Resource #4: Unseen Prose Model Answer

SECTION A: 40 marks
Read carefully the passage below. Then answer all the questions which follow it. The novel from which this passage is taken is set in America, on a beach.

She backed up a few steps, then ran at the water. At first her strides were long and graceful, but then a small wave crashed into her knees. She faltered, regained her footing, and flung herself over the next waist-high wave. The water was only up to her hips, so she stood, pushed the hair out of her eyes, and continued walking until the water covered her shoulder. There she began to swim – with the jerky, head-above-water stroke of the untutored.

A hundred yards offshore, the fish sensed a change in the sea’s rhythm. It did not see the woman, nor yet did it smell her. Running with the length of its body were a series of thin canals, filled with mucus and dotted with nerve endings, and these nerves detected vibrations and signalled the brain. The fish turned towards shore.

The woman continued to swim away from the beach, stopping now and then to check her position by the lights shining from the house. The tide was slack, so she had not moved up or down the beach. But she was tiring, so she rested for a moment, treading water, and then started for shore.

The vibrations were stronger now, and the fish recognised prey. The sweeps of its tail quickened, thrusting the giant body forward with speed that agitated the tiny phosphorescent animals in the water and caused them to glow, casting a mantle of sparks over the fish.

The fish closed on the woman and hurtled past a dozen feet to the side and six feet below the surface. The woman felt only a wave of pressure that seemed to lift her up in the water and ease her down again. She stopped swimming and held her breath. Feeling nothing further, she resumed her lurching stroke.

The fish smelled her now, and the vibrations – erratic and sharp – signalled distress. The fish began to circle close to the surface. Its dorsal fin broke water, and its tail, thrashing back and forth, cut the glassy surface with a hiss. A series of tremors shook its body.

For the first time, the woman felt fear, though she did not know why. Adrenalin shot through her trunk and her limbs, generating a tingling heat and urging her to swim faster. She guessed that she was fifty yards from shore. She could see the line of white foam where the waves broke on the beach. She saw the lights in the house, and for a comforting moment she thought she saw someone pass by one of the windows.

The fish was about forty feet away from the woman, off to the side, when it turned suddenly to the left, dropped entirely below the surface, and with two quick thrusts of its tail, was upon her.

At first, the woman thought she had snagged her leg on a rock of piece of floating wood. There was no initial pain, only one violent tug on her right leg. She reached down to touch her foot, treading water with her left leg to keep her head up, feeling in the blackness with her left hand. She could not find her foot. She reached higher on her leg, and then she was overcome by a rush of nausea and dizziness. Her groping fingers had found a nub of bone and tattered flesh. She knew that the warm, pushing flow over her fingers in the chill water was her own blood.

Pain and panic struck together. The woman threw her head back and screamed a guttural cry of terror.

The fish had moved away. It swallowed the woman’s limb without chewing. Bones and meat passed down the massive gullet in a single spasm. Now the fish turned again, homing on the

stream of blood flushing from the woman’s femoral artery, a beacon as clear and true as a lighthouse on a cloud-less night. This time, the fish attacked from below. It hurtled up under the woman, jaws agape. The great conical head struck her like a locomotive, knocking her up out of the water. The jaws snapped shut around her torso, crushing bones and flesh and organs into jelly. The fish, with the woman’s body in its mouth, smashed down on the water with a thunderous splash, spewing foam and blood and phosphorescence in a gaudy shower.

Below the surface, the fish shook its head from side to side, its serrated triangular teeth sawing through what little sinew still resisted. The corpse fell apart.


Read Paragraph 1
A1. List five adjectives that describe the woman and her actions. [5] 

We learn from the use if adjectives that the woman have “long” legs which allow her to make “graceful” strides. Her hair is long enough for it to be needed to be “pushed” out of her eyes. She is confident in water, as she “flung” herself in however she is not a smooth swimmer as her stroke is described as “jerky” and “untutored”.

Read Paragraphs 2-4
A2. How does the writer show the fish is a predator? [5]
You must refer to the language used in the text to support your answer. 

The writer describes the fish in an interesting way, small hints allows the reader to realise that the fish is a predator and he sees the woman as prey. The fish is introduced a an animal who might be a predator as the fish “sensed a changed in the sea’s rhythm.” This could mean that it is finely attuned to it’s surroundings in order to survive, or in order to attack potential prey. The reader soon understands the fish is a predator as the writer explains that the fish is“yet.. [to] smell her.” This adds to the impression that the  the animal is a predator as opposed to s victim. This is reiterated even further when the writer explains “the fish turned towards the shore.” We, as readers, know that the woman is towards the shore and tiring, therefore the decision of the fish to turn towards her indicates that he is predatory, rather than running away, like a victim.

This notion of the fish being a predator is confirmed, “the fish recognised prey.” In response to this recognition the fish “quickened” and it’s body was “thrusting” forward, so much so that it is “agitating” other sea life. This indicates to the reader that the fish is a primal creature, programmed to hunt and this is a natural primal response to sensing prey.

Read Paragraphs 5-8
A3. What impressions do you get of the fish in these lines? You must refer to the text to support your answer. [10] 

These lines add to the impression created of the fish earlier in the text, that of a predator. The writer initially reiterates this with the term “closed on” which generally indicated that someone or something is closing in on prey. The fish had started moving quicker earlier in the text, it has gone from “thrusting” it’s body forwards, to “hurtling” this a predator that is keen is go in for the kill and doesn’t want it’s prey to escape.

