Fitzgerald and Fischer

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?

I lived at West Egg, the-well, the less fashionable of the two, through this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard – it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion. Or rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eye-sore, but it was a small eye-sore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires – all for eight dollars a month.

Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed and I’d known Tom in College. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.

Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven – a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy – even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach – but now he’d left Chicago and come east in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that.


Global issue: Social mobility

  • POINT: Fitzgerald’s novel criticizes society’s complete incapacity for true social mobility due to a lack of economic, social, and/or cultural capital through juxtaposition (of setting and descriptions) and 1st-person, frame narration. EVIDENCE EXTRACT: Nick is near Buchanan’s class but still likeable with differentiated circumstances (in “eye-sore” house) Work: Later, description of West Egg’s fishing village history EVIDENCE WORK: Nick’s dislike of Myrtle and their city party; sympathetic response to Jay and acceptance of affair w/Daisy. ANALYSIS: Reader trusts Nick; understands his understanding of class and wealth.

  • POINT: Fitzgerald’s criticizes US concentration of economic capital through symbols: EVIDENCE EXRACT: Buchanan family wealth (persistence of income between parents and children, Krueger, Council of Economics Advisors); ponies. EVIDENCE WORK: Myrtle’s husband working to get out; never will--faded billboard eyes; live in gray Valley of Ashes. ANALYSIS: reader is sympathetic to plight; frustrated by lack of hope.

  • POINT: Fitzgerald shows gap in social capital. EVIDENCE EXTRACT: Knowing Tom in college (but negative characterization of him). Daisy is Nick’s 2nd cousin, once removed. EVIDENCE WORK: Myrtle and husband only know Tom for potential business, which Tom never intends to fulfill. Gatsby is unknown; rumors; only has unsavory connections like Wolfsheim. ANALYSIS: Nick is intrigued by Gatsby, living the American Dream; dislikes Tom. Daisy feels safest with Tom after accident w/Myrtle due to his established wealth and social connections

  • POINT: Fitzgerald shows lack of cultural capital: EVIDENCE EXTRACT: “spanking new” French imitation Gatsby mansion v. white palaces. EVIDENCE WORK: Gatsby never accepted despite many parties; car instead of horses; 'Oggsford'. ANALYSIS: disgust of upper class.

  • POINT: Fischer uses graphic weight, labels and emanate in this political cartoon to criticize the U.S. government bailout and its role in making social mobility increasingly difficult for the middle class. Context: 2008 recession; stock market bailout (mainly upper class) and liquidity recovered and then increased wealth (upper class). EVIDENCE EXTRACT: Heavy graphic weight (v. wake line) for cruise ship w/emanata of music and celebratory partying, labeled U.S. recovery. EVIDENCE BOW: typical graphic weight to emphasize the negative aspects, like “haves” and “have notes” divided by a crumbling bridge, and the large crack down the middle of the U.S. to represent “a house divided” for political dissonance ANALYSIS: this class divide is not seem fair.

  • POINT: Fischer points to the economic limitations of the middle class through the use of shading and metaphor. Context: Salary recovery never occurred; in fact, middle class family’s worth is $40,000 less than in 2007 (NYT) EVIDENCE EXTRACT: Typical family of 4 in gray like the water, labeled “U.S. middle class” left on dock with long shadows, as if sun is setting on the ship’s departure; metaphorically missed the boat. BOW irony with “U.S. Recovery” applying only to wealthy, like Uncle Sam cartoon spending money on foreign aid, tax cuts, and natural disaster aid until bankrupt and begging ANALYSIS: Middle class has no economic capital. They are hopeless, frustrated, angry at government and economic system. Effectively delineating the new capitalistic idea: you have to spend money to earn money, but most Americans don’t earn enough to spend (invest); effective criticism of recovery.


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

The student has a thorough understanding of the extracts, the work and the body of work (BOW). References are relevant to the global issue of social mobility, exploring 3 aspects of it. Although the texts are taken from different times, they are both on the US context. Is this a truly 'global' issue? It may be good to define 'American dream'. The facts and background knowledge on the 2008 economic decline prove very useful in this analysis. Good research!

Criterion B: Analysis and evaluation – 10 out of 10

The oral does a good job analysing the extracts, the work and the BOW. There are clearly several cartoons by Ed Fischer that explore this theme of social mobility. As the student analyses authorial choices, such as juxtaposition and graphic weight, examples are provided from elsewhere in the work and BOW. The evaluation of these uses of language show the authors' "frustration" with the lack of social mobility in America.

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

Although there is a longer analysis of Gatsby, the student's analysis is relatively balanced. The analysis of Gatsby follows a clear structure, exploring economic, social and cultural capital. The stucture of the analysis of the cartoon is less clear. Nevertheless, the student moves carefully and repeatedly from issue to extract to work/BOW to analysis, which is gives the oral a strong sense of structure and coherence.

Criterion D: Language - 10 out of 10

The language of this oral is excellent. The student uses very complete, coherent sentences that are characteristic of academic analysis. Technical terms like 'emanata' and 'graphic weight' show that she has studied the difining features of the text type carefully.

Last modified: Wednesday, 18 March 2020, 10:02 AM