Fascinating Titanic

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Document 1 : The largest steamers in the world


White Star Line steamer sailing among other steamboats1and sail­ing ships2in New York City harbour, 1912

1. Steamboat: bateau à vapeur.

2. Sailing ship: voilier.

Document 2 : Working on the Titanic

Southampton, England

April 10, 1912

Helen Walsh was a short, slight woman with a permanent air of dissatisfaction about her. She fussed around her son now, brushing flecks of dust from his trousers and stray hairs from the shoulders of his jacket. He smiled at her, glad of the attention she paid to him and pleased to see the unmistakable look of pride on her face, pride in the fact that her son was to work as a steward on Titanic’s maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

“Not bad, love, not bad at all... for a Walsh,” she replied, tugging at his waistcoat to remove a slight pucker1and pulling at his cap to straighten it. “Now, you remember to work hard, Harry Daniel Walsh,” she chided, “and mind that you look after those third-class passengers just the same as you would any of those wealthy Amer­icans. The poor might not have the hats and the fancy shoes, but they deserve to be treated good ’n’ proper, you hear ”

With her family roots set deep within the working-class society of Southampton’s docks, Helen Walsh had no time at all for the stuck-up American millionaires and socialites2who, it was believ­ed, had chosen to sail on Titanic to make business contacts or to give them something to boast about at one of their dinner parties. Nevertheless, her background didn’t prevent her from being a proud mother, and she was absolutely delighted that her son was going to be one of the three hundred stewards who would work on this much-talked-about ship, taking great pleasure in telling all her friends and neighbors about it. And although the gossip-loving, spying-on-the-neighbors part of her would have quite liked to know exactly how ostentatious the first-class accommodations were, she was especially pleased that Harry had been assigned to steerage class, to look after people like themselves.

Despite his mother’s obvious delight that it would be Titanic that he would sail on, it hadn’t actually been Harry’s intention to work on the ship at all. He’d originally been assigned to work on a smaller liner, the Celtic, which should have left Southampton a week ago. As a result of the coal strike, she had been berthed3, along with most of the other transatlantic liners. Harry had got word, just a week ago, that he had been reassigned and would now work a round trip on White Star Line’s impressive new ship, Titanic.

Hazel Gaynor, The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic, 2014.

1. Pucker: faux pli. 2. Socialites: famous upper-class people spending a lot of time at fashion­able social events. 3. Berthed: immobilisé à quai.

Document 3 : Enjoying life aboard the Titanic

To Lily May Futrelle, her fellow travelers were “a rare gathering of beautiful women and splendid men.” A rare gathering it was—liner historians report that no other passenger list of the period ever featured quite as many celebrated names. For Lady Duff Gordon, the Titanic was “a small world bent on pleasure.” And it was indeed a smaller world than ours—the populations of the United States and Canada were a third of what they are today (and Great Britain’s a third less), and wealth and influence were concentrated in much tighter circles. Those who made ocean crossings regularly found acquaintances1 on the first-class passenger list.

But “bent on pleasure” There was certainly a contingent of the transatlantic leisured rich on board, a recently evolved class of Americans who kept homes in Paris or regularly made the crossing for the winter “season” in London or on the Continent. But many of the liner’s first-class cabins were occupied by hardworking high achievers. The artist Frank Millet, for example, was on his way to Washington to help decide on the design for the Lincoln Memorial. His friend, White House aide Archie Butt, was heading home to prepare for a grueling presidential election campaign. [...] Lady Duff Gordon herself was a leading British couturiere who had urgent business to tend to at her New York salon. Within their lives and those of others on board can be found a remarkable convergence of the events, issues, and personalities of the age, forming what Walter Lord called “an exquisite microcosm of the Edwardian world2”.

Hugh Brewster, Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: the Titanic’s First-Class Passengers and their World, 2012.

1. Acquaintance: someone you know. 2. Edwardian era: period during which King Edward VII reigned (1901-1910), often associated with the glorification of luxury.

compréhension 10 points

Document 1

11. What is the function of this document

2. What type of passengers does this document target

2 Compare and contrast the steamer in the middle with the other ships (two elements).

What impression is conveyed

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L composant au titre de la LVA.

3 Focus on the Statue of Liberty in the background. Why is it associated with the ship

Give two elements.

