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IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 02

IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 02

Edexcel English IGCSE: Chinese Cinderella

by Adeline Yen Mah

Q2. How does the writer bring out the thoughts and emotions of Adeline in the passage from Chinese Cinderella?

In your answer, consider:

  • Adeline’s feelings towards school and education;
  • her relationship with her father;
  • the progression of Adeline’s emotions throughout the passage;
  • the use of language.

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 passage, Adeline experiences a drastic progression of emotions, including dread, fear, suspicion and finally all-encompassing joy.

While Adeline is at school, she experiences dread and fear about returning home. She describes the thought of leaving school with the simile of “a persistent toothache”, suggesting that the dread is like a strong physical pain which cannot be ignored. This dread turns into fear when she is told she has to return home early. Another simile captures her emotions here: she runs “as in a nightmare”, showing her discomfort and terror. She thinks first that somebody has died, and then that she has done something wrong; these thoughts reveal her cold relationship with her family, since she assumes that they would only contact her in negative circumstances. This fear continues when she arrives at her house. She is “overwhelmed” by the idea of going into her father’s room for the first time, suggesting a wave of emotion. She knocks on the door “timidly”, showing that she is fearful of her father.

She is very briefly relieved by her father’s happy appearance, but this relief quickly turns into suspicion. After the tense build-up of dread and fear, Adeline’s relief is captured with the non-threatening image of her father “looking relaxed in his slippers and bathrobe”.  However, this relief is quickly undermined by her suspicion. The long sentence beginning “I breathed a small sigh…” has few words and no punctuation between the emotional words “relief” and “uneasy”, reflecting the speed of her emotional progression. She suspects that her father might be tricking her: repeated questions about his intentions show her confusion and inability to relax in his presence.

When it is revealed that her father is genuinely pleased with her, Adeline is extremely joyful; her joy intensifies when she realises that she will be able to study at university in England. After reading the newspaper article about the writing competition, the series of short questions create a sense of breathless disbelief about her achievement. The question, “Am I dreaming?” provides a direct contrast with the “nightmare” she was experiencing earlier in the passage. She describes her joy with hyperbolic metaphors: for example, “I only had to stretch out my hand to reach the stars”. This metaphor also suggests that she has an ambition which is now within her reach. This ambition is to study in England, which she describes with another hyperbolic metaphor as “heaven”, showing the intensity of her desire to go there.

When her father agrees to allow her to study in England, Adeline experiences even greater joy. Although she has to compromise on which subject to study,  she does not care, which shows that her priority is just to leave China and continue her education.

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IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 03

IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 03

Edexcel English IGCSE: Chinese Cinderella

by Adeline Yen Mah

Q3. In the passage from Chinese Cinderella, what does the writer reveal about Adeline and her family’s attitudes towards education?

In your answer, you should think about:

  • Adeline’s attitude towards school and education;
  • her father’s attitude towards education;
  • gender roles;
  • the writer’s use of language.

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

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Adeline probably values education because of the opportunities it affords for escape. Adeline’s father has traditional ideas about acceptable forms of education.

Adeline loves school and aspires to university, but she sees education as a form of escape. Early in the passage, Adeline expresses her desire never to leave school. The repeated time phrases such as “Saturday again” and “eight weeks more” show her discomfort at the passing of time, bringing her closer to leaving school. She describes the thought of leaving school with the simile, “like a persistent toothache”. This comparison with physical pain suggests that she is intensely worried; this hints that her love of school may actually be fear of home. Her reactions of fear and dread when told that she has to go home suggest that she loves school not just because she values education, but because it is an escape from her unwelcoming family.

Similarly, Adeline’s desire to study in England may be a result of her desire to leave her life in China. The intensity of her desire to go to university in England is displayed by her emotional reactions to the possibility of her father agreeing to it: her “heart gave a giant lurch”, suggesting a physical reaction of joy. However, like her passion for school, it is possible that Adeline appreciates the opportunity for escape more than the study itself. She describes going to England as “entering heaven”: this hyperbolic simile suggests that she has put England on a pedestal. The scornful question, “What does it matter what you do after you get to heaven?” shows that she does not even care what she studies; this shows that her priority is to be in England, rather than to gain a specific type of education.

