Search This Blog

Sunday, February 17, 2008



All students sat the Term 1 Common Test (Literature) on 18 February 2008 (Monday)

Answer ALL questions (25 marks)

(iii)(i) What do you think of Emily as a mother based on her conversation here with Richard? How do her attitude and behaviour affect her relationship with Richard?

Emily is a caring and loving mother who dotes on her “boy-boy” Richard. She is proud of him who is a “big strong sonny” who is going to be twenty years old the next day. Emily obviously enjoys teasing and with Richard because she savours being the “beautiful mother”. She attends to the details to help Richard prepare for his trip to England – ordering custom made riding boots and collecting passports.

At the same, she is the kind of mother who takes charge of her children and expects them to obey. She sees to Richard’s needs and plans her day around him. She also expects Richard to comply with her wishes and instructions. In this scene, Emily plans to take Richard for “fittings” to “make five woolen suits at Chotirmall’s. When Richard raises his concerns and declines to accompany her because he wants to go riding at the polo ground, Emily tells him matter-of-factly that she “knows all his plans when she make her arrangements”. Here she is implying that Richard has no grounds not to accompany her to the tailor. She simply does not take “no” for an answer.

She is also very concerned with the kind of friends Richard mixes around with. She seems to know his friends well because she can actually name them: “Kok Beng, Peter, Joe…” We can tell from here that she keeps a close watch on her son’s involvement with his friends. However, at the same time, she can be rather snobbish and judgmental. She decides whom Richard should or should not invite to his birthday party. She specifically rejects one of Richard’s friends, “Chong Soo Boey”, telling the audience and her son that that boy will “get into trouble one of these days” because he is a “samseng”. She tells her son matter-of-factly that she “does not like him to mix with Chong”. She further explains to Richard that she chooses his friends because “all she wants is for him to be a good boy”. She claims she merely wants him to “make her proud of him”. At the same time, Emily wants Richard to understand that her “happiness” must never be sacrificed. She brushes any protests by Richard aside by telling him not to “worry about his friend” because their friendship is not to be taken seriously. She expects it to end when Richard leaves for England in six weeks’ time.

Although Richard is almost twenty, Emily still treats him like a child. She loves him but perhaps her love is so overwhelming that she becomes blind to the fact that her son is almost like a grown man, She does not allow Richard to have time to do his own activity, such as riding. She keep tabs on his schedule and she can appear quite intimidating when she tells him that “she knows all her plans when she make her arrangements”. Her sharpness leaves Richard with little or no room for manoeuvre. Richard seems to have no freedom to make or change his decisions at all. He has to listen and obey his mother all the time or she will be “unhappy”. Emily’s emotional blackmailing works because Richard has been conditioned to obey her probably from the time when he was very young.

Her mother-knows-best attitude probably also makes Richard feel that he has to let his mother make all the decisions for him. This is probably why, although Richard is leaving for England, she, and not he, is the one busily making most, if not all, the preparations. While she is genuinely concerned that he should be keeping the right company, her snobbish attitude leveled against “trouble makers”, may influenced irreversibly Richard’s understanding of what friendship is all about. She not only denies Richard the freedom to have his friends, she impresses upon him, how sad she will be if he invites the wrong people to his party. When Richard tries to play down the issue on whether or not to invite Chong Soo Boey, Emily warns him “not to pretend that he doesn’t care what she says”. So Richard has to be the “good” boy, so that Emily will always be “happy”.

Emily simply demands Richard’s total obedience but she does not realize that Richard has his own thoughts, ideas and wishes. She also does not realize that her happiness does not translate into Richard’s happiness. Emily has a tight control over Richard in terms of how he should think or act. She has either, by her forceful or bossy nature, kept Richard in check. Richard, as a young man of twenty, must feel very restricted by his mother’s constant prodding into actions she desires, reminding of duties and obligations, and emotional blackmailing.

(iv)(ii) What feelings do you have for Richard after reading this extract?

Richard is no longer a child but a young man of twenty. However Emily seems to have him on a tight leash. Although Emily is a loving and caring mother, she does not hesitate to remind Richard that unless he does as she pleases, she will be unhappy. She has also conditioned Richard to feel bad or guilty if she ever becomes unhappy. So over time, Richard learns to please his mother. I feel sorry for him because he cannot be happy if what he does or does not do is based on whether it is going to please his mother or not.

