Father figures

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Unit 1 - | Corpus Sujets - 1 Sujet   Father figures

Séries générales • LV2



Mythes et héros


Liban • Mai 2013

Séries générales • LV2

text 1

Martin Shaw: my family values

The actor talks about his family.


Martin Shaw: “It takes a while to understand how much your parents have taught you.”

ph© Rex Features

My parents, Jo and Frank, were very young - 19 and 21 - when they married, and that shaped our family dynamic. There never seem­ed to be a huge gap between us there wasn’t that inter-­generational distance that many parents and children struggled with. When I was a teenager, they were only 20 years older than me and were still into rock’n’roll too. It made it easier for us to be friends. They were also very open-hearted and forward-looking, not old-fashioned at all. There wasn’t a time when we weren’t close.

My dad was a non-conformist, and I must have absorbed some of that along the way. We lived in Erdington, Birmingham with my maternal grandparents until I was seven. It probably felt cramped for the adults, but as a child it was lovely having so many people around. It was a happy, safe place. My grandmother, Agnes, was picture perfect. One of these jolly, roly-poly ladies who cooks and hugs. It gave me the best childhood.

I was fascinated by my grandfather. He was a gunsmith. He made bespoke1 guns at a time when Birmingham was the centre of the trade. His shed was always out of bounds, but there was a hole in the door I would peep through and watch him at work. It was such a beautiful thing to see. Like many of his generation, Grandad was a man of few words, but they were often funny ones. I remember my dad driving us somewhere and pointing out, “We’ve just passed the oldest pub in England,” to which my grandad replied, “Why ”

Claire Donnelly, in The Guardian, Saturday 25 August 2012.

1. bespoke: made to measure.

text 2

Inventing imaginary worlds

It was not hard to love Uncle Victor, however… The food was worse than it had been with my mother, and the apartments we lived in were shabbier and more cramped, but in the long run those were minor points. Victor did not pretend to be something he was not. He knew that fatherhood was beyond him, and therefore he treated me less as a child than as a friend, a diminutive and much-adored crony1. It was an arrangement that suited us both. Within a month of my arrival, we had developed a game of inventing countries together, imaginary worlds that overturned the laws of nature. Some of the better ones took weeks to perfect, and the maps I drew of them hung in a place of honor above the kitchen table. The Land of Sporadic Light, for example, and the Kingdom of One-Eyed Men. Given the difficulties the real world had created for both of us, it probably made sense that we should want to leave it as often as possible.

Not long after I arrived in Chicago, Uncle Victor took me to a showing of the movie Around the World in 80 Days. The hero of that story was named Fogg, of course, and from that day on, Uncle Victor called me Phileas as a term of endearment – a secret reference to that strange moment, as he put it, “when we confronted ourselves on the screen.” Uncle Victor loved to concoct elaborate, nonsensical theories about things, and he never tired of expounding on the glories hidden in my name. Marco Stanley Fogg. According to him, it proved that travel was in my blood, that life would carry me to places where no man had ever been before. Marco, naturally enough, was for Marco Polo, the first European to visit China Stanley was for the American journalist who had tracked down Dr. Livingstone “in the heart of darkest Africa” and Fogg was for Phileas, the man who had stormed around the globe in less than three months. It didn’t matter that my mother had chosen Marco simply because she liked it, or that Stanley had been my grandfather’s name, or that Fogg was a misnomer, the whim of some half-literate American functionary.

Paul Auster, Moon Palace, 1989.

1. crony: old friend.


Text 1

1 What kind of document is it

2 What are the main character’s name and job

3 Why did the narrator feel especially close to his parents Answer in your own words. Give three elements.

4 Right or wrong Justify your answers by quoting from the text.

1. The narrator’s grandfather’s job was quite unusual in Birmingham at the time.

2. The narrator used to work with his grandfather.

3. His grandfather spoke a lot.

Text 2

1 1. Give the narrator’s full name.

2. How are the two main characters related

2 Does Victor belong to a rich family Justify your answer by quoting from the text.

3 Why do Victor and the narrator develop “a game of inventing countries” (30 words)

Both texts

1 Is the scene set in the same country in texts 1 and 2 Justify your answer with two quotations.

2 1. In your own words, say what the narrator in text 1 felt toward his grandfather.

2. Did the narrator in text 2 experience the same kind of feelings toward his uncle Explain. (30 words)

Seuls les candidats de la série L répondront aux questions 3 et 4.

3 What do the narrators in texts 1 and 2 have in common (20 words at least)

4 “It takes a while to understand how much your parents have taught you” (text 1). Would you say that this quote also applies to the relationship between the narrator and Victor in text 2 (20 words at least)


> Les candidats des séries ES et S traiteront l’un des deux sujets au choix. (200 mots environ, +/– 15 mots)

Les candidats de la série L devront obligatoirement traiter les deux sujets. (300 mots au total, soit 150 mots pour chaque sujet, +/– 10 mots)

1 Text 1, line 9: “My dad was a non-conformist”. Do you think it is always necessary to conform Illustrate your answer with examples.

2 A few years later, the narrator in text 2 writes a letter to Victor after he has seen a movie in which the hero has particularly impressed him. Write the letter he sends him.

