Captain Corelli’s Mandolin OLD Edexcel Exam Questions from the pre 2008 syllabus. NOTE that the assessment objectives have changed also in how they are numbered and in what they assess. Treat this page as useful but no longer applicable for the modern exam.
Answer one question in the exam
This unit (6394) targets Assessment Objectives AO1 and AO4 and also assesses AO3 and AO5ii.
Specimen Question Paper
(a) At the time of its first publication in 1994, reviewers of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin disagreed over the significance of some of it major characters.
Turn to Chapter 56 and to the paragraph that begins: ‘when the truck arrived at the pink walls of the brothel, Gunter Weber’s knees began to buckle’ (page 322 Minerva edition). Re-read to the end of the chapter.
Then turn to Chapter 73 and read the paragraph on p. 426 (Minerva edition) that begins ‘He wanted to do something to compensate’, and ends, ‘Or perhaps he’s a bishop.’
Using a careful consideration of these two extracts as your starting point, discuss the importance of Weber in this novel. Is he more significant to its plot and themes?
(b) By selecting and exploring three short examples of your own choice, consider the claim that the range of view points used in the novels conveys a world where the values and perspectives are constantly changing.
(a) ‘ . . . the spirit of Carlo Guercio shall live in the light as long as we have tongues to speak of him and tales to tell our friends.’
What contribution does de Bernieres’ portrayal of Carlo have on the total effect of the novel?
(b) Turn to Chapter 64, ‘Antonia’. About three and a half pages into the chapter, a paragraph begins: ‘The first great crisis of this life occurred in 1950 . . .’
Read from this point until the end of the chapter. What do you find of interest in this chapter, bearing in mind your knowledge of the whole novel?
(a) E.M. Forster once wrote: ‘I do not believe in Belief . . . Tolerance, good temper and sympathy – they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long’.
How far, and in what ways does Captain Corelli’s Mandolin support the view that ‘tolerance, good temper and sympathy’ are more important than ‘Belief’ in a cause or ideology’?
(b) Turn to Chapter 31, ‘A Problem with Eyes’.
How does Captain Corelli’s character influence the developing relationship with Pelagia as it is revealed in this chapter?
De Bernieres: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Minerva or Vintage)
(a) ‘The ultimate truth is that history ought to consist only of the anecdotes of the little people who are caught up in it.’ (Carlo)
What is your response to de Bernieres’s presentation of history through the eyes of ‘little people’ in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin? You should include in your answer an examination of Carlo’s narrative in Chapter 6 (L’Omosessuale (2) ) and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.
(b) ‘Greece lies on both a geographical and cultural fault-line that separates east from west; we are simultaneously a battleground and a site of cataclysmic earthquakes.’ (Dr Iannis)
Explore your response to de Bernieres’s presentation of the island of Cephallonia and its people in the light of this statement. You should refer to two or more appropriate passages from the novel in your answer.
(a) Look again at Chapter 35: A Pamphlet Distributed on the Island, Entitled with the Fascist Slogan ‘Believe, Fight and Obey’.
How far would you agree that in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin de Bernieres presents politics and politicians as objects of ridicule?
You should include in your answer an examination of this chapter and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.
(b) He wasn’t just another hero, was he? He was more complicated. Poor Carlo.’
What is your response to the presentation of Carlo in the light of Pelagia’s final comment?
You should include an examination of two or more extracts from the novel.
(a) ‘The presentation of Pelagia in the early part of the novel is transformed by her growing independence as a single woman in post war Cephallonia’.
What is your response to de Bernieres overall presentation of Pelagia in the light of this comment? In your answer you should in include an examination of at least two appropriate passages.
(b) ‘Although Hector is presented to the reader as a caricature, he and his kind are seen as the real enemies of Greece.’
What is your response to de Bernieres’s presentation of Hector and the other Greek resistance fighters, in the light of this comment?
In your answer, you should include an examination of Chapter 34, ‘Liberating the Masses (3)’ and at least one other appropriate passage of our choice.
(a) History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and than again as tragedy’.
Explore the presentation by de Bernieres ‘Of the German occupation’, and its aftermath, in the light of this quotation.
You should include an examination pf Chapter 62, ‘Of the German Occupation’, and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.