Richard has to make provision to spend time with Emily, for instance. Emily is displeased when Richard tells her he is not free in the afternoon. Her immediate rebuttal is “what do you mean not free”. Richard does not have any room to come up with any excuses because Emily tells him point-blank that “she knows all his plans when she makes any arrangements”. There is an implication here that Richard cannot lie. She would know if he does. If I were Richard, I would feel rather pressurized. It would seem from here then that Richard does not have any free moment to himself at all. His time is at his mother’s disposal.

I also feel that because Emily smothers Richard with her love and attention, she practically takes charge of his life. In this scene, Richard leaves it to her mother to prepare his trip to London – where to make the woollen suits and how many to make. She even takes care of his passport application. Richard’s relationship with the mother cannot develop normally here because her over-attentiveness may either spoil or frustrate her son. I feel that Richard does not have any opportunities at all to go about doing things that a young man ought to experience. I doubt if he is able to grow and develop normally as a young man.

Richard is not allowed to decide who gets to be his friend and who does not. He has to put up with Emily kicking up a fuss over who gets invited to his birthday party and who does not. Here again, he is unable to express his freedom of choice. I feel again sorry for him because his life is once again made difficult by Emily’s emotional blackmailing. Richard cannot express openly that he does not agree with his mother’s opinions. He is always forced to drop his own opinion in favour of his mother’s. Given Emily’s forceful personality, there is very little opportunity for Richard to make up his own mind or stick to any decision he makes.

I feel that Richard cannot be truly happy if Emily keeps on making decisions which affects him on his behalf. He does not pose any real challenge to his mother in this scene but over time, especially when he is now almost twenty, I can safely assume that after all these years, he might have already become a doormat for his mother. Instead of a young man who is capable of making firm decisions and sticking to them, he might have become a weakling who does not have a mind of his own. Despite a mother’s good intention and loving care, Richard does not seem destined to have a future because his present life is overwhelmed by her wishes and demands.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Regarding TERM ONE COMMON TEST issued to students on 14 February 2008
Literature in English prepared by Yeo Yam Hwee


Date of Common Test: 18 February 2008 (Monday)
Starting Time: 0800 hours
Duration: 45 minutes
Total marks: 25 / 25
Questions: Answer ALL three questions in paragraphs. YOU are advised to write as much as you can. DO NOT give ONE-SENTENCE or very short answers.



Read the text – Emily of Emerald Hill carefully from pages 2 to 10.
Read the resources given to you by the teacher in your Literature File.
Review the lessons covered by the teacher.

During the test period please take note of the following:

Read the extract (a short portion of the actual play taken from anywhere between pages 2 and 10 of your textbook) BEFORE you begin writing.

Remember to support what you say by referring to the given extract.

Read the questions carefully before writing.

Good luck.


Study for your test and write a lot during the test and you will be rewarded.
I do not test what is not taught in class. The test concerns what you should have already learnt and understood in class.
For more information, go to my blog at before 18 February 2008.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


[1] Read the following article carefully.
[2] Answer ALL three questions which follow.

Sourced by Yeo Yam Hwee

Friends, I was sent this story and hope you all take the time out to read it and reflect over the moral.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It did not seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window – that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window grasped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes, the coughing stopped, along with that the sound of breathing.

Now there was only silence – deadly silence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and seeing that he was comfortable, left for a few minutes. Painfully, he grabbed himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

A friend’s Epilogue…

You can interpret the story in any way you like. But one moral stands out: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money cannot buy. Love heals, unites and sets free.

Anonymous Author

Answer ALL questions by replying to this article in this blog.
Do not submit any written document.
Do not discuss with your friends.

Question 1: Based on your own experience, (without referring back to the story you have just read) explain and elaborate on what “happiness” means to you?

Question 2: Based on your own experience, do you think “happiness” comes to you naturally, or do you have to work hard for it to happen to you?

Question 3: Based on what you read of the two men in this story, explain clearly and in detail, who do you think the “happy” man is.