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Evaluate Language Techniques in 'Climbing My Grandfather'

In this worksheet, students will evaluate language and its impact within the poem 'Climbing My Grandfather'. The worksheet will require some manual marking.

'Evaluate Language Techniques 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

In this activity, we'll look closely at how language is used in the poem 'Climbing My Grandfather'. Are you ready? Well, fasten your climbing shoes and let's go! 

 

First, a recap:

 

In the poem 'Climbing My Grandfather', written by Andrew Waterhouse, the speaker symbolically 'climbs' his grandfather, trying to get to know him better.

 

Here we will evaluate Waterhouse's language choices in the poem. Remember, evaluating language is actually quite simple if you break it down into these two points:

 

What attitudes does the poet express through this language choice?

 

What effect does this word have on you, the reader?

 

Red 3D question mark

 

When we break down our language evaluation into these two points, it's easier to get down to the nitty-gritty of word choice. It also helps us evaluate language by putting ourselves in the speaker's shoes, asking why the poet chose those specific words and considering the effect of those words.

 

Pencil drawing a trail of graphite

 

To get started, here's an example of language evaluation. Don't worry ... you won't have to write anything this long in the exercise!

 

In line 10 of the poem, Waterhouse writes: "on his arm I discover the glassy ridge of a scar". Waterhouse uses language such as 'discover' to link to the overall extended metaphor of mountain climbing. 

 

The speaker seems to want to have a close relationship with his grandfather, and this is illustrated in the extended metaphor of climbing, where the speaker wants to symbolically know every feature of his grandfather.

 

The effect of the extended metaphor is that it seems to suggest the speaker wants to get closer to his grandfather through the symbolic climb. The physicality of 'climbing' represents the effort involved in reaching the emotional connection the speaker strives to have with his grandfather.

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

 

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct words from below:

 

repetition


noun


metaphor


semantic field


verb


continuous verbs


conventional


unconventional

 

"The nails are splintered..."

 

What could this quote be suggesting about the grandfather?

 

The verb "splintered" suggests that the grandfather was a cruel man

The verb "splintered" suggests that the grandfather might have been a labourer who worked with his hands

The verb "splintered" suggests that the grandfather might have been a labourer who oversaw other people work with their hands

The verb "splintered" suggests that the grandfather is currently at a job

TIck two quotes that can be used as evidence of extended metaphor in the poem.

"For climbing has its dangers"

"Refreshed, I cross the screed cheek"

"The nails are splintered"

"Like warm ice"

"I can only lie"

Tick one example of a simile used in the poem.

 

"Like warm ice"

"Without a rope or net"

"The glassy ridge of a scar"

"Soft and white at this altitude"

"For climbing has its dangers..."

 

Climber on mountain peak

 

What could this quote suggest? Fill in the blank spaces with the options from the list below:

 

​passion


extended metaphor


simile


dangerous


physical


fearful


emotional

 

"Like warm ice"

"Without a rope or net"

"The glassy ridge of a scar"

"Soft and white at this altitude"

You've made it halfway! The next bits of this climb may be a bit different, but there's nothing you can't handle! 

 

 

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

 

 

Write down the device that Waterhouse uses in this quote, and its effect.

 

You should be able to write it in two sentences, for a total of two marks.

 

 

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

 

Climber taking a drink of water

 

How does this quote convey the speaker's feelings towards his grandfather?

 

Look at:

 

 

1. The effect of the adjective "firm"

 

2. The effect of the verb "rest"

 

 

You'll get two marks for two sentences.

 

Name one adjective used in line 26 (the last line) that reflects the speaker's attitude towards his grandfather.

 

Type just one word in the box.

 

"(Soft and white at this altitude)" 

 

Evaluate this quote. Look at:

 

1. The language used to describe the grandfather's hair

 

2. The language that links to the overall motif of the poem

 

Hint: the physical description is symbolic.

 

Write two sentences. Each of them will get a mark. 

Last question! Just these final two 'steps' and you've conquered this one completely!

 

"Knowing the slow pulse..."

 

Illustration of anatomical heart

 

 Evaluate Waterhouse's use of the word "knowing" by:

 

1. Identifying the classification of the word

 

2. Explaining what effect this word has on your understanding of the speaker's relationship with his grandfather

 

For two sentences you get one mark each (two marks in total).

  • Question 1

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

 

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct words from below:

 

repetition


noun


metaphor


semantic field


verb


continuous verbs


conventional


unconventional

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Practising how to write out language evaluations should help you get into the swing of things.
  • Question 2

"The nails are splintered..."

