'The pen is mightier than the sword.' Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839


- Who/what would humans be without conflict?
- How does conflict shape who we are?
- Freedom, peace, justice, equality, love. What do these ideals
mean? In what ways can they be achieved?

Encountering conflict can be difficult. However, it is ultimately worthwhile. Bearing witness, acknowledging conflict, is how humanity can work to grow and evolve in a positive way. This is why your Yr 12 English study of the Context 'Encountering Conflict' is so exciting. You have the opportunity to go on a journey where you can consider the world from many different viewpoints and through many different mediums. You can inspire and be inspired, you can have your say, you can affect change in the world - locally, nationally and globally.

This blog is intended to be a portal that will transport you into a place where you can consider the Context in a way that allows you to share your thinking and ideas. It is designed to let you:

- learn about the set texts; The Secret River by Kate Grenville and The Rugmaker of Mazar-E-Sharif by Najaf Mazari and Robert Hamilton

- go beyond the set texts to develop your thoughts about the Context

- study language features that occur in the set texts

- practise different forms of writing in a forum where you can recieve feedback from teachers, experts and peers.

There are a number of areas for you to access and contribute to in this blog. They are:

- Conflict Concerns: is the blogging space on this home page for general discusssion about the context and set texts. Exploration and challenging discussion about 'Encountering Conflict' is the aim. Also, questions about the course and what you are meant to be doing can be shared here.

- Music Matters: a space to share and comment on music that is relevant to the Context. You can also discuss how the songs might relate to the set context in ideas, themes, values and language features.

- Text Tremors: discuss how written texts have moved and shaped your ideas in regards to the Context.

- Film Flogging: inspire others by sharing your thoughts on how films, documentaries and t.v. shows you have viewed encounter conflict in their narratives. Comment on parallels that may arise between films and the set texts.

- Picture Panic: share images that make you think about the context and the world you live in. Explain how the pictures you encounter represent the idea of 'encountering conflict' and how they impact on your view of life and how it should be lived.

- Prompt Response: respond to prompts that you have been given and that appear in this space to practise writing 'Creating and Presenting' responses. Upload them here for conferencing that will help you hone your skills to meet the criteria for this area of study to the best of your ability in SACs and the exam.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Techniques in Chapter 1 and 2 of The Rugmaker

NB: For the Creating and Presenting Area of Study you are required to look at the set text as a model for excellent writing. You need to be analysing the text for the literary devices the authors employ with the aim that you can use them to enhance your own writing. Implementing techniques from the set text into your own writing is one of the ways that you can draw from the set text. For the SAC, you should explain these choices in your statement of explanation.


The opening paragraph contains a number of questions, 'How heartsick can I become before I break down and weep in front of everyone?...a spot where I can't be seen and can't be heard. And where would that be?...in the camp...if such a spot exists, wouldn't I have discovered it...?' The use of questions in this manner is present throughout the whole text.

'...hundreds of people from lands...that are mysterious to me...' The idea of 'the other', 'the alien', 'xenophobia', is dealt with throughout the whole text.

The use of inclusive language is important to how the text operates. It is used repetitively at times. In the instance on page one it actually operates as inclusive and exclusive. 'We who are watched and guarded, we who are questioned, probed, doubted - we are all illegals. We have come to Australia without invitation. We have jumped the queue.' Mazari highlights here that the refugees are a separate group of people, viewed as criminals for committing crimes they did not know existed.

'But it was never my intention to jump this strange queue of which I had never heard.' Mazari and Hillman have chosen to immediately address a popular point of contention that arises during discussions of the refugee crises. They do this to spotlight the fact that in many cases refugees have no context to understand that there is a 'queue' they must participate in to seek their freedom. By outlining this upfront in the text they humanise the refugee experience for the reader inviting their empathy and understanding.

'Back in Mazar-e-Sharif, I have a Taskera...a family history going back for ages. But no birth certificate. Very few Afghanis can produce such a document. What a country I come from! Strangers to the idea of queue-jumping, and on top of that, babies are born without anything in writing to prove that they exist!' Exclamation marks are used at times within the text to highlight that which seems unbelievable but is actually real. In this instance the exclamations further educate the reader to the cultural and societal differences between countries, even in this technologically advanced world of globalisation. The aim is to get the reader to put themselves in the shoes of someone who has lived under persecution, in poor living conditions, without systems of fair governance and most often, with little, if any formal education.

