Studying a novel is a bit of a double edged sword; on the one hand, you get to delve into a story and immerse yourself in another world, while on the other, it can feel like you are wading through 500 pages searching for relevant quotations or events that will help your essays hit the top mark bands.
Some teachers make studying a novel a process of destroying any possible enjoyable you could have, you’ll already know if this is the case for you. I had two teachers: one of them made me curse the name of Margaret Atwood and burn ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ the afternoon after my Literature exam; the other, inspired a life long love of war poetry.
However, there are ways around the terrible teacher reducing a novel to tedium, such as reading the novel yourself first, before it is pick apart mercilessly, and discussing it generally with friends or family as you read… just like when you talk about and speculate about the next episode of Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead. If you enjoy the book, you’ll be able to escape the tedium.
We’ve all heard stories about people who didn’t even bother to read the whole novel and still managed to get good marks thanks to the internet and its endless summaries and pages of notes. However, these are meant to supplement your knowledge rather than form the basis of it and it’s pretty easy to tell, as an examiner, if someone doesn’t really have a clear grip on what happens in a novel.
On this site, you will find notes, analysis and example essays relating to:
– ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (AS-level)
– ‘Fasting, Feasting’ (GCSE).