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my teacher gave me a C for this. i was shocked!

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    i do AQA English literature and this question was on of mice and men. my answer to part A and B. she never gave an individual amrk out of 15 for both but said it was an overall a grade C piece of work. i am aiming for an A*.....
    was she being too harsh? please be honest. by the way part A requires a passage and we answer it by reading that. you can search it up. my answer:


    Part A How do the details in this passage add to your understanding of Crooks?
    From the passage we can learn a lot more about Crooks’ characteristics and intellect. We find out that he lives in a “little room” away from everyone else. “broken harness” and “new leather” show us his work ethic but also give us an insight in to the inhumane, unjust, cruel behaviour hey had to face during the slave trade. “Crooks also had “his apple box over his bunk, both for himself and the horses”, Steinbeck is reinforcing the fact that blacks were treated like animals in 1930’s American society.
    Steinbeck is trying to put across the loneliness people felt at the ranch especially crooks. “number of possessions; for, being alone, crooks could leave his things about”, from this we can infer that no one entered his bunk or stole from him due to the colour of his skin. Steinbeck is also reiterating that no whites socialised with blacks at that time and that there was an incredible amount of segregation. Furthermore because of this segregation Crooks almost had to have plenty of possessions to keep him occupied. “Crooks possessed a single-barrel shogun” which enforces the fact that he had been beaten up or racially attacked so he needed a means of security to defend himself and his dignity.
    In addition Crooks also owned a “tattered dictionary” and a “copy of the civil code” which tells us that he was a knowledgeable man. He must have read this everyday to see whether he was being treated correctly as Steinbeck ads “spectacles hung from a nail on the wall above his bed”.
    Moreover Steinbeck writes “his eyes lay deep in his head” and “seemed to glitter with intensity”. This tells us many things about Crooks. Firstly the depth in is eyes signify the discrimination he has faced and that that build a huge wall and knocked his confidence. But it could also show that he is incredibly defensive and reserved. Secondly the “intensity” represents his hopes and dreams. Steinbeck emphasizing that everyone had a dream from the elderly, the women and the blacks who were finding it particularly difficult at that time.
    Part B How does Steinbeck use the character of Crooks in the novel as a whole to convey ideas about America in the 1930’s?
    There are many aspects of Crooks which Steinbeck symbolises to convey ideas about America in the 1930’s. First of all Crooks lives in the bunk by himself with the animals and completely separate to everyone else. Steinbeck is telling us that there was a lot of segregation between the two races for example schools, water fountains, toilets and even buses were segregated and the blacks had to always sit at the back. So Steinbeck rather astutely added this element of America at that time and brought in on to the ranch.
    Steinbeck uses the character of Crooks to shed light on the amount of racism at that time. The Ku Klux Klan was a great force with the increase rise of membership every month. The group horrifically lynched blacks and set their houses alight. We see this element of American society when Curleys wife says 'I could get you strung up in a tree so easy it ain't even funny.”, after being told to leave by Crooks. Although Crooks was older than Curelys wife and a “cripple” she treated him like nothing. That follows up to my next point which is there was no divide in age but rather power and authority. Even though Crooks has been there longer than most people he still worthless due to the fact that he is old and essentially black.
    Crooks also represent the black community who came to terms with the fact that they were being racially attacked upon. Steinbeck writes “Crooks was a proud, aloof man” because Crooks has no choice but to endure this prejudice and isolation.
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    by the way in the exam i will write a lot more. so ignore the fact that it is short. so what grade would you give it?
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    You didnt really go into much depth. broken harness” and “new leather” show us his work ethic but also give us an insight in to the inhumane, unjust, cruel behaviour hey had to face during the slave trade. How do those words show this? Why did Steinbeck do this? What was his intended effect? Use key words
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    No technical terms, why do those quotes invoke certain words?, no originality in your arguments, heavy repetition about segregation, little knowledge about social context outside the obvious racial abuse, very little about his interaction with others. This is a very mediocre C grade, more close to a D than a B grade.
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    (Original post by gunner4lyf44)
    No technical terms, why do those quotes invoke certain words?, no originality in your arguments, heavy repetition about segregation, little knowledge about social context outside the obvious racial abuse, very little about his interaction with others. This is a very mediocre C grade, more close to a D than a B grade.
    in general what things do i need to do to make it an A* answer. not just this question but any.
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    No one's gonna read it.
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    i wouldnt have given it a C to be honest.

