See if you can get all ten questions correct in this enjoyable GCSE English Literature quiz on Anita and Me by Meera Syal. Understanding a text is necessary before you are able to analyse and write about it. Comprehension seems as if it might be a fairly basic task, but is not as easy as it sounds. If texts could be reduced to a plot structure and a simple message, then authors would not need to expend so much energy and so many words to express their ideas!
Authors use a variety of methods to convey meaning. Sometimes authors state the meaning unambiguously, but it is more typical for an author to communicate indirectly through other aspects of fiction, such as character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue. By analysing each of these elements, you will increase your understanding of the text. It is usually best if you find time to re-read the text.
By limiting yourself to reading a book only once, it is likely that you will miss important details. Even if you find that you need to read particular sections several times in order to understand them, don’t worry! This is a sign that you have actually been especially attentive to the complex nature of the text.
One very useful method of revising is to make a timeline of events. Make a note of the key events which occur in each chapter. How are these related to the plot?
Analyse the relationship between characters’ actions and motivations. Can you discern the reasons behind a character’s behaviour? Does the text contain clues? Are any characters perfectly reliable so that you may take their words at face value? Are you able to perceive any foreshadowing of later events? As you think about these questions in relation to the text, consider how you might justify your views through evidence.
It can be especially fruitful to pay close attention to the beginnings and ends of the text. Consider potential reasons that the author might have chosen to begin the text in a certain way. What do you learn from the initial setting? How do you first learn about individual characters? Consider these questions in relation to each chapter, too. By devoting some attention to careful and detailed analysis of this sort, you can greatly improve your understanding of the text.
Read the questions below on Anita and Me and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.