Question 1

Read this part of the source again:

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town. If a damp spring arrived, if cows in the pasture gave milk that was runny with blood, if a colt died of colic or a baby was born with a red birthmark stamped onto its cheek, everyone believed that fate must have been twisted, at least a little, by those women over on Magnolia Street. It didn’t matter what the problem was – lightning, or locusts, or a death by drowning. It didn’t matter if the situation could be explained by logic, or science, or plain bad luck. As soon as there was a hint of trouble or the slightest misfortune, people began pointing their fingers and placing blame. Before long they’d convinced themselves that it wasn’t safe to walk past the Owens house after dark, and only the most foolish neighbours would dare to peer over the black wrought-iron fence that circled the yard like a snake.

List four things about the Owens women from this part of the source.

[4 marks]

Question 2

Look in detail at this extract from the source:

Inside the house there were no clocks and no mirrors and three locks on each and every door. Mice lived under the floorboards and in the walls and often could be found in the dresser drawers, where they ate the embroidered table cloths, as well as the lacy edges of the linen placemats. Fifteen different sorts of wood had been used for the window seats and the mantels, including golden oak, silver ash, and a peculiarly fragrant cherrywood that gave off the scent of ripe fruit even in the dead of winter, when every tree outside was nothing more than a leafless black stick. No matter how dusty the rest of the house might be, the woodwork never needed polishing. If you squinted, you could see your reflection right there in the wainscoting in the dining room or the bannister you held onto as you ran up the stairs. It was dark in every room, even at noon, and cool all through the heat of July. Anyone who dared to stand on the porch, where the ivy grew wild, could try for hours to look through the windows and never see a thing. It was the same looking out; the green-tinted window glass was so old and so thick that everything on the other side seemed like a dream, including the sky and the trees.

How does the writer use language to describe the Owens’s house?

You could include the writer’s choice of:

  • words and phrases
  • language features and techniques
  • sentence forms.

[8 marks]

Question 3

You now need to think about the whole of the source.

This text is from the beginning of a short story.

How has the writer structured the text to interest you as a reader?

You could write about:

  • what the writer focuses your attention on at the beginning of the source
  • how and why the writer changes this focus as the source develops
  • any other structural features that interest you.

[8 marks]

Question 4

Focus this part of your answer on the second part of the source, from the line ‘The little girls who lived up in the attic were sisters’, to the end.

After reading the extract, a student remarked: ‘I felt really sorry for the Owens girls – after their parents’ tragic death, it must have been really upsetting to have to live with their neglectful aunts.’

To what extent do you agree? In your response, you could:

  • consider your own impressions of the Owens girls and how much Hoffman reveals about their relationship with their aunts.
  • evaluate how much the writer creates sympathy for the girls.
  • support your response with references to the text.

[20 marks]


Question 5

A publisher is running a creative writing competition for school children, which you have decided to enter.

Your entry will be judged by a panel of published authors and a somewhat recognisable Z-list celebrity.


Write a description as suggested by this picture:


Write a short piece of fiction with the title: ‘Abandoned’.

[40 marks]

Author: Paul

Paul has been a professional tutor for over 14 years. He’s helped countless students boost their grades, mostly via 1:1 tutoring, and has also run large revision events. He has a 1st Class Degree in English Literature, and before joining Save My Exams he ran an education publishing company, where he edited over 100 books on GCSE/A Level exam texts.