Edexcel English IGCSE: Explorers, or boys messing about? by Steven Morris
Q4. How does the writer of ‘Explorers, or boys messing about?’ engage the interest of the reader?
You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.
Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert
In this article, the writer engages the reader by creating tension and drama in the description of the adventurers’ accident. The writer also appeals to the reader’s emotions by emphasising the cost of the incident.
The description of the men’s accident engages the reader by creating tension and excitement. The subtitle provides a dynamic description of the event. The onomatopoeic word “crash” creates a sense of drama, and the unusual verb “plucked” suggests that the men were helpless, vulnerable and in terrible danger. This sense of danger is continued throughout the description. Active verbs are used to reflect the dramatic and urgent nature of the incident: the helicopter “plunged” into the sea, the men “scrambled” onto their liferaft, and a boat began “streaming towards the scene” to rescue them. The sibilance in the latter phrase contributes to the sense of drama and excitement, drawing the reader into the story.
Further contributing to the drama and encouraging the reader to disapprove of the trip, the writer suggests that the adventurers were incompetent. The suggestion in the headline and throughout the article that the men could be considered “boys messing about” suggests that they were immature and irresponsible. One expert calls it a “miracle” that they survived, suggesting that their successful rescue had nothing to do with the skill of the men themselves. A helicopter expert expresses surprise that they would use the helicopter that they did. The technical language used by this expert – “the R44” – contrasts the men’s complacent description of their helicopter as simply “trusty”. The reader is likely to be shocked by the suggestion that these ill-prepared men could embark on such a dangerous trip.
The angle chosen by the writer emphasises the cost of the trip to the reader. Readers of the Guardian Newspaper are likely to be tax-paying adults; the reference to the “taxpayer” in the headline is designed to grab their attention. The cost is described vaguely as “tens of thousands of pounds”, showing that the writer probably does not know the exact cost, but still wants to cause resentment and anger in the reader. The writer also describes the scale of the rescue operation, further angering the reader, particularly in the light of the descriptions of the men’s incompetency. The writer gives details of the extensive number of vehicles and organisations involved in the rescue: an intimidating list showing the huge impact of the men’s disaster. This further irritates the reader, as they learn the reason behind the huge cost to the taxpayer.
By presenting the men as ill-prepared and complacent, the writer engages the reader in the article, causing resentment towards the fact that they have had to pay for these foolish men to be rescued.