'An Inspector Calls' / 'All My Sons' practice Paper

Here are the questions you are invited to consider in this example paper:

(a) Compare how the writers of these two plays explore how family secrets create conflict. 

You should consider: 

·      The situations faced by the characters

·      The effect on family relationships

·      How language creates dramatic effects. [20]


(b) Explore another moment in An Inspector Callsin which family secrets create conflict. 

To access the Word document associated with this paper, including the relevant passages, please click on the link below.

Never Let me Go (Mock GCSE January 2018)

In this recording we discuss ways in which you might approach the questions set for the Modern prose section of the Mock GCSE Literature paper that you sat recently (January 2018).

The first question compared an extract from the novel 'Never Let Me Go' with an unseen passage from Ian McEwan's 'The Child in Time'.

The second question invited you to explore another moment from the novel which reveals something important about Tommy's character.

Prose Terminology

This podcast is the second of two recordings, focusing on the terminology you should be familiar with before going into the OCR GCSE examinations. You'll find the first part of the podcast over on the poetry section, which addresses the terminology suited to analysing and evaluating poetry and drama.

'Animal Farm' Que. 1 comparison task & exemplar

The Question

Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett

Read the two extracts and then answer both part a) and part b)

For part a), you should focus only on the extracts here rather than referring to the rest of your studied text.

a) Compare how the writers present the links between the possessions and the identity of the characters in these two extracts.

You should consider:

  • the situations and experiences faced by the characters
  • how the characters react to these situations and experiences
  • how the writers' use of language and techniques creates effects [20]


b) Explore another moment in Animal Farm where Orwell shows the identity of the animals being controlled. [20]

Extract 1 from Animal Farm

The animals have just rebelled and taken control of the farm. Here they get rid of all the things that remind them of Mr Jones.

The harness-room at the end of the stables was broken open; the bits, the nose-rings, the dog-chains, the cruel knives with which Mr. Jones had been used to castrate the pigs and lambs, were all flung down the well. The reins, the halters, the blinkers, the degrading nosebags, were thrown on to the rubbish fire which was burning in the yard. So were the whips. All the animals capered with joy when they saw the whips going up in flames. Snowball also threw on to the fire the ribbons with which the horses' manes and tails had usually been decorated on market days.

"Ribbons," he said, "should be considered as clothes, which are the mark of a human being. All animals should go naked."

When Boxer heard this he fetched the small straw hat which he wore in summer to keep the flies out of his ears, and flung it on to the fire with the rest.

In a very little while the animals had destroyed everything that reminded them of Mr. Jones. Napoleon then led them back to the store-shed and served out a double ration of corn to everybody, with two biscuits for each dog. Then they sang Beasts of England from end to end seven times running, and after that they settled down for the night and slept as they had never slept before.


Extract 2 from The Clothes They Stood Up In

Mr and Mrs Ransome have been burgled. In this extract, Mrs Ransome thinks about the possessions that she and her husband have lost.

Mrs Ransome could see the cheerful side of things, but then she always did. When they had got married they had kitted themselves out with all the necessities of a well-run household; they had a dinner service, a tea service plus table linen to match; they had dessert dishes and trifle glasses and cake stands galore. There were mats for the dressing table, coasters for the coffee table, runners for the dining table; guest towels with matching flannels for the basin, lavatory mats with matching ones for the bath. They had cake slices and fish slices and other slices besides, delicate trowels in silver and bone the precision function of which Mrs Ransome had never been able to fathom. Above all there was a massive many-tiered canteen of cutlery, stocked with sufficient knives, forks and spoons for a dinner party for twelve. Mr and Mrs Ransome did not have dinner parties for twelve. They did not have dinner parties. They seldom used the guest towels because they never had guests. They had transported this paraphernalia with them across thirty-two years of marriage to no purpose at all that Mrs Ransome could see, and now at a stroke they were rid of the lot. Without quite knowing why, and while she was washing up their two cups in the sink, Mrs Ransome suddenlly burst out singing.

You can download a copy of the question and extracts here


Both extracts feature the loss of possessions and while the animals in Animal Farm (AF) themselves get rid of in triumph what are symbols of oppression of them by Jones - ‘bits, nose-rings, the dog-chains’ and ‘reins,..halters..blinkers’ -, the Ransomes lose their possessions - ‘a dinner service, a tea service plus table linen to match..dessert dishes..trifle glasses..cakestands galore’ through burglary, an event which is usually regarded as a calamity.  However, like the animals who ‘[sing] Beast of England…seven times running’, Mrs Ransome also ‘[bursts] out singing’ although ‘without quite knowing why’.

The technique of listing the items makes them seem oppressive - which might be expected in AF where Jones’ possessions made possessions of the animals themselves but which also suggests that possessions were a burden to the Ransomes as well.  In their case, the items are supposedly ‘necessities’, chosen voluntarily and are as symbolic of the life the couple were expected to lead - having dinner parties and guests and aspiring to a lifestyle that Mrs Ransome clearly was not used to - she has ‘never been able to fathom’ some of the apparent ‘necessities’. While they are beautiful - ‘delicate’ in ‘silver and bone’ - they also symbolise a life that the Ransomes failed to achieve. “They did not have dinner parties.”  Their selection seems to have been a submission of the Ransomes identity to social expectations.  The possessions are a burden, mere ‘paraphernalia’ that they have ‘transported’ through ‘thirty-two years of marriage’ and the disgust and relief Mrs Ransome feels at their disappearance is shown by Bennett describing their loss as ‘ [being] rid of the lot’, a derogatory description, as if getting ‘rid’ of some pest or other.  For both animals and humans, getting rid of possessions is to get rid of an unwanted identity.

The passage from AF also shows the difficulty of applying ideology in a sensible way, which is one of the purposes of Orwell’s fable: He is showing that ideology fails as an infallible guide from the very beginning of the revolution.  Snowball decrees that ‘ribbons’ are clothes and that ‘animals should go naked.’ so Boxer burns the hat ‘he wore in summer to keep off flies’ - an item of real utility rather than a mere symbol of oppression, which materially aids him.  Mrs Ransome is shown washing up ‘their two cups’ - the basics that are needed and are useful but Boxer (and the other animals) cannot think clearly enough to make distinctions, something which the pigs exploit ruthlessly later on when they gradually begin to re-use Jones’ possessions. The use of Jones’ possessions in Orwell’s fable, of course, turns the pigs literally into humans, showing through apparently harmless animal characters how often material things can be seen to shape identity, and create class and divisions.

You can download a copy of the exemplar answer here