Document 2

41.How are Helen and Harry related

2.Describe Helen’s attitude towards Harry. Justify with elements from the text.

5 Why is it a special day (two elements)

6Explain what Harry’s job consists in.

7How does Helen feel about Harry’s job Choose two adjectives and justify each answer with a quote.

honoured – indifferent – dissatisfied – enthusiastic – jealous

8True or false Justify each answer with a quote.

1. Harry will work with all types of passengers.

2. A lot of people were recruited to work on the ship.

3. Rich passengers are said to travel exclusively for pleasure.

4. Harry volunteered to sail on the Titanic.

9Focus on Helen.

1.What is her social background

2.Focus on lines 12 to 16. What are the two pieces of advice Helen gives Harry

How may her advice be related to her social background

10 Explain Helen’s ambivalent feelings about the upper-class. Justify with two quotes.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L.

11 How important is Harry’s new workplace...

1. for Harry himself

2. for Helen

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L composant au titre de la LVA.

12 In this context, what do the ways in which Helen calls Harry (“a Walsh”, l. 10, and “Harry Daniel Walsh”, l. 12-13) say about how she feels about the situation

Document 3

13 What type of passengers does the document focus on

14 Justify each of the following sentences with a quote.

1. Lily May Futrelle admired first-class passengers.

2. There were famous people on board.

3. Passengers often knew each other.

15 Focus on lines 14 “But many…” to 21 “… her New York salon.”

1.Copy the grid and fill in the blanks.





for travelling





Election campaign


New York City


2.How is this category of people portrayed What makes them different from the other group mentioned in the document

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L composant au titre de la LVA.

16 Explain why the ship is described as “an exquisite microcosm of the Edwardian world” on l. 24.

Documents 1, 2 and 3

17 Using elements from all three documents, compare and contrast the primary function and social functions of the Titanic in all three documents.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L.

18 How do all three documents present the Titanic as an object of fascination

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L composant au titre de la LVA.

19 Comment on the importance of representation and theatricality in the three documents.

expression 10 points

Les candidat(e)s des séries ES et S traiteront au choix le sujet 1 ou le sujet 2. (200 mots)

Les candidat(e)s de la série L ne composant pas au titre de la LVA traiteront au choix le sujet 1 ou le sujet 2. (250 mots)

1Nelson Figgis / Nancy Little is a third-class passenger on the Titanic. While crossing the Atlantic, he / she writes in his / her diary about his / her motives for travelling and feelings about life on board.

2Joseph Bruce Ismay, the head of the White Star Line Company, delivers a speech for the departure of the Titanic. Write the speech.

 Les candidat(e)s de la série L composant au titre de la LVA traiteront au choix le sujet 3 ou le sujet 4. (300 mots)

3Famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson once said: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Discuss.

4Joseph Bruce Ismay, the head of the White Star Line Company, delivers a speech for the departure of the Titanic. Write the speech.

Les clés du sujet

Document 1

La source

La White Star Line, fondée à Liverpool en 1845, fut l’une des principales compagnies maritimes britanniques. Elle est surtout connue pour avoir été copropriétaire du Titanic.

Pour en savoir plus www.whitestarhistory.com

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Steamer : paquebot  accommodation : hébergement.

Document 2


Hazel Gaynor est britannique. Journaliste indépendante, elle écrit pour des journaux et magazines irlandais. The Girl Who Came Home, publié en 2014, est le premier de ses romans historiques, traduits dans plusieurs langues.

Pour en savoir plus : www.hazelgaynor.com

Résumé du texte

Harry est sur le point d’embarquer sur le Titanic où il va travailler comme steward. Sa mère, Helen, est aux petits soins pour lui et lui donne des conseils : travailler dur et bien s’occuper des passagers de troisième classe. D’origine ouvrière, elle est partagée entre sa conscience de classe et sa fascination pour le mode de vie luxueux des passagers de première classe.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To fuss (l. 2) : être aux petits soins  fleck (l. 3) : tache  maiden voyage (l. 8-9) : voyage inaugural  to chide (l. 13) : réprimander  fancy (l. 15) : chic  to deserve (l. 16) : mériter  stuck-up (l. 19) : snob  to boast (l. 21) : se vanter  gossip (l. 26) : commérages  steerage (l. 29) : entrepont.

