Unseen but not Unanswered

Formats and Methods for the writing of Standard Exams

When you answer a question, you want to answer it in the most SUCCINCT and EFFECTIVE way possible. This means using the right VOCABULARY, the correct DEVICE, and the relevant EVIDENCE to present your point.

Here let us use Dorathea Mackellar’s My Country.(1904, not bad for a 14 year old)

My Country

The love of field and coppice, of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance, brown streams and soft, dim skies-
I know but cannot share it, my love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror- the wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests, all tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains, the hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops, and ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country! Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us we see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather, and we can bless again
The drumming of an army, the steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country! Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine she pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks, watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness that thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country, a wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her, you will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours, wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country my homing thoughts will fly.

Long blue distance, yet frightfully alien and powerful

One Marker

What is the Poet trying to convey through the phrase “An opal hearted country.” (note: trick question, answer is always – belonging)

The phrase “An Opal Hearted Country” is an allegorical reference to the gem Opal, which consists of many shades of colour. Thus in this case, the poet is trying to convey that Australia is made from many colours –it has many races of people, and thus make an ideal place of belonging.

There are three small components to answering the one mark question. First you address the question, and then you provide the explanation. If your explanation is not immediately clear and simple, you must back it up with further details which cannot be more than ONE extension; else you might waste too much time.

Two Mark

How does the poet reflect the concept of belonging in her poem?

The concept of belonging is reflected in My Country through the use of alliteration and thematic imagery. [Examples of alliteration are “through fire, flood and famine” and “lithe liana’s coil.” What this achieves is to flesh out the imagery of these events, commonly found in Australia, to be a lasting imagery in the reader’s impression of her landscape journey.] [The thematic imagery lie in the consistent use of desert and outback expressions such as “hot gold hush of noon”, “…we see the cattle die.” “Drumming of an army, the steady soaking rain.”] All these are imageries of the outback, and thematically together they form a familiar sensation of the bond shared by the persona and the landscape of Australia.

A Two Mark Question MUST has two components, each dealing with a [SEPARATE] device. Each device must have EXAMPLES provided for, and an EXPLINATION as to why you have selected this example. It is essentially like writing two One Mark Questions linked by a Conjunction. Hence you ADDRESS the question, name the DEVICE(S), provide EVIDENCE, and then EXPLAIN your evidence. Followed by a LINK BACK to the question. See my notes on devices at the end of this post. Here is another example.

A device which reoccurs throughout the poem is Personification as indicated by lines such as “her beauty and her terror”, “sick at heart”, and “her far horizons, her jewel sea.” This use of personification has two effects. First we are able to imagine Australia, the country as a person, and an identity, which makes Australia easier to be ‘loved’ and ‘cherished’. Secondly the use of personification allows us to imagine the descriptions applied to Australia as though it were a person. “Sick at heart” for example we understand to be the drought, as the heart of Australia Outback is dry and unforgiving. The figurative description of Australia as a woman then, adds to the loving feeling of the audience, relating them to the more mundane love of persons, and bringing that to encompass a country. Through personification we are able to experience both the heartache and strong love of a landscape both kind and cruel but ultimately unique and character building.

Another form of popular Two Mark Questions asks for ONE Device but an extended explanation. In this case you should focus on writing about the DEVICE, what are the EFFECTS of the device, the MEANING of the Passage where the device is contained, and what has the device ACHIEVED.

Three Mark

What is the significance of the last lines:

“Though earth holds many splendours, wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country my homing thoughts will fly.”

How does this construct the journey of the persona through out the poem?

The last two lines are significant in shaping the journey of the persona.“The earth holds many splendors” refers to the fact that while there are many beautiful places on this Earth, there is only “one brown country” that the persona’s soul (homing thoughts) will fly to when she dies.The last line is significant because personifies through the allusion to homing pigeon that like the bird, her soul will return to the one place it belongs. The lines are also important in regards to the construction of the journey because of the modality of the line ‘wherever I may die’; this indicates that sees Australia not only as a home, but also a spiritual anchor. When she dies, where she dies, she hopes that she will die in the “brown country”. This finality gives the poem its ultimate resolution, builds upon the significance of Australia as the poet’s once place of belonging.

