Outlines

There is no single correct way to write Paper 2. However there are several good ways to structure the essay. Before you begin to write your essay, take 10-15 minutes to outline the main ideas. This is a good idea for several reasons:

  • We use outlines to prevent 'after thoughts' from creeping into the essay. Examiners find it difficult to read scripts that include, boxes, arrows and symbols that attempt to insert text that was written as an after thought. Once you see an overview of your ideas, you can move them around more easily. 

  • We use outlines to ensure that all the criteria are met, all works are explored equally and ideas appear in the logical order. 

  • A good outline can save you time for the reasons mentioned above. 

On this page we have included three possible outlines for the Paper 2 essay. In brief you will see the 'comparative approach', the 'criterion-by-criterion' approach, and the 'work-by-work' approach. The outlines have been filled in to show how one exam question can be approached three different ways. The exam question (taken from the English A Specimen Papers on the OCC) is:

"Analyse how justice is represented and understood in at least two works studied."

In the sample outlines, this question has been answered with regards to Fiela's Child by Dalene Mathee (1985) and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003). 

The comparative approach

The Language A: Language and Literature guide does not specify that students must compare and contrast literary texts in their Paper 2 exam. Having said this, there is an advantage to taking the comparative approach. It will increase your level of analysis. If your Part 3 works do not have anything in common then you should probably not take this approach. Here is an outline of an essay that compares and contrasts two works. 

Comparative outline
Fiela's Child and The Kite Runner

Introduction: A sentence that grabs your attention: a famous quote, a question, a bold statement an anecdote or joke. What makes a novel a page-turner? One reason: readers want the satisfaction of seeing justice carried out.  
A sentence that connects to the ‘attention grabber’ and explains its relevance to the 2 (or 3) works that you have read. This sentence states the names of the works, years of publication and authors’ names in passing.  Fiela’s Child (FC) by Dalene Mathee and The Kite Runner (TKR) by Khaled Hosseini both engage readers by telling about an individual’s quest for justice. 
The thesis statement, where you answer the question in a nutshell and branch out into 3 main ideas. “In these works the notion of justice is represented and understood in the contexts of South Africa and Afghanistan, where racial tension, family ties and personal identity are all issues.”
Body paragraph 1: Topic sentence 1: the first of the 3 main ideas that answer the question / thesis statement.  Justice and racial tension in FC and TKR: there’s discrimination towards Fiela and Hassan. She’s black, he’s Hazara. The Magistrate discriminates against Fiela. Assef (and Amir) discriminate against Hassan. The reader feels sympathy towards Fiela and Hassan.
Illustrations from both works. How does the writer use language, style and structure? We feel sympathy for Fiela, because her story is told in free indirect speech, we hear her thoughts and feel her pain when she’s discriminated against. Amir tells his thoughts directly: he feels guilty for the discrimination against Hassan. 
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message? Dalene’s message: The whites, like Barta, feel constant guilt for discriminating against the blacks. Pashtuns pay the price for discriminating against the Hazaras by feeling a constant guilt too.
Body paragraph 2: Topic sentence 2: the second of the 3 main ideas that answer the question / thesis statement. The racial problems create tensions in families. Both families have a BIG secret: Benjamin is not van Rooyen’s child. Hassan is Amir’s half-brother. No one will speak the truth, because they’re afraid of what others will say. 
Illustrations from both works. How does the writer use language, style and structure? Both writers use plot twists to shock their readers. Barta reveals the truth about Benjamin. Rahim Khan tells Amir that Hassan is his half-brother. 
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message? The strongest family members throughout the book, Barta and Baba, turn out to be the weakest, as they kept the secrets that destroyed the families. Authors show that the injustices of SA and Afghanistan tear apart families.  
Body paragraph 3: Topic sentence 3: the third of the 3 main ideas that answer the question / thesis statement. Individuals struggle to know who they really are in societies that discriminate. Benjamin constantly searching for ‘home’ and a ‘mother’. Amir constantly searching for atonement. 
Illustrations from both works. How does the writer use language, style and structure? Setting is important to understanding this personal quest: Benjamin goes from the bush to the forest to the sea. Amir goes from Kabul to California. But both must go back ‘home’, to the bush and Kabul respectively. 
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message? Authors seem to comment on how you cannot deny someone their birth rights, like a sense of ‘home’. Both in SA and Afghanistan, the apartheid government and the Taliban prevent people from going home. This is unjust. 
Conclusion: Answer the question again. State the thesis in other words.  Both authors explore the notion of injustice in South Africa and Afghanistan by showing their readers how racial discrimination can destroy individuals and families. 
Compare how authors conveyed their message through language and structure.  While authors use different narrative technique, they both rely heavily on setting to comment on their cultures. What’s more: they both have a plot twist, which expose the hypocrisy of their cultures. 
A very wise thought.  These thought provoking novels can lead to change in these countries. Both the apartheid government and the Taliban are gone. 

