Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Anyone willing to help a bro out with his SL paper 1?

Recommended Posts

I am doing a practice paper 1 exam (N2008) for tomorrow's preparation. It would be great if someone can evaluate my paper and give me a score. We have not done any mock exams. So I am curious where I stand. If you want, just give an IB score out of 7, without any explanations.

In the Rear-View Mirror

Thinking about them as you saw them last,

you see them standing there behind your back,

leaning out into the road to wave goodbye,

lingering even as growing speed and distance

diminish them until they neatly fit

head to foot in the mirror-strip you glance at.

Tiny in your lengthening wake, still waving,

they could be nameless people on a postcard,

too far away for you to make out faces.

Then, at the first turn, they’re lost completely,

places taken by someone’s windbreak pines,

a split-rail fence, and then, as the wheel straightens,

nothing but empty road. Ahead of you

are towns where you will never know a soul,

exits following exits you will pass

and never take, amassing a stiff toll

finally to make good on. Fortunately

you carry along with you that higher-powered

reflective instrument that you can use

no matter how far down the road you’ve gone

to bring them back in view as large as life,

putting yourself in the picture, too, which makes

thinking about them as you saw them lasting.

Robert Shaw, Below the Surface (1999)


– On what particular common experience does the poet base his reflection in the poem?

– How does the poet use mirrors both literally and figuratively?

– How do the opening and closing of the poem contribute to its effectiveness?

– How are matters of size and distance important to the poem?

The poet, Robert Shaw narrates in his ballad, In the Rear View Mirror, a fleeting road journey as viewed from the rear view mirror. The rear view mirror is not directly referenced in the passage and is cleverly depicted as a reflective instrument which allows the reader to have varying interpretations of the poem. Using a chiasmus, he switches to the front screen view of the car to describe the unknown scenery and people around him. The unknown scenery and people are metaphorical for an unknown future. The ending of the poem mirrors the beginning; emphasizing the eternality of the people or actions in the past which can either be captured visually by a mirror or mentally in the form of memories. With the allegory of a rear view mirror, Shaw wants the reader to reflect upon their past experiences to learn and strive for a better future which is by default, unknown.

The poem is narrated in a second person view and in a blank verse with enjambments to depict the experiences of the poet which can be shared by the reader. In the first two sentences, “you” are used in proximity to establish connections with the reader. The phenomenon of people fading away as the car accelerates is a common experience that most people have had. By using the second person point of view, Shaw wants us to recall these experiences and understand the poem from their first person view. The use of repetitive present continuous tense, “thinking” (1), “standing” (2), “leaning” (3), “lingering” (4) creates a vivid imagery that is happening in real time. The repetition of consonance, “ing” adds a euphonic rhythm to the poem. The blank verse enjambments collectively with the use of simple words allow a smooth narrative such that the reader can empathise with the experiences of the poet.

Shaw creates a melancholy mood using negative words and depicts the road journey ambiguously to allow an allegorical interpretation of the road journey. With the use of diction such as “lingering” and “nameless people on a postcard”, the people waving goodbyes are illustrated to become distance until they are “lost completely” (10). The passing of people is parallel to the past experiences of a person. Just as memories are replaced by new ones, similarly, the disappearing people are replaced by “someone’s windbreak pines” (12). The enjambment abruptly ends with a caesura, “nothing but empty road (period) (13). The next phrase, “ahead of you” (13) signals the change in view from the rear view mirror to the front window; a conceit for change from hindsight to foresight. The road surroundings is now portrayed as barren, “exit following exits”(15) where you will “never know a soul” (14). These words further add to the melancholy of the poem and are allegorical for a barren future where the people and the unraveling fate are unknown.

Shaw mirrors the ending to the beginning completing the chiasmus and with the allegory of a rear view mirror explains to the reader the potential anecdote for an uncertain future. Using a second caesura, “good on” (period) (18), Shaw explains that fortunately, we have a “reflective instrument” (19). The ambiguous reference to this device can be presumed to be a rear view mirror based upon the title but can otherwise be interpreted as an allegory for the act of reflecting upon past experiences and memories. The next sentence mentions that no matter how down the road a person travels, he/she can bring “them” (21) back as “large as life” (21). Again, the vague reference to “them” can allow multiple interpretations. I think “them” refers to experiences and memories that a person has had over his/her life. With reflection, these experiences can become life like where even you are involved, no matter how far away from these memories, you are in life. The last line is a repetition of the first last with the modification of the word “last”(1) to “lasting” (23). This minute change in tense dramatically changes the meaning. The word, lasting conveys eternity, an everlasting feeling. Through this didactic sentence, the poet suggests that by recalling and reflecting upon memories, they are preserved in our brain. We can further learn from these past experiences to ameliorate our future.

Through the allegory of a rear view mirror, Robert Shaw illustrates how from reflecting upon past memories, a person can preserve them and use these experiences to resolve an unknown future. The melancholy mood is employed with the use of negative connoting words to portray the inevitable fleeting of the past and the unknown awaiting future. With the change of tense from last in the beginning to lasting in the end, the poet distorts time and creating the everlasting image of memories. After all, light upon mirrors is only a transitory effect to the eternal metaphysical capacity of memories.

Thank you my fellow brothers and sisters of IB. May the IB gods be with you for tomorrow the storms shall ravage upon our souls!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe your should suggest doing that over skype, because quite frankly that's a loooong passage. Aside from some embarrassing grammar that happens to the worst of us you need to focus on quality not quantity, flaunting a list of literary devices won't earn you as many marks as a deep comprehension of the poem. Thank you!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great Just check your spelling and such as well as try to not impress us we know your amazing just prove that you have an argument. Stick to that argument and run with it. Answer the question so what. I with yyou man I have my IB English Paper 1 tomorrow So yeah good luck mate.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall I think it actually reads pretty well, obviously you have time constraints so can't go more into detail.

I think it could do with a bit more personal interpretation (as the member above said), you've got quite a lot on structure but not so much on things like word choice which can add great feeling and emotion into a poem and also not a great deal of interpretation of anything beyond structural elements. Full marks for structural analysis! Less than full marks for language analysis.

Also I'm not sure if you understand what a Chiasmus is. You've not explained yourself as to where you think it is and reading the poem I can't spot one - if you claim you see a literary feature you must always EXPLAIN its impact and also explain what it is. A chiasmus has 4 component parts so you can't just say "there is a chiasmus here"...

Finally, your last line sounds very impressive but is actually a bit of a let-down because it doesn't mean anything.

After all, light upon mirrors is only a transitory effect to the eternal metaphysical capacity of memories.

If you're going to say something deep sounding at the end, make sure it makes sense!! Making sense is more important than being flowery with language. Talking nonsense in a flowery way is how you lose points, if anything :P Maximum impressiveness is clearly flowery language combined with sense. Aim for that OR for sense. Not for language without sense.

"After all, light upon mirrors is only a transient effect compared with the eternal capacity of memories." <-- does make sense.

I have no idea about grades, but best of luck. Remember to consider language as well as structural analysis and try to get some more personal interpretation in.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you. I was opting for SCASI organization of body paragraphs but I got lost after the 1rst one and just went chronological.

What do you suggest is a good way to organize body paras? Like is an important theme-like idea for each para viable? -where I can imbed techniques for that idea. I was also wondering if the topic sentences of ea para should adhere to the thesis.

I know it is a long read but could you just predict a grade?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...