Texte 1

La source

The Guardian est un journal britannique considéré comme faisant partie de la presse dite « de qualité ». Fondé en 1821, devenu quotidien en 1956, il se veut politiquement indépendant bien qu’il soit généralement considéré comme orienté centre gauche. Dans une série d’articles intitulée My Family Values, différents journalistes, dont Claire Donnelly, interviewent des personnalités au sujet des valeurs familiales qui ont influencé leur vie.

Pour en savoir plus :


Le thème

L’homme interviewé est Martin Shaw, acteur britannique au théâtre comme à la télévision. Il est devenu mondialement célèbre dans les années 1970-1980 grâce au film Les Professionnels, notoriété renforcée en 2000 avec la série télévisée Judge John Shaw. Martin Shaw évoque sa famille : il parle d’abord de ses parents, qui étaient très jeunes  puis de sa relation avec eux, une relation de grande proximité étant donné l’écart d’âge minime  et ensuite de son enfance heureuse avec ses grands-parents maternels. Shaw admirait son grand-père, qu’il trouvait fascinant  ce dernier était en quelque sorte son idole.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Gap, l. 3 (écart)  to struggle, l. 4 (lutter)  to be into rock’n’roll, l. 6 (ici : le rock’n’roll était leur truc)  old-fashioned, l. 7 (vieux jeu)  cramped, l. 11 (à l’étroit)  roly-poly, l. 14 (rondelet, enveloppé)  gunsmith, l. 16 (armurier)  trade, l. 18 (commerce)  out of bounds, l. 18 (accès interdit)  to peep, l. 19 (regarder furtivement)  to point out, l. 22 (faire remarquer, indiquer).

Texte 2


Paul Auster (né en 1947, américain) est écrivain et réalisateur, auteur d’œuvres post-modernistes. Ses œuvres traitent de la question de l’identité et de la découverte de soi. L’intrigue de son roman intitulé Moon Palace se situe dans les années 1960. On y suit l’orphelin Marco Stanley Fogg, à la recherche des clés qui pourraient lui donner accès à son passé et ainsi l’aider à trouver une réponse à l’énigme de son destin.

Pour en savoir plus : https://www.famousauthors.org/paul-auster

Le thème

Marco Stanley Fogg, orphelin, est élevé par son oncle Victor après ce que l’on devine être le décès de sa mère. Son oncle ne se sent pas capable d’assumer un rôle de père, il traite son neveu plutôt comme un ami. Leurs conditions de vie sont difficiles, ils sont apparemment assez pauvres mais tous deux inventent des jeux, se réfugiant dans l’imaginaire face à la dure réalité de l’existence.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Shabby, l. 3 (miteux)  in the long run, l. 3 (à la longue)  to pretend, l. 4 (faire semblant)  to be beyond someone, l. 5 (être au-delà des capacités de quelqu’un)  to suit, l. 7 (arranger)  to overturn, l. 9 (renverser)  a term of endearment, l. 19 (un terme d’affection)  expound, l. 22 (disserter)  misnomer, l. 32 (erreur  ici : terme inapproprié)  whim, l. 32 (caprice).

Les points de convergence

Dans chacun de ces deux textes, un homme adulte se rappelle son enfance et les personnes qui ont influé sur la façon dont il s’est construit.

Martin Shaw se souvient avoir eu une enfance heureuse avec des parents très jeunes et non-conformistes − qui semblent avoir joué le rôle de grands frères plus que de parents mais qui ont forgé ainsi la personnalité qui est la sienne aujourd’hui − et des grands-parents (il évoque en particulier son grand-père) aimants.

Marco Fogg raconte une enfance assez pauvre quoique non malheureuse, avec un oncle dénué de fibre paternelle qui, devenu son tuteur, joue auprès de lui un rôle d’ami plus que de parent.

Dans les deux textes il est question de la recherche de la figure paternelle.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Pistes de recherche

Être conformiste, ou non-conformiste, est une question qui se pose à tout individu à un moment ou un autre de sa vie : à l’école, au travail, dans la société en général. Même si la loi en France interdit la discrimination selon le sexe, la race, l’âge, la sexualité, dans la vie courante ce sont les modes de vie du plus grand nombre qui sont la norme, et qui font souvent loi. Les gens ont tendance à se méfier de toute personne différente de cette norme. Selon sa personnalité et sa force de caractère, selon ses convictions aussi, on peut soit choisir de se conformer à cette norme, taire ses désirs et gommer ses différences afin de faire comme tout le monde, soit rester fidèle à soi-même et, éventuellement, s’employer à expliquer ses choix afin de se faire accepter tel que l’on est.

On peut citer à titre d’exemple des femmes ayant occupé ou occupant un poste à responsabilité où elles exercent un pouvoir (politique ou autre), des personnes homosexuelles vivant en couple, ou toute autre situation où l’on sort des chemins battus.

Vocabulaire utile

Worry (inquiétude)  code of conduct (code de conduite)  to fit in (s’intégrer)  to tease (se moquer)  to face, to be confronted with (être confronté à)  to follow the crowd (suivre le mouvement, faire comme tout le monde).

