Lesson video

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I'm Mrs Crompton.

Welcome to today's English lesson.

Our focus today is to continue strengthening our reading skills and looking at how the narrative pyramid can be applied to our text "Samphire" by Patrick O'Brian.

You will need a pen and paper.

Take a moment to make sure you've cleared any distractions away and have everything you need to hand.

So in terms of how far through our narrative we are, let's have a little bit of a recap.

We've had the exposition.

We've been introduced to a couple, Molly and her husband who calls himself Lacey and we've also established that this isn't a harmonious relationship.

If you remember in our previous session we looked at the disequilibrium that was suggested all the way through that and the really different reactions the couple were having to the activity they were doing which was up on a cliff top, peering over the edge which in its self was quite symbolic of the very dysfunctional relationship that's occurring.

We now look at the rest of the pyramid and remember what we've talked about, these pyramids, this idea of it then moving smoothly to rising action, climax falling action, denouement.

It's a basic structure but we know that within narratives, everything is there to be reinterpreted.

So we might not get a traditional structure and this is where the interest comes into it, where we can start to see how patterns are subverted and how different rules are twisted and played around with to create another angle to a traditional storyline.

So exposition we've had, are we at the rising action? Well I think so.

I think various things have happened.

We've had that initial moment when Molly was made to do something that she clearly could not bear doing and then we had right at the end of the extract that I gave you the decision on Molly's part that she wants to go back and we talked about how that was surprising.

So we're probably moving towards a climactic point but not that.

I don't know if you agree with me on that point but that seems to be the feel so far.

So what we're going to do is to read the rest of the story today and hopefully we will be able to see how Patrick O'Brian manages the development of the plot line from here and what we can identify and how we can track against this idea of there being a climax, a falling action and a denouement and I'm going to suggest some breaks and how they might fall into those patterns but it's your interpretation that I'm want as we move through the session.

Before we begin, what we do need to do is to remind ourselves of what's happened so far and rather than me giving you a summary, I thought it would be quite nice is to use the following technique to just summarise the events of yesterday's reading.

So what you can see on the screen are five boxes.

I would like you to draw five boxes on your piece of paper.

Now you can turn it landscape so that it can fit them across and gives you a little bit more space, it depends how artistic you're feeling because I am going to ask you to draw inside these boxes and if that really does make you feel very cringy and uncomfortable, you can write words okay so it's not the end of the world but try and turn that piece of paper on landscape and I'm going to give you a couple of minutes to draw the best boxes you can, they don't have to be perfect, they don't have to be completely even.

Please don't worry, don't start panicking about needing a real life book, if we can get the shapes down and I'm just going to give you a couple of minutes to do that now.

Okay, hopefully you've managed that now.

Let's just pick up on what I was saying.

So I said the word draw didn't I? Why I want us to do this, is I want to try and capture what information has really stuck with you from yesterday, what are the key images and symbols from yesterday's learning that will tell our story.

So what would we need in the first box? I might be tempted to draw the cliff because I think it's actually quite an important feature of the storyline itself so that might take up my first box.

What I would like you to do, is to try and recap on the storyline so far, in a series of five images or if it's really really not a good look for you to be drawing, you can put a key word so you could have cliff, you could then have and I'm not going to say anymore because then I'm suggesting to you and I really want you to do this for yourself so what has really stuck? Why am I doing this? Well, I think it's really important for us to think about different ways of recalling information and thinking about how we're actually remembering narratives and it's really vital that we take it account those things that have stuck with us are probably quite important so don't dismiss it as I can remember that but actually that bit that you've remembered, had an impact on you and that's going to help us later when we get to the why now part of these types of questions.

I don't want you to worry about the why now at this point, all I need you to do, is to recall the what, we will be moving on to the why now later.

I'm going to time this out for you for three minutes.

Now that's going to seem like no time when I say it but when you start to do it, that's quite a bit of time.

If after the three minutes you're really not happy with things that you've drawn and you do want to stop me you can you are in control but we'll try with a three minute timer on this activity So starting now.