'I see...I see...I see...I see...I see...I see...I see...I hear...I hear...In this mood that combines rapture and despair I begin to sing.' This use of anaphora within the middle paragraph of page three captures the loneliness that Najaf is experiencing while stuck in the camp by creating a vivid image for the reader of all that he is missing. It appeals to the reader's senses of sight, sound and feeling. A melancholy and sentimental tone is set by the expressive, emotive writing.

'Afghanis came to Australia...to work...more than 100 years ago...' This comment makes a point that really, there is a lot of similarities between every cultural group that has come to Australia to esape poverty and/or war in the past two centuries. Also, it makes the connection for the reader that the Middle Eastern communities have actually been established within Australian society for a while now. They are not foreign to the Australian community as some people might imagine.

'So I sing, but the words feel sweet on my lips, like the juice of some over-ripe fruit. It is a pleasure to use my native tounge in this way, exploring the shadows of language.' Music, language and culture are such an important part of peoples' identities and souls. At times throughout the text Mazari shares elements of the Hazari language and way of life. He incorporates the verses of song and poetry a couple of times to humanise the refugee story for an indifferent reader.

'What do I know of life? I know that life is work. I know that a man rolls up his sleeves and labours. I know that he must preserve his dreams.' Mazari and Hillman deliberately outline Najaf's values and beliefs in the closing section of the first chapter. They are the same values and beliefs that resonate within our society's mainstream cultural priorities.

'I can hope...I think of the red flowers around the mosque at at Mazar-e-Sharif. I think of how they bloom each year, no matter how many rockets explode over them.' This is an example of metaphor being used to have a visual and emotional impact on the reader. It works to juxtapose the fragility and strength of life all at once. Najaf and the refugees are as the red flowers and the strength and courage of the human spirit can possibly nourish them till it is their time to bloom.

Chapter Two:

'The mujahedin...the Russians...the Taliban...the Americans...' Nazari and Hillman provide the reader with a history of Aghanistan. They aim to present a representation that is informative and educates people about the plight of the innocent Afghan civilian who is a victim in many different ways.

'The old tinsmith I saw in the marketplace of Mazar-e-Sharif turned inside out by a mortar explosion could not be remade. When people are broken as badly as that man, or as badly as many others I have seen - old men, young men, mothers, small children - they are beyond fixing, all of them.' This sentence uses vivid imagery and emotive language to explain the impact of bombs on people.

'Mazar-e-Sharif...It's a small city by world standards, but fairly big for Afgjanistan. It had a population of 110, 000, while the largest city in Afghanistan, the capital, Kavul, had shrunk from 1.3 million people to no more than 700,000 people by 1988, with all the troubles in our country.' Interesting facts that impart the ferocity of the fighting in Afghanistan.

'In many ways we are the people we were hundreds of years ago, and even hundreds of years before that.'

'My mother laid out toishaks - the cotton-filled mattresses that we use in Afghanistan...' Mazari and Hillman provide a definition of a toishak, this explanation suggests that the target audience indeed lives in a first world Western country, in particular Australia.

'The second rocket exploded...My hearing was gone...images...were like those in a silent movie...images that had nothing to do with what was happening floated into my mind, then lapsed and drifted away: the sheep I used to tend as a boy; my father's body being prepared for burial; Gorg Ali, peeling an apple with is knife, using only one hand.' A frightening passage recounting the experience of living through a bombing raid is delivered with absolute realism. Mazari and Hilmman employ a montage sequence to to enhance the description of Najaf's frame of mind during the bombing. 'It seemed to me that death was approaching...'

'In the days that followed, I lay in bed attempting to master the pain in my leg and the pain in my heart.' This sentence juxtaposes the physical and emotional suffering that Najaf is going through.

'I wondered what my fate was to be in this land of Afghanistan, where war suceeded war...That seemed the beginning of this journeyI was on; this journey that asked so much of me and my family.'

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