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Section A: Text Response advice
« on: October 22, 2014, 09:16:13 pm »
As promised, here is some text response advice! Since everyone has different texts I'll provide a general structure and then pop in one of my essays. With this thread I'll be taking all structural questions and answering them. So leave any question and I'll answer it to the best of my ability to add to what I've got here (the basics). I scored 17/20 for Text Response in 2013, so I hope it helps you guys :)
I feel structure in TR is very similar among every one who does English, it's more about the detail. So hopefully the essay will give some detail. PLEASE USE THIS THREAD FOR ANY QUESTIONS RELATING TO TR!! :)

-First sentence, include the name of the text and the author
-State your contention, and make this very, very clear!!!!! Usually, I wrote 2-3 bodies which either agreed with or disagreed with the prompt. Make sure you also write one paragraph that shows the opposing opinion.
-Discuss what the narrator though
-Give some context, what's the time and setting?
-Outline your paragraphs

-Give a juicy topic sentence and words that accentuate your contention
-Explain and give evidence
-A final sentence that explicitly links back to the prompt (it's important that you sprinkle continuous references to the prompt throughout your piece, not too much, but still evident so it shows you've engaged with that specific topic and that the essay is not something rote-learned)

-State the contention
-Restate your paragraphs but in the view of your author

Here is a sample piece (not marked from memory but something I felt was good enough):

Prompt: ‘In these stories Carver suggests that poverty limits an individual’s ability to move forward with their life.’ Do you agree?

In Raymond Caver’s anthology, Will you please be quiet please?, a predominant constant is the issue of poverty and love – or, more precisely the issue of love it’s absence, and the bearing of poverty on the relationships of his characters. There are some characters in Carver’s stories that do not let their troubling relationships and financial circumstances prevent them from enjoying a momentarily exhilarating and vivifying life. In particular, there are some characters in Carver’s stories that utilise these circumstances to become empowered and escape the shackles by which they are imprisoned to dispiriting and poverty-ridden relationships. Nonetheless, some of Carver’s stories focus on circumstances in which poverty suffocates the characters growth and does not allow them to enjoy a satisfying life; indeed, there are some characters that chose not to move on either. Ultimately, Carver’s anthology serves to compact and crystallise the effects of love and poverty which can cause even ordinary people to experience extraordinary circumstances.

In Will you please be quiet please?, some of Carver’s character understand the extent of their poverty and poignant circumstances, and as such escape their lives, momentarily, to enjoy a glimpse of a better life. ‘Neighbors’ is a tale of a marriage in the process of diminishing. Bill and Arlene Miller who were “a happy couple” experience sexual titillation in their neighbour’s apartment which they are looking after. As they find the “Hawaiian shirts”, “bermudas” and “brassieres and panties”, Carver reveals that is the Stones’ apartment is a psychosexual rumpus room for the Millers, one in which they can forget about their dreary financial circumstances and their inability to enjoy the same life as the Stones’. The Stones’ apartment revitalizes the Millers’ marriage and, temporarily, eliminates the disquieting circumstances which previously blighted their marriage. As they begin to “make love again” and neglect their old jaded selves they restore the love in their marriage and forget their financial circumstances which prevented them from enjoying “pleasure trips”. Similarly, ‘The Idea’ presents a couple who, vicariously, move forward in their physical and sexual relationship by watching the “trash” next door while she “takes her clothes off”. Their observations – which are sexually arousing - allow the couple to momentarily ignore and heal the lack of love in their own relationship. Hence, Carver presents these two couple to indicate that one’s financial and relationship difficulties may be escaped to momentarily enjoy a more invigorating life.

