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Identify and Explain Key Quotes in 'Climbing My Grandfather'

In this worksheet, students will revise key quotes in the poem 'Climbing My Grandfather' (by Andrew Waterhouse) as part of the 'Love and Relationships' anthology cluster.

'Identify and Explain Key Quotes in 'Climbing My Grandfather'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Climbing My Grandfather'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Ready to see how to find and explain key quotes in the poem 'Climbing My Grandfather'? Then open your anthology and let's get started!

 

Here's a quick recap of the poem: 

 

'Climbing My Grandfather', written by Andrew Waterhouse, uses extended metaphor as its main device. The speaker 'climbs' his grandfather, getting to know him better.

 

Mountain range

 

This is, perhaps, a nostalgic poem about an imposing grandfather and childhood memories. Waterhouse uses imagery and symbolism of mountaineering to showcase a close relationship between the speaker and his grandfather.

 

This activity should help you revise some key quotes and deepen your understanding of the poem. In the following questions, you'll be given a quote from the poem, and you'll be asked to identify the poet's meaning/s behind the quote.

 

Spiral notebook with pen

 

It may be useful to write the quotes down as you do this exercise, so you can remember them later! You might also take note of some of the teacher's explanations, as they highlight important points you will want to keep in mind for the exam.

 

 

"I decide to do it free, without a rope or net"

 

What does the very first quote imply about the speaker's relationship with his grandfather?

 

The speaker is brave

The speaker is hardworking

The speaker loves his grandfather

The speaker wants to get to know his grandfather without anything getting in the way

"Pushing into the weave, trying to get a grip..."

 

What can you infer about how easy the climb is at the beginning of the poem here?

 

Fill in the blanks, choosing two correct answers from the options below.

 

Difficult

 

Easy

 

Effort

 

Trying

 

 

The speaker is brave

The speaker is hardworking

The speaker loves his grandfather

The speaker wants to get to know his grandfather without anything getting in the way

"The nails are splintered and give good purchase..."

 

 

Which sentence below best analyses this quote?

 

The quote suggests that the grandfather is dirty and can't maintain his nails

The quote suggests that the grandfather is/was a hardworking labourer, who used his hands a lot

The quote suggests that the grandfather has a hard life and can't afford to look after his nails

"The skin of his finger is smooth and thick like warm ice..."

 

Tick the two boxes that correctly identify the two devices used.

 

The quote suggests that the grandfather is dirty and can't maintain his nails

The quote suggests that the grandfather is/was a hardworking labourer, who used his hands a lot

The quote suggests that the grandfather has a hard life and can't afford to look after his nails

"At his...firm shoulder I rest for a while"

 

 

From the options below, write the one correct number that best explains the quote.

 

1. The use of the adjective 'firm' suggests that the grandfather is dependable, and so the speaker can 'rest'

 

2. The use of the adjective 'firm' suggests that the grandfather is strong and fierce

 

3. The verb 'rest' suggests that the speaker is really tired

"For climbing has its dangers ... pull myself up to the loose skin of his neck..." (Lines 15-16)

 

Pick three out of these options and fill in the blanks in the answer section:

 

Theme
Young
Old
Motif
Relationship
Distance
Simile
Repetition
Understand
Forget

From the options below, pick one number that shows the quote indicating that the speaker has a close and positive relationship with his grandfather.

 

1. "To stare into his brown eyes..."

 

2. "To a smiling mouth to drink among teeth. Refreshed..."

 

3. "Then up over the forehead..."

 

'To his thick hair (soft and white at this altitude) reaching for the summit..."

 

What are two things you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below. 

 

Tick two boxes.

 

The quote has an imagery of sadness

The quote has an embedded description of the grandfather as old, due to his 'white' hair

The quote uses the imagery of mountain climbing and danger by using ' at this altitude'

The quote uses a simile

The quote uses personification

"Where gasping for breath I can only lie..."

 

Tick two correct interpretations of language in this quote.

 

'Gasping' is an adjective

'Gasping' is a continuous verb

The adverb 'only' suggests that the speaker has no control anymore

The adjective 'only' suggests that the speaker is alone

Like the speaker in the poem, you've been putting in some vigorous effort as well. Just one more 'step' and you've conquered this climb!  

 

"The slow pulse of his good heart..."

 

 

Anatomical illustration of a heart

 

 

Choose the one answer that links to the overall motif of closeness. (Remember, a motif is a recurring theme throughout a text!)

 

Write the answer in the box. If your answer has two words, be careful to put only one space between the words. 

 

Slow

Pulse

Good heart

  • Question 1

"I decide to do it free, without a rope or net"

 

What does the very first quote imply about the speaker's relationship with his grandfather?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The speaker wants to get to know his grandfather without anything getting in the way
EDDIE SAYS
The poem begins with a decision. Remember, an extended metaphor of mountain climbing runs throughout the poem! The speaker has decided to 'climb' his grandfather without any rope or net getting in the way. Symbolically, this means that the speaker decides to try to truly know and understand his grandfather without restraints or restrictions. Also, think about the way this quote suggests that the speaker is taking some sort of risk. Perhaps the poem is nostalgic (going back in time) in the way it refers to climbing the grandfather 'free' without any protection or safety. Could the grandfather have been an impressive/imposing figure in the speaker's eyes when the speaker was a child?
  • Question 2

"Pushing into the weave, trying to get a grip..."

 

What can you infer about how easy the climb is at the beginning of the poem here?

 

Fill in the blanks, choosing two correct answers from the options below.

