Autobiography commentary 2011

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					Gemma Scott                     Centre Number: 43424          Candidate Number: 6180

                             Autobiography Commentary

‘Opportunity knocker’s’ is an autobiographical extract intended to entertain a late-
teenaged audience about typical student/tourist activities. It’s purpose is to take a
humorous look at the thoughts and relationships of the narrator, aiming to make the
reader empathise with the fear and trepidation involved in the events, entertaining
them in the process.

Consistently using the first person throughout: ‘…I’ve so far lived quite a sheltered
life..’ gives the piece an informal, diary-like nature, involving the reader directly,
pronominal references such as ‘I’ being traditional in obtaining this effect, important
in a conventional autobiography, as Herriot shows in All Creatures Great and Small,
using it to immediately familiarise the audience with his point of view: ‘They didn’t
say anything about this in the books, I thought…’

Unlike my style model, I used a second person pronoun to compare myself with the
reader in order to endear the narrator to them and thus, increase the effects of imagery
and tension within the narrative: ‘You can probably imagine’ highlights similarities
between both reader and narrator and creates an illusion of a personal relationship
between the two, while emotionally involving the reader within the plot.

Cataphoric references to ‘Edward’s view’ near the end of the piece, also indicating a
‘shared experience’, aid the informal tone and create humour though a presumed
mutual recognition of popular culture, the character having been taken from a popular
series of books, also aimed at the same audience.

Informal lexis and colloquialisms like ‘kidding’ make the text more appropriate for a
young audience, the casual style reflecting the nature of a personal autobiography,
along with Church specific lexis/idioms like we ‘thanked the lord’. These add to the
idiosyncratic, diarist tone and strengthen the religious connotations that relate to the
narrative’s Cathedral setting, increasing cohesion and adding an element of humour:
while the sentiment expressed in ‘thanked the lord’ is sincere, its connotations are
mildly blasphemous. The phonology construed similarly, imitating features of speech
by using techniques such as clipping in ‘I’m’ to again endear the reader and make the
account appear more informal and realistic.

Utilizing simple sentences gives the piece a disjointed feel by mimicking a normal
thought process, again helping the reader to empathise: ‘As far as lives go, I’ve so far
lived quite a sheltered one. I mean, I’ve never been assaulted or attacked…’ It also
heightens tension within the piece by speeding up the pace of the plot and giving the
illusion of shock through its measured, uncertain feel and contrasting juxtaposition
with compound complex sentences, mostly extended metaphors: The imagery in my
extended metaphor about the ‘altitude of foreboding’ heightens the feeling of
suspense and, although hyperbole, aids the effectiveness of the lexis. Similarly,
Herriot also uses metaphors within his text: ‘the man in the picture…had moved next
door to do a bit of calving…as a kind of desert’ creates a sense of imagination
although, in this instance, it is for his own purposes of remembering the inaccurate
book he read as a student.
Pragmatically, piece contains an underlying theme of the power of faith, or religion,
friendship, and ‘facing your fears’. This is achieved by focusing the majority of the
piece on the ascent of the tower which create tension and foreboding; using the first
person narrative to explain the relationships and feelings of the ‘adventure’ of the two
friends and by including semantic fields of religion and using the Cathedral as a
setting. The humorous parting comment of ‘fools’ also helps to explain the eventual
feelings of relief and, by contrast, shows the extent of the tension itself.

Word Count: 600

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