That's half the time gone.

I just need you to start finishing up there.

I'm going to ask you to put your pens down now and hopefully you've got five images or words in your boxes.

It's an interesting thing to do and at this point, it's an opportunity if we were in a classroom to then sort of have a look at what we were doing? What did I get? What did you get? And we could compare and we could really drill that down.

The other thing to do with this, if this is something that you'd like to do maybe with a set text for your literature, is to think about key symbols, key images that tell the whole of the plot line so if we imagine this is "Macbeth" act one, what's a really key symbol? What would you try and boil it down to? Act two, act three, act four, act five and then think about the characters you could link to that image and also the quotations that you could add.

It's quite a nice revision tool.

So just to look at something different, start the lesson off today to get you thinking and making those choices.

What we're going to do today, is to concentrate on the structural aspect, as we continue to read the storyline and what we can now see on the screen is what I've called O'Brian's planning frames so I'm imagining that when O'Brian was thinking about this storyline, he sat and thought "Right, I'm going to put this at the beginning, "this in the middle "that at the end "and this is how I'm going to link those ideas." Well he probably didn't in quite this way with a nice structured box but writers are making decisions and we've seen this table before, where we've looked at structure and we've thought about what and the why now and thought about the technique that the writer is using.

What I would like you to do is to take a new piece of paper and I would like you to draw the table, however, this is really important.

I don't want you to section off where exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement are going to begin and end because it might be that we write more or less in each of those sections.

We will do that together gradually.

So you are drawing a table and you're going to have three columns with the headings What, writer's decision or technique, why and effect.

Okay, so if you pause the video at this point to complete your task and I will meet you again in a moment.

Welcome back, so what you can now see is that I have filled in the first two boxes based on what we have read.

So I put down for the exposition.

There was a focus on setting and there was also focus on the characters and this focus on Samphire as well and I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with that but I have recorded the fact that samphire was mentioned at that point and as it's the title, I'm thinking that it's going to be important.

In my second column writers decision or technique well the writer seems to have really focused on describing the cliff and I think that for me is thinking that is thinking about it as a threatening aspect.

I've also noticed that the writer then decides to focus on the male character and they've also not given the male character a name at this point so we've got this sense of anonymity at the beginning and then I've thought about the why, what is the cliff therefore and I've put as my effect that it could be a symbol of the relationship between the couple and then the lack of name for the hearer perhaps makes you question his status, not a hero perhaps? So those are just some thoughts that I have had as I've looked at the exposition and you're going to get an opportunity in a moment to take these ideas on board and then bring in your own as well.

The next section I filled out for us is the rising action.

So you might have had this in your summary.

Molly's made to look at the samphire choose she's made to look at it and her husband doesn't seem to see just how she feels throughout the whole course of that event and that's in my what section.

How did the writer do it? While the writer zooms in and the narrative perspective becomes quite blurred between whether I'm inside Molly's head or it's the omniscient narrator still leading the action so I've recorded that in my techniques section and then what is the effect? I've said that there's real sense of tension being created throughout this passage.

We expect some sort of accident quite frankly and the another effect of it is that I'm feeling more sympathetic towards Molly.

Okay so that's my interpretation, you have the opportunity to take some of those ideas as a model and also to bring on board anything that you got when you did your summary.

You could have other ideas too and to complete the first two boxes when you've done exposition you can then rule that off or draw a neat line or maybe wait till you've got a ruler later and then do rising action but you can now start to put the headings under the category of what and then work across, okay? Work your way through that.

I will see you again momentarily.

Welcome back, so image of the rest of the table as it's going to appear.

Now I'm not asking you to do this now, this is something that I'm going to ask you to do right at the end of the session when we have come through the whole narrative because we need to make some decisions.

Climax and I've put question mark, this is based on what we read in lesson one.

She asks to go back and it seems strange.

That's where we left it isn't it? Is that part of the rising action or does it fit into the climactic part? I'm not sure as yet so I'm leaving that as a question mark.