(b) Dr Iannis tells his daughter: ‘Technically the Captain is an enemy’.
Explore de Bernieres’ presentation’ of the war-time relationship between Pelagia and Corelli in the light of this remark.
You should refer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice in your answer.
(a) ‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then again as tragedy.’
Explore the presentation by de Bernieres of the German occupation of Cephallonia, and its aftermath, in the light of this quotation.
You should include an examination of Chapter 62, ‘Of the German Occupation’ and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.
(b) Dr Iannis tells his daughter: ‘Technically the Captain is an enemy.’
Explore de Bernieres’s presentation of the war-time relationship between Pelagia and Corelli in the light of this remark.
You should refer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice in your answer.
(a) ‘One of the strengths of de Bernières’s writing in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is its ability to present catastrophes in terms of the fates of individuals.’
How far do you agree?
You should include in your answer an examination of Chapter 65 ‘1953’ and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.
(b) ‘Dr Iannis’s political debates with his communist friends, Kokolios and Stamatis, are presented with humour, but, as the events of the novel reveal, politics is no laughing matter.’
In the light of this opinion, what is your response to the ways in which de Bernières presents political debate in the novel as a whole?
You should refer in your answer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice. Q1
Examiner’s Mark Scheme for these questions.
This Unit targets the following Assessment Objectives:
AO1 and AO4 and also assesses AO3 and AO5ii.
Answer ONE question.
1. de BERNIÈRES: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
(a) One of the strengths of de Bernières’s writing in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is its
ability to present catastrophes in terms of the fates of individuals.’
How far do you agree?
You should include an examination of Chapter 65 ‘1953’ and at least one other
appropriate passage of your choice.
AO1 Candidates should pick up the opposition provided in the proposition, its status as a value judgement and the key word ‘presents’. Lower band answers may be limited or rely on a narrative or descriptive approach and perhaps have a limited response to
‘writing’ in a literary way. Higher band answers should explore ‘writing’ in a more
AO4 The ability to challenge or explore the terms or implications of the proposition are likely discriminators. Lower band answers may be limited in their ability to explore
or challenge and present at best an assertive or simple critical view. Higher band
answers will be likely to be exploratory and/or challenging in their approach and be
able to provide evidence of a more sophisticated critical response.
AO3 The ability to link the designated chapter to the novel as a whole may be a central discriminator. The key word in the proposition: ‘writing’ invites consideration of the ways in which the novel is written. Lower band answers may be limited in their
ability to deal with a wide range of reference or issues to do with language. Higher
band answers should be more confident in moving towards an overview, a sense of
structure and an ability to deal with language analytically.
AO5ii The chapter named in the question should suggest the historical context of a real event to candidates. Lower band answers may not provide detailed awareness of this and other appropriate contexts, but higher band answers should provide evidence of confident and detailed handling of the links between fiction and the real events on
which it is based.
1. de BERNIÈRES: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
(b) ‘Dr Iannis’s political debates with his communist friends, Kokolios and Stamatis, arepresented with humour, but, as the events of the novel reveal, politics is no laughingmatter.’
In the light of this opinion, what is your response to the ways in which de Bernières
presents political debate in the novel as a whole?
You should refer in your answer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice.
AO1 It is important that candidates pick up the contrasts suggested in the proposition andexplore varied ways in which political debate is presented in the novel. Lower bandanswers may provide limited evidence for this, possibly approaching it in a narrativeor descriptive way, whereas higher band answers will be more exploratory andanalytical in the ways in which the proposition is treated.
AO4 It is possible to agree or disagree with the proposition but the candidates should
engage with the idea of ‘political’ critically. Lower band answers will be likely to be
less contentious, or be so in an assertive or purely illustrative way. Higher band
answers will provide evidence of a consistently argumentative and critical approach
and be aware of different critical responses to de Bernières’s controversial
presentation of politics in the novel.
AO3 The ways in which candidates select their passages and deal with them in the context of the whole novel, as appropriate to the terms of the question, will be the probable discriminators. Lower band answers may take episodes in isolation and provide little evidence of exploration of language. Higher band answers should take a whole text approach and seize on the oppositions suggested by the proposition to explore linguistic presentation of material.
