New Y12 Literature Summer Tasks

Summer tasks? What the deuce is this all about?

Well, there is a wealth of evidence which shows that students who are widely read, achieve higher grades than those who do not. Certainly, past experience here at Samuel Whitbread has proved that, in English Literature (and Language) at A Level, there is a clear correlation between the breadth of reading a student has undertaken and ultimate grades. Shockingly, every year, there are students who opt to study English at A Level who claim not to read at all . Without fail, these students struggle to accomplish the written tasks to the same standard as their peers who are keen readers of a variety of texts.

The benefits of reading are huge: not only does it increase your fluency in spelling, punctuation and grammar (since you unconsciously pick up correct English usage) but also you are exposed to a wide range of writing forms and styles. For example, you will find it extremely difficult to analyse the similarities and differences in different texts if you have no experience of different styles and genres. Similarly, you need to read historical articles and critical theory to enhance your argument and achieve the higher bands in your coursework.

You will be given a list of set texts to answer for your coursework question and the exam. However, the more confident you are with the different writing techniques and narrative structures, the easier you will find comparing, analysing and re-creating texts.

If you intend to go on to University, whatever your course, then you will be expected to read widely in order to increase your subject knowledge. It really is foolish to embark upon an English course with the attitude that “I’m not really a reader” – NOW is the time to change that and become one.

The tasks you are expected to undertake are designed so that you will encounter a range of genres and build a portfolio fiction beyond the range you have encountered so far; furthermore, you will be expected to research and collate contextual and critical readings of texts.

Enjoy your reading, and have a happy holiday!

Essay Texts and Topics

Complete ONE of these essay questions based on your reading of ONE of the texts. Your essay must not exceed 1500 words and should include information regarding the social, cultural and historical context of when the texts were produced. You must include quotations, analyse the language and explore the different responses of the reader. Finally, try to include literary terms in your analysis (please see ‘Glossary of Literary Terms’ at the back of this booklet).

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

How does Gatsby represent the American dream? What does the novel have to say about the condition of the American dream in the 1920s?


Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom. How are they alike? How are they different?


A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Explain Williams’ use of motifs, names and stage directions.  How does that help our understanding of the characters Stella, Stanley and Blanche?


Compare the characters of Stella and Blanche throughout the play. How are they alike? How are they different?


The War Poems by Wilfred Owen

‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’

‘Dulce et Decorum est’

‘The Send-Off’

‘The Parable of the Old Man and the Young’

‘The Sentry’

‘Spring Offensive’

‘Strange Meeting’



Explore how Owen presents the effects of war on the youth of society in Anthem for Doomed Youth and Spring Offensive. In your answer, explore the effects of language, imagery and structure on the reader.


Explore Wilfred Owen’s presentation of war in The Send-Off, Strange Meeting, and Dulce et Decorum Est.? In your answer, explore the effects of language, imagery and structure on the reader.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s