When the arts bring people together (séries générales LV1)

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Unit 1 - | Corpus Sujets - 1 Sujet When the arts bring people together  

France métropolitaine 2014 • LV1 séries générales






France métropolitaine • Juin 2014

Séries générales • LV1

Text 1

Mr Fonseka: a very special teacher

The narrator recalls his sea voyage to England as a child.

His name was Mr Fonseka and he was travelling to England to be a teacher, I would visit him every few days. He knew passages from all kinds of books he could recite by heart, and he sat at his desk all day wondering about them, thinking what he could say about them. I knew scarcely a thing about the world of literature, but he welcomed me with unusual and interesting stories, stopping abruptly in mid-tale and saying that someday I should find out what happened after that. ‘You will like it I think. Perhaps he will find the eagle.’ Or, ‘They will escape the maze with the help of someone they are about to meet...’ Often, during the night, while stalking the adult world with Ramadhin and Cassius, I’d attempt to add to the bare bones of an adventure Mr Fonseka had left unfinished. […]

I tried to coax him up on deck a few times, but his porthole and what he could see through it seemed enough nature for him. With his books [. . .] as well as a few family photographs, he had no need to leave his time capsule. I would visit that smoky room if the day was dull, and he would at some point begin reading to me. It was the anonymity of the stories and the poems that went deepest into me. And the curl of a rhyme was something new. I had not thought to believe he was actually quoting something written with care, in some far country, centuries earlier. He had lived in Colombo1 all his life, and his manner and accent were a product of the island, but at the same time he had this wide-ranging knowledge of books. He’d sing a song from the Azores or recite lines from an Irish play.

I brought Cassius and Ramadhin to meet him. He had become curious about them, and he made me tell him of our adventures on the ship. He beguiled2 them as well, especially Ramadhin. Mr Fonseka seemed to draw forth an assurance or a calming quality from the books he read. […] Mr. Fonseka would not be a wealthy man. And it would be a spare life3 he would be certain to lead as a schoolteacher in some urban location. But he had a serenity that came with the choice of the life he wanted to live. And this serenity and certainty I have seen only among those who have the armour of books close by.

Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table, 2011.

1. Colombo = capital of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).

2. beguiled = charmed.

3. a spare life = a simple life.

Text 2

Fridays at the cinema

Together they focused on the film.

Pembe watched The Kid with wide-open eyes, the look of surprise on her countenance deepening with each scene. When Chaplin found an abandoned baby in a rubbish bin, and raised him like his own son, she smiled with appreciation. When the child flung stones at the neighbours’ windows so that the tramp–disguised as a glazier–could fix them and earn some money, she chuckled. When social services took the boy away, her eyes welled up with tears. And, finally, as father and son were reunited, her face lit up with contentment, and a trace of something that Elias took to be melancholy. So absorbed did she seem in the film that he felt a twinge of resentment. What a funny thing it was to be jealous of Charlie Chaplin.

Elias observed her as she unpinned her hair, and then pinned it back. He caught a whiff of jasmine and rose, a heady, charming mixture. Only minutes before the film came to an end, he found the nerve to reach out for her fingers, feeling like a teenager on his first date. To his relief, she didn’t move her hand away. They sat still–two sculptures carved out of the dark, both scared of making a move that would disrupt the tenderness of the moment.

When the lights came back on, it took them a few seconds to grow accustomed to real life. Quickly, he took out a notepad and wrote down the name of another cinema in another part of the town. “Next week, same day, same time, will you come ”

“Yes”, she faltered.

Before he’d found a chance to say anything else, Pembe leaped to her feet and headed towards the exit, running away from him and everything that had taken place between them, or would have taken place, had they been different people. She held in her palm the name of the place they were to meet next time, grasping it tightly, as if it were the key to a magic world, a key she would use right now were it in her power to decide.

And so it began. They started to meet every Friday at the same time, and occasionally on other afternoons. They frequented the Phoenix more than any other place, but they also met at several other cinemas, all far-away from their home, all unpopular. [. . .] In time he found out more things about her, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that he would complete only long after she had gone. [. . .]

Slowly he was beginning to make sense of the situation. This unfathomable, almost enigmatic attraction that he felt for her, a woman so alien to the life he had led, was like a childhood memory coming back.

Elif Shafak, Honour, 2012.


Text 1

1 Pick out three of Mr Fonseka’s activities during the voyage. Say what they have in common. Justify with at least three quotations.

