ENN101 – UNISA Exams
Poems, Themes and Question styles

The following is an overview of the type of questions that have been featured in the UNISA ENN101 exams over the last few years. The idea is to give you some insight into the way questions are phrased, the type of poetry questions you could expect and the general themes that are explored in the two set works for this module: Nervous Conditions and Heart of Darkness

Selves and Others
You can certainly expect a question from Selves and Others in this exam; typically a passage is presented and the question is a comprehension style question with roughly 5 questions of 10 marks each, or varying combinations adding up to 50.
Caution: While these questions may seem the easy option you should be very aware of the length of answer UNISA expect for a 10 mark question. A rough guide would be approximately 2/3 of a page – so, if you are writing 5 x 10 mark answers this will add up to almost 4 ½ pages whereas the expectation for a good essay on either of the novels would only be around 3 to 3 ½ pages.
Question: Do you have enough to say for 10 marks and do you have enough time for a 4 ½ page essay in 1hour?
· 2008. Chapter 4: ‘Writing our Worlds’: Speaking of Culture
· 2009. The Suit: Can Themba (selected passage from the story)
· 2010. David Copperfield: Charles Dickens (selected extracts)

There are a selection of potential poems that you could be asked to write on (my wiki site will have brief summaries of all of these).

Generally the question will ask you what feelings or emotions are expressed in the poem and how the imagery, or other poetic devices, are used conveys these emotions. Remember that you cannot suggest or propose an idea or opinion if you are not able to provide evidence from the poem to support your ideas.

Also remember what I have said about quoting. You need to find a way to integrate your quotation into your sentence rather than ‘tagging’ or adding it on at either the beginning or the end of your statement.

Writing about the poem ‘Coal’ by Audra Lorde:
The speakers says that there are some words that she is unable to say out aloud and because of this the emotions attached to those words build up and become like poisonous snakes in her throat. “Some words live in my throat/breeding like adders”.
This is INCORRECT quoting because the ‘proof’ or quote from the poem is just tacked onto the end of the sentence

Rather write it like this…
The speaker says that “some words live in (her) throat” because she feels she cannot speak them out aloud. Because she feels they are trapped inside her, the emotions attached to these words grow and become deadly, “breeding like adders”.
In this case the same quote is used to support the claim, but it has been integrated as part of the sentence/s. Note the brackets used to include the word ‘her’ – the original word from the poem is ‘my’, but needed to be adjusted so that the sentence still makes sense without changing the original meaning of the line in the poem.

2008. ‘Coal’ by Audra Lourde (On the current UNISA list)
2009. ‘The Zulu Girl’ by Roy Campbell (No longer on the UNISA list)
2010. ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802’ by William Wordsworth (page 57)

Novels (Plays and Novellas)
An extract from the text will be provided and you will be asked to refer to the text as you build your argument in order to answer the question. You will need to know the context of the quote (whose words are they, where do they fit into the story etc.)

Note that extracts are carefully chosen because they highlight a specific theme or aspect of the novel that UNISA is asking you to comment on. Be very careful that you do not go off on a tangent about the story and everything you know about it and neglect to include or refer to the quote provided (this is a common mistake students make and you will be strongly penalised as a result).

Your introduction is also critical; you need to ‘set the scene’ for the reader and show that (A) you know where the extract fits into the story as a whole and (B) that you have a clear idea of what you will be discussing in the body of the essay

Remember: 1 sentence, 1 idea. 1 paragraph, 1 idea. In other words, plan how you are going to ‘unpack’ your argument / observations. Keep your sentences short and focused on one idea. Your paragraphs should deal with a single core idea (fleshed out by the sentences). This may mean a number of paragraphs making up the body of your essay which is perfectly acceptable!

Nervous Conditions:
· 2008. What disrupts this plot and wakes Tambu from her sleepwalking is her involvement with her female relatives who chafe under Babamukuru’s rule and eventually rebel (Androne, 1995).

Students were asked to discuss the truth of this statement as it applied to the relationships between Tambu and Nyasha, Maiguru and Lucia.

· 2009. After living at her uncles house for several months and after Babmukuru’s confrontation with his daughter, Nyasha. Tambu says that “she begins to suspect that (she) was not the person (she) was expected to be”. As a result she decides to play the role of the “grateful female relative” so that she could follow the rules and avoid a similar confrontation with Babmukuru.
Students were asked to provide an account of the various ways in which Tambu’s ideas about herself and her goals in life began to change. Students were reminded to substantiate their statements by referring to the text.

· 2010. Exactly the same question as the assignment question in your 2011 tutorial letter

Heart of Darkness:
· 2008. Discuss Marlow’s ambivalent attitude (having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone) towards both the colonisers and the colonised.

Students were provided with a quotation that they were instructed to use as “a starting point”. The quote given can be found on page 8. “…It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale… The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.”

· 2009. Explore the geographical features (such as landscape and location) and Marlowe’s response to the African people.

Students were given a passage from Marlowe’s first sight of African countries in the course of his voyage to the Congo. The quote can be found on page 18. “The idleness of a passenger… The voice of the surf heard now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother… You could see from afar the whites of their eyeballs glistening. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at.”

· 2010. The title of the novella is a metaphor for a state of mind. This is particularly so in the case of Kurtz.

Students were asked to discuss this statement. They were instructed not to limit their discussion to Kurtz only and were invited to explore how this may also apply to other characters in the text.
Note: Heart of Darkness can be quite challenging, be sure that you understand both the question and the full text well before attempting this question in the exam