This GCSE English Literature quiz is the first of two extract questions for Silas Marner by George Eliot. Godfrey and Nancy have been married for many years, but their happiness has been marred by childlessness. Godfrey has encouraged Nancy to consider adopting a child, suggesting Eppie, of course, but Nancy has refused due to her own prejudices about the unknown parentage of orphans. Godfrey has not been able to admit that Eppie’s parentage is not as unknown as everyone in the village supposes. This passage is located close to the beginning of the second part of the novel, taking place sixteen years after Eppie wandered into Silas’s life. The Stone-pit has just revealed its terrible secrets.
Always ensure that you read a passage through carefully more than once when answering an extract question in an exam.
This is never a waste of time. On your first reading, you can aim for a broad understanding of the passage and consider how you might use it to answer the question. The second reading is the time to make detailed notes and annotations and to begin to gather your thoughts. It is a good idea to ask yourself why the specific passage has been chosen. How does it fit with the rest of the text? Are any significant characters or significant themes introduced? What events follow? Are later events foreshadowed in the chosen passage? Does it mark a turning point? Also consider the ending of the extract: why do you think it ends where it does instead of somewhere else? Is there anything significant about the final line?
Remember to pay close attention to the question you have chosen to answer. You might be asked to write about mood and atmosphere, or a particular character, or even about your personal response to the passage or to a character. You might be asked to discuss dialogue, behaviour or feelings. Always explain the passage’s immediate context: acknowledge the events which precede the extract. Pay close attention to the detail, to setting and characterisation. Analyse and discuss the relationship between the excerpt and the themes of the text. Structure your response by grouping related ideas together in your writing. Remember to leave enough time to discuss the entire passage rather than analysing one section in detail and then neglecting the remainder of the extract!
Read the extract from George Eliot's Silas Marner below carefully before answering the questions.
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