AQA · For Pupils · Language paper 1

Y11 – a Language paper 1 practice paper

Hi year 11. I have put together a practice paper 1 language for you to have a go at over the holiday. It’s based on Francis Hardinge’s The Lie Tree. I’ve posted some ideas on how to answer the paper here (but have a go yourself before reading this!)

Here’s the extract with a bit of context to help you understand it:

The Lie Tree – Frances Hardinge

 The Reverend Erasmus Sunderly is a naturalist. In this extract, he along with his wife Myrtle, and their children, fourteen-year-old Faith and young brother Howard, are on a boat which is taking them out to the small island of Vane where Erasmus will carry out some research.

This extract is from the very beginning of the novel.

     The boat moved with a nauseous, relentless rhythm, like someone chewing on a rotten tooth. The islands just visible through the mist also looked like teeth, Faith decided. Not fine, clean Dover teeth, but jaded, broken teeth, jutting crookedly amid the wash of the choppy grey sea. The mailboat chugged its dogged way through the waves, greasing the sky with .

‘Osprey,’ said Faith through chattering teeth, and pointed.

Her six-year-old brother Howard twisted round, too slow to see the great bird, as its pale body and dark-fringed wings vanished into the mist. Faith winced as he shifted his weight on her lap. At least he had stopped demanding his nursemaid.

‘Is that where we are going?’ Howard squinted at the ghostly islands ahead.

‘Yes, How.’ Rain thudded against the thin wooden roof above their heads. The cold wind blew in from the deck, stinging Faith’s face.

In spite of the noise around her, Faith was sure that she could hear faint sounds coming from the crate on which she sat. Rasps of movement, breathy slithers of scale on scale. It pained Faith to think of her father’s little Chinese snake inside, weak with the cold, coiling and uncoiling itself in panic with every tilt of the deck.

Behind her, raised voices competed with the keening of the gulls and the phud-phud-phud of the boat’s great paddles. Now that the rain was setting in, everybody on board was squabbling over the small sheltered area towards the stern. There was room for the passengers, but not for all of the trunks. Faith’s mother Myrtle was doing her best to claim a large share for her family’s luggage, with considerable success.

Sneaking a quick glance over her shoulder, Faith saw Myrtle waving her arms like a conductor while two deckhands moved the Sunderlys’ trunks and crates into place. Today Myrtle was waxen with tiredness and shrouded to the chin with shawls, but as usual she talked through and over everybody else, warm, bland and unabashed, with a pretty woman’s faith in others’ helpless chivalry.

‘Thank you, there, right there – well, I am heartily sorry to hear that, but it cannot be helped – on its side, if you do not mind – well, your case looks very durable to me – I am afraid my husband’s papers and projects will not endure the weather so – the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, the renowned naturalist[1] – how very kind! I am so glad that you do not mind . . .’

Beyond her, round-faced Uncle Miles was napping in his seat, blithely and easily as a puppy on a rug. Faith’s gaze slipped past him, to the tall, silent figure beyond. Faith’s father in his black priestly coat, his broad-brimmed hat overshadowing his high brow and hooked nose.

He always filled Faith with awe. Even now he stared out towards the grey horizons with his unyielding basilisk[2] stare, distancing himself from the chilly downpour, the reek of bilge and coal-smoke and the ignominious arguing and jostling. Most weeks she saw more of him in the pulpit than she did in the house, so it was peculiar to look across and see him sitting there. Today she felt a prickle of pained sympathy. He was out of his element, a lion in a rain-lashed sideshow.

On Myrtle’s orders, Faith was sitting on the family’s largest crate, to stop anybody dragging it out again. Usually she managed to fade into the background, since nobody had attention to spare for a fourteen-year-old girl with wooden features and a mud-brown plait. Now she winced under resentful glares, seared by all the embarrassment that Myrtle never felt.

[1] Someone who studies nature

[2] Basilisk – a mythical reptile that could kill with its stare

 

And here are the questions:

Question 1

Look at paragraphs 3 and 4: list four things from this part of the extract that describe Howard and what he is doing.

 

Question 2

Look at this part of the extract again:

     Behind her, raised voices competed with the keening of the gulls and the phud-phud-phud of the boat’s great paddles. Now that the rain was setting in, everybody on board was squabbling over the small sheltered area towards the stern. There was room for the passengers, but not for all of the trunks. Faith’s mother Myrtle was doing her best to claim a large share for her family’s luggage, with considerable success.

     Sneaking a quick glance over her shoulder, Faith saw Myrtle waving her arms like a conductor while two deckhands moved the Sunderly’s trunks and crates into place. Today Myrtle was waxen with tiredness and shrouded to the chin with shawls, but as usual she talked through and over everybody else, warm, bland and unabashed, with a pretty woman’s faith in others’ helpless chivalry.

How does the writer use language here to describe the atmosphere on the boat? You could include the writer’s choice of:

  • words and phrases
  • language features and techniques 

  • sentence forms. 

 

 Question 3

You now need to think about the whole of the source.

This text is taken from the beginning of a novel.

How is the text structured to interest you as a reader?

You could write about:

  • what the writer focuses your attention on at the beginning
  • how and why the writer changes this focus as the source develops
  • any other structural features that interest you.

 

Question 4

Read again the section beginning “Beyond her, round-faced Uncle Miles was napping in his seat” to the end of the extract.

After reading this section, a reviewer said: “I like the way that the writer creates a contrast between the characters of Faith, her father and Myrtle.”

To what extent do you agree?

In your response, you could:

  • write about your own impressions of the characters
  • evaluate how the writer has created these impressions
  • support your opinions with references to the text.

 

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