you want a C grade, do it like this. No lines missed! Typing = lines missed. AQA and WJEC [Welsh Board] Mark Schemes specify this for the C grade.

How Is Discrimination Presented In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men?

Discrimination can be found in several forms in the novella, Of Mice and Men. It is a story set at the heart of the Twentieth Century Great Depression in America and tells the story of two men, George and Lennie, as they travel from ranch to ranch, to work towards their version of the American Dream.
     Firstly, there is one person on the ranch who is discriminated against by the rest of the people who live and work there. Described as having “full, rouged lips and wide spaced eyes, heavily made up,” she is Curley’s wife. In this novella, she is given no name because Steinbeck wants the reader to feel the plight she finds herself in. By not naming her, he makes the reader more sympathetic towards her. She is the young woman of the ranch, who is ‘owned’ by Curley, her husband, who is described as being “at once, calculating and pugnacious.” Ever the fighter, he is the sort of person who feels as if the place for the woman is in the home, or the kitchen and so, he forces her to a life of loneliness and servitude.
     It is in this loneliness that she reaches out to some of the men on the ranch. By befriending Lennie for example, she encourages the wrath of her husband and her father in Law, the boss and owner of the ranch. “She says that she “ain’t used to livin like this” and that she could have “made somethin” of her life by being an actress in the movies but when her chance came, she was forced into the life she inhabits. She is kept in her place by social expectations and social discrimination at the hands of all around her.
     She in turn, is able to share her discriminatory language and ideas towards another character who is alienated and kept lonely on this typical ranch in Salinas, California. His name is Crooks and he is the Stable Buck. Curley’s wife says to him, “Listen, Nigger…. You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?” This linguistic racism was so prevalent at the time in America and the word was used widely as a term of insult from white to black Americans across their land, but it also shows how Curley’s wife is able to discriminate downwards towards the one person who is seen by all as being lower than she is; the Stable Buck [blacksmith].
     He in turn is able to share his discriminatory thoughts towards others. He claims that “a coloured man got to have some rights even if he don’t like them.” This is his way of showing just how stuck he is in his lifestyle. His only option is to live and work where he does and take the attitudes of the people around him. But he is equally cruel in his thoughts too, showing that racism, along with sexism and other forms of discrimination, can go hand in hand to create the antithesis [look this one up please] of the American Dream.
     Furthermore, the way that Lennie is treated by all except Carlson and George, except to a certain extent, Curley’s wife, shows how much people with academic delay will always be the butt end of someone’s joke. Lennie is described as “a huge man, shapeless of face” and he walks with the gait of someone with special needs. He travels with George from ranch to ranch and at each turn there is someone who tries to be bombastic  and nasty with him, picking on him because of his size and needs.
     Such discrimination is inherently nasty in any context but the bully in question, Curley, chooses to treat Lennie like he does because of his size and strength. His attitude is one of “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” and he goes out of his way to prove his worth with Lennie, to his own pained experience. When his wife is accidentally killed by Lennie, it is Curley who stresses that he is “gonna shoot the guts out of that big bastard,” showing his hatred and loathing of the man in question.
     In conclusion, it is possible to stress how so many people can be so discriminatory towards each other. Largely, this is due to jealousy of person, location of the ranch, the way that one person is expected to stay where they are all their life or simply because one person thinks they are better than the next. The concept of The American Dream is one that is therefore, flawed in every possible way, due in fact to the idea that the notion itself is not achievable!

RJ 04/2016

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WJEC – THE LONGER QUESTION

I was asked into a school recently for a trial day to see if I wanted to teach in there and whilst I was there, I observed a lesson with a Year 11 group, who were just being shown how to answer such a question as this: How is discrimination presented in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men? It was sub-labelled as the WJEC ‘Longer Question’ which suggests one thing and one thing only; the writing of one long, detailed essay on the subject matter.

Now before I go one step further, I think I need to say a few things before I show you how to answer it, as I have with other previous styles of question/task on this site. The first is that to give this to a Y11 group in March of the academic year is tantamount to failure on the school’s part. This sort of thing should be covered in Years 9 and 10 so that the students have the ability and practice to be able to use their skills properly and wisely as they attempt such a tricky answer.

