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CXC English B Paper 2 Sample question and answers. Both “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Little Johnny’s Final Letter” deal with the relationship between an adult and a young person. (Please note: “Little Johnny’s Final Letter” is not being examined in 2006.) (a) Identify the general age (woman, young boy, teenager) of EACH person at the time of the experience. Support your choice with reference to the text. - (10 marks) (b) Comment on each person's attitude to his/her experiences. (10 marks) (c) How do the structures differ, and how do they help meaning? Illustrate your answer with reference to the poems. (15 marks) Total: 35 mks . (a) In “Little Johnny's Final Letter”, the narrator has not yet reached adulthood (manhood), but is now old enough to know his way around, and to travel by himself. His age is likely to be more than 10 years, as suggested by his expressions. He uses expressions such as: ... 'I'm not hiding, simply gone to get myself classified', and words like: "society" and "obscurity". In "My Papa's Waltz”, the narrator is also an older boy. He might have reached manhood. This is not evidenced in his words, but in the level of thought/reflection. He was able to reflect on his mother's attitude, her "countenance", and that her face "could not unfrown itself." (b) In "Little Johnny" the narrator is determined to be a child no longer; he abandons security. He has a negative picture of manhood however, though he wants to make use of the "obscurity" it brings. He declares himself prepared to "go out into the city”, but he has not yet lost his sensitivity for his mother, as evidenced in his having sent a letter, and noticing how sad and old she sounded on the radio. The narrator in "Papa's Waltz" appears to have strong positive feelings about his childhood days with his father in particular. The "waltz", he admits, was not easy, yet he demonstrated no desire to escape. He "hung on like death" as they "romped" and after it was finished, he was "still clinging" to his father's shirt. His respect for his father is clear in the final stanza when described the 'palm caked hard with dirt.' (c) "Papa's Waltz" is written in quatrains with an easily remembered ab ab rhyme. The rhythm is not unlike the freedom of a romping dance one expects from the slightly drunken man. The rhythm and rhyme scheme also fit with what pleases a young child, and suggests, through it’s easy to remember structure, that the period in the child's life was also one to remember. Any single stanza demonstrates the regular rhythm of the 3-step waltz "Papa" would make with 3 beats per line: We romped/until/the pans slid from/the kitch/en shelf. My mother's coun/tenance could not/unfrown/itself ..."Final Letter" follows the freer flow of a letter, using the regular (or irregular) rhythm of speech, long sentences and short sentences mited as conversation: I have disguised myself as a man and am giving priority to obscurity. It suits me fine; The more complex rhythm and the almost total lack of rhyme compliment the writer's mature but negative assessment of manhood and the desire to escape the security of being mothered.
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