Literature

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IGCSE SYLLABUS 0476 IGCSE SYLLABUS 0486 O LEVEL SYLLABUS 2010

STORIES OF OURSELVES: THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL EXAMINATIONS ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT STORIES IN ENGLISH

NOTES FOR TEACHERS on the short stories set for examination in June and November Years 2013, 2014, 2015 *

© University of Cambridge International Examinations

[ * NOTE: There are separate documents about the different selections of stories set for examination in years 2007- 2009 and 2010-2012.] CONTENTS Introduction: how to use these Notes The stories: The Son’s Veto Her First Ball The Fly in the Ointment The Destructors A Horse and Two Goats The Rain Horse My Greatest Ambition Sandpiper At Hiruharama Thomas Hardy Katherine Mansfield V.S. Pritchett Graham Greene R.K. Narayan Ted Hughes Morris Lurie Ahdaf Soueif Penelope Fitzgerald

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Introduction These notes are intended to give some background information on each author and/or story as an aid to further research and to stimulate discussion in the classroom. They are intended only as a starting-point. They are no substitute for the student’s own study and exploration of the texts. University of Cambridge International Examinations is not responsible for the content of any of the websites mentioned in the suggestions for further online reading.

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Thomas Hardy

1840-1928

THE SON’S VETO (1894) Hardy is the writer of a number of classic novels of the English Victorian era. He stopped writing novels altogether following the outcries that greeted Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895); both were judged in their day to be too explicit in their treatment of personal and social themes. Thereafter he concentrated on writing poetry. In The Son’s Veto, Sophy’s character is presented to us by concentrating on a number of telling moments in her life. The story reveals detail gradually in order to allow us to build up an impression of her. The narrator begins writing from the perspective of a man viewing the woman’s immaculate hair from behind. We hear the exchange of dialogue between son and mother in which the former rebukes the latter for her poor grammar ‘with an impatient fastidiousness that was almost harsh’. The boy’s sensitivity here will eventually lead to his veto over his mother’s wish to re-marry. The vignette of the public-school cricket match illustrates perhaps best of all the class consciousness at the heart of the story. How do students respond to Hardy’s depiction of the boy who eventually becomes the ‘young smooth-shaven priest’ at the end of the story? Encourage them to consider how Hardy makes us feel sorry for the mother. Wider reading Encourage students to read other short stories by Thomas Hardy such as The Withered Arm and Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver. They might also try novels popular at IGCSE/O Level including Far From the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge, and poems such as The Voice and The Darkling Thrush. Compare with The Fly in the Ointment by V.S. Pritchett The Village Saint by Bessie Head On Her Knees by Tim Winton Online Biographical and critical texts on Hardy can be found at: http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/hardy/index.html

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Katherine Mansfield 1888-1923 HER FIRST BALL (1921) Mansfield, brought up in New Zealand, was a notable writer of short stories. Get students to explore the ways in which Mansfield presents Leila’s thoughts and feelings before and during the ball. It would be useful to consider the way in which Leila is different from the other girls and how this affects their (and our) impressions of her. How do they think Mansfield captures the excitement of the ball? Students should pay particular attention to the contribution to the story of the two men who dance with Leila, the odious fat man and then the young man with curly hair. They should examine carefully the words Mansfield uses in the dialogue and description to guide readers’ responses to the various...
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