Facing stereotypes (séries générales LV1)

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Unit 1 - | Corpus Sujets - 1 Sujet Facing stereotypes  

Séries générales • LV1


Formes de pouvoir




France métropolitaine • Septembre 2013

Séries générales • LV1

Text 1

“Never judge a book by its cover”

I stepped off the Marta rail at Five Points Station a little past eight o’clock on a Saturday evening. I had noticed previously on the train an older woman, perhaps in her mid sixties, staring at me with a look that suggested she was anything but content with my presence in the seat across from hers. As we exited the train she continued to make glances in my direction. Not those glances that you happen to make every now and then just to check your surroundings, but rather the type of glance you make when you know a dog’s loose, so you watch him to make sure he does not sneak and attack you. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable with me walking the same path as her yet in all actuality her apparent frightfulness of me made me somewhat uncomfortable as well. I quickened my pace and eventually passed her with a nod and a smile and continued on my way. The entire experience was nothing new for me in fact it has become somewhat of the norm, however it is something I could never completely get used to. For those who have never experienced a stereotype, I would be glad to lend my shoes for a day and let them experience one first hand.

Since the founding of this country, American society has been filled with stereotypes that label individuals based on physical appearance rather than personality or intellect. It was said by our forefathers that only men should be able to work and vote because women were incapable to do so. For nearly three hundred years it was ­believed that African-Americans were inferior to Caucasians due to the color of their skin. Here I stand a young African-­American male in the 21st century, still categorized by a society that knows nothing about me. I encounter atrocious stares from strangers who cannot seem to see past the baggy pants and dreadlocks. I am a ­sixteen-year-old student who will next year graduate with not only a high school diploma, but with an associates degree as well, yet I am labeled a criminal by so many due to the apparel I choose to wear. Am I not too a person born with the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” Should I be forced to compromise with America in order to be accepted in a society that was founded on the belief of individual free will

Givonte Latimore

Created on: February 09, 2008 Last Updated: February 10, 2008


Text 2

Never judge a man by his background

Alex Denholm was a pleasant enough man who could have been popular with his neighbours if it had not been for his queer streak. Alex had no sense of proportion. Until the neighbours got to know him they would hurry across to his farm to help him fix his tractor or his combine, only to find that there was nothing wrong with them Alex had actually stopped work in the middle of the wheat-sowing season to go inside to listen to the Music Lover’s Hour on the radio. And he would come out with his red hair standing up from the way he rumpled it in his excitement, his reddish-brown eyes glowing like fire, and his face, which was rugged and ruddy, shining in an absurdly delighted and boyish manner, to tell them he had just heard the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra playing Mozart’s E Flat Symphony.

Opinion about Alex’s wife was divided. Some said she was a heroine for putting up with him others that she was a fool for not leaving him.

The neighbours were very amused when they heard that Alex was getting an Italian prisoner-of-war to work for him.

‘That’ll be two of a kind,’ said some.

‘Don’t be too hard on the Ities1’, said the others.

The Control Centre men were a bit apologetic about the ­Italian they brought to Denholm’s place. He was a small, ­obsequious fellow, who looked exactly like a waiter in a second-rate Italian restaurant.

‘I don’t think he knows anything about farm work,’ said the sergeant-major, ‘but you’ll have no trouble keeping him in order.’

All the C.C. staff chuckled at this and Mario looked at them ­nervously, with his big soft brown eyes sliding from one to the other. Alex gave his prisoner a cheerful smile, as if he were sure he would discover some good in him. It did not take him very long. The very first night when he took him in to tea and they were both feeling awkward and embarrassed because they could understand only a few words of each other’s language, Alex switched on his radio to his usual programme of classical music. An orchestra was playing selections from Italian operas. Mario looked and listened with intense interest.

‘Rossini,’ he said.

‘Rossini good,’ said Alex.

‘Good! Good! Said Mario enthusiastically, and they smiled delightedly at each other. The orchestra played the first three notes of the next air and Alex shouted, ‘Mascagni!’

Mario looked at him admiringly. ‘Mascagni good!’ he said.

Eric Otto Schlunke, The Man Who Liked Music, 1965.

1. Ities : pejorative terms for Italians.


Text 1

1 Who is Givonte (3 items)

> Lines 1 to 14


1. What did the older woman do on the train, then on the platform

2. How did Givonte interpret the older woman’s attitude What did he believe she thought

3 What accounts for the older woman’s attitude towards him Answer in a few sentences and justify with three elements from the text.

