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IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q5

IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q5

Edexcel English IGCSE: A Hero by R.K Narayan

Q5. How does the writer address the theme of courage in ‘A Hero’?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • Swami’s attitudes at the beginning and end of the story
  • the attitudes of Swami’s family
  • Swami’s experience in the office at night
  • the writer’s use of words, phrases and techniques.

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

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

This story questions traditional approaches to courage. Swami apparently displays courage by attacking the intruder, but this action was based in fear.

At the beginning of the story, Father and Swami debate the meaning and significance of the concept of courage. Father believes it to be very important, as expressed in the simple phrase, “Courage is everything”. He seems to speak in maxims, suggesting that he is offering a traditional view of courage: “A man may have the strength of an elephant and yet be a coward”. However, Swami challenges this view, taking a more practical approach to the issue. He states that courage is irrelevant if someone does not have the strength to fight their opponent. Unable to argue directly with Swami’s position, Father subsequently sets Swami a challenge to test his courage: to sleep alone in the office, rather than by his granny’s side.

It is questionable whether Swami truly displayed courage during his experience in the office. The writer uses a number of language techniques to display Swami’s fear in the office, particularly when he realises that there is an intruder. A series of short sentences create an impression of breathless panic as he witnesses the intruder. Hyperbolic language in phrases such as  “His end had come,” shows the extent of Swami’s fear; he is so frightened that he believes he will die. Swami’s fear challenges the idea that he is able to show courage by sleeping in the office. When he attacks the intruder, he does so not from courage, but from the belief that the intruder was a demon who was going to kill him. Using a rhetorical question, the writer shows Swami’s justification for the attack: that he felt that he was going to die anyway, so would rather not wait.

At the end of the story, Swami’s ‘courage’ is questioned by the fact that he remains terrified of sleeping in the office. After attacking the burglar, Swami is praised for his actions. However, the reader can see that he is clearly uninterested by his new status as a courageous hero, through the writer’s failure to mention Swami’s reactions to the praise, beyond his muted “politeness” to the police. Instead, Swami finishes the story “under the blanket” and is “tremendously relieved” that Father will allow him to sleep where he wants. This child-like image shows that Swami has not gained courage from the event, and remains fearful of sleeping away from Granny.

Through this experience, neither Swami nor his father is proved correct. Despite his lack of strength, Swami overcomes a fully-grown burglar, suggesting that his strength is not important. However, Father’s view is not correct either, since Swami does not truly display courage.

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IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q4

IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q4

Edexcel English IGCSE: A Hero by R.K Narayan

Q4. How does R. K. Narayan try to show Swami’s thoughts and feelings throughout ‘A Hero’?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • Swami’s relationship with the members of his family
  • Swami’s experience during the night in the office
  • the use of language.

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

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Swami has a tense relationship with his father, and is terrified while in the office. He is humorously underwhelmed by the experience at the end of the story.

Swami’s desperate attempts to avoid his father’s idea of sleeping in the office reveal both his fear of sleeping away from his granny and his relationships with members of his family. His relationship with his father is difficult, as shown through his underhand attempts to avoid having to carry out his plan of sleeping in the office. For example, he tries to change the subject “very loudly and with a great deal of enthusiasm”. The qualified adverbial phrases show his desperation. Another tactic is to sneak away and pretend to be asleep. The repetition in his speech to his granny – “Please, please, shut up, granny” – again reveals his desperation, and also shows his good relationship with his granny, with whom he feels able to use imperatives. This contrasts his deferential attitude towards his father.

The night in the office is so terrifying for Swami that he thinks that he will die. The writer uses a number of techniques to capture the extent of Swami’s fear. For example, the description of the experience appeals to the reader’s senses. The “ray of light” which “cast shadows” appeals to the reader’s sight, reminding them of how frightening it is to watch shadows on a wall as a child. Onomatopoeia is used to appeal to the sense of sound, reflecting Swami’s heightened senses due to his fear: for example, rustle”, “snoring” and “humming”. The use of hyperbole also shows the exaggerated nature of Swami’s fear. For example, the simile “used his teeth on it like a mortal weapon” shows that Swami believed his life to be in danger.