Additionally, Carver’s anthology provides several stories in which characters escape their poverty ravaged, poignant, despairing and loveless lives through self-empowerment to enjoy a more satisfying life. This is demonstrated through Carver’s exploration of the brutal reality of the anonymous waitress in the story ‘Fat’. We learn that the waitress is dissatisfied in her relationship. However, it is made apparent the cavalier nature of the ‘fat man’ has been infinitely successful in seducing her into the notion that she deserves much more than Rudy; the ‘fat man’ is everything Rudy is not; polite, articulate and “well dressed” making Rudy seem inferior in every way. During that night when she has “nothing to say” and moves “clear over to the edge”, Rudy begins to have sex her with her, she feels “terrifically fat” and her epiphany arrives. Wanting to free herself despite her lack of financial stability her liberation arrives as Rudy’s dimensions shrink in not only size but importance and he feels like “a tiny thing”. As she insists that “[Her] life is going to change. [She] can feel it” her vision is made prominent, she is to engage in an affair, thus allowing her to enjoy a wholesome relationship and move forward with her life with perhaps, a more financially stable man such as the ‘fat man’. Analogous to this epiphany is that of the protagonists, ‘R’, in the story ‘Nobody Said Anything’ as he realises he must transition into adulthood by himself. The boy’s moment of self-empowerment arrives as he holds the “gigantic summer steelhead” that was “silver under the porch light”, he becomes resilient to his parents marital discord and holding that “half of him” triumphantly it indicates that he is to conquer all the struggles he may face in life and move forward while vivifying his slowly ending childhood which was stained by his unsettling and poverty-ridden family unit. Hence, the anthology comprises characters that move forward with their lives despite their financially unstable and loveless relationships.

Nevertheless, there are some stories in Carver’s anthology which explore circumstances in which characters are imprisoned in dissatisfying relationship; however, their financial circumstances prevent them from escaping such relationships which are devoid of love. ‘The Students Wife’ presents a couple trapped by an infusion of hardscrabble domesticity and a disquieting relationship, as ‘Nan’ – the protagonist – laments that wants the love of her husband like “all kinds of relationships”, Mike’s words crush her hopes as he wanted her to “leave [him] alone”. Stricken by poverty her hopes “to live a good honest live” are crushed and this causes Nan to realise she is living in a world of no escape; oppressed by anguish and as she “began to cry” and pleaded with God “[help] them” it is made evident that their lives will forever be stained by dissatisfaction. In consistency with this, Wayne and Caroline from ‘Signals’ are trapped in a marriage in which they cannot enjoy “extravagances” and a sense of love. As Wayne becomes jealous of the waiter, Aldo, and his charm it is revealed that their relationship is stained by discord and an inability to communicate with each other, thus, causing them to remain stilted and unable to progress with the “best years of [their] lives”. Thus, the volume emphasises Carver’s belief that a concoction of poverty and loveless relationships can cause individuals to remain trapped in their dispiriting present life.

However, Carver does not only suggest that poverty is limit that does not allow one to move forward with lives, a lack of love prevents many of his characters from progressing with their lives. Men such as Arnold Breit - the protagonist in ‘Are You A Doctor?’ – live in a world stalked by fear and the embodiment of this fear is epitomised through Clara Holt, the wrong-number mystery caller who gives rise to sexual adventures. As Arnold reminds himself that “one couldn’t take chances” he succumbs to physical confrontation. Carver presents Arnold as a man who cannot manage his domestic life: his dysfunctional relationship is a testimony to the disquieting circumstances which overpower his life. As Arnold looks at “himself in the mirror”, it reveals the unsettling truth, an indication that his distance from his lover cannot be replaced by the sexual invitations of Clara. Indeed, this causes Arnold to suffer a self-dissociation of character: the epitome of disquiet; he suffers a complete disengagement from his life and identity preventing him from moving forward with his life. In tandem with this is ‘The Father’, in which the central figure suffers a psychotic erosion. As he turns to his family, with a face “white and without expression”, having been informed that he “doesn’t look like anybody” it is revealed that the father is suffering from an inability to progress with his life and comprehend the birth of his new son due to his disconnection with his family unit. As such, these stories give prominence to notion that an absence of love in relationships and disconnection from loved ones can suffocate an individual’s growth.

Raymond Carver’s anthology serves to explore the effects of love’s withdrawal in relationships and how poverty can exasperate its effects. Using stories such as ‘Neighbors’ and ‘Fat’, Carver explores how individuals escape their bleak circumstances to enjoy a better life, however, this is juxtaposed against stories such as ‘Are You A Doctor’ which explore the effects of love’s maladies and its ability to prevent an individual from moving forward with their lives. Hence, it is through Carver’s crystallisation of love’s characteristics and financial strife, that we can see how even ordinary people can experience “impossible changes”.

« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 09:17:49 pm by EspoirTron »
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Re: Section A: Text Response advice
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2014, 09:18:17 pm »
thanks for the advice.

can you please include the question for the essay so I can see how you link it.

EDIT: You edited and beat me to it :) Nice essay.