> Lines 14 to 35

4 Was this an isolated incident for Givonte Justify your answer by quoting from the text.

5 What conclusions about America does Givonte draw from his ­experience Answer in a few sentences.

Text 2

1 Who are

1. Alex

2. Mario

Choose the relevant answers from the list below and copy them out. (Two items for each character)

a farmera mechanica music composera prisoner of wara Control Centre mana waitera music lover

2 How is Alex regarded by the community and why Answer in your own words.

3 Say whether the following statements are right (R) or wrong (W). Justify your choice by quoting from the text.

1. People in the neighbourhood thought Alex and Mario would not get on well.27052903c0bac50592b77dbd8c91e45d.png

2. Alex and Mario actually got on well.5bf706c59594369b2cfbc3314a1c3b23.png

Both texts

1 What do the older woman (text 1) and the neighbours (text 2) have in common Explain in a few sentences.

2 How do Alex and Givonte each deal with the way people see them Explain in a few sentences.

3 In what way can the title of text 1, “Never Judge a Book by its Cover”, apply to text 2 Explain in a few sentences.

Seuls les candidats de LVA répondront à la question suivante.

4 To what extent does the narrative technique contribute to denouncing preconceived ideas in both texts


> Les candidats traiteront les deux sujets. (150 mots au moins pour chaque sujet)

1 Can one give too much importance to physical appearance

2 Six months later, the Control Centre has to decide whether Mario should stay with Alex and his wife or not. They send the Sergeant-Major to meet Alex’s wife and ask her questions. Imagine their conversation.

Texte 1


Givonte Latimore publie sur helium.com, une plate-forme d’écriture en ligne qui existe depuis 2006.

Pour en savoir plus : https://www.helium.com.

Le thème

Aux États-Unis, un jeune noir de seize ans, brillant étudiant, raconte comment il a vécu le regard plein de crainte et de préjugés d’une femme d’un certain âge dans un train, un samedi soir. Il critique la société américaine qui, malgré les droits « inaliénables » inscrits dans sa Constitution, permet de le juger sur son apparence.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To stare, l. 3 (regarder fixement)  anything but content, l. 4 (tout sauf contente)  to make glances, l. 5-6 (jeter des coups d’œil)  the surroundings, l. 7 (l’environnement)  loose, l. 8 (lâché, détaché)  frightfulness, l. 11 (terreur)  to quicken the pace, l. 12 (accélerer le pas)  a nod, l. 13 (un hochement de tête)  to label, l. 20 (étiqueter)  free will, l. 35 (le libre arbitre).

Texte 2


Eric Otto Schlunke (prononcer « Slunky ») (1906-1960) est un auteur australien, d’origine allemande, ancien agriculteur qui s’est inspiré de la vie rurale pour ses écrits.

Pour en savoir plus :


Le thème

Alex Denholm est un fermier dont les voisins se moquent, à cause de son amour pour l’opéra et la musique classique. Lorsqu’Alex doit accueillir un prisonnier de guerre italien, stéréotype du serveur dans un restaurant italien, chacun spécule sur cette étrange confrontation. Mais le soir de leur rencontre, malgré la barrière de la langue, tous deux se découvrent une passion commune, celle de la musique classique.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Queer streak, l. 2 (une tendance bizarre)  a combine, l. 5 (une moissonneuse-batteuse)  the wheat-sowing season, l. 6-7 (la saison des semailles)  to rumple, l. 9 (ébouriffer)  to put up with, l. 15 (supporter)  apologetic, l. 21 (contrit)  to chuckle, l. 27 (glousser)  to slide, l. 28 (glisser).

Les points de convergence

Les deux textes abordent le thème des idées préconçues et des stéréotypes, du jugement, selon leur apparence, sur ceux qui sortent de la norme.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Pistes de recherche

Comme le prouve le premier texte, il ne faut pas se fier nécessairement aux apparences pour juger quelqu’un. Pourtant notre société impose d’accorder de l’importance à l’apparence, si l’on veut éviter d’être jugé trop hâtivement. Mais à trop y consacrer d’attention, on peut en arriver à oublier « le fond », ce qui fait l’être, et rester dans le superficiel et le m’as-tu-vu…

Vocabulaire utile

Inner qualities (qualités intrinsèques)  physical appearance (le physique)  swank (m’as-tu-vu).

