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THE SIMPLE GIFT - Exploring Transitions HSC

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Nisrene Kourouche

on 1 September 2016

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Transcript of THE SIMPLE GIFT - Exploring Transitions HSC

The Simple Gift is a free-verse novel depicting the transformative life journey of sixteen year old Billy Luckett. The text allows the reader to delve into the minds of the three key characters, Billy, Old Bill and Caitlin and understand their experiences from their personal perspective. The text opens with Billy moving away from home and presents his journey through his homelessness. The final transition is conveyed through Billy entering into a new world and finally gaining his independence.
SYNOPSIS
SETTING
The texts clearly depicts the contrast between the dull and boring 'nowhersville' and Bendarat. Billy describes Longlands Road as being rundown, beat and depressing. The use of rain and cold wind is used throughout Billy's time in his hometown. His description of the town demonstrates his lack of belonging to the place and lack of connection he has.
However, upon his arrival in Bendarat, Billy develops a connection by finding a place for himself to call home 'Motel Bendarat' and also creating a lifestyle such as having a place to do laundry, wash and eat.
STRUCTURE
The text is written as a verse novel where the narrative is told through the medium of poetry rather than prose. The text allows the reader to explore the minds and personalities of the three characters of Billy, Old Bill and Caitlin, as the narrative is told from their perspectives. Each character tells their story through their language and from their own angle.
TRANSITIONS
THE SIMPLE GIFT
TRANSITIONS - THE RUBRICS
BILLY
Old Bill
Caitlin
Explore and analyse a variety of texts that portray the ways in which individuals experience transitions into new phases of life and social contexts.

Transitions may be challenging, confronting, exciting or transformative and may result in growth, change and a range of consequences for the individual and others.

Consider how transitions can result in new knowledge and ideas, shifts in attitudes and beliefs, and a deepened understanding of the self and others.

Respond to and compose a range of texts that expand our understanding of the experience of venturing into new worlds.
The Process of Transitions
In analysing the transitions undertaken by the characters, it is imperative that the process of the transition is followed from the beginning to the end. Focus on the choice, the changes, the challenges and the consequences is important. By following the process you are able to identify the changes taking place and how the characters enter a new phase of life. You are also able to account for the growth taking place in the individual and how shifts in attitudes and beliefs occur allowing the individual to venture into a new world.
It is important to understand that this module focuses on transitions. This is the key theme to analyse. There are no other themes to necessarily integrate into your response.
Focus on all three characters from the text and assess the process of transitions they have been through.
Billy Luckett, the key protagonist from the text endures several transitions from the time he leaves Nowheresville and creates a life for himself in Bendarat with Caitlin..

The process of Billy's transition is as follows:

Billy leaves Nowheresville --> Recognises that not all adults are cruel --> Develops a sense of self identity --> Develops a relationships with Old Bill and begins to care for him --> Seeks employment and becomes independent as he is now earning his own money --> Meets Caitlin and falls in love, his first love --> Confronts his fear of losing Caitlin --> Settles down.

In looking at these processes, it is integral to examine how each of these phases impact Billy and his journey in venturing into a new world. The experiences he is going through all connect. Billy's relationship with people become positive and he begins to value others and helps them because they need it.
Old Bill also endures a process of transition. He becomes homeless because of his unfortunate past and heavily relies on alcohol and cigarettes, to get him through and make him forget. Upon meeting Billy, we significantly see a change take place in Old Bill's lifestyle as Billy helps him develop routines, get a job, earn his own money and become healthier by quitting alcohol and cigarette's.
Old Bill can almost be seen as a father figure to Billy, also possibly the outcome of what Billy's life might be like if he didn't adjust his life in time.

The process of Old Bill's transitions are as follows:
Loses his wife and daughter --> moves to a Bendarat train carriage --> withdraws himself from society and wants to be left alone--> connects with Billy --> opens up and expressed his grief to Billy --> quits alcohol and cigarettes --> values his friendship and helps Billy with the welfare officers --> he has faced up to the reality of his wife and daughters death --> gives Billy his home and moves on -->plans to live his daughter's dream of visiting the Great Barrier Reef
Caitlin also ventures through many significant experiences which cause her develop new attitudes and beliefs. Meeting Billy is integral to Caitlin's change as he becomes a catalyst for her new outlook on life. Initially, Caitlin was presented as a rich girl with more possessions than anyone. Upon meeting Billy, Caitlin develops a crush and eventually falls in love. Her transition occurs throughout the text as we observe her perspective change on numerous occasions. Caitlin progressed with her relationship with Billy knowing he was homeless, however, seeing Billy and Old Bill together outside the carriage sharing a coffee was the realisation she needed to clearly identify Billy as actually being 'homeless'. Her persistence however allowed her to overcome her small prejudices and continue to love Billy for who he is.