2 Which four adjectives best correspond to Mr Fonseka’s personality Justify each with a quotation from the text.

kind – selfish – captivating – pedantic – serene – knowledgeable – boring – self-centred

3 Why does the narrator visit Mr Fonseka Choose the two statements that are correct and justify with a quotation for each.

1. They know the same authors.

2. Mr Fonseka is teaching him to read.

3. Mr Fonseka’s stories fascinate him.

4. Mr Fonseka is interested in the narrator’s life.

4 Say whether the following statement is right or wrong.

Mr Fonseka’s goal is likely to have a prestigious career.

Justify your answer with two quotations.

Text 2

1 What do the two characters do together Why Give three reasons using your own words.

2 “Together they focused on the film.” (l. 1) Explain briefly why this sentence is not equally true for both characters.

3 “to his relief, she didn’t move her hand away.” (l. 17-18)

“Pembe leaped to her feet and headed towards the exit, running from him …” (l. 25-26) Explain in a few words the change in the woman’s attitude.

4 What does Elias like about Pembe Choose the two statements that are correct and justify your choice with quotations from the text.

1. She is attractive.

2. She is assertive.

3. She is different from him.

4. She is funny.

5 “… they also met at several other cinemas, all far-away from their homes, all unpopular.” (l. 34-35) Why do you think they choose places that are distant from their homes Answer briefly in your own words.

Both texts

Les candidats de LV1 obligatoire traiteront les questions 1 et 2. Les candidats de LVA traiteront les questions 1 et 3.

1 What do the characters’ relationships have in common in both documents Give three elements.

2 Show how in both documents each of the characters has something to offer to the other(s).

31. In each document what differences or obstacles could keep the characters apart

2. What do the activities they share allow them to do


> Les candidats en LV1 obligatoire traiteront les sujets 1 et 2. Les candidats en LVA traiteront les sujets 1 et 3.

1 Pembe writes in her diary about her special relationship with Elias. (150 mots au moins)

2 How can differences between people enrich their relationships (150 mots au moins)

3 Art brings people together. Discuss. (150 mots au moins)

Texte 1


Michael Ondaatje (1943-) est un poète et romancier canado-sri-lankais. Il enseigne la littérature à l’université de Toronto. Ses œuvres, qui lui ont valu plusieurs prix littéraires, sont un mélange de factuel et de fictif, de poésie et de prose. Il est surtout connu pour son deuxième roman, The English Patient, qui a été adapté au cinéma avec Ralph Fiennes en tête d’affiche.

Pour en savoir plus : www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/michael-ondaatje

Résumé du texte

Le narrateur relate un épisode de jeunesse : sa rencontre avec un personnage très particulier qui a marqué son voyage en bateau du Sri Lanka à l’Angleterre. Cet homme, monsieur Fonseka, passionné de littérature, passait le plus gros de son temps dans sa cabine à lire, à réciter, à se préparer pour sa nouvelle vie de professeur à son arrivée en Angleterre.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To wonder, l. 4 (s’émerveiller, réfléchir)  scarcely, l. 5 (guère, à peine)  a tale, l. 7 (un conte, une histoire racontée)  to stalk, l. 10 (poursuivre)  the bare bones, l. 12 (= sens figuré : le minimum)  to coax someone to do / into doing something, l. 13 (amadouer qqn pour qu’il fasse qqch)  a porthole, l. 13 (un hublot)  dull, l. 17 (maussade)  wide-ranging, l. 23 (vaste)to draw forth, l. 28 (dégager).

Texte 2


Elif Shafak (1971-) est une romancière, née en France de parents turcs, qui écrit en anglais et en turc. Après avoir enseigné aux États-Unis, elle vit désormais en Turquie. Ses romans entremêlent les traditions de l’Orient et de l’Occident avec finesse et modernité. Elle a reçu de nombreux prix.

Pour en savoir plus : www.elifshafak.com/biography.asp

Résumé du texte

Une femme, Pembe, et un homme, Elias, sont au cinéma et regardent The Kid de Charlie Chaplin. Pembe est fascinée par le film et vit toutes les émotions du héros. Elias lui, est transporté par les émotions de son amie. Quand les lumières reviennent, l’attitude de la jeune femme change, elle quitte le cinéma précipitamment. Ils se donnent cependant rendez-vous tous les vendredis au cinéma. On comprend qu’ils vivent une relation compliquée à cause de leurs « différences ».

