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Hello everyone,
I'm doing AQA GCSE which is 9-1 right now and I'm starting year 11. I've written a response for Q2 and I would like someone to mark it, give me constructive criticism and improvements and try to give it a level if you can. I've been struggling with english for a long time and I would really appreciate it if someone marked it. I would give this to my teacher, but they don't really give detailed feedback. Thanks.

Extract from Chapter 1: The East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I remember that the Gabilan Mountains to the east of the valley were light gay mountains full of sun and loveliness and a kind of invitation, so that you wanted to climb into their warm foothills almost as you want to climb into the lap of a beloved mother. They were beckoning mountains with a brown grass love. The Santa Lucias stood up against the sky to the west and kept the valley from the open sea, and they were dark and brooding—unfriendly and dangerous. I always found in myself a dread of west and a love of east. Where I ever got such an idea I cannot say, unless it could be that the morning came over the peaks of the Gabilans and the night drifted back from the ridges of the Santa Lucias. It may be that the birth and death of the day had some part in my feeling about the two ranges of mountains.

How does the writer use language here to describe the area?

Based on the passage the writer uses a simile to describe the area as a place to go when in distress. For example, when Steinbeck explains how he wanted to "climb" the "warm foothills" like it was "the lap of a beloved mother" it could certainly suggest that the "Gabilan Mountains" are comforting. The adjective "warm" implies that the mountains are almost caring empowering the mountains into a friendly figure rather than just an object. Also, "warm" makes evident that the mountains are kindhearted as if they are a friend which brings the "foothills" to life so they are easier to imagine. This adjective is combined with the simile of comparing the "foothills" with "a beloved mother" further reinforcing that the "foothills" are loving and making the feeling easier to relate as being in "the lap of" your own "beloved mother" is a familiar childhood feeling that most people don't forget. Furthermore, many people turn to family when dealt with certain dilemmas which reiterates that this area as a place to go when in distress. The reader would feel relaxed just like the writer and glad that he's found such a special place that he could compare it to family.

Furthermore, the writer uses the combined effect of semantic field and juxtaposition to describe the two contrasting sides of the area that balance each other out. This is evident as in the "east" there are "light gay mountains full of sun and loveliness". The writer creates a semantic field of happiness and goodness with these adjectives and definitely conveys a sense of joy when describing this area. Within this semantic field Steinbeck also uses the metaphor "full of sun and loveliness" which uses assonance to create a gentle sound and a relaxing atmosphere. The metaphor uses the abstract noun "loveliness" which isn't very specific so it leaves a lot of the area to imagination making it almost dream-like, but it clearly suggests that the area is beautiful. This positive image is then juxtaposed with the "Santa Lucias" which is in "the west" while the "Gabilan Mountains" are in "the east". The "Santa Lucias" is described as "dark", "brooding", "unfriendly" and "dangerous". These adjectives create a semantic field of danger and evil which contrasts the semantic field of happiness and goodness. The "Santa Lucias" is described as if it is a person showing strong emotion, impowering the landscape and showing the conflicting sides between goodness and evil. Later in the extract, Steinbeck reveals the "birth and death of the day" affected how he felt about the "two ranges of mountains". The "birth and death of the day" refers to how the sun rises in the "east" ("birth") and sets in the "west" ("death"). The adjectives used to describe the "east" can be used to describe "birth" such as "light" and the adjectives used to describe the "west" can be used to describe "death" such as "dark". Additionally, the use of the contrast of "birth and death" could perhaps hint how the "two ranges of mountains" balance each other out and complete each other as "birth and death" and "light" and "dark" does. This extract makes the reader understand how we must appreciate the bad sides of ourselves or life between "birth and death" as well as the good sides instead of criticizing ourselves for things we can't change. It is balance of both sides that we must perfect as too much of one side is overwhelming.

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