Cultural Context - I'm Not Scared, The Great Gatsby, All My Sons for Leaving Cert English #625Lab

“The world of a text, and how it affects the behaviour of central characters, can influence a reader’s response to the events that take place”.

With the Comparative, you will end up covering the same points in many essays - but your angle really matters. The essay below tries really hard to fit a Literary Genre take onto a Cultural Context title. This greatly sabotages the all-important P of PCLM. Also, it's better to paraphrase than to misquote. You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€). 

(a) Discuss the extent to which this statement applies to at least one central character in one of the texts on your comparative course. Support your answer with reference to the text.


In light of the above statement, the film “I’m Not Scared” by Gabriel Salvatores contains central characters that are corrupt and immoral because of the world they live in. The world of the text is revealed through many aspects which I will discuss below. These aspects affected the characters' behaviour and therefore influenced my response to the events that took place in this film.

Firstly, the point of view shapes the world of this text. We witness the drastic events occurring in this text through the eyes of the protagonist Michele. We witness these events simultaneously with Michele. This influenced my response to the text at I understood how corrupt and immoral Aqua Traverse was. Michele was morally upright, the antithesis to this corrupt society that surrounded him. Through Michele’s point of view, I discovered the corrupt society had abducted a northern child. A key moment which portrays this is when we see Filippo chained like a dog in a dark pit. This point of view conveys the inhumane behaviour of the central characters Pino, Sergio and Felice. This influenced my response to this event as it clearly depicts that money is the root to all evil in Aqua Traverse. (This is an unusual way to start a cultural context essay. The point of view doesn't really change depending on the culture? This may be a minor point towards the end, but I wouldn't start with this.)

Secondly, the setting influenced my response to the events of this text as it clearly conveyed why the central characters behaved so irrationally and impulsively. At the beginning of the film a dark ominous cave is portrayed with the words “I’m Not Scared” scrawled on the cave walls in Italian. This is in direct contrast to the idyllic countryside then revealed with golden wheat blossoming and thriving. However, an ominous tone was created as a dead raven was perched on a stick. The dilapidated village of Aqua Traverse is then revealed. The houses are basic stone, two floors if lucky with paint eroding off the walls. It was clear to me that the characters where living in an impoverished society. A key moment which highlights this poverty is when Filippo’s mother pleaded for help on a news broadcast. She was well dressed in a living room with nice wallpaper and pictures. She was also a well-spoken and educated woman. This setting influenced my response to the abduction of Filippo as it depicted the wealth of the Northern Italians in contrast to the Southern Italians. I understood the abductors motives and why they behaved this way as they were living in a disadvantaged area. (Exceptionally well-written paragraph.)

Finally, the dialogue expressed influenced my response to the events that took place as it gave me an insight into the characters behaviour. The children’s dialogue with the exception of Skull is innocent and naïve. They are unaware of the corrupt events occurring around them. The dialogue between Michele and Fillip is unique as it is full of love, compassion and care. This influenced my response to the events that take place as they are the only two characters with a moral outlook. In direct contrast the abductors dialogue is harsh, cruel and brutal. Pino, Sergio and Felice portray a compelling and domineering tone they are superior to their inferior female counterparts this influenced my response to the text as Skull adopts this harsh dialogue at such a young age. This clearly affects Skulls behaviour as he voices demeaning comments towards Barbara “show it to us”. His voice is full of power as he commands this order. This influenced my response to the events that took place in this film as Skull learns this type of attitude towards women from his older brother Filippo. It is clear that males are brought up that they are superior which they express clearly through their dialogue. This affects the behaviour of the central characters as their dialogue is compelled with harsh and violent tones. It depicts why their physical actions are similarly violent and harsh. (I get the feeling that the author is well-versed in Literary Genre and is trying to fit that square peg into a round hole, that being Cultural Context. The points she made are relevant in their substance, but they need to be reframed. Make it about gender, not about a literary technique. As a secondary, style thing you can mention the significance of dialogue.)

In conclusion it is clear that the aspects point of view, dialogue and setting affected the characters behaviour in Aqua Traverse and influenced my response to the text. (I would make this essay about 10-20% longer and base it around gender, status, values, community, etc.)

(b) Compare the extent to which the above statement is applicable to at least one central character in each of two other texts on your comparative course. Support your answer with reference to your chosen texts.


The above statement is applicable to “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and all “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller. The worlds in which both texts are set affect the behaviour of central characters. Many aspects of both texts affect the characters behaviour these aspects gave me an insight in to the world of the text and why the characters behave why the way they do. This influenced my response to both texts as it explained why certain events took place in both texts.