 A3 handout Paper 2 outline comparative approach - filled in.

 A3 handout Paper 2 outline comparative approach - blank (for you to fill in using the works that you have studied in class for Part 3). 

The text-by-text approach

The text-by-text approach implies that you do not have to compare and contrast works within each body paragraph. This is a perfectly fine approach. Having said this, bear in mind that it also comes with its pitfalls. For example tackling three works, as is done in the sample below, may be over ambitious. This method is good if your works are not thematically connected. 

Text-by-text outline
Fiela's Child, The Kite Runner and The Tempest

Introduction: A sentence that grabs your attention: a famous quote, a question, a bold statement, an anecdote or joke.  “The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance,” Prospero, The Tempest. Explain what is meant and connect it to justice. 
A sentence that connects to the ‘attention grabber’ and explains its relevance to the 3 works that you have read. This sentence states the names of the works, years of publication and authors’ names in passing.  Fiela’s Child (FC) byDalene Mathee, The Kite Runner (TKR) by Khaled Hosseini, The Tempest (TT) by William Shakespeare all comment on justice.
The thesis statement, where you explain that each text essentially answers the question.  “In these works justice is represented and understood in the contexts of South Africa in 1870, Afghanistan in 1970 -2001 and the New World around 1600. Justice, in these works, is related to truth, racial equality and freedom. It is about an ability to forgive.”
Body paragraph 1: Topic sentence 1: Explain how the first text can be used to answer the question. Comment further on the importance of context to this answer.  In FC Matthee write in 1984 about South Africa in the 1870s, as a commentary on how racial strife had not changed for over 100 years. Justice for Benjamin is finding out if Berta is his biological mother. He forgives the Magistrate’s servant for covering up the truth. 
Illustrations from one work. How does the writer use language, style and structure? Is he or she influenced by context? Author uses plot twist, to show how unjust SA was then in 1870. Benjamin’s struggle for identity was caused by a seemingly harmless lie. Little does the reader know: an insignificant character told a significant lie. 
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message? How is context important to understanding this text? Authors story of 1870 could just as well been about the lies of the 1980s during apartheid. People must learn to tell the truth and forgive, in order to move on. 
Body paragraph 2: Topic sentence 2: Explain how the second text can be used to answer the question. Comment further on the importance of context to this answer.  TKR is ironic. Reader thinks it’s about a young man, Amir, carrying a guilty secret, when in fact it’s his father, Baba, who carried the secret. Justice can only be carried out (Amir adopts Sohrab) once Amir knows the truth and forgives his father. 
Illustrations from work. How does the writer use language, style and structure? Is he or she influenced by context? TKR is told in first person, so the reader feels the narrator’s guilt. When we discover the narrator has been lied to, we feel lied to. 
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message? How is context important to understanding this text? ‘Nothing is what it seems in Afghanistan.’ This is the message of Hosseini in TKR. Justice can only be carried out once we know the truth and forgive. 
Body paragraph 3: Topic sentence 3: Explain how the third text can be used to answer the question. Comment further on the importance of context to this answer.  There are revelations in The Tempest too. Miranda finds out that her uncle, Antonio, exiled her father, Prospero. She and her father forgive her Uncle in the end. Justice is served. Shakespeare comments on forgiveness at the end of his own career. 
Illustrations from one work. How does the writer use language, style and structure? Is he or she influenced by context? In The Tempest, the audience is also misled. There is a plot twist. We think Prospero seeks revenge. Instead he forgives. Refer to scene where everyone is under his spell and he gives up magic.
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message? How is context important to understanding this text? Prospero’s epilogue reads like Shakespeare’s retirement speech. He asks the audience to forgive him for captivating them with his magic. 
Conclusion: Answer the question again. State the thesis in other words.  Again, justice is not about an eye-for-an-eye. It’s about forgiveness.
Retell how authors conveyed their message through language and structure. The writers of these works show this through characters who discover the truth and forgive. 
A very wise thought.  Shakespeare’s quote is still true. 