We've then got the idea that the writers decision and technique here is to use a twist because that's an unexpected behaviour isn't it? And there's also a little bit of a change of turn on Molly's part that we're not expecting.

Change of turn however does not translate to Lacey, he carries on as before, we noticed that yesterday and the effect.

Well I've described it as an anti climax.

I thought something really dramatic was going to happen and then it doesn't and they end up in the tobacconists and they're buying the cane and I'm thinking what's happening here.

However, at the same time as it's an anti climax when he is buying the walking stick there is the sense of foreboding, Molly sort of hovering in the doorway.

It's starting to make me feel uncomfortable and I'm also wondering why is she asking to go back somewhere she's been so unhappy.

So that's where I got to so far and you might want to just get some of those ideas down before we move on but I wouldn't suggest that we rule anything off at this point because I don't think we've got to the climax.

That's what we're going to be working on today so you can pause for a moment if you just want to get down some of those ideas, then we're going to actually continue reading our text.

So it's all up to you, make that decision that you pausing for a moment but we're going to pick up again in a second.

Okay, so very familiar screen to us, now this time I've split the extract into five sections and we're going to have the usual prompt questions to help you activate ideas we've been looking at.

I'd like you to record your responses on a piece of paper so this is a fresh piece of paper.

I don't want you to go straight into your table yet.

I actually want you to have the time to take the notes as we've done with previous sessions and then decide where everything fits as a reflection activity at the end okay? So fresh piece of paper.

You will also then need maybe a different coloured pen to self assess and add additional points as we work through.

So our routine is the same, we'll read the passage, we'll see the prompt questions, pause and then I'll meet you at the other side with a little bit of thinking and feedback at each stage.

As soon as you're ready, let's begin.

So the first question, is this the climax of the text? So this is what we're thinking about isn't it? So what's going to happen? And we're going to find that Molly and Lacey have now moved on from the tobacconists that bought the walking stick and we're going to find them back on the cliff side.

So what I want you to think about is the function of the climax.

Remember the climax is the points at which an event happens which leads to an irrevocable change in the situation of the main characters.

So a change will happen that we cannot move back from.

It's got to then keep progressing in a forward motion, something has changed forever.

So your focus is what are we told? And why are we being told that now? What is the effect? And you will see those prompts running along the bottom of the screen for you to help you think about that along with a few words and phrases that I've picked out that might guide you to achieve those answers.

As soon as you are ready to work through the screens, keep moving on and I will be waiting for you at the other side.

Welcome back, so what did we notice? Well a few things that I have noticed, I'm going to share with you and as usual you can take down a few notes and I will give you an opportunity to think about that as we move through and there will be an opportunity to review at the end of these notes okay? So what did we notice? He seems to have a few moments of silence, that's quite an interesting moment at the beginning isn't it? Lacey goes quiet but then carries on in a similar way to before talking and telling Molly what she should think.

The comments about missing tea tomorrow because of his buying the stick is indirect characterization is another thing that I noticed.

The writer is telling me he's selfish.

That stick also seems to be an important detail.

We've spent time haven't we? Broken away from the narrative going to buy it and why? Why is that happening? We've got to ask that question.

So there seems to be some sort of foreshadowing happening at that point and the next thing that I thought was quite interesting, I picked out in a different colour for you there, "He was walking a few feet ahead of her "so that each time he had to turn his head "for an answer." So the use of space here and I've given you a word proxemics it's to do with the way that space can add a dynamic to a relationship so if for example somebody is towering over another person who is lower down, the person who is standing has the more dominant space and they have the most, the greater status and the greater power in a certain situation.

Suspense is quite an interesting thing to notice and I thought this was interesting and I wanted to use the word proxemics as I was looking at it.

The fact that he's walking ahead of her is interesting because she's placed behind him.

It suggests their separation but this time it's something that's making life difficult for him, has he has to turn his head.