    the way it is written it sounds like a 3 year old ordering ice-cream. 'ill have the sauce cos its nice. oo ill have the sprinkles cos they're nice. oooooo wait can i have chocolate sauce too. oh yea wait!!! can i have a honey-comb cone please'
    theres no flow, and everything looks like an after thought. you dont go into depth of 'tthis proves this' your first 'paragraph' has more quotes than it does points or analysis. it looks like your are throwing quotes in to pad it out. the marks are in the P and D of PED, you dont need a million quotes, as all that demonstrates is your ability to read.

    your quotes dont match your points for the most part.


    your whole essay is encapsulated in the sentence 'This tells us many things about Crooks.' void of any substance.
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    I think it is a low C borderline high D so I think you deserved the C.
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    (Original post by osama2)
    in general what things do i need to do to make it an A* answer. not just this question but any.
    Difference between A and A* at GCSE English Lit is about original interpretation of the text by you.

    Obviously this doesn't mean no one in the wide world of Literature study has never thought the same thing, just that, roughly, no one else in the pile of papers the examiner's marking has written it and thus it hasn't come from the teacher nor is blindingly obvious.

    Make sure you're comfortable in B/A, which it doesn't seem you are, though before you start worrying about coming up with original comment for the A*.
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    I think that you concentrate on race relations way too much and don't analyse small details. For example for 'his eyes seemed to glitter with intensity' you could comment on the theme of light and dark within the novel.
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    (Original post by Booyah)
    As the ranch is a microcosm, the character of Crooks shows the reader that the entire black community is kept down as the word "harness" in "harness" room makes it seem that the black community of America is being kept down. An example of this is when (Insert the guys name I have forgotten) has a fight with Crooks. The white community of America is ready to abuse black men and women, keeping them down in society. This is strife in the history of America as black people did not earn equal rights to white men and women untill 1968.

    On the topic of rights, Crooks has a frequently thumbed through copy of the civil code (Find the quote yourself!), this shows that Crooks is constantly looking for a way for him to be treated equally and in that sense he is hopeful that one day he would not be isolated and be able to play, drink and be merry with other members of the white culture.

    Lastly Crooks attacks Lenny when he walks into his shack, this is a black man's property which no man can take away from him, this shows that to keep himself away from harm he isolates himself from the white community. This shows that at this current moment in time he is not ready to forgive white people for what they have done to him as he quickly begins to attempt to upset Lenny saying that George has run away from him.

    Something along those lines should aim you for an A/A* Bit short and missing quotes but hey I do not own the text anymore.

    Hope that helps
    thanks really helps.
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    (Original post by Booyah)
    As the ranch is a microcosm, the character of Crooks shows the reader that the entire black community is kept down as the word "harness" in "harness" room makes it seem that the black community of America is being kept down. An example of this is when (Insert the guys name I have forgotten) has a fight with Crooks. The white community of America is ready to abuse black men and women, keeping them down in society. This is strife in the history of America as black people did not earn equal rights to white men and women untill 1968.

    On the topic of rights, Crooks has a frequently thumbed through copy of the civil code (Find the quote yourself!), this shows that Crooks is constantly looking for a way for him to be treated equally and in that sense he is hopeful that one day he would not be isolated and be able to play, drink and be merry with other members of the white culture.

    Lastly Crooks attacks Lenny when he walks into his shack, this is a black man's property which no man can take away from him, this shows that to keep himself away from harm he isolates himself from the white community. This shows that at this current moment in time he is not ready to forgive white people for what they have done to him as he quickly begins to attempt to upset Lenny saying that George has run away from him.

    Something along those lines should aim you for an A/A* Bit short and missing quotes but hey I do not own the text anymore.

