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English A1 EE on Agatha Christie novels, have ideas in mind but need help with RQ structures and how to form RQ from broad ideas?

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Hi guys! I am finally taking a few steps forward in my EE planning. I am going to do an English A1 EE, and specifically

Agatha Christie's crime novels (haven't decided which yet). I seriously need some help in formulating my RQ!

My questions about the RQ are the following:

1. Is it possible to investigate a particular technique in like three or more of her novels, or must I choose less than two books?

2. Is it possible to investigate two or more different techniques used in one (or more) of her novels?

Here's another thing: I am fascinated by two of her novels, And Then There Were None and Murder On The Orient Express

(the latter is in the IB prescribed book list). In both these novels, there are more unexpected endings.

SPOILER ALERT

In A.T.T.W.N, the murderer is a sadistic judge who kills murderers on his own using different methods.

In M.O.T.O.E, the murderers are a bunch of people, and they killed a kidnapper who caused a child's death and

direct/indirectly affected the people's lives forever.

I wanted to investigate the justification of what these murderers in the stories did, like are their actions of “killing” really

wrong or could it be argued that they are, in a way, right?

Unfortunately this sounds ultimately more like philosophy or something like that...so can anyone help me to structure

English EE questions based on the interesting endings above? Can I talk about the unexpectedness of the endings and how

they impacted the readers and the stories?

Extra RQ ideas I have thought up:

1. The use of different POVs and their effect

2. How did Agatha Christie use literary techniques (suspense, cliffhangers, red herrings, and sudden plot twists e.g second murder) to hook the readers and mislead them about the plot?

3. How did A.C use literary techniques/devices to create an atmosphere of suspense?

The thing that got me really interested in A.C's novels is how the case was built up from the first page, with clues and red herrings everywhere, and then the big “who-dun-it and how-it-happened” was revealed at the end, and I've never gotten the murderer right even though I've read so many of her books, and during the big revelation I will always go “why didn't I see that before? It was so obviously presented to me!”

Is there any way to get an RQ out of the above “reason of interest” in the books?

I know what I want to do but I'm so lost. If anyone can guide me on this I'd be eternally grateful.

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Wow, you're starting to think about your EE really early! Mine is due in 5 days and I haven't even finished yet!

That being said, I am doing English A1 HL (and obviously my EE is in English) so I can understand and answer some of your questions.

I've read both of the books you mentioned above, and think that Agatha Christie sounds like a unique and interesting albeit risky and hard author to do for your EE!

Firstly, if you can decide upon a technique then base your EE on that because all the markers' reports say that English EEs based on a particular technique always garner higher marks. That being said, I didn't do my EE on a particular technique and it's fine.

However, you CANNOT do your EE on several techniques in one book, as that gets way too hectic and scrambled.

I think your third RQ question, about Christie's use of literary techniques to build suspense, sounds like the best. Just make sure that you don't make the whole essay about justification etc as it cannot be overly TOK-related.

Enjoy writing - Bonne chance!

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Wow, you're starting to think about your EE really early! Mine is due in 5 days and I haven't even finished yet!

That being said, I am doing English A1 HL (and obviously my EE is in English) so I can understand and answer some of your questions.

I've read both of the books you mentioned above, and think that Agatha Christie sounds like a unique and interesting albeit risky and hard author to do for your EE!

Firstly, if you can decide upon a technique then base your EE on that because all the markers' reports say that English EEs based on a particular technique always garner higher marks. That being said, I didn't do my EE on a particular technique and it's fine.

However, you CANNOT do your EE on several techniques in one book, as that gets way too hectic and scrambled.

I think your third RQ question, about Christie's use of literary techniques to build suspense, sounds like the best. Just make sure that you don't make the whole essay about justification etc as it cannot be overly TOK-related.

Enjoy writing - Bonne chance!

Hi there, thanks for the response and advice! I know I'm way ahead of my schedule, the school is only going to start our EE planning next year but I thought that I'd better decide an RQ now and give myself plenty of time to research "casually" so that things are easier later when I do real research. :)

I have a couple more questions based on what you said:

1. Do you have any other information about what types of RQ for English A1 EE will more possibly get higher marks? I've read about what you should not write about (e.g comparing literary works to personal life of author), but nothing about what are good RQ that markers love/prefer.