Now normally, the idea of somebody having to walk a few steps behind somebody else is a sign of the other person's power, the person who's ahead but I thought the detail that he had to turn his head was quite an interesting one.

I've said possibly is this the start of a change that are we starting to see O'Brian hinting that something is going to irrevocably change okay? So I'll read that again.

"He was walking a few feet ahead of her "so that each time he had to turn his head "for an answer." The use of space is interesting here as she is placed behind him which would traditionally suggest he has more status.

It does suggest their separation but this time it's something that makes life difficult for him as he has to turn his head and possibly this is the start of a change in dynamic.

Okay, opportunity now for you to just pause, reflect on what I have shared, reflect on what you've already written and make any adjustments tweaks, add any new ideas that you've generated as a consequence because I'm sure you will have those now.

Next question by looking at them so is this the climax of the text? We're going to particularly now look at the point that change definitely happens, are we now there? And we're going to focus this time on ideas of what's similar or different, the last visit because the location is the same so we've got the echo of the scene being familiar.

We know what happened last time, Molly was petrified and third and what we're going to look at is this idea of similar or different and as a little bit of a challenge I'm suggesting that can we start to do something with this idea of proxemics, space? Remember we've had a lesson previously where we've looked at where a woman's space is very often within literature and see what else you can do with this just to stretch that answer a little bit more.

As before, I've picked things out for you to maybe dwell over a little bit longer, something to think about by highlighting and underlining for you.

And welcome back again.

So what did you notice.

A couple of ideas here from me.

The weather is worse than the day before suggests a change is coming and I'm going to give you this word pathetic fallacy linking to Molly's emotions so pathetic fallacy is where the weather, environment starts to suggest something about a character's emotions and feelings and that's what perhaps we're seeing here.

The focus definitely seems to be on changes in Molly.

It starts by telling us the man kept silent but then tells us or at least she did not hear him say anything.

So is it that he's silent? Or is it that she's actually now blocking him out? It's an interesting phrasing from O'Brian.

The focus still switches to the man but the characterization focuses on creating weakness in him from his thin fluffy hair covering his baldness to his voice being described as an unceasing dumb cry.

He now doesn't even fit the role of an antagonist and that point at the end, I was just thinking well he doesn't even seem scary anymore does he? He's not this person that we have any sense of intimidation from anymore in that particular depiction and yet he was so domineering and something is definitely happening in the way that the character is being portrayed to us as readers.

The last line where he began to crouch has been used before but this time he's weakened by this lowered position as his voice is lost.

If you remember he was crouching at the beginning and the comment there was that he was deliberately leaning over crouching, feeling quite comfortable.

This is something that has dominated the narrative with throughout in terms of the voice and now it's lost.

The use of proxemics, emphasises his diminishing status in Molly's and the readers' eyes.

I'll just give you a moment to look over that part and I've tried to use the word proxemics, just to give you an idea, it's an unusual word.

I'm trying to use it for the first time in a sentence.

It's quite nice to see a model so the use of proxemics emphasises his diminishing status in Molly's and the readers eyes and I wanted to capture the idea that if this is from Molly's perspective, she's really not seeing him as weak in this moment and there's a change in Molly and as a consequence there's also a change in the way that I'm seeing this character.

Okay opportunity again, for you to reflect on what we've just looked at and it might be that you didn't try the challenge originally but you now want to feel more comfortable with that and you want to have a look and go at it and you might want to add in a little comment about proxemics and space, that's absolutely perfect.

So when you are ready, we'll move on.

Okay the peak of the action, could we possibly have got to the moment, remember the climax is the point at which an event happens which leads to an irrevocable change in the situation of the main characters, just that reminder again of what it needs to fulfil and as we're doing this, we're going to focus on the idea of active and passive in terms of characterization and look at the evidence highlighted in pink for a little bit of close analysis okay? So will look at that extra bit there.

I'd like us to look at active passive, think about characterization and just watch out for the bits that I've picked out in pink and see how you might want to connect those bits of evidence together in an interpretation.

