Application Question Writer's attitude notes

Attitude

1. Points to Note

  • A writer’s attitude is his mindset / way of thinking / judgement.
  • Though attitude may be linked to feeling, it is not equivalent to feeling.
  • You may be asked to examine the writer’s attitude to a particular idea, view, policy, trend or group of people.
  • You can determine this by looking at the connotation of words and the degree of the words used to express the writer’s attitude.
  • Connotation refers to whether the word chosen has positive, negative or neutral meaning.

o Connotations

Positive

Neutral

Negative

Things

Palace

Building

Shack

People

Professional

Employee

Manual labourer

Adjectives

Mature

Aged

Grown up

Slim

Thin

Skinny

Action

Savour

Chew

Gobble

o Degree of Words

Miniscule Minute Tiny Small

Gargantuan Enormous Large Big

Rearrange the words below according to degree, from strongest to weakest.

Beautiful, pretty, stunning, handsome, gorgeous

_______________________________________________________

Rancid, rotten, putrescent, mouldy, stale

_________________________________________________________

Boiling, warm, sweltering, hot, heated

_________________________________________________________

2. What is expected in an answer?

  • Since your answer is supposed to describe how the writer thinks, it should:
    • reflect whether the attitude is positive, negative or displaying both qualities
    • as well as the precise degree of the attitude i.e. how strongly he expresses his feelings towards the subject in question.

  • The words below can be used as answers for questions on attitude.

Positive

Negative

Optimistic

Respectful of

Sympathetic

Tolerant

Accepting of

Supportive

Enthusiastic

Pessimistic,

Doubtful,

Skeptical,

Cynical,

Suspicious,

Resigned to,

Detached,

Disapproving,

Condescending,

Critical,

Hostile,

Defiant,

Harsh,

Aghast,

Disdainful,

Contemptuous of

Example 1

According to today’s notion of beauty, a woman, regardless of her other achievements, is a failure if she is not beautiful. She also knows that whatever beauty she has is leaving her, stealthily, day by day. Even if she is as beautiful as the supermodels whose images she sees replicated all around her, she cannot be beautiful enough. However much body hair she has, it is too much. However little and sweetly she sweats, it is too much.

Question:

What is the author’s attitude towards today’s definition of beauty?

Approach

Take note of the subject.

Words used in association with subject:

  • … a woman is a failure
  • … she cannot be beautiful enough

Characteristic of attitude:

  • negative

Degree of attitude:

  • least negative

Suggested Answer 1:

  • The author disapproves/ shows disapproval of today’s notion of beauty.

Example 2

Amina Lawal, her baby at her breast, gazes solemnly downwards. And so she should: she has been condemned to death by stoning. In her native northern Nigeria, sharia law rules – and a woman who commits adultery pays for her sin with her life. Amina’s countrymen feel they cannot turn a blind eye to a small act of rebellion lest the subversive spirit infects their entire world. For this insecurity, Amina could pay with her life.

Question:

What is the writer’s attitude towards Amina’s punishment?

Approach

  • The subject is the punishment i.e. death by stoning.
  • The writer may not use words to describe the punishment itself but things/ people associated with it.
  • Hence, we can look at words she used to describe the people who punish Amina:
    • “Amina’s countrymen feel they cannot turn a blind eye to a small act of rebellion lest the subversive spirit infects their entire world.”
      • There is a hint of use of sarcasm in this line.

    • For this insecurity, Amina could pay with her life.
      • The term ‘insecurity’ is negative.
  • The degree of the negative attitude is therefore slightly higher than the one displayed in the previous example.

Suggested Answer 2

  • The writer is critical of/ criticises Amina’s punishment.

Example 3

In almost every age, success has either been celebrated or painted in the darkest of colours, although certain times in history seem to bring its perils into high relief. In the late nineteenth century, when the United States was flexing its industrial muscles, the philosopher William James wrote in a letter to H.G.Wells of “the moral of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That squalid cash interpretation put on the word success – is our national disease.”

Question:

What is James’ attitude towards success?