Le sujet d’expression 2

Pistes de recherche

Ce dialogue permettra de raconter ce qui s’est passé entre les deux hommes, d’un point de vue extérieur, mais bienveillant. Vous pourrez utiliser ce qui est dit dans le texte sur l’amitié improbable qui s’est immédiatement développée, puis imaginer la suite des événements : le travail aux champs suivi de conversations animées autour de compositeurs de musique classique...

Vocabulaire utile

To make friends (se lier d’amitié avec)  to share (partager)  to adapt to (s’adapter à)  to get used to + V-ing (s’habituer à).



Text 1

1 Givonte Latimore is a 16-year-old African-American student.

21. She stared at him on the train, and continued when she was on the platform.

2. Givonte felt that she was very suspicious and on her guard because she feared he might attack her.

3 This attitude seems to be due to the fact that she judges him from his appearance which fits a stereotype. Among the elements that make her biased, there are the colour of his skin (he is black), his youth (he is 16) and his dress sense (he is wearing baggy pants and has dreadlocks).

4 No, it wasn’t. He explains that “the experience was nothing new” for him (l. 14).

5 Givonte concludes that the American Constitution, which guarantees freedom for all, doesn’t grant everyone the right to dress as they like: as a young black citizen with dreadlocks, he is categorised as potentially dangerous, because of the stereotypes attached to his origins.

Text 2

11. Alex is a farmer (“work in the middle of the wheat-sowing season”, l. 6-7) and a music lover (“to listen to the Music Lover’s Hour”, l. 7, “Alex switched on his radio to his usual programme of classical music”, l. 33-34).

2. Mario is a prisoner of war (“Alex was getting an Italian prisoner-of-war to work for him”, l. 17-18) and a music lover (“listened with intense interest”, l. 35-36).

2 Alex is looked down on by the community, because he is different from them, and therefore is considered “queer”. The community doesn’t under­stand his passion for music, and mocks him for that.

31. Right: “The Control Centre men were a bit apologetic about the Italian they brought…” (l. 21-22), “All the C.C. staff chuckled at this” (l. 27).

2. Wrong: “they smiled delightedly at each other” (l. 39-40).

Both texts

1 The older woman and the neighbours judge from appearances. They are afraid of and don’t understand what is different from them.

2 Alex doesn’t seem to care about what people think of him, he goes his own way, whereas Givonte seems to be bothered about the others’ opinions even if they don’t seem to prevent him from dressing as he likes.

3 Text 2 shows that even if two people are different from the rest and stand out from the crowd, true friendship can be born even if it seems unlikely at first, thanks to an open-minded attitude.

Uniquement pour les candidats de LVA

4 The first text is a first-person narrative, and autobiographical. Thus we share the narrator’s viewpoint from the inside whereas the second text is a fictitious third-person narrative, and yet we notice the author also sides with Alex, describing him almost tenderly, as opposed to the group of farmers who criticize him.


1 Guidelines

In society, when you apply for a job for example, you have to pay ­attention to the way you look. A lot of people think that they will be judged from ­appearances, which are particularly important in some jobs. Others are very careful about the way they dress to please themselves and others. For them, it’s a matter of self-respect. Yet, the risk is to focus on one’s appearance at the expense of the rest we should all be aware that what counts is the inner qualities of a person.

2 Guidelines

Un peu de vocabulaire

Shrug: hausser les épaules

Harvest: moissons

It’s all Greek to me! C’est du chinois pour moi !

When the sergeant-major arrived, Alex’s wife was preparing dinner.

“Where’s your husband ” he asked.

She shrugged. “He must be in the fields, you know it’s the harvesting season. Mario is with him, if you want to know.”

“Mrs Denholm, we are considering having Mario stay at your farm longer than was first planned. How would you feel about that ”

She smiled. “Honestly, I have no objection. He has adapted to our life style perfectly, he has learnt a lot of words that make communication much easier, even if I must admit that one of the main conversation topics in this house is opera, music, legatto or pianissimo… It’s all Greek to me!”

The sergeant laughed.

“I guess Alex would agree with you on that.”

“Not on the fact that it’s Greek to him, no, but that he wishes he could keep Mario here with us, obviously!” she insisted.

“Well, thanks Mrs Denholm. I’ll let you know about our final decision.”