Unit 3/4 english with the texts, The Rugmaker of Mazar - E - Sharif and The Quiet American

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1 Answer


Context: Encountering Conflict

Section B will be worth one-third of the total marks and you will be required to respond to the Context you have studied throughout Units 3 and 4. The exam task will require you to write an extended essay persuasive, expository or imaginative text exploring ideas and using detail from at least one of the two List 2 texts (i.e. The Rugmaker of Mazar-E-Sharif and The Quiet American). You may refer to any other texts in your writing (Hope you have read widely to build up your ideas on the concept of "conflict"), but it is best to nominate one of the two set texts as your main stimulus for the response.

Pay careful attention to the prompt, analysing it carefully, looking for key concepts that need definitions, any inherent ambiguities and assumptions in meaning, as well as any connotations.

Base your writing on the prompt provided in the exam, and the ideas this suggests by your own interpretation of how (perhaps) you yourself, individual characters (either real or imaginary) and groups of people meet and deal with "conflict" (conceive it, perceive it, pursue it, be frustrated by it, re-shape it, fight it, redefine it, live or not live with its consequences, resolve it and move on ... etc.)

Deliberately, the task does not specify the form of writing - you have a choice. Many more challenging responses (and this may be "better" or it may not!) will explore the context by experimenting with the nature of the "form" (or genre) of writing as opposed to a standard essay response.

All your knowledge base on the context and the writing skills which you have developed during the year should be used. Preferably, you should have made your decision about the preferred "form" your writing will take in the next few weeks that are remaining before the exam. No written explanation will be required BUT you may like to say what form of writing you have chosen and give your work an engaging or thought-provoking title.

Refer to the Examiners' Reports on the sample responses page: http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Pages/vce/studies/english/englishexams.aspx

Encountering Conflict questions the origins of conflicts and the effects they have on us all (as well as how we perceive them at different stages in our lives, e.g. childhood perceptions and middle-age perceptions. You should look to explore some specific aspect of "conflict" (in the prompt) and its consequences, drawing from your chosen text (perhaps "individual guilt", misperception, naiveté, apathy and deliberate misrepresentations common within both novels, as well as the moral (and immoral) justifications (both for and against a conflict), in terms of their causes and consequences derived from that particular conflict. Remember that "conflict" can be surface level and quite literal, but that under that surface a more deep-rooted, base human condition may be exposed – the “stuff of novels”. The causes of "conflict" may range from ignorance, prejudice, self-interest or even cowardice, through to the desire for absolute power, jealousy, revenge or justice. Can conflict be portrayed as essential for the cyclical renewal of any society or an individual, or simply as an intrinsic motivation of collective human nature when posed with an impasse that leads inevitably to conflict? Or are most conflicts avertable or preventable?

You should attempt to explore and examine how individuals (imaginary or real), or a society (defined by both by spatial (geographic), temporal (historical contexts) and political vulnerability or strength), responds and reacts to a specific conflict. Consider also the long-term consequences of conflict for individuals, families, racial or religious groups and communities: peace comes at a price. With individual physical and psychological trauma as comes the opportunity for positive change; no one is untouched by conflict whether victor or vanquished, perpetrator or victim.

In constructing your form of response (whether persuasive, expository or creative), you may consider some limited use of personal anecdote (fictional autobiographical or fictional biographical), currently occurring conflicts (NB make sure you have researched them - Libya offers some current interest), some axioms (quotations), beginning with a rhetorical question, or even a hypothetical scenario that sparks your intended reader's interest. The authenticity of your writing (its expression of an exploration of conflict in all its guises) will be matched by your careful choosing and crafting of the form of writing, including the selection of key elements of the prompt, ideas exemplified in the texts you have studied and a diverse and mature vocabulary that demonstrates your understanding of the complexity of the context.

It may be wise to remember that conflicts have two sides (or a more complex) and that despite the seemingly moral righteousness of one side, there may very well be a parallel hypocrisy on the other.

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