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IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 05

IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 05

Edexcel English IGCSE: Veronica

Q5. Analyse the character of Veronica.

In your answer, consider:

  • her upbringing and family background;
  • her attitude towards the village;
  • her approach to life;
  • 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

In this story, everything the reader learns about Veronica is through the perspective of her successful friend, Okeke. We learn about her attitudes towards her family, her village and her life.

Veronica is loyal to her family despite her difficult upbringing. Her father is a “brute”, suggesting that he is animal-like and cruel. She has many duties towards her family, for example, the responsibility of caring for her siblings had “fallen on her”. This metaphorical language implies that this duty is a physical weight, which could crush her. Despite this struggle, Veronica is committed to her family. When Okeke encourages her to leave the village, she cites her family as a reason. When pushed for further explanation, she states “They are my family, that is enough”. Her commitment to her family is so strong that she feels it does not require explanation. Throughout her life, family gives Veronica purpose in life. When her own family dies, she feels that “there is nothing left for [her] in this world”.

The village is Veronica’s entire world. She is curious about life outside the village, as expressed in the Okeke’s hyperbolic statement that she asked “endless questions” about his school. However, she does not feel that the ‘outside world’ is for her. She states this in very simple terms, highlighting the essential difference between her and Okeke: “the city is for you, not me.” She does not give logical reasons for staying in the village, nor does she suggest that she likes it. Her reasons are intuitive, and based on a commitment to the status quo, and a sense of belonging: “my own place is here” and “this is my home”. Okeke finds this attachment unreasonable, but to Veronica it is clearly an inherent part of her existence.

Veronica’s approach to life is similarly accepting. She enjoys her friend’s ambition and is glad that he has the chance to leave the village. Okeke states that “she never seemed to envy” his life, although the use of the word “seemed” expresses some doubt regarding her true feelings. She is surprised when Okeke asks her about her life, replying “What should of happened to me?”. This shows that she doesn’t expect changes to occur in her own life, as they have done in Okeke’s. This resignation to her lot is especially poignant when Veronica queries why Okeke would try to save her life, since she believes she has nothing left to live for. In stark contrast to Okeke’s life, her entire life and death is spent in the village.

The writer allows the reader to make up their own mind about Veronica’s character. We cannot know whether she was truly satisfied with her insular and apparently inconsequential life, or whether she was simply remarkably stoic around Okeke. Either way, this account of her life is a moving reminder of the entrapment of poverty.

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IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 04

IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 04

Edexcel English IGCSE: Veronica

Q4. Does the writer portray Veronica’s life as a waste?

In your answer, you should consider:

  • Veronica’s attitudes towards life;
  • the narrator’s opinions of Veronica and her life;
  • 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

In ‘Veronica’, the narrator is convinced that Veronica’s life has been wasted. However, this is in conflict with Veronica’s view of herself. The writer allows the reader to decide whether they consider her life to be a waste.

Okeke has strong opinions about what Veronica should do with her life. As he fulfils his ambitions by leaving the village and becoming prosperous, Okeke tries to persuade Veronica to pursue a similar route. With strong, emotive vocabulary reflecting the extent of his frustration, he says that he is “appalled and frightened” by her acceptance of village life. There is disapproval and frustration in his repeated assertions that “nothing ever changed” in the village. He pities her life, as expressed in his description of her when he returns to the village after ten years: “squatting over a smoking fire, fanning the flames with a piece of cardboard”. The word “squatting” is almost derogatory, and the alliteration of ‘s’ and ‘f’ create a tone of disgust at what he sees. His view of her life is clearly expressed after her death, when he weeps “for the terrible waste”. The reader senses that he views her death as wasteful, but also her life, since her potential for success and happiness were wasted.

However, Veronica herself seems to disagree with Okeke’s evaluation of her life. She often reacts to Okeke’s questions with questions of her own, highlighting the essential conflict in their attitudes to life. When he asks her about herself, she replies, “What should of happened to me?” and “What am I to tell you?”. Importantly, these questions are given “without bitterness” or envy for Okeke’s life. Her questions challenge the very notion that life should be changeable and exciting; she does not exhibit the same disapproval of the village’s immutability that Okeke does. Furthermore, Okeke fails to recognise and celebrate things in Veronica’s life about which she is happy, such as her child and husband. Again, she questions Okeke: “Is that not enough?”. Clearly, it is not enough for him. Veronica’s insistent questions throughout their conversations encourage the reader to query Okeke’s view of how life should be. After the death of her entire family, Veronica loses her attachment to life and feels “there is nothing left for [her] in this world”. Again, Okeke challenges this view and tries to keep her alive, against her wishes.

