I have paraphrased some of your ideas below



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Thank you to the students who have sent me essays on The Kite Runner. I have enjoyed reading them and I thought I would share some of the ideas from the essays. It has been wonderful to note how many of you have really engaged with the text and made insightful comments.

I have paraphrased some of your ideas below:

A common thread in the essays is Baba’s role as a cause of Amir’s weakness of character. As he is such a dominant person he shapes people around him. If Baba truly lived by his definition of moral courage he would have been more open and this would have given Amir the strength to behave differently. Many of you saw Baba’s pride and his lack of honesty as a cause of Amir’s weaknesses. However, several of you have noted that Baba is a product of his environment and that Hosseini is suggesting that it is time for Afghanistan to move away from its past ways.

The ending was discussed in some essays. Is it a satisfying one? We know that Hassan is dead, he has lost close friends, his family is gone and he is childless. Is this a happy ending? However, if we look at things from another perspective we see that he has saved Sohrab and brought him to America and finally redeemed himself. Is it more true to life to have such an ambiguous ending? What we do know is that the final scene in the book is a reversal of Amir and Hassan’s kite flying days. Amir is now the kite runner for Sohrab. He is a good man. He has atoned. He has redemption.

Analysis in Level 2 essays

Posted November 10, 2008


Filed under: Essays, NCEA, Year 12, Year 12 Essays | Tags: Level 2 essay, NCEA
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The greatest barrier to achievement at Level 2 remains the depth of analysis required. Simplistic analysis such as “if the writer did not use these techniques the film wouldn’t be as effective”, “if the ending was different, it wouldn’t be the same story”, “the beginning helped to start the story” and “the ending helped to close everything off” isn’t enough. These sort of simplistic comments do not meet the requirements of a level 2 standard. When writing an essay at Level 2 you need to analyse how particular elements contributed to the texts you studied as a whole, and how and why particular effects were created. You need to move away from summarising, describing, or just explaining what happened in your texts.

The primary purpose of an essay on a literary text is to provide an interpretation of that text. In so doing, an essay needs to move beyond a description of characters and events to an analysis of the different elements of the text.

This analysis should bear in mind that the world that is presented in the text may well be fundamentally different from the world in which you live. Therefore, in analysing the characters and events of a text, you will need to take an “imaginative leap” into the moral and social framework of that text, imagining how such characters and events would be judged from within that framework. Have a look at the extended text assessment schedule from 2007 to understand what you must do:

AchievementAchievement with Merit Achievement with ExcellenceSome specific evidence / details linked to text.

Covers the topic but without perception or insight.

Evidence of analysis: shows engagement with the text at a reader level, and discusses various elements of the text with supporting reference and some detail.Covers the topic fully and with detail from the text.

Quotation and detail are used to reinforce points.

Uses appropriate terminology with accuracy and fluency.

Shows appreciation of and some insight into theme and / or structure, author’s craft and purpose, as well as the specifics of the topic.

Presents some inferences based on personal understanding.

Some maturity of thinking and expression.

Presents convincing analysis that offers conclusions and draws inferences about the author’s purpose and reader’s positioning, and possibly goes beyond the text in doing this.As for Achievement with Merit, plus

Presents insightful analysis.

Offers conclusions and draws inferences about the author’s purpose.

Presents own position as a reader of the text.

Clearly able to analyse author’s craft / ideas.

Shows integrated insight and, if appropriate, reference beyond the text.‘No Achievement’ aspects may include:

rote-learned responses

disproportionate plot summary

lacks sufficient reference to text details / specifics

insufficiently linked to the topic

does not adequately address the topic

short (less than 250 words)

simplistic.

Judgement Statement

AchievementAchievement with MeritAchievement with ExcellenceAnalyse specified aspect(s) of extended written text(s), using supporting evidence.Analyse specified aspect(s) of extended written text(s) convincingly, using supporting evidence.Analyse specified aspect(s) of extended written text(s) convincingly and with insight, using supporting evidence.AMEWhat makes for a good essay at Level 2?

Posted November 10, 2008

Filed under: Essays, NCEA | Tags: essay writing
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What makes for a good answer?

Answers that show an understanding of the question

You will need to interpret the question; that is, work out what is required to answer the question. No question can be answered satisfactorily until you have worked out what the real question is.

Answers that answer the question

You need to answer the question directly; that is, to construct a focused, coherent argument that systematically addresses each of the issues in the question and advances in logical steps.

Answers that show originality and independence

The answers that impress markers most are not those that slavishly reproduce what you have learnt in class, but those which show an ability to arrive independently at ways of addressing the issues in the question, through making use of your knowledge of the text, your wider reading, and your reasoning power.