Le sujet d’expression 2

Pistes de recherche

On peut imaginer que Marco, parvenu à l’âge adulte, s’est rappelé à l’occasion de ce film son enfance avec son oncle. N’oubliez pas d’employer would à valeur de prétérit modal quand Marco racontera ce qu’il avait l’habitude de faire avec ce dernier. Il pourra se souvenir qu’ils inventaient des histoires pleines d’aventures et de voyages, qu’ils vivaient également à travers les héros de films. Marco aura pu voir un film racontant l’histoire d’un nouvel aventurier : par exemple Seul au Monde (Cast Away), réécriture du mythe de Robinson Crusoé, ou Les Voyages de Gulliver, ou encore un film de science-fiction où les héros partent à la découverte de nouvelles planètes. Marco pourrait renouer avec ses rêves d’enfance et, pourquoi pas, proposer à son oncle de partir réellement en voyage, pour vivre de nouvelles aventures.

Vocabulaire utile

To take someone back (ramener quelqu’un en arrière, à des souvenirs passés)  childhood (enfance)  to make up (inventer)  to set sail (prendre la mer)  a reluctant hero (héros malgré lui)  to manage to (réussir à)  to get someone down (déprimer).



Text 1

1 The first document is a newspaper article, an interview.

2 The main character’s name is Martin Shaw. He is an actor.

3 Because there isn’t much of an age gap between them: only 20 years. They like the same music. His parents were modern and young, not old-fashioned at all.

4 1. Wrong: “Birmingham was the centre of the trade” (l. 17).

2. Wrong: “His shed was always out of bounds, but there was a hole in the door I would peep through and watch him at work” (l. 18-19).

3. Wrong: He “was a man of few words” (l. 20-21).

Text 2

1 1. His full name is Marco Stanley Fogg, but his uncle calls him Phileas.

2. Victor is Marco’s uncle, probably his mother’s brother.

2 Wrong: his apartment was “shabbier and more cramped” (l. 3).

3 In order to escape from the harsh reality of their lives, Victor and the narrator create this game. It also has a reference to his full name that is linked to explorers.

Both texts

1 No, the first document is set in England – as we can see line 10: “We lived in Erdington, Birmingham” – whereas the second is set in the USA: “Not long after I arrived in Chicago” (l. 16).

2 1. The narrator feels a mixture of admiration and adoration for his grand­father. He is fascinated by this man who does an interesting job and always has something amusing to say.

2. Marco’s feelings for his uncle are more complicated. He was fond of his uncle but didn’t really look up to him as an example, more like an older brother or friend.

Uniquement pour les candidats de la série L

3 The narrators in both texts are both reminiscing about their childhoods. More specifically, the relationships the young men had with the adults that were responsible for them.

4 I think this quote is very suitable: when the narrator was a child, he appreciated the games he played with his uncle, who had taken him in after he lost his mother, but surely now he is older he realises why his uncle, who was not the fatherly type, did all this and how it shaped his personality.


1 Guidelines

Conformity is a constant worry from generation to generation. Each society has different codes of conduct that one must adhere to and respect. Conform­ity is certainly an important aspect of life especially for young people: fitting in is an essential part to being accepted at school for example. Teenagers who are ‘different’ either physically or mentally or have tastes and hobbies that don’t fit in with the norm often find it difficult to find their place and make friends. They can be the object of mockery and teasing by their class mates: an obvious example is young people who are unsure of their sexuality or who come from very strict backgrounds.

Once you are part of the adult world, the choice not to conform is often an easier one to make. People can still be confronted with discrimination and problems fitting in both in the work place and in certain communities. For example a woman who gets promoted to an important role often has to face criticism or unwanted attention in this all male world: just think of how Margaret Thatcher must have felt when she first set foot in the House of Commons as the only female MP!

Being a non-conformist means making the choice to be different and intentionally not following the rules. Conforming is a choice not an obligation. Not conforming can be the opportunity to make a stand for your rights: as a woman, as the representative of an ethnic minority, as a homosexual or quite simply the right to do what you want to and follow your heart rather than following the crowd.

2 Guidelines

1111 East 60th Street


Illinois 60637

July 5th

Dear Victor,

I just had to write, I’ve been thinking about you all day! I went to see a movie last night which took me back to my childhood: to all the stories we used to make up together and the adventures we would imagine together. Do you remember

I went to see Gulliver’s Travels. I mean I’ve heard the name before but it wasn’t one of our favorites was it Jonathan Swift really was a genius! I mean the idea that Gulliver sets sail across the ocean and meets all sorts of people: from giants to tiny people. It was amazing! Not like thebrave adventurers that we fantasized about, more of a reluctant hero than anything else. But he manages to make the different inhabitants believe his stories and has experiences and adventures like no-one else!

It really makes me want to put our dreams to the test, to go explore the world and see if I can match up to Gulliver or Marco Polo or dear Phileas. How about it You and me I mean, this job is beginning to get me down and I’ve earned enough cash to take a few months off. It’ll be my treat! You can be Gulliver just like I’m Phileas!

Let me know what you think.

With Love and Best Wishes as always