Veronica’s death is unquestionably pitiful, and a wasteful tragedy, which results from war and famine. Her lack of education restricts her opportunities, and this is an cruel waste of potential talent and happiness. However, the question of whether her entire life consisted of wasted potential is for the reader to decide. Certainly, she did not fulfil Okeke’s wishes for her, but perhaps her satisfaction with her own life choices and her commitment to her family suggests that her life was not completely wasted after all.

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IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 03

IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 03

Edexcel English IGCSE: Veronica

Q3. How does the writer bring out the thoughts and feelings of the narrator in ‘Veronica’?

In your answer, consider:

  • the contrasts between Veronica’s and the narrator’s life;
  • the narrator’s feelings towards Veronica and the village;
  • 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

The story of Veronica is told to the reader through the lens of Okeke’s thoughts and feelings. He highlights the differences between their lives, and expresses his feelings towards Veronica and the village.

Okeke is painfully aware of the differences between his life and Veronica’s. There is a slight sense of embarrassment when Okeke describes his success in the city: the paragraph contains colloquial phrases such as “well” and “made good”, as he downplays his achievements. The narration quickly returns to Veronica, showing that his priority is to tell her story, not his own. It is clear that Okeke makes many changes to his life while he is away from the village. He repeatedly asserts the contrasting immutability of village life: he says of the village that “nothing ever changed” and of Veronica that “nothing had really altered”. The repeated use of the negative word “nothing” shows that his attitude towards village life is not nostalgic, but resentful and disapproving.

Okeke feels helpless towards Veronica. When he is young he, curses his “own physical inadequacy” to protect her from her violent father. Later, this feeling of inadequacy is transferred to Okeke’s inability to persuade Veronica to leave the village. His frustration at her refusal is evident in his gesture of breaking a twig and throwing it in the stream. It shows that he cares about Veronica and her life, and is uncomfortable at the growing differences between them. This helplessness continues until Veronica’s death, when Okeke is unable to save her. He attempts to comfort her, and possibly himself, with the possibility of saving her: “I’m here now, and you’re going to be alright”. However, again she refuses his help, and dies as she wishes. Okeke is evidently devastated by this: he cried “for the terrible waste.” His knowledge that she could have been saved, had she followed his advice, surely contributes to this sense of wastefulness.

Unlike Veronica, Okeke does not have a strong emotional connection with the village, except for its associations with Veronica. He describes his opportunity to leave the village as “the break I had hardly dared hope for”. The word “break” has connotations of escape from prison, suggesting that he sees the inhabitants of the village as trapped against their will. When he returns to the village after years away, his description of the village contains grotesque imagery and emotive vocabulary, showing his disgust at his former home: “squalor”, “crawling with disease”, “surviving” and “acute poverty”. Once Veronica dies, he leaves the village “for the last time”, showing that his only connection with the village was caused by his affection for his friend.

Okeke experiences frustration and helplessness in his relationship with Veronica, and feels disgust towards his home village. He feels conflicted between relief for his personal escape and pain for those he left behind.

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IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 02

IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 02

Edexcel English IGCSE: Veronica

Q2. How does the writer make the reader feel sympathy for Veronica?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • Veronica’s family background;
  • Veronica’s expectations of life;
  • the end of 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

Veronica is a pitiful character who engages the sympathies of the reader. Both her experiences and her attitudes are incomprehensible to most readers, and the end of her life is a moving comment on the difficulty of escaping the cycle of poverty.

Despite her extremely challenging family life, Veronica is movingly dedicated to her responsibilities to her family. Her father is described as a “brute”, characterising him as an animal-like monster; this impression is confirmed when we learn that she is beaten by him as a child. In the description of Okeke “listening to her screams”, the reader is drawn into Okeke’s sense of helplessness. Despite her painful upbringing, Veronica refuses to leave the village because of her commitment to her family. Okeke probably reflects the reader’s thoughts when he questions this commitment, but she is steadfast in her dedication, stating that it is so inherent that it does not need to be explained: “They are my family, that is enough”. This sense of responsibility is even more poignant when we later discover that her parents have died and her siblings have left: despite her loyalty, she is completely abandoned.