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To raise (a child), l. 4 (élever)  to fling, l. 5 (lancer)  a tramp, l. 6 (un clochard)  a glazier, l. 7 (un vitrier)  to chuckle, l. 7 (glousser)  to well up with tears, l. 8 (se remplir de larmes)  a whiff, l. 14 (une bouffée)  heady, l. 14 (enivrant)  to find the nerve, l. 15-16 (trouver le courage)  to grow accustomed to, l. 20-21 (s’habituer à)  to falter, l. 24 (hésiter)  to head towards, l. 26 (se diriger vers)  to grasp, l. 29 (empoigner)  unfathomable, l. 39 (insondable).

Les points de convergence

Les deux extraits montrent comment les arts peuvent rapprocher des individus, mêmes très différents.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Pistes de recherche

Il s’agit de rédiger une page de journal intime, écrite par la jeune femme du deuxième extrait. Pensez à présenter le sujet correctement : la date, des formules habituelles dans un journal intime. Pembe livre ses émotions, ses sentiments qui sont si évidents sur son visage lors du film mais qu’elle ne verbalise pas. Vous pouvez imaginer la raison de leurs rendez-vous secrets : des familles strictes, des différences d’origines sociales, culturelles ou autres.

Vocabulaire utile

To be over the moon (être aux anges)  to lose the plot (perdre la tête)  to approve of something/someone (accepter)  to hit the roof (sauter au plafond).

Le sujet d’expression 2 (LV1 obligatoire)

Pistes de recherche

Attention, on ne vous demande pas comment on peut enrichir une relation entre deux personnes mais comment les différences peuvent avoir un effet positif sur un couple ou sur des amis. Pensez aux exemples concrets, à l’idée de complémentarité.

Vocabulaire utile

Background (milieu, origines)  open-minded (à l’esprit ouvert)  a retired person (un retraité)  variety is the spice of life (la diversité est le sel de la vie).

Le sujet d’expression 3 (LVA)

Pistes de recherche

Pensez aux nombreux événements culturels ou artistiques (fête de la musique, concerts, expositions…) où se retrouvent les gens qui ont les mêmes goûts et qui sont aussi des occasions pour tous de s’ouvrir l’esprit et de partager leurs impressions.

L’art, sous toutes ses formes, permet de rassembler des gens du monde entier autour d’un message, de l’expression d’une idée politique, culturelle, etc. Pensez par exemple aux films « engagés » (The Great Dictator, de Chaplin), à la peinture de Norman Rockwell (réflexion sur les traditions et la culture américaines), etc. L’art, puisqu’il transmet des idées, aussi peut diviser. Pensez aux querelles autour des différents mouvements artistiques (l’impressionnisme à ses débuts par exemple). Qu’il divise ou réunisse, l’important c’est que l’art émeuve et fasse réfléchir.

Vocabulaire utile

Purpose (le but)  to gather (se rassembler)  taste (goût)  exhibition (exposition)  to share (partager).



Text 1

1 During the voyage, Mr Fonseka:

  • reads and tells stories: “he welcomed me with unusual and interesting stories”(l. 6)
  • he “recite(s) by heart” (l. 3)
  • and he sings “He’d sing a song from the Azores” (l. 23-24).

All these activities are related to literature, and the passion he obviously has in this domain.

2 – kind: “he welcomed me” (l. 6)

  • captivating: “he beguiled them” (l. 27)
  • knowledgeable: “he had this wide-ranging knowledge of books” (l. 23)
  • serene: “a serenity that came with the choice of life he wanted to live” (l. 31-32)

33. Mr Fonseka’s stories fascinate him: “It was the anonymity of the stories and poems that went deepest into me” (l. 17-19)

4. Mr Fonseka is interested in the narrator’s life: “he made me tell him of our adventures on the ship” (l. 26-27)

4 Wrong: “would not be a wealthy man” (l. 29), “it would be a spare life” (l. 30).

Text 2

1 The characters go to the cinema to watch a film together, in a location far from their own neighbourhoods. In fact, they enjoy watching films and spending time together but they want to meet secretly without other people knowing about it.

2 Actually, Pembe is completely captivated by the film whereas Elias is more concentrated on Pembe and her reactions to the film.