Answers that are presented correctly

No matter how good an answer is in terms of its substance, it is never likely to impress to its full extent so long as it contains errors of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, is presented with faulty layout, ignores the conventions of the genre, or is poorly handwritten. The more accurately your essay is presented, the fewer impediments there will be to the marker’s ability to see what you have been trying to say.

Brothers in The Kite Runner

Posted November 10, 2008


Filed under: The Kite Runner | Tags: The Kite Runner

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Baba would buy us each three identical kites and spools of glass string. If I changed my mind and asked for a bigger and fancier kite, Baba would buy it for me ¨C but then he’d buy it for Hassan too. Sometimes I wished he wouldn’t do that. Wished he’d let me be the favourite.

Amir and Hassan grew up together, inseparable. However, Amir was sometimes cruel to Hassan, eventually betraying him when he looked on as Hassan was raped. Hassan had proven himself over and over again to Amir, defending him against bullies, encouraging him when he felt down and also fitting the role of servant. Hassan put up with Amir’s occasional cruel taunts and superior attitude. When he watched Hassan’s rape, Amir could only compare Hassan’s look to that of a sacrificial lamb.

Even though Amir was forgiven by Hassan he was never able to redeem himself with his brother and friend. He did that through his heroic rescue of Hassan’s son, Sohrab.

What to do at Level Two

Posted November 8, 2008

Filed under: Essays, NCEA, The Kite Runner | Tags: Essays, NCEA, The Kite Runner
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Naturally, the primary purpose of an essay on a literary text is to provide an interpretation of that text. In so doing, an essay needs to move beyond a description of characters and events to an analysis of the different elements of the text.

This analysis should bear in mind that the world that is presented in the text may well be fundamentally different from the world in which you live. Therefore, in analysing the characters and events of a text, you will need to take an “imaginative leap” into the moral and social framework of that text, imagining how such characters and events would be judged from within that framework.

The following essay questions are designed to highlight these two different aspects of interpreting texts: narrative vs. analysis and making judgements. All questions would be suitable for The Kite Runner or To Kill a Mockingbird.

Analyse how ONE main character or individual changed to become more (OR less) admirable.

Analyse how features of ONE important section made it particularly effective.

Analyse how the writer presented a positive OR negative view of humanity and / or society.

Analyse how ONE OR MORE symbols were used to present an important idea or ideas.

Analyse how a text strengthened or changed your opinion of a particular topic or issue.

Analyse how the resolution of a main conflict was important to the text as a whole.

Analyse techniques used to show changes in a main character or individual in a text you have studied AND why these changes were important to the text as a whole.

The Opening Sequence

Posted November 6, 2008
Filed under: Essays, NCEA, The Shawshank Redemption | Tags: The Shawshank Redemption

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A question that often comes up in the Visual Text section is on the opening of a film. I have added the opening sequence of The Shawshank Redemption below for those of you that would like to attempt the essay question below.

Analyse why you thought either the beginning OR the ending of the text was effective.

blank screen with major credits and Inkspots’ song over: ‘If I Didn’t Care’.

fade-up to night scene; long shot of two lights at the beginning of a drive; lit building in background

camera tracks back to pick up dark shape of car; silhouette of driver lit by dash lights; music track decreases in volume

camera tracks forward slightly and pans around to pick up driver in medium-side shot; he looks dishevelled, leans forward and reaches over to glove compartment; Foley track becomes more prominent

close-up of hand retrieving bundle from compartment; camera follows as bundle taken across to driver’s lap and opened to reveal a revolver and loose bullets; hand moves to find and open a small bourbon bottle

cut to medium-front-on shot of driver swigging

soundtrack of courtroom scene becomes prominent; cut to front-on close-medium shot of character being asked a question about a murder in court; piano music track in background

sequence of question-and-answer shots in day-lit courtroom

cut to medium-night shot of man backing through doorway; woman follows; door is pushed closed and they embrace against it

cut to another medium shot; question-and-answer sequence in the courtroom

cut to close-up of hands loading the revolver in the car

cut to medium-front shot of driver through windscreen

cut to sequence of question-and-answer shots in courtroom

cut to slow pan of jury

cut to close-medium question-and-answer sequence with characters becoming more intense

cut to close-up of hands preparing revolver, cut to close-medium shot of driver taking another swig

dash lights go out; courtroom voice-over becomes prominent; interior light comes on as driver opens door

cut to close-up of foot emerging from car; soundtrack of things falling; glass breaking; close-up of feet walking towards drive

cut to front-on full shot of driver walking unsteadily forward towards gate; he walks into medium shot

cut back to courtroom sequence, cut to series of close-ups of the lovers against the door; courtroom soundtrack still over

cut to sentencing scene in court; close-up of judge; cut to zoom in on Mr Dufresne

cut to black; soundtrack of door slamming loudly

Visual Text Revision

Posted November 5, 2008

Filed under: Essays, NCEA, Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, Year 12 Essays | Tags: Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, visual text
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This post is for Level Two students. I have added some film questions for you to work on.

