We the People

Study the following stimulus texts and listen to the student's individual oral. Apply the assessment criteria and discuss the marks that you would award the recording 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 oral, in order to achieve better results?

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire

Global issue: Immigration

  • Thesis statement: ‘We the People’ uses allusion, colour and symbolism to argue that America should be open minded. ‘Home’ uses repetition and imagery to make readers understand why immigrants immigrate in the first place.

  • Colour and ‘We the People’: Example 1: Reds and blues -> Obama’s ‘hope’ poster. Example 2:Reds and blues are for Republicans and Democrats. Example 3: Reds and blues stand for patriotism, Muslims = Americans too!

  • Symbolism and ‘We the People’: Example 1: US flag = patriotism, mixed with headscarf = controversial. Example 2: Headscarf = Islam = terrorism in US (perceived): exact line of logic that Fairey challenges!

  • Allusion and ‘We the People’: Example 1: ‘We the people’ = US constitution = independence, freedom, democracy, justice. Example 2: ‘We the people’ + Muslim woman = she is included in the US dream. Example 3: ‘Are greater than fear’ -> fear drives US election during Trump campaign.

  • Repetition and ‘Home’: Example 1: Home = point of reference, anchor point, 'shark' is contrast with ‘home’ = warm and cosy. Example 2: 'Home is the mouth of a shark’ has connotations with refugees in a boat. ‘no one’ (lines 24-34) “spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck,” “puts their children in a boat,” “burns their palms under trains,” “crawls under fences,” “wants to be beaten” or “chooses refugee camps.” = enduring hardships, makes the reader realise that they are no different than everyone else. No one = Everyone!

  • Imagery and 'Home': Example 1:'You’ (lines 3-11) “you only run for the boarder / when you see the whole city running as well / your neighbours running faster than you / breath bloody in their throats/ the boy you went to school with / who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory / is holding a gun bigger than his body.” This puts the reader in the shoes of the refugee.


Criterion A: Knowledge, understanding and interpretation – 6 out of 10

There is good knowledge of the contexts of both of the extracts, but there is little to no reference to the literary work (Shire) or body of work (Fairey) from which the extracts were taken. This is a problem. References to the Brexit vote and Trump vote help give the texts meaning. While, interpretations are not consistently relevant to the global issue of ‘immigration’, they are insightful and effective. There are frequent and appropriate references to the extracts throughout the oral. There should be equal reference to the work and body of work.

Criterion B: Analysis and evaluation – 6 out of 10

The oral clearly focuses on how meaning is constructed through the language of this poster and poem. The student’s analysis of the texts is stronger than the student’s evaluation of the texts. How effective are the texts as political pieces? Comments on layout, structure and colour, in relation to the poster, are especially insightful. But here, too, the student does not analyse or evaluate the entire body of work or literary work. Where else does Warsan Shire comment on the refugee experience?

Criterion C: Coherence, balance, focus and organisation - 8 out of 10

There is a clear thesis statement and sense of organisation. At times the oral seems to wander off topic, such as the example about the Obama poster. Nevertheless, it regains focus quickly. The analysis of the poem is not as thorough as the analysis of the poem. It feels rushed when the candidate explores a list of quotations and stylistic devices.

Criterion D: Language - 8 out of 10

The language is fluent, proficient, appropriate and accurate. At times, simplistic language slips into the oral, such as “It’s kind of sad that Muslims are perceived as terrorists.” This happens more in the dialogue than the presentation part of the oral. For the most part, however, the use of language is very effective in delivering the candidate’s message. 

Last modified: Tuesday, 9 June 2020, 12:55 PM