    Hope that helps
    this is strife.. lulz

    if thats what it takes to get an a.. i am dissapoint.
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    guys i really appreciate the comments is it alright if i redo the essay and repost it on here or another thread. and then maybe you could look at it?
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    (Original post by osama2)
    guys i really appreciate the comments is it alright if i redo the essay and repost it on here or another thread. and then maybe you could look at it?
    re-do it and post it in here, only comment on the fact he is black in one paragraph.

    do 3 paragraphs + intro and CONCLUSION for part a and part b
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    (Original post by sconter)
    re-do it and post it in here, only comment on the fact he is black in one paragraph.

    do 3 paragraphs + intro and CONCLUSION for part a and part b
    thanks. wish my teacher was this constructive
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    I studied 'Of Mice and Men' for GCSE and got an A, and continued to study until A-level where I also worked at A grade. From my experience when using quotations, for example, 'broken', you should be talking about the adjective Steinbeck uses to portray the character of Crooks to the reader and why he makes such vocabulary choices.
    I would say 'Steinbeck uses adjectives such as 'broken' and 'tattered' when describing Crooks' possessions, suggesting not only that he does not take pride in material things, but also connotates imagery of Crooks himself and his unkempt appearance. It allows us to sympathise with Crooks as a modern day reader, illustrating to us the attitudes surrounding racism and the monotonous stigma associated with black citizens in their minority in the 1930s. Steinbeck is merely reflecting Crooks' 'broken' attitude towards life through his appearance and surrounding possessions.'
    It is important to remember that the examiner knows the story. You are not writing to tell them what happened in the novel, but to pinpoint the techniques Steinbeck used in order to make it effective. Your focus should be on the range of terminology you pick out and relating it to the question. Picking out quotations may seem easy, but it is how you expand upon those quotations (make something out of nothing!) that shows your depth of understanding. Make sure you only use terminology you are comfortable with the meaning of - don't go using words just because they sound good without understanding what they are. This will only hinder you and waste time when you could be making valid points. Try to say 'the adjective 'broken'' or 'the list of three *insert quotation* to ensure that you are saying something about the technique used by Steinbeck and how this enhances the novel. Even if you don't like the novel - pretend to. The fancier you sound, the more it sounds like you know what you're talking about, so expand your vocabulary and brush up on terminology so you know what you're talking about! Also try to vary your structure slightly. I know every class is taught differently, but there is no harm in putting context at the beginning, middle or even end of a paragraph. Just integrate relevant information, keep it precise and don't go off on a tangent!
    The basis is there - your writing is confident. All I can suggest is to submit as many pieces of writing to your teacher as possible before the exam. Get her to set you a list of questions and write 1 point on each. Don't forget your introduction and conclusion too. It's a lot to do in a little time so practice being concise and cram as much in as you can!
    Good luck and I hope this was helpful!
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    Hmm, I think people are being a bit unfair. It's worthy of a C, perhaps a B since I think the use of language is good.
    However, I'll give you a few more tips if you want them. I'm aiming for an A* too.

    You have to expand this a little. A lot of repetition is being used, and the only real point you're emphasising is that Crooks is a victim of racism. Which is true, though to secure an A* grade you need to reach out to a wider theme:

    ''Crooks illustrates social prejudice. He is intelligent, reads books, and like any other human being needs warmth and companionship. He is denied these, not through any fault of his own but rawly through the fact that he's black. Yet if there is a theme of racial prejudice here it is almost a sub division of a wider theme, that of loneliness. ''

    ''Like Candy, Crooks is an example of Steinbeck's compassion and a further illustration of the way in which loneliness can corrupt and destroy a man. His cynicism about the world is summed up when he says, ''Nobody gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land''.

    Also, ''He is partly disabled in a society which values human beings simply on their ability to provide a service'' is a valid point.

    I would also like to address your point regarding Curley's wife: I have altered it a bit!
    ''The true horror of Crooks's situation is revealed when he dares to challenge a white woman married to a white man. Curley's wife has done little to warrant respect, though she may have your sympathy. This girl, by virtue of her race rather than her attributions as a human being can crush Crooks in little more than a sentence: ''You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?'' I hope that's okay.