Document 3


Hugh Brewster (1950-) est canadien. Après avoir publié des livres pour enfants tout en travaillant pour une maison d’édition, il est devenu romancier à plein temps.

Pour en savoir plus : www.hughbrewster.com

Résumé du texte

Le texte présente quelques-uns des passagers de première classe du Titanic. Certains voyagent pour le plaisir, d’autres se rendent aux États-Unis pour raisons professionnelles, mais ils ont tous en commun une vie luxueuse et raffinée.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To feature (l. 4) : inclure  to be bent on (l. 5) : avoir un penchant pour  achiever (l. 16) : personne qui a réussi  grueling (l. 19) : éreintant  to tend to something (l. 21) : s’occuper de.

Les points de convergence

Les trois documents évoquent le Titanic et l’image prestigieuse, luxueuse et fascinante que représentent la vie à bord et ses passagers.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Une direction possible

Le narrateur peut être un immigrant qui part pour les États-Unis afin d’y trouver une vie meilleure. Pauvre, il n’a qu’un minimum de confort sur le navire. Il ne peut côtoyer les passagers des autres classes, mais peut ressentir et envier le luxe dans lequel ils vivent.

Key ideas

To spend all your money to buy a ticket  to hope to start a new life  you can’t afford a cabin  you have to spare on everything  first-class passeng­ers live gilded lives  to swear to be one of them one day.

Les sujets d’expression 2 4

Une direction possible

C’est le voyage inaugural du Titanic  le discours est donc bien sûr à la gloire du paquebot, de sa puissance, de sa modernité et de sa sécurité. Sans oublier les autres navires de la compagnie, dont Ismay fera la publicité. Il pourra insister sur la démocratisation des traversées transatlantiques, puisque les passagers de troisième classe sont admis à bord.

Key ideas

The most powerful, the most modern and the safest of the company’s steam­ers  a wonderful voyage across the Atlantic ocean  the luxury of life on board  the fastest link between the two continents  social progress in the accommodation of third-class passengers.

Le sujet d’expression 3 (LVA uniquement)

Une direction possible

Les voyages sont formateurs. Quel que soit le lieu où l’on va, ce qui compte, ce sont les rencontres humaines, la connaissance de cultures différentes de la nôtre, de nouvelles expériences, de nouveaux horizons différents du nôtre. Certains parcourent le monde et traversent de nombreux pays, d’autres explorent à fond un ou deux pays, d’autres encore voyagent dans leur propre pays pour en connaître les moindres recoins, mais, dans tous les cas, partir de chez soi apporte un nécessaire dépaysement et un grand enrichissement culturel et humain.

Key ideas

Whatever the place you visit, wherever you go, you’ll find something new to learn  what matters is what you learn on your way  what matters is leaving home for new horizons  a great personal improvement  to travel around the world or explore a single country in depth.



Document 1

11. This document is an advertisement for the White Star Line.

2. It targets passengers who cross the Atlantic but a special mention is made of poorer passengers (third-class), who can find accommodation.


En anglais, les navires sont féminins, donc ne pas utiliser it mais she/her.

2 The steamer is much larger than the other ships. There are smaller steamboats close by probably to tow her into and out of the harbour. In the background there are outdated sailing ships which seem to be becoming part of the past. This conveys an impression of modernity, great power and wealth.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA

3 The Statue of Liberty shows that the ship is in New York harbour. The ­statue was the first thing that immigrants and travellers coming from Europe saw when arriving in America. It was also a gift from France, and hence reminds us of this important relationship between the two continents.

Document 2

4 1. They are mother and son (l. 1).

2. She is very proud of his job as a steward on the Titanic (“the unmistakable look of pride on her face”, l. 7) and she protectively gives a final touch to the way he is dressed (“brushing flecks of dust from his trousers”, l. 4-5) and tells him how to behave with all passengers, whatever their class (“mind that you look after those third-class passengers […] Americans”, l. 13-15).

5 Harry is going to board the Titanic to start working as a steward on the ship’s first voyage. This is considered, at least by his mother, as an honour.

6He’s a steward, he will attend and serve third-class passengers.

