Murderball Big Picture Thinking


In today’s lesson, we explored how Murderball constructs and invites specific representations of groups of people.


Think about:


  • How hyper masculinity and hegemonic masculinity are constructed by the text.
  • Consider how the ‘chair stories’ invite a specific response  to the construction of masculinity though their risk-taking behaviour. Remember that Hogsett was thrown off a balcony during a fight, Zupan and Cohen were involved in car accidents.
  • Consider what the text has to say about a rejection of an ableist society. Remember that ableism is the discrimination/prejudice against people who are disabled based on the belief that typical abilities are superior.
  • Consider how the text rejects the ‘inspiration porn’ idea which we explored when we looked at Stella Young’s Ted Talk.
  • Consider how the women in the documentary are constructed as subordinate. Zupan’s girlfriend could be consider something of a trophy/status symbol by the way she’s shot in her bikini and the way in which he physically subordinates her. Also the woman who is the ‘victim’ of the practical joke at the Olympics. Joe’s wife when they have their anniversary meal.
  • Think about how Keith Cavill is constructed as vulnerable, weak, dependent and how his construction contrasts that of the athletes.


These are some of the dominant ideas constructed by the text. You may well think of some further ones.

A Modelled Response to a Fiction Text- Comprehending Section



Please note the modelled paragraph from today’s lesson and please note the teaching and learning points below:


  • Note the first sentence acts as a thesis statement.
  • There are SHORT and RELEVANT quotations used throughout.
  • There is reference to specific language features and these have been used consistently throughout the response.
  • The use of words like ‘reinforced’ and ‘further’ connect topic sentence 1 to topic sentence 2 and show how the response to the text is cohesive.

You are advised to use and to reflect on this structure in your own responses.

Narrative Writing- Writing an Effective Exposition to a Short Story


Please note the image above, which is the opening (exposition) to a narrative.

An effective exposition needs to:

  • Establish setting
  • Introduce the reader to the main character(s)- the protagonist
  • Establish mood, tone
  • Get the reader asking questions which draw them into the narrative
  • Suggest potential conflict

SO… let’s look at the model above and what it tries to do:

  • The opening sentence uses the verb ‘struggled’ to describe the sun. This could be considered personification but it suggests that the sun is having some degree of difficulty in rising. Is it winter? Does the narrative take place where it’s usually cold?
  • The ‘craggy horizon’ suggests that the narrative is taking place in a mountain range or near a cliff. The adjective ‘craggy’ is doing a lot work here.
  • The boys rise ‘gingerly’ to their feet. The adverb ‘gingerly’ evokes a sense that the boys are tired/exhausted or that they’re struggling. The reader is invited to ask why this might be the case. The adverb also echoes the struggling sun in the first sentence.
  • The kestrel (a bird of prey and threatening in itself) is ‘perched malevolently’. The combination of verb and adverb is vaguely threatening.
  • The ‘makeshift camp’ adds more context to where the boys are but we’re invited to question why they’re there. Why is it ‘makeshift’? It suggests they’ve not been there long, won’t stay long and are on their way to somewhere else? Why? Where? How?

In other words, there’s a lot going on in those few sentences, which set the tone for the narrative to sustain. Hopefully the reader would want to know more about the boys, their fate, the role of the ominous kestrel… We’re a couple of sentences in and we’re already into the world of the text.

When you write your narratives, aim to engage your reader as quickly as you can. Your eventual grade will depend on the quality of your exposition.

Deconstructing a Question- Murderball


Please note the attached image, which is a deconstruction of the question in the middle.

I’ve used the SCSA syllabus ( to help me deconstruct this question. Please refer to this document as much as possible in the run-up to your Semester and tACE examinations.

The question deconstruction is written in blue and the my thoughts in relation to the text are written in green. My ideas on what each body paragraph might contain are written in orange. Please note that there are multiple ways in which you might answer answer this question and these are only my thoughts.

You will also note that my annotations in green directly address the three key components of the question; the ways, the particular groups and the way in which those are presented in aa particular way.

Writing an Effective Response to Narrative Fiction- Comprehending Section

Please note this blog post is based on an extract from Mother Says by Craig Ensor. The short story is attached.


Here is my response, which is incomplete:



How are language features used to construct the voice of the narrator in Text 1?


