Comprehension – Sample Answer (2011-Text 3)

Follow this link (2011-Text 3.Kevin Barry) and then read carefully through the answers below. It is important to note the following:

– how the points you have extracted from your reading (pen in hand) of the text can be organised into a clear, coherent and relevant answer.

– how this 15 mark answer is structured: begins with an introductory sentence that addresses the terms of the question, then three clear point/paragraphs, followed by a concluding sentence.

– how each individual point/paragraph is structured: begins with a point(P) sentence that outlines the point that you intend to make in relation to the question; followed by some examples or evidence(E) to back up the point you have made; finally an explanation(E) sentence that explains the relevance of the evidence.

– how this particular answer focuses on character traits.

– how personal response is included where possible.

**Practice your exam technique by using the included paragraphs as a model to convert the other points into suitable paragraphs – each containing Point.Evidence.Explanation**


(i) From your reading of this extract, what impression of the old woman do you form? Refer to the text in support of your answer.

From my reading of this extract, I was left with a number of ideas about the old woman.

  The first impression I got of her is that she was noticeably extroverted. From the moment she takes her seat opposite the girl, despite the look of ‘menace,’ it was clear that this is a woman who was determined to engage in conversation, even of it was to be largely a one-sided affair. She keeps talking, commenting on the passing countryside seemingly undeterred by the girl’s reaction when she takes ‘out a book and made a display of it.’ The fact that the conversation continues throughout the journey as virtually a monologue suggests that the old woman is a sociable person by nature and consequently is happy to be interacting with anyone at all.

  I also get the impression that she is quite a inquisitive individual……………

<PP3  Insightful>

<PP4  Mysterious>* (three points would in reality be sufficient)


(iii) How does Kevin Barry succeed in creating the experience of the train journey in the above extract? Refer to the text (content and style) in support of your answer. (20)


Kevin Barry uses a number of approaches to help recreate the experience of the train journey in the above extract.

   Firstly, he brilliantly captures the energy and movement of a group of passengers boarding the train at a ‘country station.’ He uses a wide variety of verbs to capture the sense of chaos as they seek out seats in the carriage. They ‘carried’ phones, food magazines. They ‘eyeballed’ seats and ‘shuffled’ towards those seats. The verb that I really identified with was the girl trying to ‘project’ belligerence, in the vain hope that nobody would sit opposite her – a common approach from anyone trying to defend their personal space on a crowded train. By the time the train continues its ‘rumbling,’ the chaos of the stop so cleverly captured by the author has receded, at least until the next station looms on the horizon.

    Another way that Kevin Barry captures the experience of the train journey is through his characterisations of some of the individual passengers. We can all relate to the variety of characters that you encounter when using public transport and the author is superb in his depiction of the old woman in particular. He uses a particularly memorable image to describe her, saying she is ‘ancient but with a fluency in the features. Later he adds to the sense of mystery surrounding the woman, saying that she ‘threw no shadow in the white sun.’ The young passenger is also vividly described as being ‘straight-backed and hard-eyed, with world-class vulnerability.’ These pen pictures of the train’s passengers help emphasise the variety of individuals who have embarked on the train journey.

    I was also impressed with the way the author succeeds in capturing the awkwardness of strangers interacting in the confined and close-quarters of the train. He………..

<P/P 4: Evocative conveying of the train’s movement>

<P/P 5: Captures changing landscape through the train’s window>*

*NOTE:  Four points would be the maximum you would write for 20 marks.





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