Explain how a director has established and developed a major character in your studied visual text.

Discuss how a director has manipulated the viewer’s response to one of the following: a relationship, a group of characters, an incident.

Describe how a film that you have studied has revealed aspects of human nature or human society.

What did a film you have studied reveal to you about relationships between people?

Describe how the film you studied caused you as a viewer to adopt an opinion and/or develop a response to one of its main characters.

Visual Text Revision

Posted November 5, 2008
Filed under: Essays, NCEA, Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, Year 12 Essays | Tags: Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, visual text

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This post is for Level Two students. I have added some film questions for you to work on.

Explain how a director has established and developed a major character in your studied visual text.

Discuss how a director has manipulated the viewer’s response to one of the following: a relationship, a group of characters, an incident.

Describe how a film that you have studied has revealed aspects of human nature or human society.

What did a film you have studied reveal to you about relationships between people?

Describe how the film you studied caused you as a viewer to adopt an opinion and/or develop a response to one of its main characters.

Visual Text Revision

Posted November 5, 2008

Filed under: Essays, NCEA, Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, Year 12 Essays | Tags: Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, visual text
Leave a Comment

This post is for Level Two students. I have added some film questions for you to work on.

Explain how a director has established and developed a major character in your studied visual text.

Discuss how a director has manipulated the viewer’s response to one of the following: a relationship, a group of characters, an incident.

Describe how a film that you have studied has revealed aspects of human nature or human society.

What did a film you have studied reveal to you about relationships between people?

Describe how the film you studied caused you as a viewer to adopt an opinion and/or develop a response to one of its main characters.

Another Essay

Posted October 29, 2008
Filed under: Essays, NCEA, The Kite Runner | Tags: The Kite Runner

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Here is another essay. Be inspired and write one yourself!

Analyse how the resolution of a main conflict was important to the resolution to the text as a whole.

“It’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, and how you can bury it. Because the past claws it’s way out”.

In the novel ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseni we follow the story of Amir, and his quest to make right a ‘past of unatoned sins’, which he simply could not bury. As the story of Amir’s childhood unfolds, we realise that he lives under the shadow of his guilt. Making right what he did so many years ago is paramount if Amir is to live a free life, the resolution of his internal conflict-his desperate need to atone, is essential to the novel.

Read the rest on the Year 12 page.

New Kite Runner Essay

Posted October 28, 2008

Filed under: Essays, The Kite Runner | Tags: The Kite Runner
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I have added an essay on The Kite Runner to the Year 12 page.

‘Analyse how the resolution of a main conflict was important to the text as a whole’.

In the novel ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini, the resolution of Hassan’s rape and the conflict it created became an essential quest for Amir. Amir needed to resolve this conflict by atoning for his mistakes so that he could continue his life without his ever-present guilty conscience.

Read the rest on the Year 12 page.

Afghan women jailed

Posted August 19, 2008
Filed under: The Kite Runner | Tags: Afghan women, The Kite Runner
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In our discussions about Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner we talked about life in Afghanistan for women. This recent article in The Independent makes for sobering reading.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-afghan-women-jailed-for-being-victims-of-rape-900658.html?afid=af

The Kite Runner ¨C The Final Chapter

Posted August 17, 2008
Filed under: NCEA, The Kite Runner | Tags: The Kite Runner

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In the final chapter Amir prays for Sohrab and this is important because it means that he has embraced his faith in a meaningful way. Amir has navigated through Baba’s views and that of the Mullahs to understand: “That Baba was wrong, there is a God, there always has been ¡Kthere has to be.” He prays that his “sins have not caught up with him” again. He feels that “my hands are stained with Hassan’s blood; I pray God doesn’t let them get stained with the blood of his boy too.” Sohrab lives but he won’t speak. When he eventually says something he says “I want my old life back” and tells Amir that he wishes he had been left to die. These are the last words that Sohrab speaks for “almost a year.”

Sohrab comes to live with Amir and Soraya which General Taheri disapproves of because Sohrab is Hazara. When Amir stands up to the General by saying: “You will never again refer to him as Hazara boy in my presence. He has a name and it’s Sohrab” the reader rejoices ¨C at last Amir is showing how he has grown as a character. However, it is still a difficult time for Amir ¨C Sohrab is silent, the Twin Towers are destroyed and the US bombs Afghanistan.