AO5ii Political contexts are very central to this topic and there are many ways in which they can be approached. Awareness of critical responses to the novel may well be a relevant context for exploration. Lower band answers may show little evidence
beyond stating the kinds of political stances presented in the novel. Higher band
answers should provide evidence of a more sophisticated and detailed approach.
Examiner’s Report 2007
6394/02 Modern Prose
The most popular text remains Captain Corelli’s Mandolin with Alias Grace and Howards End almost tying for second place. The Bell remains the least popular text although it retains a not inconsiderable following with a good range of answers. This is the first summer session in which the scripts have been marked by epen and examiners have said that it is quicker to mark scripts in this way. Scripts not marked in this way have been either those typed by the student or an amanuensis, or the few which have proved to be illegible online.
Some features of lower band answers
Part of the AO1 literary awareness derives from being able to show how a novelist uses arange of narrative skills to achieve the effects desired, which are very different to the skills of s dramatist.
A good answer will deal with all aspects of the proposition and question in detail. The following approach takes this on at a very simple level:
De Bernières throughout Captain Corelli always shows the catastrophes through an
individual, this no were near as noticeable as in the early part of the book and the
trouble caused by the war. The idea of this allows us, as a reader to become closer
towards the character but also to give deeper sense of confusion and angst that an overall view wouldn’t allow.
There seems to be something quite helpful struggling through the very uncertain expression. This candidate goes on to deal with the Good Nazi (2) chapter which:
…places us into the character of Gunter Weber. De Bernières chose this to show us that not all Nazis were jackbooted thugs but it also shows the reader the corruption of power and also the disregard for the moralistic in war.
The rest of the paragraph comments on the presentation of an individual catastrophe and comments on the reader’s reaction to this. The remainder of the essay then dealt briefly, and on the same kind of level, with Chapter 65. There is a very simple literary awareness emerging which does rate the essay in band two.
Some features of higher band answers
Higher band answers are totally literary in their approach and even if terminology is not always used, the conventions of the novel are at the forefront of the discussion. This kind of sentence does exactly that:
Forster clearly communicates through his authorial voice that the Wilcox family has
values to be respected.
Then the writer continues:
A passage near the start of Chapter 12 demonstrates this. Margaret ponders the Wilcox values, her thoughts communicated by the narrator.
A detailed exploration ensues. The final paragraph begins to evaluate:
Overall, Forster is clearly not completely comfortable with the Wilcoxes, yet he has to concede that many values he respects less reservedly are dependant on the Wilcoxes…
This candidate has used the proposition to shape his answer.
Finally the ways in which contexts can be used are many and various. Examiners have
noted much confident knowledge incorporated into answers and one example will suffice:
Achebe wrote his novel in English for a reason and one of Achebe’s main motives in
writing this novel was to display to an English speaking people that Africa did have a rich and diverse culture.
These illustrations are from answers which were high in band five.
DE BERNIÈRES: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
This was by far the most popular question on the paper. There was a very wide range in the quality of the responses. Some candidates had difficulty in interpreting the terms ‘catastrophe’ and ‘fates’ clearly and precisely. Where candidates did engage with these terms and responded clearly to ’how far do you agree?’ they were able to construct a reasonably analytical argument with a sense of the text as a construct. This literary approach with full engagement with all terms in proposition and question demonstrated the approachability of the question. We were occasionally disappointed by the limitations in discussing Chapter 65, the need to focus on character at the exclusion of everything else, and the often limited range of other passages used as illustration. Some candidates are determined to write about the ‘Good Nazi’ chapters at all costs, and some got there rather too quickly.
Good answers to this question were able to deal with the comic and tragic issues posed with confidence and a wide range of illustrations. Many candidates wrote about the Mussolini chapters well, often discussing chapter 35 as well chapter 2. They were able to deal with the idea of satire with understanding. We also noted confident and wellinformed references to Naziism, Fascism and Communism and the different levels at which they were dealt with in the text.
Weaker candidates were much less confident about doing anything other than describing the sections they chose for identification. They often recycled material from previous questions, provided character sketches of Dr Iannis or referred to the fates of the ‘little people’.