In this lesson, you are going to mark your assignment answers.
Below you will find a full mark scheme. For any questions that you get wrong, make sure to copy out the full correct solutions neatly into your notebook.
- What does the writer mean in the second paragraph when she says, ‘It is a long time now since he disappeared’?
This is a metaphor that the writer is using to talk about her son growing up. She says that her son has ‘disappeared’ but she means this figuratively, he is not missing but has grown up and is no longer the young boy he used to be.
- Re-read the third paragraph, list four activities that the boy liked to play.
The boy used to like to play with: cards, wooden farm animals, guns, bows and arrows, and with go-carts.
- How has the mother changed with time? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
The mother has changed a lot. When her son was younger, his noise and mess used to bother her, making her ‘nervous’ and causing her to ‘fret’. But now she misses his chaos – her eyes are ‘aching for the sight of cut paper upon the floor’ and she wishes ‘he were still a little boy’.
- In the fifth paragraph, what does the word ‘obliterate’ mean?
To ‘obliterate’ means to destroy and completely remove. This is an exaggeration which the writer uses to talk about having to clean up after her son. He used to make so much mess that she had to ‘obliterate mud stains’ from his clothes.
- In the fifth paragraph, what does the writer mean when she says that mothers, ‘don’t know their happiness then.’
She means that mothers complain about the responsibility of looking after their children but she now thinks that these are actually the best times of a mother’s life. For her, happiness is not attending ‘concerts, lectures and parties’, it was ‘sitting by a little crib’ taking care of her young son. She wants mothers to cherish these times as they can never have them back.
- Re-read the last 3 paragraphs, do you think the mother and son are still close? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
It is possible that the mother and son are not close as she talks about him like he is a stranger, referring to him as ‘a manly figure’ in a dehumanising and impersonal way. She is reluctant to engage with him saying ‘he calls me mother, but I am rather unwilling to own him’. She also feels that she is not as good a mother to him as she could be, wishing she could be ‘more’ of a mother to him now.
But the fact that he has come to visit her and ‘stoutly declares that he is [her] boy’ shows that he is very fond of his mother. Also, her distance and sadness are because she doesn’t want him to grow up not because she doesn’t love him, as she wishes ‘he were still a little boy’. She fears she will lose him again as he continues to grow and perhaps start his own family.
- Re-read the first paragraph, how is it structured to interest and engage the reader?
The first paragraph is written like a missing persons advert. It lists the child’s physical features, what he was wearing and a little about his personality. The statements are clear and descriptive like a police report. The paragraph is impersonal and formal which all acts to give the impression that a child has actually gone missing. People are interested in crime and concerned about the safety of children; therefore, such an opening will evoke interest and worry and make people want to read more to find out about the missing boy.
- Look again at paragraphs 3-5, what is similar about the way these three paragraphs are structured? Why do you think the writer has done this – what effect does it have on the reader?
These three paragraphs all start with a quote from the writer’s friends about how happy the writer should be now that her son has grown up and she has more freedom. They then switch to talking about how the writer in fact misses looking after her son. They all end with a reflective statement of regret that the writer could have ever thought looking after her son was an inconvenience.
The writer has used this structure, firstly, to emphasise how alone the mother feels; the quotes show that her friends don’t understand how she is feeling. Secondly, the writer uses this structure to highlight the irony of the fact that though she has newfound ‘liberty’, she actually wishes she had the ‘responsibilities’ and chaos of looking after her son. The juxtaposition of these two types of life – her peaceful current live and the chaotic life she used to have – emphasises how much her life has changed and how much she wants it to change back again.
Repeating this pattern three times compounds the idea that the writer really misses having her son around and desperately wants him to be young again.
- Re-read the first 2 lines of paragraph 6, how does the structure here help to create a sense of uncertainty and discomfort?
The writer uses short declarative sentences to depict her son as a stranger, stating ‘a manly figure stands before me now’ and ‘he has just come from college’. This impersonal information given in this short, sharp and direct way creates unease. The writer also uses listing to describe her son and what he his wearing. This mirrors the listing of the first paragraph making this section seem like another missing person advert, creating uncertainty about the relationship between the two of them.
- Re-read the final paragraph – do you think this is an effective ending?
This is a powerful ending as it captures the mother’s feelings of loss and regret. It also acts as a warning to other parents to cherish the time they have with their children when the children are young, so they won’t feel the way she does. This is a good message to leave the reader with at the end of the article.
- After reading this extract, a student says, ‘It is clear that the mother feels nostalgic and unable to let go’ – to what extent do you agree with this statement?
Suggestion: I agree with this statement. Firstly, the mother powerfully uses listing to tell us how her son used to behave when he was younger, playing with ‘tumbled-down card-houses’ and filling the house with ‘the noise of drums and trumpets’. She misses these days, wanting and wishing they would come back. This shows that she is nostalgic, seeing all the past experiences as positive and wanting to return to them.
It is clear that the mother cannot let go as she repeatedly refers to her son using the diminutive noun ‘boy’, qualified by the diminutive adjective ‘little’, showing that she wants to trap him in time and doesn’t want to accept that he has grown up. She refers to her adult son as an impersonal and ambiguous ‘figure’ whom she is ‘unwilling to own’. This shows that she doesn’t want to let go of the idea of her little boy.