3 There is a clear difference in the way Pembe reacts to Elias in the darkness of the cinema compared to when the lights come back on. In the dark it seems that she feels protected because she knows that no-one else can see her holding his hand. When the lights are on she immediately becomes aware of other people around her and of the reality of their differences.

41.She is attractive: “He caught a whiff of jasmine and rose, a heady, charming mixture.” (l. 14-15)

3.She is different from him: “a woman so alien to the life he had led” (l. 39-40)

5 I think the reason for this choice is quite simply that they don’t want to be seen together! They want to keep their relationship secret. Perhaps they are forbidden to see each other by their families or by their communities.

Both texts

1 In both texts, the element that brings the two characters together is art: literature in the first document and cinema in the second. Through this common interest, they have something to share despite their differences.

Uniquement pour les candidats de LV1 obligatoire.

2 In the first text, Mr Fonseka shares his passion for literature with the narrator and in exchange the narrator tells him stories about his real life adventures on the ship.

In the second text, Elias takes Pembe to see films which captivate her and allow her to show her feelings. In return, Pembe makes Elias feel alive: she brings feelings that seem like memories to him.

Uniquement pour les candidats de LVA.

31. In text 1, the main things that keep the characters apart are the age difference, the level of education or perhaps the willingness to live real adventures or just read about them.

In text 2, we can imagine the problems are more related to their personal lives: perhaps differences between their families and the lives they have led until this moment for example.

2. The activities they share: reading or story-telling in text 1, going to the cinema in text 2, allow the characters to overcome their differences and break down the social barriers that separate them. It allows them to create a bond of friendship through a common interest.


1 Guidelines

Saturday 21st June

Dear Diary,

I saw Elias again last night, as usual. We went to the Phoenix: they play the best old movies there. I’m over the moon to have found someone with the same passion as me. My friends think I’ve lost the plot watching black and white films. But Elias understandsme completely. If only things were different. If only we could be more open about seeing each other. But there is no way my parents would approve of him. I mean, he’s much older than I am and we don’t even believe in the same God! Maybe that’s the reason why I enjoy spending time with him so much: he’s so different from the other boys, he knows so much about cinema and has helped me discover some of the great classics. He is so kind and pays so much attention to me. He held my hand last night and I let him, in the dark. My dad would hit the roof if he knew! It’s so exciting and scary at the same time.

I can’t wait for next week …

P x

2 Guidelines

Un peu de vocabulaire

to complement one another: se compléter.

Opposites attract, it’s a fact! Alpha and Omega, positive and negative, yin and yang! It’s the same for relationships: differences between people are what make relationships more interesting. Opposing elements complement each other.

Firstly, differences can be culturally enriching. When people come from different backgrounds it helps them be more open-minded and find out about new traditions and customs. For example a Muslim and a Catholic have very different ideas about religion and faith but essentially the same basic values in life as we can see in Ken Loach’s film Ae Fond Kiss.

Secondly, different personalities can enrich a relationship. Someone who is passionate and excitable could find a partner or friend who is more of an introvert has a calming influence on them.

Thirdly, having friends or partners that are not the same age as you are can allow you to discover different films or activities, and this in a reciprocal manner. For example a teenager and a retired person: the teenager could share information and skills regarding modern technology and the retired person could inform the youngster about old films or literature or simply about life experiences.

All in all, we can say that variety is the spice of life! Life would be so boring is everyone was the same and has the same opinion about everything. Learning about new things and hearing a different view from you own is a valuable asset to any relationship.

3 Guidelines

Art can be defined as the various branches of creative activity such as painting, literature, music and dance: activities that express certain tastes and passions.

The ultimate purpose of art is not to bring people together, but it is an un­avoidable consequence, because art is something that speaks to our emotions and enables us to celebrate similarities as well as differences. Many events are organised throughout the year that invite people to gather together and celebrate according to their tastes – festivals, musical performances, exhibitions and so on. These events thus become social gatherings which allow people to share and express their views on things – or are just the excuse to spend time together, like in slam sessions or street music.

The rise in popularity in activities such as book clubs and choirs allow people with the same passion to spend time together and cultivate those passions. Being surrounded by people with common values and sensibilities for certain activities is always a pleasure. As is the possibility of debating and exchang­ing ideas with people who don’t have the same vision of things as we do.

To put it in a nutshell, art is a question of taste and appreciation and if you have no-one to share your comments with, then what is the point