Chapter 11 A Packet of Letters

In today’s lesson we looked at Chapter 11 as well as the mark scheme and assessment objectives.

You have a choice of two questions for homework (due in Thursday):

  1. How does Hill build tension at the start of Whistle and I’ll Come to You (pg. 123-127)?
  2. How does Hill build tension in the second half of ‘A Packet of Letters’ (pg. 145-150)?

As a ghost story – tension is a key element and encompasses everything the writer hopes to achieve – ensure you focus on this throughout.

Pile of old letters

Chapter 11’s opening conveys a sense of how Kipps regains consciousness. We discover that the pony and trap that made him pass out with fear was actually that of Samuel Daily aiming to rescue Arthur. Kipps is deeply disturbed and packs his belongings. He looks in on the nursery – ‘the very heart of the haunting’ for the last time and is shocked as the previously immaculate room is ‘in a state of disarray as might have been caused by a gang of robbers, bent on mad, senseless destruction’ (page 138). As they cross the causeway, the sky is ‘a uniform, pearly grey’, the marshes ‘dull, misty and drear’ and the countryside ‘dripping and gloomy, without colour’ (page 139). The Dailys look after Arthur who has a changed outlook – ‘I had been defeated and I was not afraid to admit as much’ (page 141).

Kipps becomes convinced that Daily is ‘holding something back’ (page 146). The suspense is masterfully drawn out. Daily reluctantly explains that Jennet – Alice Drawblow’s sister – was eventually allowed to visit her son and that he formed a close bond with her. This however, ended with his tragic death on the marsh. Jennet went made, and when she died, ‘the hauntings began’ (page 149).

For the essay I have asked you to focus on pages 145-150. Key techniques used by Hill include:

Dialogue/Questions – even though we are now at Chapter 11 of 12, Arthur is still questioning Daily to find out the entire story. Hill uses dialogue between Arthur and Samuel Daily and we notice a convergence in their language (where we change our language to show we like someone) – the repetition of ‘perhaps’ and ‘with what?’.

Water Imagery is further continued with the quotes: ‘You’ve gone through some rough seas’ and ‘I’m in the calm of the storm now’.This links with the death of Jennet Humfyre’s son Nathaniel – drowning in the marshes. But also consider the wider symbolic ideals associated with water of purity and washing away sins. It is important to be away that before the 1960s it was considered deeply shameful for unmarried women to give birth. You may wish to consider the struggle between good and evil to push for higher grades.

Arthur’s reactions – on page 145 he remarks that he relived the events with ‘surprising calm’ and ‘bravely’ spoke with Daily. However after he finally hears the full story of Alice Drablow, Jennet Humfyre and the illegitimate child – Nathaniel he once again alters. It could be suggested that the conspiracy of silence consumes Arthur as on page 150 he ‘said quietly’ and ‘then, for a very long time, neither of us sad anything more.’ We become aware of Arthur’s further change in emotion/character through the use of the first person narrative. Those of you pushing for a top grade – see me tomorrow for an interesting journal article on the unreliable narrator and the gothic.

Ellipses and pauses – Hill continues to use punctuation to great effect to demonstrate Daily’s reluctance to further involve Arthur ‘The boy… the nursemaid, the pony trap and its driver Keckwick…’. Even at this late stage – is he trying to protect Arthur from the entire truth and The Woman in  Black? You could view Daily as a father figure to Arthur – supporting and advising without instructing him what to do. Like his name, he represents normality.

Use the notes from this blog post alongside your class notes to attempt the question on Chapter 11. Alternatively use your class notes and the previous blog post to answer the Chapter 10 essay. The next essay question will be more general and not be specific to one chapter. I will also place a list of possible questions on the blog to allow you to practice planning for such questions as a revision technique.

Miss O

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