2The title‘My’- possessive pronoun implies a close relationship , ownership, sense of prideAlliteration – makes it sound a little like a riddle, a nonsense phrase?However, it is not a riddle -the tie is symbolic - of what?Polish – adjective to define the teacher. Theme of identity and exclusion
3Who is the single main character? Carla CarterLunchtime assistantHalf-PolishInsecure about her own status – does not reveal she is not a teacherProud of family – tells Steve about JadeCurious about her Polish heritagePrivate – does not tell the head about letters sentPerceptive – sees through Valerie KenwardBrave – introduces herselfDesires more optimism, hope, sincerity in her life ‘ I like your tie’
4Characterisation First person narration Carla confides in the reader ‘ I am half-Polish . They don’t know that here’ ‘I felt terrible’ ‘I said it to myself in my head’Direct speech is very restrained and clipped ‘ I’d like to write to a Polish teacher’ ‘ Just a letter.’Her actions show inner strength ‘ pushing forward’ to speak to the Head.‘I tore it open’ excitement at letter revealed through actions.Writer uses her narration to reveal her character. Direct speech conceals her character. Actions reveal the extent of her feelings that she only partially reveals herself.
6Where does the action take place Staff meetingCarla’s homeWithin the lettersSchool canteenInternal (within Carla’s head and her feelings) and external drama (actions) – at the end Carla publically introduces herself.
7How much time does the story cover? Not made explicit. But over the course of several months...This enables a meaningful relationship to be forged between Carla and Steve- so we care that they do actually meet.
8How does the story get started? In the form of a first person monologue. Carla speaks to the reader in an informal style describing in the present tense her job at the school canteen revealing what she does and how she feels about it.
9Rising action of the story- A event or set of circumstances that add interest Carla and Stefan begin writing to one another. Carla doesn’t tell him that her job is but writes about not remembering Polish and he writes a poem about it. The Head announces Stefan’s visit.
10ClimaxCarla worries about how Stefan will react when he finds out she is not a teacher. She overhears Valerie Kenward being rude about him then sees him for the first time. She understands that he feels out of place.
11DenouementCarla introduces herself to Stefan and sees that he doesn’t care about her job. He takes her hand and sings a Polish song from her childhood and she remembers the words for the first time
12Specific mood the story creates Resentment – at teachersDivision and isolation – between hierarchy of staffIntimacy – letter writingAnxiety – fear of being exposed as non-teaching member of staffScorn and cruelty – Valerie’s comments on her guestPride and friendship – Carla meeting Steve
13Is the story realistic?Day to day life in canteen- realistically presentedNature of staff relationships is real? Naturalistically drawn?Recognisable characters – Valerie as scornful bigot?
14Themes Belonging and identity Power and status Sincerity and insincerityFriendship
16Was there a villain? Was there a hero? Villain – to an extent this is Valerie Kenward. A hypocrite, complaining, melodramatic, judgemental, lacking empathy, bigoted, impatientHero – to an extent this is Carla. Reveals herself despite insecurities, offers friendship and an ally to Steve
17Figurative language‘He [ headteacher] stitched a nice smile on his face’ the metaphor ‘stitched’ conveys Carla’s view that the head teacher is artificial and forced in his polite greetingThere is little figurative/ poetic language; the story instead uses prosaic conversational language in the first person as well as action and direct speech.The tie becomes a symbol – of what?The poem of the bird in the mine is a symbol – of what?
19My overall opinion of this story I loved the uplifting denouement- the allegiance formed between Carla and Stefan offers a warmth and sincerity otherwise absent in the story – particularly lacking in Valerie, the school and Carla’s personal life.The hierarchy and power dynamics within the school (unfortunately) are well observed – at least for some staff in some schools.The themes of belonging and identity are movingly portrayed – Stefan is able to tap into her earliest memories of Polish songs and at that moment a part of her returns
20How effective is the ending? Effectively reinforces the writer’s message:A celebration of personal identity and global friendships.A criticism of intolerance and ignorance – whether that be within the immediate community of the school or the global community.The reader’s wish for a resolution is satisfied – Carla introduces herself to Steve. However, there is no indication that any wider learning has taken place for any other characters.