2. In your opinion, why is A.C a "risky and hard" author to write about? I'm asking this because I haven't really really thought about the books in EE context, all I've thought so far is that she would be a good one for me as I've read more than 20 books of hers. Since you've read some, I'd like your opinion on this. :)

3. If I take on the RQ on the use of literary techniques to build suspense along the plot, would this mean that I'm doing several techniques which would, as you say, get very hectic/confusing? Or is the main technique we're talking about in this RQ here > suspense? (Sorry if I'm quite confused here).

And do you think it would be good to only do it on one particular novel, or a few novels to demonstrate clearer how she actually build suspense?

Thank you very much! Noticed that you're going to pursue a law degree, I am too! :D And I so wanted to do History HL but was not offered at my IB school. :(

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Hello again,

Yes planning your RQ and EE early are things that I wish I'd done and they definitely will help you :)

1. The markers' reports are surprisingly unhelpful, take a look at some of them online (the first link that comes up is one to the May 2011 markers' report). Basically, they include the obvious tips such as: ensure that your texts are originally written in English, that using films is risky, that dystopian fiction and Jane Austen is overdone, and that when choosing a contemporary novel you must ensure it isn't **** (like Twilight).

2. I am also quite familiar with Christie, as I've read all of her Poirot novels and a couple of her Miss Marple ones. 'Murder on the Orient Express' is my favourite, and I can understand how it would be a good basis for a RQ. Another one would be 'The Murder of Roger Akroyd', because the protagonist turns out to be the antagonist.

Christie isn't necessarily that risky or hard - in hindsight, my comment doesn't make much sense. Choosing Christie would definitely be unique but I would be carefully when trying to formulate my RQ because you would need a clear technique that is abundant in two novels of hers. I advise sticking to two novels, as it makes the essay SO much easier for you (structurally). Tying in three novels will take up valuable word space, and one novel won't have enough literary evidence.

3. I'm not exactly sure how I would phrase the RQ as I would need more time to read the books and contemplate... Basically, I would reread those 2 books you mentioned and just make a list of literary techniques as I go along. Maybe if you found three techniques that built suspense and those techniques were present in both novels, your RQ could be 'How is suspense created in _________ and ___________ by Agatha Christie?' (or something like that, my example was pretty simple).

Here's something I just found on Yahoo! Answers about literary techniques in 'And Then There Was None':

Agatha Christie upends the traditional notions of protagonist vs. antagonist in And Then There Were None. The traditional use of this literary device sets a clear protagonist, or main character, against a clear antagonist attempting to oppose or foil the plans or narrative progression of the protagonist. In And Then There Were None, each character plays the part of protagonist, yet the reader soon knows that at least one of these is also the murderer, or antagonist. The characters’ flawed past precludes anyone from being a clear “good guy” or “bad guy.” The uncertainty of each character’s guilt heightens the suspense of the mystery.

The old man in Blore’s train cabin who wakes from a nap and tells him that a “squall” is coming is a use of foreshadowing. Weather is symbolic of the psychological confusion and terror that develops on Indian Island. This old man is a kind of seer, or fortuneteller, who has no connection to any other character or any part of the novel except for this first chapter. Blore’s prediction that the old man will see an early demise is actually a prophecy of his own demise.

The use of the Ten Little Indian Boys rhyme is an example of the macabre playfulness inherent in Christie’s novel and in the genre of detective fiction. The use of such a silly rhyme as the basis for such horrible murders alerts the characters and the readers to the psychotic nature of the killer. It also allows the reader to take part in the mystery by following along with the rhyme. The rhyme gives clues as to the nature of the murders and to which character might die next. It becomes an elaborate guessing game for the reader. The reader and the detective, in this sense, become one. This playfulness is also seen in the revelation that the name “Mr. U.N. Owen” is a play on the word “unknown.” Subconsciously, the reader and the characters realize that if they had solved this puzzle earlier, the characters could have avoided their terrible fates.

P.S. Be glad you're not doing History HL - my school only has 8 History students and we all chose HL and now we're just dying under the amount of topics we have to study for our Paper 3 (three essays!) :P

Edited by nid811

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Hello again,

Yes planning your RQ and EE early are things that I wish I'd done and they definitely will help you :)

1. The markers' reports are surprisingly unhelpful, take a look at some of them online (the first link that comes up is one to the May 2011 markers' report). Basically, they include the obvious tips such as: ensure that your texts are originally written in English, that using films is risky, that dystopian fiction and Jane Austen is overdone, and that when choosing a contemporary novel you must ensure it isn't **** (like Twilight).

