Identify the four key words the question gives you.

How does the writer make these lines tense and dramatic? [10]

Highlights

How does the writer make these lines tense and dramatic? [10]

Highlight as many details as you can to show the build up to and the moment described in these lines is TENSE and DRAMATIC.

Teacher may use the Note Writing Text Tool to help pupils to do this.

Teachers may also use the Hide Words Text Tools to discuss how and why writers make specific language choices. For example, you could provide this text and ask pupils to ‘drag and drop’ specific words where they go, justifying their choices based on the action/ mood etc. OR, teachers could encourage pupils to make up the word that goes in the gap. This will encourage them to think about word type as well as its effect.

HINT: Don’t try and feature spot… be led by what happens in the lines!

Check your ideas against the suggested highlights or the mark scheme.

I would have stayed in the mines, I suppose, had I not witnessed a terrible thing. It happened after I had been there fifteen years. I had been given a much better job, as an assistant to a blaster. They would not give us blasting jobs, as that was a job the white men kept for themselves, but I was given the job of carrying explosives for a blaster. This was a good job and I liked the man I worked for. He had left something in a tunnel once – his tin can in which he carried his sandwiches – and he had asked me to fetch it. So I set off down this tunnel where he had been working. The tunnel was lit by bulbs, but you still had to be careful because here and there were great galleries which had been blasted out of the rock. These could be two hundred feet deep and men fell into them from time to time. I turned a corner in this tunnel and found myself in a round chamber. There was a gallery at the end of this and a warning sign. Four men were standing at the edge of this gallery and they were holding another man by his arms and legs. As I came around the corner, they threw him over the edge and into the dark. The man screamed something about a child. Then he was gone. I stood where I was. The men had not seen me yet, but one turned around and shouted out in Zulu. Then they began to run towards me. I turned and ran back down the tunnel. I knew that if they caught me I would follow their victim into the gallery. It was not a race I could let myself lose.

Highlights

I would have stayed in the mines, I suppose, had I not witnessed a terrible thing. It happened after I had been there fifteen years. I had been given a much better job, as an assistant to a blaster. They would not give us blasting jobs, as that was a job the white men kept for themselves, but I was given the job of carrying explosives for a blaster. This was a good job and I liked the man I worked for. He had left something in a tunnel once – his tin can in which he carried his sandwiches – and he had asked me to fetch it. So I set off down this tunnel where he had been working. The tunnel was lit by bulbs, but you still had to be careful because here and there were great galleries which had been blasted out of the rock. These could be two hundred feet deep and men fell into them from time to time. I turned a corner in this tunnel and found myself in a round chamber. There was a gallery at the end of this and a warning sign. Four men were standing at the edge of this gallery and they were holding another man by his arms and legs. As I came around the corner, they threw him over the edge and into the dark. The man screamed something about a child. Then he was gone. I stood where I was. The men had not seen me yet, but one turned around and shouted out in Zulu. Then they began to run towards me. I turned and ran back down the tunnel. I knew that if they caught me I would follow their victim into the gallery. It was not a race I could let myself lose.

Mark Scheme

  • He tells us he witnesses “a terrible thing”
  • He is sent alone to retrieve the tin can
  • The tunnel is lit but still needs care
  • They are holding a man over the edge
  • The man ‘screams something about a child’
  • He then disappears / it is quick, stark, shocking (sentence structure)
  • There is a tense moment as Obed has not yet been seen
  • But then he is chased
  • He knows he will be killed if he is caught
  • He says it is a ‘race’ he could ‘not lose’
  • Structure of events – from the mundane quickly escalating to extreme horror (the murder is gruesome).

This is not a checklist and the question must be marked in levels of response. Look for and reward valid alternatives.