Following the experience, Swami does not seem interested in his new status as the titular “Hero”. When it is revealed that Swami has accidentally caught a notorious burglar, it is said that “congratulations were showered” on him. The use of the passive voice suggests that he is a passive receiver of the praise. There is no mention of Swami feeling proud or excited about his experience, and he reacts with “politeness” to the police, rather than excitement. This implies that Swami is not very interested in being a hero. At the end of the story, he is “under the blanket” again, creating a childish image, and showing his continuing fear of the office. His overwhelming feeling is “tremendously relieved” that he is able to sleep with his granny, showing that this is the most important thing to him.

In this story, Swami accidentally becomes a ‘hero’ by catching a burglar. However, his main priority is to be able to sleep where he feels safe.

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IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q3

IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q3

Edexcel English IGCSE: A Hero by R.K Narayan

Q3. How does R.K. Narayan bring out the tensions in the relationship between Father and Swami and to what extent have these been resolved by the end of the story?

You should consider the following points:

  • their differing views on the newspaper article
  • their disagreement about where Swami should sleep
  • the impact of the incident with the burglar in the office
  • the writer’s use of language.

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

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In ‘A Hero’, Swami and his father have a tense relationship, as Father is often harsh towards Swami. Although the conflict about where Swami sleeps seems to be resolved at the end of the story, the writer implies that this peace might be temporary.

The story opens with disagreement over a newspaper article, prompting the increasing tension between Swami and Father. Father addresses Swami with an imperative – “Swami, listen” – which highlights the instructive and demanding nature of their relationship. Language of disagreement and conflict highlights the tension between them: Father “sneered” at Swami and Swami “disputed” Father’s theory about courage. When he makes the valid point that courage would be pointless if he were attacked by a tiger, Father shifts the argument to question Swami’s courage, rather than arguing reasonably with his son. This defensive style of argument implies great tension in their relationship.

The relationship between Father and Swami continues to worsen, as the subject of their dispute changes to where Swami sleeps at night. Swami “tried to change the subject”, implying that he is unwilling to argue with his father directly, perhaps because he knows he will lose. Swami also knows “his father’s tenacity at such moments”. These facts imply that Swami knows his father well, meaning that this tension probably exists in their relationship all the time. Nevertheless, Swami attempts to compromise with his Father, but this is met with derision: Father replies with a definite “No” and cruelly compares Swami to a “baby”. This reveals an ultimate tension in their relationship, since Father is not even prepared to compromise.

Although Swami is allowed to sleep back with his Granny after the burglar incident, the tension with his father isn’t resolved. It is not clear whether Father praised Swami; the passive voice in “congratulations were showered” is ambiguous about who praised him. He is also still angry about the sleeping arrangements, which suggests that the incident didn’t impact their relationship much. It implies that Father cannot accept that Swami was courageous, even though Swami passed his test of sleeping in another room, and even attacked an intruder. Father also refers to Swami as “the boy”, implying a lack of respect. The only change is that he decides not to pursue the issue this time, but this could be due to Mother’s influence. The story ends with Swami being “tremendously relieved” that Father was “giving him up” – this suggests a mere break in open conflict, rather than a resolution of tension in their relationship.

In conclusion, the relationship between Father and Swami is clearly tense, and this is only partially resolved at the end of the story, in spite of the dramatic events of Swami’s night in the office.

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IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q2

IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q2

Edexcel English IGCSE: A Hero by R.K Narayan

Q2. How successfully does the writer present the family relationships in ‘A Hero’?

You should write about the following:

  • Swami’s relationship with his father
  • the relationships between Swami, his grandmother and his mother
  • the relationship between Swami’s mother and father
  • the writer’s use of words, phrases and techniques.

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

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Swami’s father is authoritative, but ultimately subordinate to the women of the house. Swami’s relationships with his mother and grandmother are more positive.

Father and Swami have a tense relationship, because of Father’s unreasonable authoritarianism. Father is presented as cruel and harsh, for example he “sneered” at Swami’s opinions, and he repeatedly addresses Swami with imperatives, showing his control over him. He also cruelly compares Swami to a “baby” for sleeping with his Granny, and threatens to make him a “laughing-stock” at school. Swami is unable to defend himself, and has to resort to other techniques, such as changing the subject and hiding, to try to avoid Father’s wrath. Even after his experience in the office, Swami hides from Father, his ultimate emotion being “tremendously relieved” that Father is leaving him alone.