2. I am also quite familiar with Christie, as I've read all of her Poirot novels and a couple of her Miss Marple ones. 'Murder on the Orient Express' is my favourite, and I can understand how it would be a good basis for a RQ. Another one would be 'The Murder of Roger Akroyd', because the protagonist turns out to be the antagonist.

Christie isn't necessarily that risky or hard - in hindsight, my comment doesn't make much sense. Choosing Christie would definitely be unique but I would be carefully when trying to formulate my RQ because you would need a clear technique that is abundant in two novels of hers. I advise sticking to two novels, as it makes the essay SO much easier for you (structurally). Tying in three novels will take up valuable word space, and one novel won't have enough literary evidence.

3. I'm not exactly sure how I would phrase the RQ as I would need more time to read the books and contemplate... Basically, I would reread those 2 books you mentioned and just make a list of literary techniques as I go along. Maybe if you found three techniques that built suspense and those techniques were present in both novels, your RQ could be 'How is suspense created in _________ and ___________ by Agatha Christie?' (or something like that, my example was pretty simple).

Here's something I just found on Yahoo! Answers about literary techniques in 'And Then There Was None':

Agatha Christie upends the traditional notions of protagonist vs. antagonist in And Then There Were None. The traditional use of this literary device sets a clear protagonist, or main character, against a clear antagonist attempting to oppose or foil the plans or narrative progression of the protagonist. In And Then There Were None, each character plays the part of protagonist, yet the reader soon knows that at least one of these is also the murderer, or antagonist. The characters’ flawed past precludes anyone from being a clear “good guy” or “bad guy.” The uncertainty of each character’s guilt heightens the suspense of the mystery.

The old man in Blore’s train cabin who wakes from a nap and tells him that a “squall” is coming is a use of foreshadowing. Weather is symbolic of the psychological confusion and terror that develops on Indian Island. This old man is a kind of seer, or fortuneteller, who has no connection to any other character or any part of the novel except for this first chapter. Blore’s prediction that the old man will see an early demise is actually a prophecy of his own demise.

The use of the Ten Little Indian Boys rhyme is an example of the macabre playfulness inherent in Christie’s novel and in the genre of detective fiction. The use of such a silly rhyme as the basis for such horrible murders alerts the characters and the readers to the psychotic nature of the killer. It also allows the reader to take part in the mystery by following along with the rhyme. The rhyme gives clues as to the nature of the murders and to which character might die next. It becomes an elaborate guessing game for the reader. The reader and the detective, in this sense, become one. This playfulness is also seen in the revelation that the name “Mr. U.N. Owen” is a play on the word “unknown.” Subconsciously, the reader and the characters realize that if they had solved this puzzle earlier, the characters could have avoided their terrible fates.

P.S. Be glad you're not doing History HL - my school only has 8 History students and we all chose HL and now we're just dying under the amount of topics we have to study for our Paper 3 (three essays!) :P

Wow, thanks so much for spending the time on a detailed reply, seeing as you have an EE deadline coming up! Good luck on getting it all done soon with a good grade for it! :)

Yeah I especially love the novels that have got Poirot in it because those novels go through the case meticulously as always and finish off dramatically with a big revelation. ;) Anyway, I'll read up on the Roger Akroyd one, I haven't read that because my library doesn't have it (I've read all of Christie's that they have!)

Reading the novels again and along the way noting the similarities of techniques is a good idea. I remember some plots so perhaps I'll find two that have a similar style/pattern and work from there. Unfortunately my English IB teacher (=supervisor) isn't familiar with Christie, so she said I'll have to find everything out by myself as she's unable to give any advice on the books.

Yeah I know that there's a lot of content material for History (and I would probably die), but I'm a memorizing kind of person (I think you're too? based on your subjects haha) so I'd rather History than, say, Math/Physics HL.

Anyway, thanks again for the advice! If you (or anyone else reading this!) have anything more to add later, please do so! IB "junior" here, so I welcome lots of advice spoken from experience :D

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