Adeline’s father values education, but this value is dependent on the kind of education gained. He is proud of Adeline for winning the writing competition, but Adeline recognises that this is because she has given him “face”: that is, her achievement made him look good in front of his colleague. He then makes his feelings about writing and literature clear. When Adeline suggests that she could study literature, he “scoffed” and uses scornful questions to make her doubt her abilities. He decides on a ‘female career for her, stating his views on women’s preferences as if they are facts, showing that he believes himself an authority on suitable careers for women. He decides for Adeline that she will study to be an obstetrician, since he clearly believes that this is an acceptable educational route for a woman.

Adeline and her father both have other priorities alongside valuing education: Adeline, to escape her life in China; and her father, to look good and to find his daughter a ‘suitable’ career.

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IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 04

IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 04

Edexcel English IGCSE: Chinese Cinderella

by Adeline Yen Mah

Q4. How does the writer provoke sympathy for Adeline in this passage from Chinese Cinderella?

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

It is clear from this passage that Adeline has a difficult life. She has a tense relationship with her family and little control over her future.

Adeline’s reluctance to leave school evokes sympathy, as the reader wonders about the cause of this fear. The reader quickly realises that Adeline’s dread about leaving school is not simply because she loves education. She uses a simile comparing the thought of leaving school to “a persistent toothache”, suggesting that it is like a physical pain which she cannot ignore. The repeated time phrases in the opening paragraph also show that she is preoccupied with the idea of leaving, even though the end of term is months away. Her fears are realised when she is instructed to go home. She describes her reaction with a repeated structure which shows the overwhelming nature of her emotions: she was “full of foreboding” and “full of dread”. The reader pities her because it is sad that a young person should be so worried about going home.

More pitiful information about Adeline’s relationship with her family is revealed when she arrives home. Tragically, she does not recognise her own ‘home’, because her parents have moved house. The insensitivity of the chauffeur, who reacts to her pitiful confusion with the rude question, “Don’t you know anything?”, evokes further sympathy for Adeline. The house is “quiet and cool”, reflecting the family’s reactions to Adeline. The fact that nobody has come to greet her shows that they do not care about her; the reader is particularly shocked to learn that her family are not busy, but “playing bridge” and “sunbathing”, showing that they could have come to greet her if they wanted to. Adeline clearly lacks warm family relationships.

The reader also pities Adeline for the lack of control she has over her future, due to her cruel and dominating father. Adeline’s use of repeated questions, such as “Dare I let my guard down?” and “Is it possible?” are a pathetic revelation of her lack of self-confidence and suspicion of her own father. The short sentences used to describe her father’s reaction to her winning the competition – “He looked radiant. For once, he was proud of me.” – reflect her amazement and disbelief that her father is finally giving her approval. His reaction to her ambition to become a writer also makes the reader sympathise with Adeline; he asks her cruel questions, encouraging her to doubt her writing abilities. He then tells that she “will” become an obstetrician, giving her little choice in her future career.

There is dramatic irony in the fact that the reader knows that Adeline does become a successful writer. The reader pities Adeline in the passage, but also admires her for finally achieving her ambition.

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IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 05

IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 05

Edexcel English IGCSE: Chinese Cinderella

by Adeline Yen Mah

Q5. How does the poet address the theme of being multi-cultural in ‘An Unknown Girl’?

In your answer, consider:

  • her attitudes to education;
  • her relationship with her family;
  • the writer’s use of language techniques.

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 passage, we learn about Adeline’s home life, particularly her relationship with her family. She is also ambitious, and sees education as a means of escape.