Approach

  • The question asks of William James’ attitude, not the author’s.
  • The words used in connection with ‘success’ are:
    • ‘bitch-goddess’
    • ‘squalid cash interpretation’
    • ‘national disease’
  • The writer’s attitude towards success in the extract is very negative.
  • The degree of the negative attitude is shown by the word ‘bitch’, which has very derogatory connotations.

Suggested Answer 3

  • James strongly disapproves of / abhors / detests / condemns success.

Example 4

A UN Global Conference to discuss racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was held in 2001. While it was brave enough for the UN to attempt to hold such a meeting, it proved to be a heated challenge. All nations are good at being critical of others (and very accurately, although often not!). When it comes to one’s own criticisms, most would be uncomfortable to say the least. US and Europe were against effective discussions of slavery reparations and sent in only low-level delegates. Israel and US were against discussing the possibility that Zionism is racist against the Palestinians, causing both to walk out of the conference altogether. India was against including discussions about caste-based discrimination. A watered-down declaration was eventually made. Such an eventful week shows how far we all have to go.

Question:

What is the writer’s attitude towards the impact of the Conference?

Approach

  • The question deals with the probability of the Conference having a positive impact on the state of affairs in the world at that time.
  • You would thus have to make it clear in your answer, the specific subject the author displays his attitude towards.
  • The words used in connection with this are:
    • ‘low-level delegates’
    • ‘watered-down declaration’

Suggested Answer 4

  • The author is cynical/ sceptical/ pessimistic of the possibility of the Conference having a positive impact on the situation the world was faced with at that time.

Author’s reasons vs Your reasons

  • The question, in addition to asking for attitude of the author, may ask you for either:
    • the reasons the author has for displaying such an attitude
    • or your reasons for deducing the attitude as such.

TYPE 1

  • The question asks for the author’s reasons if it is phrased as:

o What is the author’s attitude and why?

o What is the author’s attitude towards …? Give reasons for his attitude.

  • For this, you are to refer to the same material from which you deduced the attitude and paraphrase it as reasons for the author’s attitude.

TYPE 2

  • The question asks for your reasons if it is phrased as:

o What is the author’s attitude …? Justify your answer.

o What is the author’s attitude…? Give/ Provide reasons for your answer.

  • For this, you are to do one of the following:

o inform the examiner of word(s) the author uses and explain the meaning of the word(s);

o inform the examiner of the word(s) the author uses and describe the impact/ effect of the word(s);

o describe the tone of the author.

Example 1

Japan is indeed going nowhere fast because it has failed to make necessary economic and political reforms. And that is simply because none of Japan’s politicians –including members of the opposition-observe the “Caesar’s wife” rule: Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. Corruption and pork-barrel projects are rampant. What has been uncovered so far is no more than the tip of the iceberg. And there are no expectations of political reform, not to mention economic change.

Adapted from Stuck in a Slump, Kimihoro Imamura

Question:

What is the author’s attitude towards Japan’s future and why?

Approach

  • Question asks for the author’s reasons for displaying such an attitude.
  • The following material was used to deduce the attitude:
    • Corruption and pork-barrel projects are rampant.
    • What has been uncovered so far is no more than the tip of the iceberg.
    • And there are no expectations of political reform, not to mention economic change.

Therefore:

Suggested Answer:

The author is cynical about the future of Japan since:

· misappropriation of funds by leaders is rife and

· the public has not been adequately informed of this problem.

· In addition, the government is unlikely to effect improvements

Example 2

Amina Lawal, her baby at her breast, gazes solemnly downwards. And so she should: she has been condemned to death by stoning. In her native northern Nigeria, sharia law rules – and a woman who commits adultery pays for her sin with her life. Amina’s countrymen feel they cannot turn a blind eye to a small act of rebellion lest the subversive spirit infects their entire world. For this insecurity, Amina could pay with her life.

Question:

What is the writer’s attitude towards Amina’s punishment? Justify your answer.

Suggested Answer:

The writer is critical towards Amina’s punishment.

· She pointed to the “insecurity” of Amina’s countrymen as the real reason for her punishment.

Or

· The writer paints a sympathetic picture of Amina as a helpless woman at the mercy of the harsh law of the country.

Or

· The writer uses sarcasm when describing the actions of Amina’s countrymen.

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