English B Past Paper–May 14, 2014





Paper 01–General Proficiency

1 hour 45 minutes

14 MAY 2014


  1. This paper consists of THREE questions.
  2. Answer ALL questions.
  3. Begin EACH question on a new page.
  4. Each question is worth 20 marks.
  5. You are advised to spend some time to read through the paper and plan your answers.






  1. Read the following extract carefully and answer ALL the questions that follow. 

MARY:      I really should have new glasses. My eyes are so bad now.

TYRONE:  (With Irish blarney [1]) Your eyes are beautiful, and well you know it. (He gives her a kiss. Her face lights up with a charming, shy embarrassment.Suddenly and startingly she sees in her face the girl she has once been, not a ghost of the dead, but still a living part of her.)

MARY:      You musn’t be so silly, James. Right in front of Jamie!

TYRONE:  Oh, he’s on you too. He knows this fuss about eyes and hair is only fishing for compliments. Eh, Jamie?

JAMIE:      (His face has cleared, too, and there is an old boyish charm in his loving smile at his mother.) Yes. You can’t kid us, Mama.

MARY:      (Laughs and an Irish lilt comes into her voice.) Go along with both of you! (Then she speaks with a girlish gravity.) But I did truly have beautiful hair once, didn’t I, James?

TYRONE:  The most beautiful in the world!

MARY:      It was a rare shade of reddish brown and so long it came down below my knees. You ought to remember it, too, Jamie. It wasn’t until after Edmund was born I had a single grey hair. Then it began to turn white. (The girlishness fades from her face.)

TYRONE:  (Quickly.) And that made it prettier than ever.

MARY:     (Again embarrassed and pleased.) Will you listen to your father, Jamie–after thirty-five years of marriage! He isn’t a great actor for nothing, is he? What’s come over you, James? Are you pouring coals of fire on my head for teasing you about snoring? Well then, I take it all back. IT must have been only the foghorn I heard. (She laughs, and they laugh with her. Then she changes to a brisk business air.) But I can’t stay with you any longer, even to hear compliments. I must see the cook about dinner and the day’s marketing. (She gets up and sighs with humorous exaggeration.) Bridget is so lazy. And so sly. She begins telling me about her relatives so I can’t get a word in edgeways and scold her. Well, I might as well get it over. (She goes to the back-[arlour doorway, then turns, her face worried again.) You musn’t make Edmund work on the grounds with you, James remember. (Again with the strange obstinate set to her face.) Not that he isn’t strong enough, but he’d perspire and he might catch more cold. (She disappears through the back parlour. Tyrone turns on Jamie condemningly.)

TYRONE:   You’re a fine lunkhead! Haven’t you any sense? The one thing to avoid is saying anything that would get her more upset over Edmund.

JAMIE:       (Shrugging his shoulders) All right. Have it your way. I think it’s the wrong idea to let Mama go on kidding herself. It will only make the shock worse when she has to face it. Anyway, you can see she’s deliberately fooling herself with that summer cold talk. She knows better.

[1]–Skilful flattery

Adapted from Eugene O’Neill

Long Day’s Journey Into Night,

Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 28-29.

(a) What do we learn about Tyrone and Mary in lines 1-4?

(2 marks)

(b) What is Tyrone’s intention at the beginning of the extract (lines 1-6)?

(2 marks)

(c) What is suggested by Mary’s exclamation “Right in front of Jamie!” (line 7)?

(2 marks)

(d) Do you think Mary is really “fishing for compliments” (lines 8-9)? Justify your answer.

(3 marks)

(e) Comment on the playwright’s use of any ONE stage direction in presenting Mary’s state of mind from lines 29 to 42.

(3 marks)

(f) Explain the effect that Edmund has on the performance on stage.

(4 marks)

(g) How might Jamie’s comment “you can see she’s deliberately fooling herself with all that summer cold talk” (lines 44-45) affect the audience?

(4 marks)

Total 20 marks



2. Read the following poem carefully and answer ALL the questions that follow. 

Night Journey

Now as the train bears west,

Its rhythm rocks the earth,

And from my Pullman berth

I stare into the night

While others take their rest.