    Also, bring up the theme of Dreams and reality. This is so important.
    You have to talk about how Crooks realises the dream is nothing more than a dream (regarding the George and Lennie's dream of owning a farm):

    ''Crooks realises that the dream is nothing more than a dream; doomed to failure because the real world does not allow dreams to come to fruition. Like Crooks, we want to believe in the dream despite everything we know, and like Crooks we come to realise that it is a dream is very much impossible.'' Or something along those lines?

    Basically, a more sophisticated use of language is needed to achieve 90% though it's very do-able. Identify key themes throughout the novel, and relate to them through your answer and you'll be in a good position for the exam.

    Good luck and I hope this helped!!
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    (Original post by osama2)
    in general what things do i need to do to make it an A* answer. not just this question but any.
    I agree with your teacher I'm afraid. Do you have a York Notes OM&M book? I'd buy it because it's really helpful and gives you an outline of all the key themes and ideas.

    I hate to say it but going from a C to an A* in such a short space of time will be difficult (unless the other essays you have written are better). Concentrate on getting to grips with the main themes and ideas.

    Use fewer and shorter quotes, but explain the hell out of them. Delve into the meaning behind it, alternative interpretations, give your own original analysis too. Try and force yourself to consider what else something could mean. Make sure you've explained your quote to the max before moving onto them next one. Don't just write about what everyone else will write about. Mention also the sentence lengths, written structure etc.

    If you do all of this your grade will improve.
    Best of luck
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    Like others have said there is a lack of detail and expansion. I think it might help you to expand more if you make fewer points but try to write the same amount. Sometimes when I feel like I have a lot of points to make I'm too focused on making them and not commenting or explaining them properly. For example, “Crooks also had “his apple box over his bunk, both for himself and the horses”, Steinbeck is reinforcing the fact that blacks were treated like animals in 1930’s American society," should be explained/expanded on. How does it reinforce this fact? e.g. by presenting him as an equal to the horse.
    The whole thing doesn't flow very well, each paragraph/new point it very disjointed from the next, so try to link your points.
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    (Original post by osama2)
    i do AQA English literature and this question was on of mice and men. my answer to part A and B. she never gave an individual amrk out of 15 for both but said it was an overall a grade C piece of work. i am aiming for an A*.....
    was she being too harsh? please be honest. by the way part A requires a passage and we answer it by reading that. you can search it up. my answer:


    Part A How do the details in this passage add to your understanding of Crooks?
    I think you are getting some good advice on this thread. I probably shouldn't be answering this thread as it has been a long time since I have done any GCSE and I wouldn't want to send you in the wrong direction, but I had some thoughts that you might find useful.

    My first thought after reading it was that you didn't actually answer the question. I was left none the wiser as to your understanding of Crooks after reading your answer. I would have expected you to paint a picture of who Crooks is to you and back that up with appropriate quotes from the text. Rather, what you have presented is more of a laundry list of points, which I'm sure are along the right lines but there is very little linking those ideas together.

    Another thing that stood out to me was your constant urge to tell me what was going on in Steinbeck's mind when he wrote the novel. Steinbeck is using, he's trying to put across, he's reinforcing, etc. The question is how do you know what Steinbeck was trying to do? And I could be way off here, if this is how you are taught to analyse at GCSE then far be it from me to tell you otherwise, but unless you have spoken to Steinbeck you can't really know can you? In a way, what you have written is not your understanding of Crooks but what you think Steinbeck's understanding might have been.


    Finally, as another poster pointed out, the quotes don't always back up the points you are trying to make. Does a tattered dictionary and copy of the civil code really suggest he was a 'knowledgeable man' - such as a priest or a lawyer? Perhaps he needed a dictionary in order to be able to understand the California civil code? You then glossed over the interesting point! Why was Crooks so interested in the civil code in the first place. You almost went there, then decided to talk about spectacles.

    I hope that was some use to you - I'm sorry it's so negative but you did ask for a critique. All the best for your exams.

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