Veronica has low expectations for life, which is highlighted through the contrast with her ambitious friend Okeke. She is aware that leaving the village would be a good thing, telling Okeke that he “must be happy to be going”. However, she does not see leaving the village as an option for her. Okeke suggests ways in which she could leave and gain qualifications, but she resists his suggestions, insisting in simple terms, “my own place is here”. She leaves this conversation with the excuse that she has “to go and cook”, which reminds the reader that she places her duty to her family above her own quality of life. Veronica is not resentful of her lot: she is not envious of Okeke’s success, and speaks “without bitterness” of her siblings’ abandonment. This attitude induces further sympathy, since she is evidently a good person.

At the end of the passage, Veronica dies a pathetic and wasteful death. When Okeke returns to the village after the war, he refrains from describing the destruction he sees, implying that it is too terrible for words. He finds Veronica as “a figure huddled on a mat on the ground”. This deferential physical position evokes pathos in the reader, and also highlights the striking differences between Veronica’s and Okeke’s lives. With characteristic pragmatism and simplicity, Veronica questions why Okeke would save her life, stating that “there is nothing left for [her] in this world”. This resignation to death is terribly moving.

Veronica lives a difficult life and dies weak and lonely, abandoned by her family and surviving her own child. Despite Okeke’s desire for her to make changes in her life, Veronica never leaves the village, even in death.

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IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 01

IGCSE Veronica Model Essays Question 01

Edexcel English IGCSE: Veronica

Q1. How does the writer try to bring out the contrasts between the life of the narrator and of Veronica?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • their differing family backgrounds;
  • their attitudes and what each expects of life;
  • their differing experiences after the narrator goes to the city;
  • 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

Despite coming from the same village, Okeke and Veronica have very different lives, which become increasingly disparate throughout the passage.

Okeke and Veronica have very different experiences growing up, because of the differences in their families. Okeke describes Veronica’s parents thus: “Her father was a brute and her mother was weak”. These terrible things are presented as blunt facts, in simple clauses, showing the immutability of her family situation. Moreover, the responsibility to care for her siblings had “fallen on her”. This metaphorical language makes the responsibility sound like a physical weight which could crush her. Okeke’s tone of disapproval when describing Veronica’s family implies that his own upbringing was less turbulent. Despite her unhappy family life, Veronica remains family-oriented, which contributes to her entrapment in the village. When Okeke asks why she doesn’t leave, she simply states, “I can’t just leave my family.”

One of the main contrasts between Okeke and Veronica is in their expectations for life. Okeke is ambitious, and is lucky to have the opportunity to gain an education and escape the village. In contrast, Veronica is accepting of her ‘fate’ to remain in the village. Using basic, monosyllabic language to express the simplicity of her view, she explains, “my own place is here”. Highlighting the differences in their attitudes, Okeke is frustrated by Veronica’s lack of ambition. He is “both appalled and frightened” by it: these intense adjectives reflect the strength of his feelings. His frustration is captured in the gesture of snapping a twig and throwing it into the stream; the stream symbolises escape and movement, and the fact that the twig “vanished from sight” provides an ironic comment on the ease of leaving the village.

When Okeke leaves the village, his life changes drastically over the years; in contrast, Veronica’s situation stays mainly the same, then worsens through war. Okeke becomes successful and prosperous, as reflected in the quantitative phrases used to describe his almost extravagant return to the village: he had “a couple of nurses, three male assistants and a suitcase full of medicines”. In contrast, he finds Veronica “in the same hut she had grown up in”. This physical stillness reflects the static nature of her life, which is completely centred in the village. When he visits again after the war, Okeke finds her again in the same hut. In contrast to his strength and prosperity, she is weak and ready to die. By now, she is “a figure huddled on a mat”; she is in a small and vulnerable position, and has almost lost her identity. The image of Okeke carrying Veronica like a child as she dies is a poignant comment on their differing experiences of life.

This is a moving account of the difficulty of escaping poverty. The differences in the two characters’ upbringing and attitudes lead to striking differences in their life experiences.

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