Cailtin's process of transition includes:
Caitlin realises the hollowness of her existence --> forms a deep friendship with Billy --> falls in love with Billy --> becomes friends with Old Bill --> confronts her parents and rejects their values--> leaves home to live with Billy

Quotes to support the progress of transition - Billy
‘See ya Dad. I’ve taken the alcohol. Drink this instead to celebrate your son leaving home.’ (Champagne)

‘I’m sixteen and soon to be homeless.’ (Kiss the Dog)

‘This place has never looked so run down…My street. My suburb. I take a handful of rocks… I throw one rock on the roof of each dead beat no-hoper shithole lonely downtrodden house…’ (Longland’s Road)

‘Bendarat is the perfect town. A friendly librarian, a warm McDonald’s, luxury train accommodation…’ (Breakfast)

‘I climb in…I close the door and make a home in Carriage 1864… my Motel Bendarat.’ (The Motel Bendarat)

‘I knew where I was going for the next few months – to the library, to McDonald’s, to the river, and home here to the Hilton.’ (Going Nowhere)
‘Living in this carriage is special, it’s mine and I keep it clean and I read to give myself an education.’ (Comfort)

‘…an old man with long grey hair and a beard…I sit beside the old hobo and hand them across (cigarettes)… we both sit staring at the beer, and the sunrise, sharing the hobo hour.’ (The Hobo hour)

‘I told Caitlin about leaving home… I was nervous but I kept talking… I saw Caitlin and I liked what I saw.’ (Looking)

‘…I choose the thick silver ring with the green emerald stone small and shining green like her eyes.’ (Green)

‘I held the keys to Wellington Road as Old Bill talked…I knew that I’d never never in my life feel sadder that I did right then.’

‘I hugged Old Bill like I’ve never hugged a man before sure that he’d saved my life…I thanked him once and thanked him a hundred times.’ (Celebrating)
Quotes to support the progress of transitions - Old Bill
‘And when he gave me those smokes I almost cried, a kid like that with nothing giving stuff away.’ (Old Bill)

‘I wasn’t always a hobo. I worked in a town. I dressed neatly in a suit and tie. I understood the law. I earned a lot of money…But all of that knowledge and all that training couldn’t stop a young beautiful child from falling out of a tree, or a wife from driving a car too drunk to care.’ (All that Knowledge)

‘I tell him about the cannery and work…I find myself walking to the cannery with the kid looking for work, work I don’t need or want.’ (Sorry)

‘But at least I’m not drinking so much, and I can’t smoke in the cannery. Bloody hell, this kid’s going to turn me into a health freak!’ (That Bloody Kid)

‘I fell with her and I’ve been falling ever since.’ (Old Bill’s Fall)

‘My wife died one year to the day after Jessie…after the funeral I moved to the carriage. I closed the door to our house, left everything as it was and walked away.’ (The House)
‘I like the kid. I like his company…for a few hours I almost feel young again…I like the kid.’ (The Kid)

‘I walked home to my old carriage and thought of how to repay them for their simple gift, and I enjoyed the thinking.’ (Simple Gift)

‘I wake early, I eat properly…I’ve taken to walking every day…these people nod and say hello as though I’m one of them and not an old drunk.’ (Old Bill and this Town)

‘I stand, walk to the shed, unlock the door, push the cobwebs away, and I roll out the old mower and go rummaging for some two-stroke, ready to work.’ (Peace)

‘I went to the Salvation Army shop. I bought a clean shirt and trousers and a tie. I packed my old clothes in a plastic bag and walked out a businessman ready to impress the world.’ (Old Bill’s Suit and Tie)

‘…we’ll leave that office, go straight to Wellington Road and let Billy start his new life in a house that needs a new life, happier than the old one.’ (Old Bill’s Plan)


Quotes to support the progress of transitions - Caitlin
‘I told Petra about Billy and my visit.’ (Happen)

‘I stay in the shadows watching Billy and the old man…I turn and run to school without ever leaving the shadows.’ (The Shadows)

‘ all I can think is that seeing Billy with that old hobo made me think of Billy as a hobo and I was ashamed…’ (The Afternoon Off)

‘By lunchtime I decided I was a complete fool and maybe I was more spoilt than I thought…and I walked through the school gates, and I walked slowly and deliberately back to the railway tracks, determined not to run away again.’ (The Afternoon Off)

‘…each word he said made me more ashamed, and more determined to sit with him here in the bright sunshine.’ (In the Sunshine)

‘I realised that Billy was sixteen years old and already a man and I was seventeen, nearly eighteen, and still a schoolgirl.’ (A Man)

‘I looked around my bedroom…ready for my other life, the life I’d forgotten about for a few hours last night and this morning.’ (My other life)
‘It was like stepping into heaven, no less than perfect.’ (Heaven)

‘He hands me a key and we stand, his hand on mine, the key between us…I start to cry because I think of Old Bill and what I thought when I first saw him.’ (Caitlin and the Key)

‘I love Billy, and I’m sure of him. I want my parents to know.’ (Saturday Dinner)
Essay Writing

Transitions can result in new knowledge and ideas, expanding our experience and venturing into new worlds.


To what extent is this portrayed in the text 'The Simple Gift' by Steven Herrick?


