Edexcel English IGCSE: The Explorer’s Daughter by Kari Herbert

Q1. How does the writer show the conflict in her thoughts and feelings about hunting in the Explorer’s Daughter?

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The writer admires and respects the narwhal, but also recognises the necessity of hunting for the Inughuits. She explicitly states her emotional conflict during the description of the hunt.

By focusing on the beauty of nature, including the narwhal, the writer shows that she is conflicted about the idea of hunting. She reminds the reader of the magnificence of nature with vivid visual imagery, such as a metaphor of the “glittering kingdom”. The narwhals themselves are also described as beautiful and worthy of respect. One vivid image in particular shows that the narwhals contribute to the natural beauty of the setting: “the plumes of spray from the narwhal catching the light in a spectral play of colour”. The narwhals are also portrayed as “intelligent creatures” with “keen” senses and the ability to “talk to one another”. This focus on their intelligence challenges the idea that they deserve to be hunted and killed.

On the other hand, the writer also appreciates the necessity of the narwhal-hunting to the survival of the Inughuits: a group of people for whom she has great respect. She describes the narwhal as “an essential contributor to the survival of the hunters”, using strong vocabulary to emphasise the importance of the hunt for the Inughuits. By listing the uses for the many parts of the narwhal, the writer portrays the hunters as resourceful, whilst also highlighting the difficulty of their lives. For example, the narwhal’s fat is “the only source of light and heat” for them. Thus by portraying the vital importance of the hunt, the writer highlights the contradictions in her loyalties.

During the hunt, the writer experiences conflict between her head and her heart. Logically, she supports the hunters: “I urged the man on in my head”. She experiences fear and excitement in her support of the hunters, highlighting the dangers of the hunt: the hunters’ boats are “flimsy” and they could “easily” be drowned. She also shows respect for the hunters’ skill. The simile “the hunters spread like a net” creates the impression that they can act skilfully as a team, becoming one joint tool to catch the narwhal. However, she is also emotionally attached to the narwhal: “my heart also urged the narwhal to dive, to leave, to survive”. The triple infinitive structure and the repeated ‘v’ sound here create an emotional, sentimental tone, suggesting an element of tragedy; she doesn’t want the beautiful narwhal to die.

The writer respects both the Inughuits and the narwhals, and it is this conflict of appreciation and respect which leads her to be unsure of her feelings about the hunt. Although she strongly believes that the Inughuits need to hunt to survive, she cannot completely disregard her emotional attachment to the narwhals.

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