Swami has a better relationship with the female members of the household, particularly Granny. His relationship with Mother is initially quite cold, as she says that she “hardly know[s] anything about the boy”, and she does not try very hard to help him when he gives her a “look of appeal” on the way to the office. However, at the end of the story, she “lost her temper” with Father in Swami’s defence, showing that she has Swami’s best interests at heart. Swami’s relationship with Granny strongly contrasts his relationship with Father. Granny is described as a “good lady” who cares for Swami; this is in stark contrast to Father, who is subsequently described with the simile, “like an apparition”, making him seem like something evil and supernatural. Granny’s repeated questions when he goes to bed so early show concern for Swami, contrasting the challenging questions from Father earlier in the story.

Despite being dominating, Father clearly does not like directly contradicting the female members of the household. Mother uses imperatives to address him, mirroring his authoritative attitude towards Swami: “tell her so; and don’t look at me”. In this exchange, she is advising him to confront Granny about spoiling Swami; Father reacts to this by “gloomily gazing at his newspaper”, clearly showing that he does not wish to directly confront his mother. By then ignoring Granny’s pleading for him not to disturb Swami, Father avoids confrontation with her. At the end of the story, Swami is allowed to sleep back with his Granny, showing that Mother and Granny ultimately have more power than Father. Father’s loss of power is reflected in the ellipsis and use of qualifiers in his speech, showing his diminished confidence and authority.

Father is clearly a dominating character, which creates tension with Swami. However, it is eventually clear that it is the women of the house who have the final say in Swami’s upbringing.

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IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q1

IGCSE A Hero by R.K Narayan Model Essays Q1

Edexcel English IGCSE: A Hero by R.K Narayan

Q1. How does the writer use humour to help to tell the story in ‘A Hero’?

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In ‘A Hero’, there are humorous episodes of hyperbole and irony that help to tell the story, but they also have a more serious undertone. The subtle comedy is in Swami’s relationship with his father, his exaggerated fear, and the final anti-climax.

Because Swami’s father is authoritative and even cruel, there is humour when Swami outsmarts him. When they argue about fighting a tiger, Swami logically argues that courage would be useless without strength. Rather than addressing this point, his father changes the subject by suggesting that Swami doesn’t have enough courage to sleep alone. This illogical style of argument humorously suggests that Swami’s father can’t react maturely to being outsmarted. This childish element of Swami’s father is also seen at the end of the story, when he permits Swami to sleep back with his granny, but speaks with less confidence, as shown by the ellipses and qualifiers: “Only don’t blame me afterwards…”. Thus Swami’s father is portrayed as even more childish than Swami, suggesting he doesn’t deserve the respect he demands from his family in such an over-bearing way.

The writer portrays Swami’s fear of sleeping alone as humorously exaggerated, helping the reader to pity Swami and to understand his conservative character. Swami makes comedic attempts to dodge the challenge, by changing the subject “with a great deal of enthusiasm”. He then attempts to hide, but hilariously, his granny doesn’t understand what he is doing, even when he hyperbolically claims that if he doesn’t sleep at once, he “shall perhaps die”. The extended description of Swami’s fear during the night elicits pity, but it is also humorous, as the reader knows that his fears are probably unfounded. To create a sense of drama, the writer uses several techniques, such as onomatopoeia to build tension (“scratch, scratch, and then a light thud”) and short, blunt sentences to give hyperbolic statements (“His end had come”). The simile of the little boy’s teeth being used “like a mortal weapon” is another technique that the writer uses to humorously portray Swami’s fear for his life.

Particularly when contrasted with the high drama of the story’s climax, the ending of the story is amusingly anti-climactic. Rather than being haunted by a demon, Swami had bitten the leg of an ordinary burglar. There is also humorous irony in the fact that Swami bit the leg because of his terror and fear, but he is heralded as a hero the following day; the writer uses the metaphor “congratulations were showered on Swami” to emphasise the vigour of this perhaps undeserved praise.

The writer uses the comedic techniques of irony and bathos – that is, exaggeration followed by anti-climax – to help to tell the story of Swami’s so-called ‘courage’.

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