Introduction
The process of transitions is often difficult and has many challenges to be faced and overcome by the individual, resulting in life altering experiences. However, the outcome often results in newly found knowledge and ideas, allowing the individual to delve and venture into new worlds and practices. The verse novel, 'The Simple Gift' by Steven Herrick depicts the powerful message about venturing into new experiences. Billy, the protagonist endures many interactions which allow him to alter his perspective and observe things from a different angle. His exchanges with other people allow him to overcome many obstacles, including the non-existent relationship with his father, his homelessness, his identity and ultimately his progress towards becoming independent and moving into his own home with Caitlin. Likewise, Old Bill endures his own transitions as he too undergoes many life altering challenges, however, it is Billy, the catalyst, who supports and assists Old Bill in escaping the torment of his past and transitioning through experiences into a much healthier and better world.
Sample Question:
Sample body paragraph
The transitional period is one of the most prominent stages in an individuals life. It may force the occurrence of several obstacles and challenges to be overcome, allowing the individual to grow and become transformed. The protagonist Billy ventures into the world upon making the decision of leaving home, ‘See ya Dad. I’ve taken the alcohol. Drink this instead to celebrate your son leaving home.’ Knowing that the outcome of his decision may be grim, ‘I’m sixteen and soon to be homeless', Billy continues his journey out of 'Nowheresville', ‘This place has never looked so run down…My street. My suburb. I take a handful of rocks… I throw one rock on the roof of each dead beat no-hoper shithole lonely downtrodden house…’ and into the unknown. The use of possessive pronouns and jargon further emphasise Billy's personality and mentality to what he is about to do. Pathetic fallacy, metaphors and similes are employed by Herrick to resonate the experience Billy has faced in the past, ‘The wind and the rain hits you in the face with the force of a father’s punch' and what he may too experience along this journey, ‘Watch the cold rain fall…the rain falls steady…Rainy afternoon…wind howls…cold rain…wind and rain…’ However, there is a silver-lining for Billy when he meets Ernie, ‘There are men like Ernie and there are other men, men like my Dad.’ Here his views on adults alter and we observe a new attitude and understanding through the simple gifts bestowed upon him by this stranger, such as providing him with warmth, 'a cuppa...and some sandwiches'. Incidently, we observe Billy gain new knowledge due to his early experiences and begin his transition into a new world.
Try writing a thesis statement for this question!

Once you have the statement, continue with the rest of your introduction
Sample body paragraph
Another key individual who also experiences a transition into a new world is Old Bill. Old Bill's challenges and choices in life have led him to where he is today, 'Welcome to the Bendarat Hilton, I've been here since March 2nd, 1994...' It is Old Bill's loss of his wife and daughter Jessie which has led him to live a life of homelessness , ‘My wife died one year to the day after Jessie…after the funeral I moved to the carriage. I closed the door to our house, left everything as it was and walked away.’ The use of emotive language further enhances the impact this has all had on Old Bill. Furthermore, the death of his family have made him lose his grasp on reality ‘I fell with her and I’ve been falling ever since.' However, this negative transition in Old Bill's life has allowed him to reflect and gain new understandings of what he is capable of doing and of who he was before all of this loss, ‘I wasn’t always a hobo. I worked in a town. I dressed neatly in a suit and tie. I understood the law. I earned a lot of money…But all of that knowledge and all that training couldn’t stop a young beautiful child from falling out of a tree, or a wife from driving a car too drunk to care.’ As the text progresses his interactions with Billy have a profound effect, encouraging Old Bill to move on and gain purpose in life, ‘I tell him about the cannery and work…I find myself walking to the cannery with the kid looking for work, work I don’t need or want.’ Billy continues to have a positive influence on Old Bill as he helps minimise his consumption and reliance on alcohol, ‘at least I’m not drinking so much, and I can’t smoke in the cannery. Bloody hell, this kid’s going to turn me into a health freak!’ Likewise, Old Bill is becoming fond of Billy as their relationship strengthens and they both provide support for one another, ‘I like the kid. I like his company…for a few hours I almost feel young again…I like the kid.’ The use of repetition reinforces the sense of camaraderie and the bond they have together. It is through his interactions with Billy and his newly found knowledge that Old Bill is able to move on with his life, ‘Don’t worry about the house and its ghosts, I’m taking them with me, they need a holiday, and so do I.’
Conclusion
In conclusion, 'The Simple Gift' perceptively conveys the notion of transitions resulting in new knowledge and ideas, which ultimately expand our experience and allow the individual to venture into new worlds. Billy's transition is a large process which results in him gaining new perspectives and self acquired independence. His venture into homelessness drew new experiences for him as an individual. His relationship with Old Bill further enhanced his process as he acted as a catalyst to support Old Bill in overcoming his challenges. Likewise, Caitlin's acceptance, love and support for Billy allowed him to expand his knowledge and venture into new worlds. All three characters endured one change or another. These changes were ultimately positive or negative, however they still had the same result, a new world.
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