Work your way through the slides nice and gently, pause as you need to and I will be waiting for you.

Welcome back, so there's quite a little bit to read there, let's see some of the things that we might have been able to find.

So initially, we're reminded of how comfortable the man is with heights and there are similarities to the previous visit.

However, the main difference comes again with Molly who after feeling ill experiences a change when her eyes focused.

If you remember last time she couldn't even keep her eyes open and this time her eyes are really focused and it really, it really gives you an emphasis on that particular detail and again the patterning where we get the echo of that particular feature again.

Active verbs are attributed to her character that show her growing strength "thrust" and then finally, the accusation from the man that "you pushed me," so she pushed him.

The stick of the samphire are also evident in this scene with the two items coming together to help him pull himself desperately back to the cliff top and path and we've wondered about the use of samphire there haven't we? And it ends up being the thing that saves him and the fact that he had this walking stick that he'd only just bought.

The man is characterised as the victim "crouched, gasping huge sobbing draughts of air, "painful gasps, searching for air and life." And then we get this absolute shock of the final line, "You pushed me Molly, "you pushed me, "you pushed me." Molly has also faded into the background again but this time, her power within the dynamic is completely altered and she doesn't need to speak so it's interesting that Molly's silence here is strength not weakness and the role of the two has completely reversed.

Now this is the extra task that I wanted you to think about so if we look at this screen, you will recognise this from our cloud analysis that we've been doing and I've got the phrase at the top "You pushed me Molly, "you pushed me, "you pushed me." And there's absolute horror but a clear accusation from Lacey at this point, he cannot believe that Molly has done this.

My anchor quotation is motionless in equilibrium for one timeless space, a cinema stopped in action.

Motionless in equilibrium and that idea of balance, it's almost like they're poised and everything slows down, the action slow down and it's very cinematic from Patrick O'Brian at this point and we have that in the phrasing of cinema stopped in action.

The moment is playing in slow motion and the balance between this couple of this repeat scene is completely shifted forever and I think it's a really clever detail.

I think it's really beautiful piece of writing at that point where we have the action slowed right down and presented to us as this stop motion of a film and we've got two quotations there that I would link it to.

She pushed him, she felt her arms weak like jelly and we've got that juxtaposition.

She's doing something that is on accustomed to her character so she's pushing him and her arms feel weak but she is managing the active moment and she is taking agency.

In contrast, we have an absurd baby-face surprise and that diminishing nature of Lacey's character is now made into, his made into an infant and a shout unworded, his mouth opening that's been opening all the way through but no words are coming out and you can see that image can do it so visual of a mouth that's opening and the sound can't come out because he's just so scared and when he finally does say anything, it's you pushed me.

So I thought it was quite nice just to stop for a minute and pick some of those ideas and also to select an anchor quotation because I think that anchor quotation is for the whole text and for me that is the climactic moment and O'Brian beautifully signals that to us as readers with that particular selection in my opinion.

Have a little look at that.

Time to reflect on all of this is obviously required so please do pause, go back over the notes, have a little look at what we've got and then as soon as you are ready we can resume.

So we should now the be that was our climactic point at the falling action part of the narrative.

Remember the falling action is where we see the consequences of the climactic moments.

Before we begin to read, what do you expect to happen? And then which bits of what happens in the narrative that we're going to read match your prediction? And which bits surprise you? And we've already read the first part of the narrative where we split it before before the end of lesson one and we know that O'Brian is very good at giving us a surprise that what to expect to happen next and which bits are matching that prediction and which bits surprise you? That's what you're going to record for me now.

So what did you notice? I've just picked up a couple of things here for you.

"There was an unheard note in his voice.

"she turned and began to walk down the path.

"He followed at once.

"By her side he and his face was turned to hers, "peering into her face, closed face." The dynamic there is so different isn't it? Silence from him, silence from her but such a powerful steeliness to that silence.

He followed her at once too by her side he was, none of that having him at the front and her behind.

All of the special dynamic has changed.

