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'Examination Day' short story

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by

Claire Boulter

on 8 October 2013

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Transcript of 'Examination Day' short story

'Examination Day' short story
The author
During and after reading:
Writer's style and intentions
Henry Seslar (1927-2002). American author. Short story writer - often wrote about government control and intelligence - threats, 'what if' scenarios for his readers to think about.
Plot
Clues about the dystopian, totalitarian setting
'they give you this stuff to drink..to make sure you answer the questions truthfully' (at the moment in real life, there's no 'drink' that makes you tell the truth!)
'his intelligence quotient is above the Government regulation, according to Rule 84 Section 5 of the New Code' (Dickie is too intelligent for the government. Therefore...)
Question 1
Discuss your thoughts about the story with someone near you (or think by yourself).
What went on in the story? Did you understand it? What point(s) do you think the author was trying to make? What happened to Dickie in the end, and why, do you think?
Write down some ideas in bulletpoints or sentences to answer these questions.
Question 2
What clues suggest that the ending might not be a happy one? Write down some ideas in full sentences, and try to quote from the text. E.g.
There are several signs in the story that the ending will not be a happy one. For example, the adjectives the writer uses to describe Dickie’s parents’ behavior suggest that something is wrong: ‘the anxious manner of her speech’, ‘the scowl on his father’s face’, his ‘mother’s misty smile’. They should be happy as it’s their son’s birthday, but they seem worried about something (exactly what, we find out later).
Question 3 - get creative!
Choose one of these options, connected with the story.

• Write
part of
the story from another perspective, for example one of Dickie’s parents, or Dickie himself, from the 1st person (‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’)

Or continue the story. What happens with the parents at home, without their son?

• Write an
alternative ending
to this story.

Detail 4
Detail 1
Detail 2
Detail 3
Setting - the future - a kind of dystopia. Main characters - 12 year old boy called Dickie and his parents. It's his birthday. He must (everyone must) take a government examination to see how intelligent he is. His parents seem worried..he takes the examination..then what?
Dystopia and totalitarianism
Dystopia - an imaginary (but believable!) place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly. 'Utopia' is somewhere that's perfect, flawless. A dystopia appears that way to some people, but when you look deeper it's quite the opposite!

Totalitarianism - where the government has total control over its citizens.
Foreshadowing
Symbolism
his parents'
behaviour
Diction (word choice)
Imagery (including metaphors and similes
Full transcript