The novel ends with a return to kite fighting and a scene of role reversal where Amir is the kite runner for Sohrab. With the hint of a smile on Sohrab’s face there is a glimmer of hope for the future. Amir’s final words, “I ran” reverberate with echoes of his betrayal as a 12 year old but he is no longer running away and instead he is finally repaying Hassan’s loyalty by looking after Sohrab.

So after all the suffering it is all a bit of a relief to have a sign that Sohrab is being rehabilitated. Obviously, it is also a relief that we have a moral resolution as Amir has shown contrition for his actions and he has been able to make amends. He has demonstrated compassion and kindness, he has suffered great pain but he has found redemption. He has become “good again.”

Fin.


The Kite Runner ¨C The Penultimate Chapter!

Posted August 17, 2008


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Nearly there. In this chapter Amir takes Sohrab to Islamabad but Sohrab runs away to the mosque. Sohrab tells Amir that he feels dirty because of what Assef and the others did to him. Amir tries to reassure Sohrab and tries to connect to him as he did with Hassan. Soraya and Amir agree to adopt Sohrab but it isn’t an easy process. It looks like Sohrab will have to stay in a Pakistani orphanage until the adoption is complete. Sohrab feels that Amir has broken his promise and he is very upset. Soraya phones to say that a humanitarian visa may be able to be arranged and Amir goes to tell Sohrab only to find that he has attempted suicide. Again we have blood in a literal and symbolic way. We worry that Sohrab is another victim of Amir’s indiscretions. Sohrab’s suicide attempt reveals his total loss of faith in the reliability and honesty of adults.

Chapter 23 ¨C The Kite Runner

Posted August 16, 2008


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This chapter has similarities with Chapter 22 as the past and present once again converge. Amir has serious injuries as a result of his fight with Assef and he is in hospital. The injury to note is the one to his upper lip: “The impact had cut your upper lip in two ¡K clean down the middle ¡K Like a harelip.” I am sure that you can work out the significance of that! While he is in hospital he reads the letter from Rahim Khan. This helps Amir to accept his own history and to understand why it is important to atone for the past. He also comes to understand how Baba tried to redeem himself by building the orphanage. Rahim Khan explains that true redemption is what Baba wanted ¨C “And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.”

The Kite Runner ¨C Chapter 22

Posted August 13, 2008

Filed under: NCEA, The Kite Runner | Tags: The Kite Runner
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In this climatic chapter Amir meets the executioner from the previous chapter who turns out to be Assef. When they meet Assef rips off Amir’s fake beard and confronts him. It is the confrontation that Amir avoided as a child and of course the cause of his guilt. Amir didn’t stand up to Assef when he was a boy and he left Hassan to be raped. Amir now has the chance to redeem himself and save Sohrab. Note that Hosseini uses the sacrificial lamb imagery that he used when describing Hassan’s rape in this chapter.

Amir and Assef fight and it is described in a series of images and memories ¡K Assef’s brass knuckles “flashing in the afternoon light¡Kblood from his split upper lip staining the mauve carpet¡KSohrab screaming¡Kthe knuckles shattering his jaw.” It is a disturbing scene but the reader wants Assef to be held to account. He is the arch-villain of the novel, a bully and a coward. Assef is a fan of Hitler and this helps to associate the Taliban’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ with the Holocaust. He is an evil man and this is emphasised by his paedophilia.

Just when it looks like Assef will win the fight, Sohrab fires a brass ball from his slingshot and hits out Assef’s eye. Amir and Sohrab escape. In protecting Sohrab, Amir also saves himself ¨C “for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace.”

The Kite Runner ¨C Chapter 21

Posted August 12, 2008


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Amir returns to his old neighbourhood and at last he realises that he doesn’t want to forget anymore. He is ready to face his past and try to redeem himself. In this chapter there is more evidence of the brutality of the Taliban. The Afghan people are so used to the Taliban and their cruel punishments that the scene of a young man’s dead body hanging means that “hardly anyone seemed to notice.”

The chapter ends with the awful scene of a public execution ¨C a stoning. Hosseini seems to have written the execution to echo a scene at the Colosseum in Ancient Rome. There are the woman’s screams, the gasps from the crowd and the horrible images of the beaten and bloodied corpses. And of course there is the chilling figure of the man in the dark sunglasses in his white robe with his arms “spread like those of Jesus on the cross.”

The Kite Runner ¨C Chapter 20

Posted August 11, 2008
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The picture of Kabul created by Hosseini is devastating. The educated are now beggars as are many of the women and children. The city is a wasteland and we see that the Taliban are not just brutally violent but they are also corrupt. Amir goes to the orphanage to find Sohrab but discovers that the director Zaman has sold him to a member of the Taliban. Zaman is completely corrupt and he justifies his actions by saying that if he didn’t sell the children they would be taken anyway. The implied rape of these children makes the reader remember Hassan’s rape by Assef.

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