All of the silence and voice elements are changing and then the bit that I picked out in pink that I just wanted to discuss with you, "It was that wasn't it Molly? "You didn't push me Molly.

"It was an accident." From the definite you pushed me to now it was an accident wasn't it Molly? Some sort of feint that you've heard.

He can't afford to believe that Molly has actually pushed him, surprised? I was, I certainly was by various details in that text but again really carefully orchestrated around voice, silence, space, all of those things working together.

Now before we go into the final part, the denouement, let's have a little look at what we expect.

So the denouement is where all the strands of the story should come together and equilibrium restored.

Before we begin to read again, let's do a little bit of predicting.

So I'm not spending too long delaying this ending for you.

What do you think is going to happen? And then the other thing that I want you to consider is, what is resolved? Okay so do we get a sense of equilibrium? Is equilibrium restored and what is actually resolved? What comes to a conclusion in this final part? Welcome back, that might have been a little bit shorter than you imagined it was going to be.

I'll just actually go back to that slide.

This is it, the final part.

"She turned her dying face to the ground "and there were her feet marching on the path, "one the other, "one the other, "down, down, down" and we've got little prompts there.

Is there a sense of equilibrium? And a suggestion that you look back to the start, is anything similar or different? Well sadly, when I read this I don't find this a positive ending for Molly, her dying face to the ground.

I think she's going to accept Lacey's comment, it was an accident and it feels very much that she's gone back to the status quo and the same incident is going to happen.

She's been up to the cliff before and they went back down again, something in the middle has happened that's different and there's that sense of a feet almost like disembodied from the rest of her and we get that separation happening in Molly again where she's not quite part of the situation.

There's something quite disheartening and down, down, down at the end really highlights that this is not going to be what we perhaps wanted and not perhaps what you predicted was going to happen.

It felt like Molly was going to make a change but sadly not and it's an interesting idea.

Narratives don't always have a happy ending, narratives don't always have justice being done.

There is a word catharsis, it comes from the Greek and it means that there is a cleansing at the end, that we somehow feel comfortable with the ending and therefore the audience can go away and feel that good has been restored.

Well there isn't a sense of cleansing here is there? I'm concerned about Molly, there's worry for the character and that's perhaps an uncomfortable feeling for the reader but it is perhaps a more realistic ending in some circumstances and it is important that we have narratives that don't always give us neat happy endings because that's not the way life is so that's the ending that O'Brian gives us.

"She turned her dying face to the ground "and there were her feet marching on the path, "one the other, "one the other, "down, down, down." Okay, now in terms of reflection, what we're going to do and you can pause at this point and add in anything else based on what we've just been discussing, what I would like us to do, now we've got to the end of the story is to have a look at the whole and this is where you're going to complete your grid.

So we did exposition and rising action together.

What I would like you to do is to go back over your notes and decide what you're going to put on to climax, falling action and denouement.

The what, the events, the writers decision, the techniques and the why, the effect it had on you.

As a little bit of an additional thought or comment, I did say at the beginning this you know this really nice neat picture of the triangle, It doesn't always work does it? It's there as a pattern but all patterns can be played around with subverted.

So as an additional challenge should you wish to is that the right shape? In terms of drawing the peak of tension, did it come in that really clear way? Was the falling action as explicit as you imagined it to be? Was the denouement quite what you expected to be? So you could if you wish also did additional activity.

You could draw the shape that you think best matches the narrative that we've read and there have been a few moments where we've talked about things like anti climax where there are rises and falls in the tension.

So as an additional activity, it would be quite nice if you take that up and think about what the shape of this narrative actually was because it's not the straightforward traditional model that we've used.

Okay that is your final activity for today.

As soon as you have finished this, that will be the end of the lesson and all that remains remains for me to say is thank you for your focus today.

It's been absolutely fantastic.

We've actually covered a great deal of ground.

What you have as usual is your recap quiz to complete the learning and all that remains for me to say is I hope you enjoy the rest of your learning today.