 

What could this quote be suggesting about the grandfather?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The verb "splintered" suggests that the grandfather might have been a labourer who worked with his hands
EDDIE SAYS
Look at the verb "splintered" and the effect it conveys. This verb might suggest that the grandfather is used to working with his hands! Think about the poem's overall motif of climbing/activity/mountaineering. Why might this motif, and the semantic field of words exhibiting this theme, specifically be used? Perhaps Waterhouse is conveying, through language, that the grandfather was also used to physical activity! Therefore, the symbolism of the speaker 'climbing' his grandfather goes into more depth. Perhaps this specific symbolism links to the grandfather's own physical past and is a symbolic way of representing common ground between the speaker and his grandfather.
  • Question 3

TIck two quotes that can be used as evidence of extended metaphor in the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER
"For climbing has its dangers"
"Refreshed, I cross the screed cheek"
EDDIE SAYS
This one's a little bit tricky, isn't it?! Sometimes metaphors can be confusing, especially extended metaphors. But remember, a metaphor is basically a comparison without the actual comparative word. So, an extended metaphor is one that is stretched out through the whole poem. In this case, the metaphor of mountain climbing/mountaineering is what is extended. Therefore, any quote which showcases this mountaineering aspect can be used as evidence that Waterhouse uses an extended metaphor!
  • Question 4

Tick one example of a simile used in the poem.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Like warm ice"
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, you've picked "like warm ice", where the speaker compares the skin of his grandfather's finger to warm ice! Juxtaposition is present within the simile (warm/ice), which has an interesting effect. Perhaps, if we look at this poem as a representation of the speaker's childhood memories about his grandfather, we might wonder if the child had carried some misunderstanding about his grandfather? Perhaps his grandfather had seemed a bit imposing or standoffish? Juxtaposition could also be used to reflect the very nature of childhood memories. The device itself could represent contrasting memories, Perhaps there's some things about his grandfather that the speaker remembers and other things he doesn't, so he conveys this odd sensation of contrast and confusion.
  • Question 5

"For climbing has its dangers..."

 

Climber on mountain peak

 

What could this quote suggest? Fill in the blank spaces with the options from the list below:

 

​passion


extended metaphor


simile


dangerous


physical


fearful


emotional

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Remember, the speaker isn't actually climbing his grandfather, which doesn't surprise you, of course! Therefore, every metaphor he uses has a deeper meaning, which is linked to the emotional connection between speaker and grandfather. If the speaker is saying that climbing has its dangers, he's not really talking about the dangers of climbing, but what climbing represents: the emotional connection between the grandfather and the speaker! What do you think these dangers could be? It's tricky to consider, but use your creativity. Perhaps the grandfather was a little imposing in the past and the speaker is referencing his childhood fears of his grandfather? This makes sense when we look at the way the poem sets up the grandfather: as someone so imposing or large that he must be climbed. Perhaps the speaker is now speaking as an adult, climbing a grandfather he never knew that well in childhood, and there's danger of finding something out about his grandfather that he doesn't want to know about! But when we're forming an emotional bond with anyone, there's always the potential of emotional danger. Opening up and getting to know someone takes effort and energy! Perhaps this is what's being represented: the emotional energy of forming a bond or attachment that seems almost physically dangerous in its intensity! Deep stuff, but all great material for your exam!
  • Question 6

You've made it halfway! The next bits of this climb may be a bit different, but there's nothing you can't handle! 

 

 

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

 

 

Write down the device that Waterhouse uses in this quote, and its effect.

 

You should be able to write it in two sentences, for a total of two marks.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The effect of the extended metaphor in this quote is quite interesting, as it conveys a truly uplifting connection between speaker and grandfather. When the grandfather smiles, the speaker seems to feel physically nourished, suggesting (again, remember, everything physical in the poem represents emotions) the speaker's emotional nourishment.
  • Question 7

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

 

Climber taking a drink of water

 

How does this quote convey the speaker's feelings towards his grandfather?

 

Look at:

 

 

1. The effect of the adjective "firm"

 

2. The effect of the verb "rest"

 

 

You'll get two marks for two sentences.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This quote really showcases the security and protection that the grandfather seems to provide to the speaker, while it also references the concept of a child sitting on his grandfather's shoulders. There's something very protective about the imagery of the speaker resting on his grandfather's shoulders. Perhaps even poignant, don't you think?
  • Question 8

Name one adjective used in line 26 (the last line) that reflects the speaker's attitude towards his grandfather.

 

Type just one word in the box.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Good
EDDIE SAYS
The adjective "good" in "good heart" really emphasises the attitude of the speaker towards his grandfather. After the physicality of the climb, it's interesting that Waterhouse decides to end the poem with "good" to describe the grandfather's "heart". It takes us away from the physical metaphor of the poem and gives us an emotional reference. The speaker is physically feeling his grandfather's heart, but also knows, inside, that his grandfather is a good man.
  • Question 9

"(Soft and white at this altitude)" 

 

Evaluate this quote. Look at:

 

1. The language used to describe the grandfather's hair

 

2. The language that links to the overall motif of the poem

 

Hint: the physical description is symbolic.

 

Write two sentences. Each of them will get a mark. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The fact that the grandfather's hair is "soft" and "white" really enhances his kindness and also his old age. Likewise, the word "altitude" connotes to the semantic field of mountain climbing, linking to the overall motif and extended metaphor which Waterhouse uses (what a mouthful of technical language).
  • Question 10

Last question! Just these final two 'steps' and you've conquered this one completely!

 

"Knowing the slow pulse..."

 

Illustration of anatomical heart

 

 Evaluate Waterhouse's use of the word "knowing" by:

 

1. Identifying the classification of the word

 

2. Explaining what effect this word has on your understanding of the speaker's relationship with his grandfather

 

For two sentences you get one mark each (two marks in total).

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Look at the emotional connotations behind the word "knowing". How is this rather abstract verb linked to the overall theme of the poem? As long as you can evaluate meanings behind words and link them to motifs, you're good to go! Right now, however, you deserve kudos for your hard work. Well done for sticking with it!
Try it ---- OR ----

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