A Three Mark Question expects students to answer them with TWO Distinct ARGUMENTS followed by a succinct EXPLAINATION backed up by EVIDENCE. Two of the marks come from the validity of your arguments or findings and one comes from the coherence of the arguments and its supporting statements. Thus first ADDRESS the question, then present points ONE and TWO, then provides ANALYSIS of why these points answer the question. Finally LINK back to question. If a Three Mark Question asks for Literary devices, then simple repeat the same steps for the Two Mark Question, but with additional support Evidence, such as an additional line of analysis for each of the devices, reading into such comprehensions as subjective meanings, juxtaposition, irony, and any other effects that the devices may have achieved.

Four, Five, and Six Mark Questions

These are called Composite Questions, where the answer usually requires a combination of the entire stimulus examined. However, the more marks at stake, the more careful you have to be when constructing the answer, you cannot renegade on a single criteria when it comes to these questions and developing a set ‘formulae’ for answering them would be recommended.

You are an editor writing for a Magazine entitled “Belongings of the Self”. Using two of the three provided stimulus, explain why you have selected these texts for inclusion in your journal. (5 Marks) You are to write a letter to the Chief Editor of your Magazine regarding your selection.

To the Chief Editor:

Re: Selection for Belonging Material

I am writing in concern to your request for two pieces of Belonging related material for the Belonging of the Self magazine.

I have reviewed two pieces of writing for this edition, My Country by Dorathea Mackellar, and XXX by YYY.

The Dorathea Mackellar piece is a delightful read representative of Belonging because of its wide use of literary devices to illustrate the author’s love of Australia. Some examples of these devices are the personification of Australia as a woman, and her use thematic imagery to showcase the entirety of Australian Landscape. For example “Her pitiless blue sky,” and “you who have not loved her, you will not understand.” Gives us a sense that Australia is a person, it makes it easier for the readers to relate feelings of love and loyalty. The effect of this personification is that we can come to appreciate Australia with the feelings of romanticism devotion, loving it both as home and country. Her use of thematic imagery with “lithe Lianas”, “Tangle of Bushes”, “thirty paddock”, “filmy veil of greenness” also supports this romanticism of Australia. By continually subjecting the reader to these Australia images the reader becomes surrounded by her sense of the Australian Landscape, and as images change from one to another, we are left without doubt as to her decision to make Australia her one true home.

The text XXX on the other hand by YYY explores a similar Journey. The writer has used DEVICE ONE and DEVICE TWO to showcase the Belonging TYPE which the text represents.

For Example “QUOTE” and “QUOTE” shows us how the writer has used DEVICE ONE to portray the belonging of the writer. It produces EFFECT ONE and
successfully engages with the concept of Belonging TYPE. In addition DEVICE TWO as seen in “QUOTE TWO” and “QUOTE TWO” also relates to the Belonging TYPE in this way. The EFFECT TWO created by this device is such and such, that it takes us into the scope of the Belonging TYPE.

Thus we can see how these two selected texts perfectly portrays the Belonging CONTEXT through a variety of literary devices and why they should be included in the Magazine.

Yours Sincerely


Position (Editor)

On Devices

Unlike men, not all Devices are created equal – heres a list of how Markers would likely rate your language devices: (Not all devices are included, this is a guide)

  • Band 6 – Irony, Satire, Anaphora, Paradox, Parody, Aphorism
  • Band 5 – Symbolism, Extended Metaphor, Juxtaposition, Foreshadowing, Pun/Wordplay
  • Band 4 – Metaphor, Simile, Personification, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Camera Angles, Film Music, Layout, Composition, Colour,
  • Band 3 – Perspective, Form of Language, Repetition, Diction, Imagery

Essentially, the better the technique, the more difficult and time consuming to explain. A three mark answer can expect to wholly dedicate itself to examining irony in the text.


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