This is the first of two GCSE English Literature extract questions for Anita and Me by Meera Syal. It takes place in chapter five, when Diwali is being celebrated in Meena’s household. In this passage, Meena is depicted to be on the edge of her group of friends and their experience as teenagers. They flirt and pair off with the boys while Meena looks on, partially comprehending the group’s actions as a form of ritual and realising how this ritual automatically excludes her.
The first thing to do, as you begin to prepare an answer to an extract question, is to read the passage through more than once. This is a good habit to develop because it is re-reading which allows you to notice the details and aspects of the passage you might have missed the first time.
On your first reading, you should aim to understand the passage, thinking about the ways in which it relates to the question you have been asked. On your second reading, you could begin to make detailed notes and annotations. After such detailed preparation, you will be ready to plan your answer.
Ask yourself why this particular extract might have been chosen. Can you describe precisely how it relates to the text as a whole? What is its significance? Which themes are evident? Do different characters experience the depicted events in the same way? Describe how the extract relates to following events, mentioning, for example, whether there is any evidence of foreshadowing, or perhaps a turning point. Think about the place where the extract ends. Is its final line significant? How does the ending relate to the text’s themes and events?
Take a moment to consider the exact requirements of the question you will be answering. Try to clarify specifically what you are expected to write about. Extract questions can address any aspect of the writing; you could be asked to write about your own personal response, or you might be expected to discuss mood and atmosphere, character, dialogue, or themes evident in the passage. You should begin by explaining the passage’s immediate context: show how the passage is related to any events which have happened before, remembering to explain the relevance. Make sure you discuss the passage in detail, rather than writing more generally about the text. Planning out your answer before you begin will save time and help you to group related ideas together. Also be sure to cover the entire passage, rather than focussing only on one or two interesting parts.
Read the extract below carefully before answering the questions.