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Monday, December 26, 2011

Hidden Lives - In what ways does the author convey use of language?

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In what ways does the writer’s use of language convey the different moods she describes?


In the extract, Hidden Lives by Margaret Forster, the author makes a considered choice of words in order to covey a precise meaning or feeling. The writer’s use of language conveys the rollercoaster of different moods she describes in this extract in many ways.


At the start, the writer transmits a mood of nauseating anxiety and apprehension as the girl, “feeling so sick and dizzy,” waits for the postman to deliver a letter. She likens her emotional “sickness” to the physical “…as though the jaundice had returned.” The extract builds up its atmosphere of nervous tension by the writer’s use of words like “struggle” and the use of character silence - the girl “couldn’t… utter a word” and her mother “…said nothing…” creates an increased feeling of apprehension whilst she is waiting.


This already tense atmosphere is heightened when she sees the postman delivering a letter of acceptance on the other side of the road. This builds to a piercing crescendo when the boy’s mother breaks the silence, screaming ‘“He’s passed! Colin’s passed for the Grammar school!’


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The writer then describes the girl as being “anxious” to receive her letter - and the belief that she must have passed as well leads to bewilderment as the postman walks by her gate without a letter for her. The thick atmosphere of tension dissipates into disappointment when her mother quietly whispers ‘”Just go to school,”’ and the girl walks “stiffly… a tragic little figure…” onwards, dragging herself up the street in the doomed robotic repetition of “one-two, one-two.”


When the girl crosses the road and almost gets run over by a milk float, the driver shouts at her to look where she was going. The girl replies that ‘”I wasn’t going anywhere, alas,” � the double meaning makes the new atmosphere of disappointment and misery more poignant as she trundles by.


The mood changes again in the last two lines of the first paragraph, when her mother, “breathless”, catches up with her and tells her that it was a mistake and gives her the envelope accepting her for Grammar school.


In the next paragraph, the author uses words such as “happiness” and “ecstatic” to describe the girls “overwhelming” and “miraculous” elation � “such joy, such relief.” The repeated word � in capitals “HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY” � emphasise the complete turnaround in mood. She is “sweetness and light” at home now in comparison with “pitiful” and “anxious” in the first paragraph.


The style of writing and the language used is very different to the “running commentary” style used in the first paragraph. The second paragraph does not as intricately describe the events afterwards; instead the author has written them in like a brief overview � concentrating instead on the feelings and the emotional developments of the girl and how she savours each word and list for her new Grammar school. It is also written in a different, more meandering, lighter and breezier way because of this change. There is also a visible role reversal in mood during the second paragraph with regards to the girl and her mother. Whilst the girl’s optimism and spirits are “unquenchable” it is now the mother who is anxious after a visit to the school


“She had to go down to the High School… She came back apprehensive.”





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