Firstly, the point of view shapes the world of the text as it gave me an insight in to the society which the characters lived in. “The Great Gatsby” is a first person narrative narrated by Nick Caraway as he reflects on his summer of 1927. He is an overt narrator and is present in the text yet not anyway instrumental in the events that occur. Nick’s point of view is a series of flashbacks. These flashbacks seem distant. This distance is not only his distance with the period of time in which the events occur, but it conveys the distance the central characters display their own thoughts. (Pure Literary Genre.) This point of view influenced my response to the events that take place as it highlighted the effect the world of this text had on the behaviour of the central characters as they are unaware of the consequences of their actions. Each action is just a distant memory. Unlike “The Great Gatsby”, the play “All My Sons” is a third person narrative. The play contains staged directions which reveal the characters actions and emotions. This influenced my response to the text as it revealed the behaviour of the central characters. A key moment which portrays this is when Joe Keller discovers George Deever is visiting, “stands on the porch, turns and walks in the house, slamming the door behind him” (can't verify this quote). These stage directions clearly depict Keller’s emotions of rage yet fear. These directions also influenced my response to the events that take place in this play as they suggest Joe Keller has something to hide about the faulty plane parts. This creates tension and suspense at the end of Act 1. (Stage directions are unlikely to ever be relevant to Cultural Context. Another Literary Genre digression.)

Secondly, the setting influenced my response to the events that take place in both texts as it portrayed why such events took place. “The Great Gatsby” is set in the “Roaring 20’s” an era of wealth, prosperity and elitism. The wealthy characters lived in Long Island just off the City of New York. There were two eggs “East Egg” and “West Egg”. “East Egg” differed from “West Egg” as it was wealthier. The less fortunate characters lived in “The Valley of Ashes”, a dilapidated area covered in grey dull ashes. (Don't retell the story). It was deprived of any claim to wealth. This setting clearly portrays why Myrtle Wilson committed adultery with Tom Buchanan a wealthy billionaire living in “East Egg”. (Big generalisation that may offend people. Would be a good idea to rephrase this by making it more about Myrtle, rather than explaining the entire affair with just her social background.) This influenced my response to the events that take place in the text as it explained why the adultery took place. Also the setting of “West Egg” was ironic as it was obviously directly across from “East Egg”. This gave Gatsby a motive to rekindle his love with Daisy. (Gatsby's motive was set far deeper than being an overly affectionate neighbour.) This setting influenced my response to the text as it clearly portrayed the division in society and “The American Dream”. It is because of this dream that the characters are affected by the setting and behave the way they do. Similarly “All My Sons” is set in a wealthy society. An unspecified American neighbourhood during post World War II. The setting of this play is ironic as it seems like an idyllic and friendly neighbourhood, but evidently it is masked by the corrupt events which took place during World War II. Everyone in the neighbourhood truly knew that Keller was responsible but instead secretly judged his actions. This setting helped me understand the actions of Joe Keller as in his society wealth is everything. “I did it for the business, I did it for you, Chris” (this is a misquote).

Finally, the dialogue expressed influenced my response to both texts as it gave me an insight into the characters attitudes and portrayed why they behaved the way they did in the world of the text. In “The Great Gatsby” Nick effectively portrays the dialogue of both Daisy and Tom Buchanan. Daisy’s dialogue is very childish and innocent, “She gave an absurd little laugh"she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh". She expresses to Nick that she was glad and her child, Pammy, was a girl as she can be nothing but “a beautiful little fool” in the elite world this text is set in. This influenced my response to this text as it conveyed the inferior role of women in society and explained why Daisy never accused Tom of his affair with Myrtle Wilson. Daisy conveyed the typical stereotype of women in the twenties, sit pretty and say nothing. Tom Buchanan was portrayed as a powerful, superior male with all of the trimmings, handsome physique, a mansion of a house and a quiet wife. His dialogue portrayed his elitism, “It is a fine place I have got here” (Don't think he ever said that...) Yet Tom nervously blinks his eyes. This portrays Tom’s behaviour as he is not the family man he portrays to be. The dialogue influenced my response to the text as it helped me to understand the behaviour of both Daisy and Tom. Unlike Daisy in “All My Sons”, it is clear through her dialogue that Kate plays a dominant role in her marriage. She is not the stereotypical female. She warns Joe to be smart, "be smart now, Joe. The boy is coming. Be smart". She emphasises this as she knows that Keller is worried about George Deever’s visit. This influenced my response to the events that took place in this text as it engaged me and created feelings of tension and suspense throughout the play because of Joe’s behaviour.

In conclusion it is clear that the above aspects shaped my opinion on the world of “The Great Gatsby” and “All My Sons” as they explained why the characters behaved the way they did. (The references back to the question are welcome, but here the author does a bit too much of it. 1/2 - 2/3 of what she did would be fine.)

Cultural Context - I'm Not Scared, The Great Gatsby, All My Sons for Leaving Cert English
Image: Warner Bros

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