 

Difficult

 

Easy

 

Effort

 

Trying

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Look at the continuous verbs "pushing" and "trying". These suggest physical effort, and they emphasise the difficulty that the speaker has at the beginning of the poem. What does this suggest about the relationship between speaker and grandfather, initially? Does this reflect the speaker's childhood memories? Was there a time where the speaker and his grandfather were, perhaps, quite distant from each other? Perhaps!
  • Question 3

"The nails are splintered and give good purchase..."

 

 

Which sentence below best analyses this quote?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The quote suggests that the grandfather is/was a hardworking labourer, who used his hands a lot
EDDIE SAYS
If we look at the importance of the "splintered nails" alongside the fact that the grandfather's hands are "earth-stained" in the bit before this quote, we can work out that the grandfather probably worked with his hands! The motif of hardworking labour also works quite well with the mountaineering theme of the poem.
  • Question 4

"The skin of his finger is smooth and thick like warm ice..."

 

Tick the two boxes that correctly identify the two devices used.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The quote uses simile ('like') and the juxtaposition/oxymoron (where two words are opposite to each other) "warm ice". Remember that juxtaposition is when two contrasting words are placed in the same sentence. What's the significance of having the grandfather's hands described as 'warm ice'?
  • Question 5

"At his...firm shoulder I rest for a while"

 

 

From the options below, write the one correct number that best explains the quote.

 

1. The use of the adjective 'firm' suggests that the grandfather is dependable, and so the speaker can 'rest'

 

2. The use of the adjective 'firm' suggests that the grandfather is strong and fierce

 

3. The verb 'rest' suggests that the speaker is really tired

CORRECT ANSWER
1
EDDIE SAYS
Answer number one is the correct one. The speaker rests on his grandfather's firm shoulder, suggesting that the grandfather is dependable. Furthermore, it may refer to childhood memories (nostalgia) in which the speaker, as a child, sat on his grandfather's shoulders.
  • Question 6

"For climbing has its dangers ... pull myself up to the loose skin of his neck..." (Lines 15-16)

 

Pick three out of these options and fill in the blanks in the answer section:

 

Theme
Young
Old
Motif
Relationship
Distance
Simile
Repetition
Understand
Forget

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Look at the way these lines illustrate danger. Aside from the physical danger of mountain climbing, we can also say that there's a symbolic danger being presented here: the danger of getting to know someone, as everyone is complicated and has their flaws. However, the speaker refuses to look down, suggesting that he is willing to get to know his grandfather despite any human flaws he may have! Look at the way the extended metaphor lets us understand not just the grandfather, but also the speaker's attitudes and feelings.
  • Question 7

From the options below, pick one number that shows the quote indicating that the speaker has a close and positive relationship with his grandfather.

 

1. "To stare into his brown eyes..."

 

2. "To a smiling mouth to drink among teeth. Refreshed..."

 

3. "Then up over the forehead..."

 

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
Option number two is correct! This question is a little bit tricky, so don't be disheartened if you got a little confused. If you got it correct, well done! Option number two is correct because it uses metaphor to convey a close relationship between speaker and grandfather. The speaker is refreshed by his grandfather's smile, symbolically representing a closeness in the relationship. The speaker clearly gains something from the grandfather. Maybe the idea of drinking and being refreshed symbolises knowledge? Maybe the grandfather is a guiding figure for the speaker? Similarly, the verb "smiling" emphasises the grandfather's positivity. We can easily imagine that he is cheerful and kind.
  • Question 8

'To his thick hair (soft and white at this altitude) reaching for the summit..."

 

What are two things you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below. 

 

Tick two boxes.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The quote has an embedded description of the grandfather as old, due to his 'white' hair
The quote uses the imagery of mountain climbing and danger by using ' at this altitude'
EDDIE SAYS
Again, this emphasis on mountain climbing and the dangers it provides ("altitude", for example, which suggests being really high up!) is strongly expressed here! But alongside this, we have the contrasting image of an old man (with "soft and white" hair). Isn't this an interesting paradox: a presentation of the softness and frailties of an old man versus the dangers of mountain climbing? What ideas does this provide about the age difference between the speaker and grandfather?
  • Question 9

"Where gasping for breath I can only lie..."

 

Tick two correct interpretations of language in this quote.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
'Gasping' is a continuous verb
The adverb 'only' suggests that the speaker has no control anymore
EDDIE SAYS
The two language devices here are used to convey the speaker's helplessness. Whereas he was an active daredevil earlier in the poem, it seems that he can only lie down and gasp for breath after he finally reaches the 'summit' (the top). The speaker seems to have less control or energy than before, giving us the sense that he is powerless now. The speaker goes from doing to watching/feeling at the end of the poem, achieving a sense of calmness and solidarity with his grandfather!
  • Question 10

Like the speaker in the poem, you've been putting in some vigorous effort as well. Just one more 'step' and you've conquered this climb!  

 

"The slow pulse of his good heart..."

 

 

Anatomical illustration of a heart

 

 

Choose the one answer that links to the overall motif of closeness. (Remember, a motif is a recurring theme throughout a text!)

 

Write the answer in the box. If your answer has two words, be careful to put only one space between the words. 

 

Slow

Pulse

Good heart

CORRECT ANSWER
Good heart
EDDIE SAYS
Here we get a true understanding of the closeness between the speaker and the grandfather. After the speaker has finished his symbolic climb, he has finally got to know his grandfather. The speaker can relax in the knowledge that his grandfather has a "good heart". It's a sweet ending, and one that emphasises closeness. See if you can pick out the language devices that Waterhouse uses in the last sentence and dissect its meaning a little further. It'll help you practice for later! Brilliant work on this activity! We hope it hasn't left YOU gasping for breath!
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