The fish then positions itself below and off to the side of the woman, in order to monitor her before attacking, it began to “circle” which is traditionally an act of a attacking animal. The writer also reveals that the fish “smelled her now” which again indicates that he is close enough to attack, but also to be sure that the woman is prey.

The fish is getting quicker through out these paragraphs, as closer to the woman, he is truly “closing in” on his prey. The fish interprets, as a hunter, the woman’s “jerky…untutored” stroke as distress signals. The fish then acts on this information, and is so excited that tremors are running through it’s body as it prepares to attack, it’s tail “thrashing” back and forth. The use of this powerful verb strikes terror in the ready, as there is a slight note of onomatopoeia when reading it in the context of the sea. The fact that this is following by the use of “hiss” could remind the reader of a snake, another creature that can be deadly.

Finally, the fish moves at the fastest yet, going was 40 feet away to upon her in “two quick thrusts” of it’s tail. This not only indicates the pure speed but also the size of the animal in order to travel that far in the that time, with so little effort. The fish was soon “upon her”, which could create the image in the reader’s mind of it literally being on top of her, which creates tension although we know she stands little chance of survival.

Read Paragraphs 9-10
A4. How does the writer make these lines tense and dramatic? [10] You should write about:
what happens to build tension and drama;
the writer’s use of language to create tension and drama;
the effects on the reader.

The writer uses several techniques in a short space to create tension, whilst also building on tension created earlier in the extract. “At first,” this indicates that something else will happen, by using a time stamp which create tension as the reader does not know what, however they are already fairly sure it will not be good, due to the build up and impression created of the shark.

“Snagged” means caught on, like you might with a piece of clothing on wire, the word does not indicate a serious injury. This create tension as the reader then may think that the shark has in fact not attacked. However it soon becomes apparent in the next few sentences that the shark has eaten the woman right leg. “There was no initial pain” indicates that great pain would follow shortly, “only one violent tug” shows us that the shark has ripped her leg of in one bite. Leaving some mystery to the description allows a picture to be built up in the mind of the reader which creates greater tension as they cannot be sure what has happened.

Then follows an extremely vivid and gory description about the woman realising her leg has been eaten off by a predator. The use of the short sentence “she could not find her foot” creates impact upon the reader and forms an unsavoury image in their mind. “Feeling in the blackness” brings to mind associations of evil and darkness, or monsters which creates further tension or it could be argued that it is foreshadowing, letting the reader know something awful will happen.

“She was overcome with a rush of nausea and dizziness” these feeling reflect what the reader may be feeling about the situation, and if they are not at that point they will at the gory description of “nub of bone and tattered flesh”. This powerful imagery will make the reader the feel disgusted and also make then appreciate how powerful the shark is, especially the sharpness of the teeth – so sharp that they leave the flesh “tattered.” This is not only dramatic, but also add to the high level of tension in these lines.

Finally, the uses of words such as “groping” “pain and panic” and “guttural cry” really emphasise the primal hunt that is going on in the scene. The reader does not yet know whether the fish has finished it’s attack.

Read Paragraphs 11-12
A5. “In the last part of the text the writer presents the fish as a majestic beast” [10] To what extent do you agree with this view?
You should write about:
your own impressions of the fish as it is presented here and in the passage as a whole;
how the writer has created these impressions.
You must refer to the text to support your answer. 

The word “majestic” tends to indicate something that is great and regal, as it has links with “majesty” however it can also be used to describe animals such a Lions who are considered King of the animal world but are also deadly predators. Therefore it could be possible to use the word in association with a shark.

I do not think that the writer is presenting the fish as a majestic beast, I believe that throughout the text he uses several techniques to create a monstrous yet natural image of this predator. The use of scientifically accurate description and anatomical names for the fish’s body parts help to create a natural image of the predator.  The use of terms such a “dorsal fin” “mucus” “nerve endings” “gullet” “femoral artery” “conical”. The impact of this scientific terminology allows the reader to see the animal as a natural predator, not just a mythical monster.

The fish is very clearly presented as a predator ready for attack, the description of the fish’s body “a series of long canals” “dotted with nerve endings” show that this animal to built for the hunt. The fact it can move 40 feet in “two sharp thrusts of his tail” and swallow a leg in one bite shows the sheer power and ferocity of this beast.

Furthermore the final stages of the text highlight the real savage nature of this natural beast. “bones and meat passed down the massive gullet in a single spasm” this not only shows that the fish eats humans, but that a leg capable of a “long and graceful side” can be swallowed whole therefore indicating to the reader again the true size of the creature.

The creature is described as clearly knowing how to find and attack prey, from sensing vibrations in the water, to circling 40 feet away. It also sweeps past to eat the woman’s leg and follows this by homing in the on the “stream of blood flushing from the woman’s femoral artery” showing that it is focused and driven to complete the kill. The fish is compared to a locomotive, and several adjectives are used in this section of the text to reiterate the size of this beast – “massive” “great”. It also uses very strong description to describe the end of the attack, the fact that with “jaws agape” the fish can fit the woman’s remaining body in its mouth. These jaws then “snap shut” around the torso, using their “serrated” edges to “saw” through the corpse.

Considering the way the author represents this creature I would argue that it comes across as a beast, however not majestic in the way that a Lion may come across. The reason for this is that it is shown as a cold blooded killer which is the reality of nature, whereas something that maybe be consider as majestic might have been portrayed in a more positive way.


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