The reader quickly learns that Adeline does not come from a happy home. The opening paragraph contains the dramatic escalation from the “end of term” to “the end of school forever”, which shows Adeline’s dread about having to leave. When she is told that she has to return home that day, she runs “as in a nightmare”; this simile shows the extent of her discomfort and terror, which almost disconnects her from reality. She reveals her dismay at having to return home with the repeated structure “full of”, showing that her “foreboding” and “dread” are overwhelming. Furthermore, she believes that she is being brought home either because someone has died, or because she has done something wrong; this shows that her family only contact her in negative circumstances.

We learn more about Adeline’s family life from the reactions of her family when she arrives home. Her family do not bother to greet her, even though they are not busy: they are “playing bridge” and “sunbathing”, showing that Adeline is a very low priority in their lives. Adeline also displays fear and distrust of her father. She describes his room with the metaphor, “the Holy of Holies”, giving her father an almost religious status, and showing that she is intimidated by him. Although he seems friendly, Adeline’s reactions reveal that this is not how he normally acts. She even suspects that his friendliness is a “giant ruse”, revealing that perhaps he has played such a cruel trick in the past.

In this passage, we also learn about Adeline’s attitudes towards education. She is clearly happy at school, but part of this is that it keeps her away from her unwelcoming family. She has a similar attitude towards her ambitions for university. Her “heart gave a giant lurch” when she realises her father may give her permission to study in England, suggesting a physical reaction of joy. She compares going to England with “entering heaven”: a hyperbolic simile which shows that she believes England to be a perfect place where she will be happy forever. The reader learns, however, that it is being in England which is her priority, rather than having a passion for a particular subject. She admits she “would study anything [her father] wished” if she could just go to England. This suggests that she values education as a potential route of escape from her life in China.

Adeline is clearly an ambitious and brave teenager, who dares to make a request of her dominating father in order to gain independence in the future.

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IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 01

IGCSE Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah Model Essays Question 01

Edexcel English IGCSE: Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

In the passage from Chinese Cinderella, how does the writer portray the relationship between Adeline and her family?

In your answer, you should consider:

  • Adeline’s attitude towards her home;
  • Adeline’s relationship with her father;
  • the use of language.

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

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Adeline clearly has a troublesome relationship with her family. She is frightened of going home, and has a particularly complex relationship with her father.

Early in the passage, the reader learns that Adeline does not want to return home from school. The repeated time phrases in the opening paragraphs, such as “eight weeks more” and “the end of term”, show her awareness of the passing of time, even months before she has to return home. A simile compares the thought of going home with “a persistent toothache”, suggesting that this worry is so intense that it feels like a physical pain. When she is told that she must return home then, she is open about her emotions of fear: she is full of “foreboding” and “dread”. This reveals that Adeline wants to stay at school not just because she loves to learn, but because there is something sinister about her home life.

Although the only family member described in detail in this passage is Adeline’s father, the reader receives clues about Adeline’s relationship with the rest of her family. The fact that she assumes that somebody has died when she is being taken home suggests that they only contact her when there is bad news. Furthermore, she does not recognise the house she is taken to, rendering the chauffeur’s comment, “This is your new home,” ironic, since there is nothing ‘homely’ about it for Adeline. The house is described as “quiet and cool”, which reflects the family’s attitudes towards Adeline. Nobody has come to greet her, even though they are just engaging in leisure activities such as “playing bridge” and “sunbathing”; there is a distinct lack of family warmth in this household.

Adeline has a complex relationship with her dominating father. She has never been to his room before, and describes it metaphorically as “the Holy of Holies”, giving it mystical and religious status. This shows that she finds her father mysterious and intimidating. The repeated use of questions throughout Adeline’s interaction with her father show her mixed feelings of confusion, fear and suspicion that he is being nice to her; this is clear evidence that he is not usually friendly towards her. Even though he is happy with her for winning the writing competition, her father still reveals his dominating and cruel character. He “scoffed” at her ambition of being a writer, and rejects her dream with cruel questions, encouraging her to doubt her own abilities. He is also dominating in his plan for her future, repeating the phrase “you will”, showing that his plan is not negotiable.

Although her father is intimidating and cruel, Adeline is overjoyed by his permission to allow her to escape her disinterested family by studying in England.

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