7 Honoured: “pride in the fact that her son was to work as a steward on Titanic’s maiden voyage.”(l. 7-9)

Enthusiastic: “taking great pleasure in telling all her friends and neighbors.” (l. 25-26)

8 1. False: “Harry had been assigned to steerage class” (l. 29).

2. True: “three hundred stewards” (l. 24).

3. False: “had chosen to sail on Titanic to make business contacts” (l. 20).

4. False: it “hadn’t actually been Harry’s intention to work on the ship at all.” (l. 32-33) / “Harry had got word, just a week ago, that he had been reassigned” (l. 36-37).

9 1.She comes from the working class (“With her family roots set deep with­in the working-class society of Southampton’s docks”, l. 17-18).

2. She advises him to work hard and to treat third-class passengers the same as he would other passengers. As a member of the working-class she may have resented people from other classes looking down on her and want more dignity from her son she wants him to keep in mind where he comes from.

10 On the one hand, she has some contempt for the upper-class (“Helen Walsh had no time at all for the stuck-up American millionaires and socialites”, l. 18-19), on the other hand she is fascinated by the luxury they live in (“the gossip-loving, […] the first-class accommodations were”, l. 26-28).

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L

11 1.It is not so important for him, as in the first place he did not intend to work on the Titanic. Yet, he is happy that his mother is proud of him.

2.It is extremely important for Helen, as Harry will work on a prestigious ship and still keep his working-class values.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA

12 She is proud of their name and proud that a member of her family is going to work on that prestigious ship. It means social success not only for Harry but for his family.

Document 3

13 It focuses on first-class passengers.

141. “Her fellow travelers were ‘a rare gathering […] men’.” (l. 1-2)

2. “No other passenger list […] celebrated names.” (l. 3-4)

3. “Those who made ocean crossings […] passenger list.” (l. 9-10)

15 1.




Purpose for travelling

Frank Millet



Work on the design of the Lincoln Memorial

Archie Butt

White House aide


Election campaign

Lady Duff Gordon


New York City

Work at her New York salon

2. They are called “hardworking high achievers” (l. 15-16), they are going to the United States to work hard and earn their living unlike the other first-class passengers who are just “bent on pleasure” (l. 5), that is, travelling for the fun of it.

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16The first class on the Titanic gathers all sorts of people who, with the exquisiteness of artists and the wealth of successful businessmen. It exemplifies the upper-class Edwardian way of life and its glorification of luxury and refinement.

Documents 1, 2 and 3

17The Titanic’s primary function is to join the old and the new continents. In the first document the Titanic is shown as one of the largest steamers in the world, accommodating all classes of people, while in the second document, it is mainly seen as a place of work for Harry, mainly centred on third-class citizens. In the third document, it is a place where upper- and upper-middle-class people meet and socialise.

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18 The huge ship with New York and the Statue of Liberty in the background (document 1) represents mythic access to the USA, its opportunities and its powerful industry. It is also a fascinating work place, a splendid and prestig­ious work opportunity for Harry (document 2), and a place where the rich and famous can live a life most people can only dream of (document 3).

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA

19 The poster is meant to stage the Titanic as a ship that dominates all the others. Inside the ship is a world of appearances, of what you want to show other people: that’s why Helen wants Harry to be properly dressed and honour the name of the Walshes. Furthermore she is fascinated by the ostentation of the first-class world that Harry will travel with. As to the third document, it is precisely based on that ostentation, on the image of luxury, pleasure, somehow rather artificial, associated with the Edwardian times.


1 Dear Diary,

I spent nearly all my savings on a ticket to travel on the Titanic with the hope of starting a new life in the USA. I could not find work around Southampton so I decided to try my luck in America.

Un peu de vocabulaire

savings: des économies.

the deck: le pont d’un navire.

Life is not very comfortable on the steerage, espec­ially as we are heading North. I could not afford a cabin so I sleep on the deck. I spend as little as possible to keep as much of what is left of my money to survive in the USA. On the decks above we hear the sounds of music and laughter as first-class passengers spend their evening dancing and socialising. I saw them as we were all boarding the ship: artists, businessmen, millionaires who live gilded lives of their own, ignorant of what we are. They have plenty of their own stewards when we have just a few.

One day, thanks to one of the stewards, I managed to have a quick look at the first-class deck. I swore that one day I would be one of those people and that if I ever came back to Britain, it would be on this ship and on that deck.