Bridges of iron lace,

A suddenness of trees,

A lap of mountain mist

All cross my line of sight,

Then a bleak wasted place,

And a lake below my knees.

Full on my neck I feel

The straining curve;

My muscles move with steel

I wake in every nerve.

I watch a beacon swing

From dark to blazing bright;

We thunder through ravines

And gullies washed with light.

Beyond the mountain pass

Mist deepens on the pane;

We rush into a rain

That rattles double glass.

Wheels shake the roadbed stone

The pistons jerk and shove,

I stay up half the night

To see the land I love.

Theodore Roethke


(a) (i) According to lines 1-4, where and when is this event taking place?

(2 marks)

(ii) In what way is the speaker different from those around him?

(1 mark)

(b) What impressions are created by the use of the following:

(i) “My muscles move with steel” (line 14)

(2 marks)

(ii) “We thunder through ravines” (line 18)

(2 marks)

(c) Explain how the poet uses contrast in lines 4-5 to hold the reader’s attention.

(3 marks)

(d) Identify the literary device used in ONE of the following and comment on its effectiveness:

  • “Bridges of iron lace” (line 6
  • “gullies washed with light” (line 19)

(3 marks)

(e) How does the poet capture the experience of movement in this journey?

(2 marks)

(f) Describe the speaker’s attitude as outlined in the last two lines of the poem.

(2 marks)

(g) Suggest another title for this poem and justify your answer with evidence from the poem.

(3 marks)

Total 20 marks


3. Read the following passage carefully and answer ALL the questions that follow. 

Ralph listened. He was not really far from the Castle Rock, and during the first panic he has thought he heard sounds of pursuit. But the hunters had only sneaked into the fringes of the greenery, retrieving spears perhaps, and then had rushed back to the sunny rock as if terrified of the darkness under the leaves. He had even glimpsed one of them, striped brown, black and red. and had judged that it was Bill. But really, thought Ralph, this was not Bill. This was a savage whose image refused to blend with that ancient picture of a boy in shorts and shirts.

The afternoon died away; the circular spots of sunlight moved steadily over green fronds and brown fibre but no sound came from behind the rock. At last Ralph wormed out of the ferns and sneaked forward to the edge of that impenetrable thicket that fronted the neck of land. He peered with elaborate caution between branches at the edge and could see Robert sitting on guard at the top of the cliff. He held a spear in his left hand and was tossing up a pebble and catching it again with the right. He wiped his nose and mouth with the back of his hand and for the first time since the morning felt hungry. The tribe must be sitting round the gutted pig, watching the fat ooze and burn among the ashes. They would be intent.

Another figure, an unrecognisable one, appeared by Robert and gave him something, then turned and went back behind the rock, Robert laid his spear on the rock beside him and began to gnaw between his raised hands. So the feast was beginning and the watchman had been given his portion. Ralph saw that for the time being he was safe. He limped through the fruit trees, drawn by the thought of the poor food yet bitter when he remembered the feast. Feast today and then tomorrow….

Adapted from William Golding, Lord of the Flies,

Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 165-166.

(a) Where is this event taking place? Support your answer with evidence from the passage.

(2 marks)

(b) (i) Why is Ralph hiding?

(2 marks)

(ii) Briefly describe his state of mind.

(2 marks)

(c) Explain the writer’s use of contrast in paragraph 1.

(3 marks)

(d) Identify the literary device used in ONE of the following and comment on its effectiveness:

  • “The afternoon died away” (line 7)
  • “Ralph wormed out of the ferns” (line 8)

(3 marks)

(e) What impressions does the reader get from ONE of the following:

  • “impenetrable thicket” (line 9)
  • “He peered with elaborate caution” (lines 9-10)?

(2 marks)

(f) Explain how the write maintains suspense in the passage.

(3 marks)

(g) What is the overall mood of the passage? Support your answer using information from the passage.

(3 marks)

Total 20 marks





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