Many students are passing up the chance for what is really an easy way to plug in 3 marks for your Written Assignment. If you do more than one for any given work (and the RS and WA must be on the same work, remember), choose the one that best shows the following:

  1. That you learned things that will help you read or re-read the literary work with a sense of who wrote it, when and where they wrote it.
  2. Ibsen did not write in the same place or time or genre as Camus or Murakami. Let the examiner know you recognize the particular context of the writer.
  3. You can usefully report what you learned about the political or economic conditions that may have affected composition of the work.
  4. You can talk about the social or religious aspects or conflicts that were going on.
  5. You can also talk about such aspects as they appear within the work, especially if time, place and culture are different to the author’s circumstances.
  6. Addressing two or three of these matters needs to be in at least some detail. Too often studentsjust state such basics as ‘Colombia is a predominantly Catholic country’ or ‘Franco’s regime affected Lorca’s playwriting content.’

Remember: the focus is on ‘context and culture,’ not on the text itself or how you identified what you are going to write about in your Written Assignment.

What does a good Reflective Statement look like? See below:


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

In listening to the Interactive Oral,I found that learning about the Japanese salaryman really enhanced my sense of the characterization that Murakami offered of Toru. In Japan it is not considered appropriate to try to stand out as an individual and to be different. Toru exemplifies being different when he quits his white-collar job to stay at home. In the culture, Japanese men work long hours and provide for the family. In this novel the role is reversed as Kumiko supports the family through her work. It’s likely that Toru might be viewed by a Japanese reader as strange or different. In addition his behavior is sometimes out of the norm in other ways. The salaryman is usually obedient to authority and custom and very close to his co-workers. Toru on the other hand has no co-worker friends and is open about his hatred of Noboru Wataya, who is a high-ranking government official. He stands apart from many of the conventional images of the men of his culture and I am sure that understanding his difference is important to understanding the plot of the novel.

Another issue that intrigued me was the healing work that is included in the novel. I found quite mysterious the paranormal material that is associated with Nutmeg and Cinnamon and also the kind of healing that is done by Nutmeg. I previously had no knowledge at all of reiki healing – A Japanese method of laying on of hands and redirecting and healing the energy of the body. This material will make more sense to me as I re-read that part of the novel.

Finally, As the students went over his references to historic Japanese icons, often expressed in the characters’ names, I began to understand Murakami’s angle a little more. He seems to be trying to find a balance between including Western cultural elements like jazz but also critiquing other Western elements, playing these against his incorporation and acceptance of Japan’s rich and often dark history. His references to both cultures are sometimes clear and sometimes subtle.

There are many more elements in the novel that are unfamiliar to me, but the ones above are now a bit clearer to me. (373 words)