Next, from what I saw of the group, it was quite ‘mixed’ in its ability and so this title needed rethinking a little. Perhaps they could have gone for the theme of ‘The American Dream,’ or some such other theme than this? Discrimination is something we think we know about, but when it comes to writing about how it is presented, or the effects on the reader, is very difficult indeed, especially if someone wants a C grade or higher, even for the ‘easier’ Welsh Board [itself a fallacy of an ideal].

Now, imagine having this one given and you think to yourself, okay I know what a PEE Chain is [the school had never taught this apparently!!!] and you know from my input here to add a D section, for Development [of ideas] into deeper understanding, but then imagine getting that question or task and then you will imagine what I saw on the faces of the students there.

So, how do we apply ourselves to the necessary quotes needed for this task? Well, the teacher and staff threw a single sheet of A4 paper the way of the students and expected them to know what to do with it. Here below, for your perusal now, are the two sides of one A4 page.

WJEC P1

WJEC P2

Working across the top, you see headers like ‘Dreams’ and ‘Sexism’ or ‘Life of a ranch hand.’ The going down the page, below the word ‘Discrimination’ in this one, you get some quotes you can use. Now this is a good idea for any teacher to do, but please, if you are a teacher, find another, easier way to present this information, for not everyone is good at reading grids like this. Think, for God’s sake, about your ‘variety’ of students for once. So page 1 has 5 quotes, which to me suggests at least 5 PEED chain paragraphs, but to get the real depth in there, I would ask and want 10 paragraphs. The problem that then comes is this is a timed exercise, so 5 may only just be realistic in the long run.

On page 2, overleaf, we then see 7 character names; Lennie, George, Candy, Slim etc. Under Slim;s for example, we see that there is a quote saying that ‘Slim’s opinions were law.’ [p72] Again, a good idea to do this kind of thing, but in my opinion, the students should have, through Y10 and Y11, been able to secure 3 quotes for each character that show us something of the man himself and his thoughts/actions. Again, how to present such information is something that you as a teacher need to think about very closely. The success and lifestyle of the students in your care are vitally important; screw this up at this time in their lives and you mess up their chances of being who and what they want.

So, now imagine that you as a student get this, in March and you are told to have a go at this in class. I for one would be looking at the clock immediately but this is how I think you should answer it.

  1. You HAVE to use PEED Chains throughout.
  2. Your first sentence should mirror the question [Discrimination is presented in a number of ways in the novella, Of Mice and Men [yes teachers, it is a novella, not a novel, as was being taught in that school; I could not get my breath that day]!
  3. Once the first sentence is down, use a DISCOURSE MARKER to begin the first detailed paragraph. Do it as I have taught on here before now. Maybe get 2 paragraphs down for your first point and do 2 for each of the points.
  4. Choose 3 ideas to write about so that the 5 point plan of INTRO, POINT 1, POINT 2, POINT 3 and CONCLUSION can be adopted.
  5. Stick to them like glue as well.
  6. Indent your HAND WRITTEN paragraphs as well. If you miss a line, like you are typing it, like I have had to here, you will NOT get the C grade, because the Mark Scheme [the thing the marker uses to award points and grades] says so. No lines missed.
  7. Once you have maybe 6 paragraphs, after the first bit, write your conclusion and ANSWER THE QUESTION or you stand the chance of it all not making sense. God forbid that should happen. Your B or C grade may just have become a D grade overall.
  8. At the end, check through your work and cross out WITH ONE SINGLE RULER LINE any words that are wrong and amend as necessary. Tipex is not allowed and crossings out should be avoided at all costs.

Now that you have the thing done, along with all other answers and tasks, you should get at least a C grade, if not higher. Whether or not you will, of course, will be up to your skills used on the day.

Have a look now, at the 2 sheets of A4. Download them and print them if necessary. Choose 3 ideas or ways someone is discriminated against and list them. Then find 3 quotes to support your ideas. Highlight them. With that done, have a go at answering the question.

I will take some time now to write you an answer to this question and post it later in the month, to give you a chance to have a go at this task for writing practice.

Happy Hunting!