 A3 handout Paper 2 outline of text-by-text approach - filled in.

 A3 handout Paper 2 outline of text-by-text approach - blank (for you to fill in using the works that you have studied in class for Part 3). 

The criterion-by-criterion approach

Depending on the quesiton, you may want to take a criterion-by-criterion approach, meaning that you answer the question (Criterion B), comment on the importance of context (Criterion A) and the authors' use of language (Criterion C). This approach has its advantages and disadvantages. You may find yourself writing to meet the exam requirements. Like the comparative approach, you will find this method also presents the opportunity to compare and contrast within each paragraph. 

Criterion-by-criterion outline
Fiela's Child and The Kite Runner

Introduction: A sentence that grabs your attention: a famous quote, a question, a bold statement, an anecdote or joke.  Writers do not write in a vacuum. They are influenced by the contexts in which they write. 
A sentence that connects to the ‘attention grabber’ and explains its relevance to the 2 (or 3) works that you have read. This sentence states the names of the works, years of publication and authors’ names in passing.  Fiela’s Child by Dalene Mathee (1984), The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003).
The thesis statement, where you explain that the question can be answered by exploring each work, the context of each work and the language of each work.  “The contexts of both writers influenced their representation and understanding of ‘justice’ in South Africa and Afghanistan.”
Body paragraph 1: Topic sentence 1: Explain how both texts can be used to answer the question. Focus on the texts only.   In both works, individuals are up against very unjust societies. Nevertheless, they both manage to set one thing straight: Benjamin knows who lied about his biological mother. Amir discovers he has a half-brother and rescues his half-brother’s son from the Taliban.
Illustrations from both works. Where, in the plot of each work, do we see the authors commenting on the thesis / guiding question? The reader’s search for justice is what makes each work a page-turner. Benjamin’s search for justice takes the form of a quest, fulfilled when he learns about Berta’s lie. Amir’s quest to achieve atonement is fulfilled when he adopts Sohrab.
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message? Both authors have a kind of quest and redemption story. Authors’ message may be that individuals all have a duty to seek the truth, even if you can’t change the injustice of society.
Body paragraph 2: Topic sentence 2: How has contextual knowledge influenced your interpretation of the works? How did it shape the authors’ intentions?   Why did the authors tell the quest for redemption story? South Africans needed to hear one in 1984 during the height of apartheid. Hosseini hoped for a better Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. He saw the chance to redeem a country’s pride.
Give examples of how the context of the author can be seen in the work? Matthee comments on the evils of racism in separating loved ones. She shows that what happened in 1870 could happen in 1984. There are parallels between Hosseini’s life and Amir’s. The flea market in California, the need to go back to one’s roots.
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the author’s message? Benjamin’s search for identity and justice is SA’s search for identity and justice. Amir’s search for atonement and justice is Afghanistan’s search for atonement and justice.
Body paragraph 3: Topic sentence 3:  Elaborate on the nature of each author’s style. How has context influenced the author’s style? Because Matthee wants the reader to experience all sides of the story, white/black, mother/father, the novel is narrated in free indirect speech from each character’s perspective. Because the novel is slightly autobiographical, Hosseini wrote in the 1st person. 
Examples of use of language and its effect on its audiences.  We feel sympathy for Elias van Rooy, even though he’s backwards. He represents injustice in South Africa. Out to kill an elephant, knowing its wrong. We feel Amir’s guilt, through symbolism (the lamb, the kite) and 1st person narration.
Explanation: how do these examples illustrate the authors’ message?  Narrative technique helps create understanding of justice in the cultural context. The symbols are typical of Afghanistan and the Islam. The lamb is a sacrifice. The kite represents flying high. 
Conclusion: Answer the question again. State the thesis in other words.  Justice is represented and understood in the contexts of South Africa and Afghanistan through characters who seek their true identity. Authors are calling their countries to also find their true identity and leave their backwards ways behind.
Retell how authors convey their message through language and structure. Authors achieve this message through narrative technique and symbolism. 
A very wise thought.  These countries, for better or worse, have done a lot of soul searching since the authors wrote these works. 

 A3 handout Paper 2 outline criterion-by-criterion approach - filled in.

 A3 handout Paper 2 outline criterion-by-criterion approach - blank (for you to fill in using the works that you have studied in class for Part 3).

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