Through the use of powerful verbs and personification, the voice of the narrator in Text 1 is constructed as determined and focused.

The first sentence establishes the determination of the narrator, who is going to ‘pierce’ their ears. The verb here suggests pain which is contrasted in the next sentence by the assurance that they’ll ‘feel better’ about themselves as a result. The age of the narrator is perhaps revealed by the simile in which they describe the dots drawn on their ears as looking like ‘unsqueezed blackheads’ and their apprehension is further developed by the personification of the needle which ‘panics’ in their hand. Despite this reticence, Ensor continues to use powerful verbs to show the narrator’s determination. The needle is pushed through the earlobe and the flesh ‘tears’. This verb is significant for two reasons; firstly, it suggests the damage the narrator has done, but it also suggests the focus and determination to complete the process, despite the pain suggested by the language.


Here are my teaching and learning points and things to note:


  • The first sentence acts as a thesis statement. It is short, concise and focused. It offers a direct response to the question and confirms I’ve read and understood it.
  • Note the short quotations that have been used. There are several quotations and the longest one is two words. You will not be efficient in your exam if you are having to copy out large tracts of text. A short quotation also produces more focused analysis.
  • There is very little plot narration. Assume that your examiner is familiar with the text.
  • There is no repetition of ideas. I make a point and then move onto a different one. You will lose marks in your exam if you repeat yourself and summarise comments already made.
  • There is reference to specific language features.
  • The response attempts to link these language features to show how they all develop a central idea about the narrator.
  • Note the use of the phrase ‘their apprehension is further developed’ which links one language feature with another.
  • Note that I’ve also modelled how one language feature works on multiple levels. In other words, the text has layers of meaning. Always look for the potential that a language feature is doing more than one job.


So… what is the effective structure for a Comprehending Section response?
  • There are no hard and fast rules about structuring your responses;
  • Some students choose to write a very brief introduction in the form of a thesis statement at the start. I would encourage you to do this because it helps focus your ideas into something that is cohesive and controlled;
  • You are advised against writing a conclusion in a short answer response. As conclusions act as a summary, you won’t be rewarded for saying the same thing twice. You will actually lose marks for repetition.
  • Usually, you would write one lengthy paragraph in which you LINK specific textual/visual features and demonstrate your comprehension of the text/image you are writing about. Some students choose to write two or three shorter paragraphs that split their response into several aspects. Either way is FINE as long as you write CLEARLY and SUCCINCTLY



Comprehending Mother Says


ANNOTATED Mother Says Extract


Question Deconstruction- The Road


Please note the image above, which deconstructs a Responding Section question using The Road as the ‘one studied text’.

My teaching and learning points:

  1. Note the SCSA glossary terms (written in red) branching out from the question. These are taken from the ATAR English glossary which is at the back of the syllabus. There is an expectation that you are familiar with these terms.
  2. Note the generic glossary term (written in green). This document contains important information about the meaning of trigger words in questions.
  3. On the left and right are references to specific places in The Road, broken down into quotations and then language choices/language features.
  4. I’ve written ‘BP1’ etc. to indicate what the structure of the extended response might look like.
  5. There is a sample thesis statement at the top of each place. While this might need working on, it does show how you can use question deconstructing and planning to formulate thesis statements.

Remember there is a link to the syllabus on the cover page of SEQTA.


Deconstructing a Responding Section Question- Murderball

Please note the attached image, which deconstructs a Responding Section question in relation to Murderball.

While this isn’t the ONLY argument that could be promoted by the question, it was constructed using what I thought would be an EFFECTIVE argument by focussing on the character of Mark Zupan.

Please note the colour-coding here. The writing in red refers to the SCSA glossaries (the generic question one is attached to this post at the bottom). You MUST make yourself familiar with this glossary as well as the one at the back of the syllabus. A link to this document can be found on the cover page of SEQTA. The writing in green is the text-specific text deconstruction. I’ve also written in red what the HOW of the question is asking you to do.

There is NO expectation that you would be able to plan/deconstruct questions like this in your examination. It would take too long. The teaching and learning points here are pretty simple; know your SCSA glossaries, know your text well, evaluate the available evidence and use this to construct your argument.

And… practice, practice, practice…

Key Words Glossary SCSA