Refugee Land

Read the following stimulus text, guiding question and the student's response. Apply the P1 assessment criteria and discuss the marks that you would award the script before reading the examiner's marks and comments. How different were your marks and comments from the examiner's marks and comments? What improvements could be made to this student's response, in order to achieve better results?

From Palestine by Joe Sacco, 2001



Guiding question: In what ways does the artist use the features of graphic novels to convey his understanding of this refugee camp?

For the past couple of decades there has been a conflict in Palestine between the population and the neighboring countries. Text 1 is extract from a graphic novel about this conflict, written by Joe Sacco in 2001. It portrays a car riding though the poor and destroyed Palestine as if it were a guided tour, which would seem like an unnatural thing to do in such circumstances. In any case, the author used stylistic feature from graphic novels, such as symbolism, narration and imagery, in order to show readers the poor circumstances of the people in the Palestine camp.

Joe Sacco uses Symbolism in order to show how bad the circumstances in these camps are. The first image shows some children standing next to a fire outside, suggesting that they have no house to get back to and get warmed up in. These children don’t look happy in the slightest, which means that the further conditions in the camp are not to be happy about either. Furthermore, in the first image, you can see a brand new car approaching through the camp while the people on the road get out of the way for the car. In the second picture, this car is now completely visible, and when you compare it to the surrounding area, the clean car really stands out. Take the cars in the gully for example. They have been lying there for quite a while, since they are all dented and dirty. This shows the decay of wealth in the camps, while the people who are supposed to help have spent money on brand new cars instead of spending the money to help the people in need of it. Lastly, the garbage and the graffiti in the camps are a clear additional example of the poor maintenance of the camp, and therefor also the poor conditions, since these camps never seem to be cleaned. With the use of these examples of symbolism, Joe Sacco shows the readers that the people living in this camp do not have proper living conditions, while the rich are barging though the camp with brand new and expensive cars.

The second stylistic feature that is important in graphic novels is the use of text. In this case, the author uses the narration in order to show the reader that the camp is not really taken seriously by the big organization UNRWA that is supposed to take care of them. The narrator tells about “one of the world’s blackest holes” where “you can tour a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip…”. This way of talking is mostly only used in advertisements where they try to sell holidays or parks. In this visual novel, this is also the case. The narrator tells about how you can visit the park as if it were an attraction or tour. This is very cynical, since the people in the camps are merely seen as an interesting attraction, and not as refugees. By writing it like this, the writer effectively shows that the people are being disregarded by the UNRWA, or are not getting the treatment they should be receiving.

Another interesting feature that the author has used is perspective. By giving two different points of view the reader gets a full image of the camp. In the first picture, you have a look at the camp from eye level, which really gives the reader the feeling of how it must be to walk around in such a camp. In the second picture, the perspective changes to a top down view, making the reader able to see the entire picture, which just gives that extra bit of information in order to be able to imagine how it would be to be in such a camp. By giving this complete picture the reader can see all the bad things in the camp, and makes the reader imagine how it is in there.

In conclusion, this page from the visual novel stresses the fact that people in these camps are being disregarded and are therefore living under poor conditions. Through the use of symbolism and narration, he effectively gives a full image of how the people in these camps live, so that the UNRWA might start doing more about these kinds of camps.

Criterion A: Knowledge, understanding and interpretation – 3 out of 5

The thesis suggests that the purpose of the text is to show readers the poor circumstances of the Palestinian people. In the conclusion it is suggested that the UNRWA should do more to help the Palestinian refugees. The guiding question, however, asks about the artist’s understanding of the refugee’s camps. In passing, with some relevant examples, the analysis touches upon the Disneyfication of the camps, which reflects the author’s understanding more closely. This could have been explored in more depth, with more examples.


Criterion B: Analysis and evaluation – 3 out of 5

This analysis shows some good insight into the graphic novel by commenting on and explaining visual elements such as perspective and symbolism. The comments on the abandoned cars and eye-level view of them are particularly insightful. The word ‘cynical’ in particular captures the author’s tone effectively.


Criterion C: Coherence, focus and organization - 3 out of 5

The analysis is clearly organised, following a set structure for each body paragraph. For this reason it is easy to read. Each paragraph is built around a different textual feature of the text and each paragraph retains its focus on its particular feature.


Criterion D: Language - 3 out of 5

Phrases such as ‘bad things’ are not very specific or accurate. At times the language is clunky, such as the final topic sentence: “Another interesting feature that the author has used is perspective.” Analysis of language is often wordy and choppy, such as “This way of talking is mostly only used in advertisements where they try to sell holidays or parks. In this visual novel, this is also the case.”

Last modified: Saturday, 21 March 2020, 2:29 PM