Texte d'Elisabeth George

Énoncé

« "Why aren't you in class? Have you dropped out again?" "Quit. I needed more free time to do the papers. That's taken off in a very big way. I've got to tell you, the number of conscienceless college students these days just boggles the mind, Chine. If I wanted to do this for a career, I'd probably be able to retire when I'm forty." China rolled her eyes. The papers were term papers, take-home essay tests, the occassional master's thesis, and, so far, two doctoral dissertations. Cherokee wrote them for university students who had the cash and who couldn't be bothered to write the papers themselves. This had long ago raised the question of why Cherokee – who'd never received less than a B on something he'd written for payment – couldn't himself get up the steam to remain in college. He'd been in and out of the University of California so many times that the institution practically had a revolving door with his name above it. But Cherokee had a facile explanation for his exceedingly blotted college career. "If the UC(1) system would just pay me to do my work what the students pay me to do their work, I'd do the work." "Does Mom know you've dropped out again?" she asked her brother. "I've cut the strings." "Sure you have." China hadn't had lunch, and she was beginning to feel it. She pulled out the fixings for a salad from the refrigerator and from the cupboard took down one plate, a subtle hint that she hoped her brother would take. "So, ask me." He dragged a chair out from the kitchen table and plopped down. He reached for one of the apples that a dyed basket held in the centre of the table and he had it all the way to his mouth before he seemed to realise it was artificial. She unwrapped the romaine and began to tear it onto her plate. "Ask you what?" "You know. You're avoiding the question. Okay. I'll ask it for you. 'What's the big plan, Cherokee? What've you got going? Why won't you be needing a car?' The answer: because I'm getting a boat. And the boat's going to provide it all. Transportation, income, and housing." "You just keep thinking, Butch," China murmured, more to herself than to him. In so many ways Cherokee had lived his thirty-three years like that Wild West outlaw. There was always a scheme to get rich quick, have something for nothing, and live the good life. "No," he said. "Listen. This is sure-fire. I've already found the boat. It's down in Newport. It's a fishing boat. Right now it takes people out from the harbour. […] It needs some work but I'd live on the boat while I fixed it up. Buy what I need at marine chandleries – don't need a car for that – and I'd take people out year-round." "What d'you know about fishing? What d'you know about boating? And where're you getting the money, anyway?" China chopped off part of a cucumber and began slicing it onto the romaine. She considered her question in conjunction with her brother's propitious arrival on her doorstep and said, "Cherokee, don't even go there." "Hey. What d'you think I am? I said that I've got something going, and I do. Hell. I thought you'd be happy for me. I didn't even ask Mom for the money." "Not that she has it." "She's got the house. I could've asked her to sign it over to me so I could get a second on it and raise the money that way. She would've gone for it. You know she would." There was truth in that, China thought. When hadn't she gone for one of Cherokee's schemes? He's asthmatic had been her excuse in childhood. It had simply mutated through the years to he's a man. That left China herself as the choice of a source. She said, "Don't think of me, either, okay? What I've got goes to me, to Matt, and to the future." "As if." Cherokee pushed away from the table. He walked to the kitchen door and opened it, resting his hands on the frame and looking out into the sun-parched back yard. "As if what?" "Forget it." China washed two tomatoes and began to chop them. She cast a glance at her brother and saw that he was frowning and chewing on the inside of his lower lip. She could read Cherokee River like a billboard at fifty yards. There were machinations going on in his mind. "I've got money saved," he said. "Sure, it's not enough but I've got a chance to make a little bundle that'll help me out." "And you're saying that you haven't hitchhiked all the way up here to ask me to make a contribution? You spent twenty-four hours on the side of the road in order to make a social call? To tell me your plans? To ask me if I'm going to Mom's for Thanksgiving? This isn't exactly computing, you know. There're telephones. E-mail. Telegrams. Smoke signals." He turned from the doorway and watched her brushing the dirt from four mushrooms. "Actually." he finally said, "I've got two free tickets to go to Europe and I thought my little sister might like to tag along. That's why I'm here. To ask you to go. You've never been, have you? Call it an early Christmas present." China lowered her knife. "Where the hell did you get two free tickets to Europe?" »
Elizabeth George, A place Of Hiding, 2003

Compréhension
1. In what country does the story take place? Justify your answer by quoting the text.
2. The letters correspond to missing elements. Find them.
The main male character is called a)...... b)....... He is also referred to as c)....... He is d)...... years old.
The main female character is called e)....... She is also referred to as f)....... She is g)...... than he is.
They meet in h)......'s kitchen.
3. How are they related to each other? Justify your answer by a quotation from the text.
Questions 4 and 5. Read from the beginning of the text to "…she asked her brother".
4. "Why aren't you in class? Have you dropped out again?" What do the female character's questions seem to imply? (15 words)
5. 
a) Explain in your own words what the male character does for a living (20 words).
b) How profitable an occupation is that? Justify your answer by quoting the text.
Question 6, 7 and 8. Read from "I've cut the strings…" to "…slicing it onto the romaine".
6. The female character seems unwilling to prolong the meeting. Prove it by quoting the text.
7. Explain what the male character's "big plan" consists in. (20 words)
8. How does the female character react to his project? Give her arguments. (20 words)
Questions 9, 10 and 11. Read from "She considered…" to "Forget it".
9. "Cherokee, don't even go there." What does the female character mean?
Choose the right statement:
❑ She warns him against considering such a plan.
❑ She doesn't want him to come inside.
❑ She won't let him borrow her car.
❑ She doesn't want him to rob a bank.
10. 
a) Choose one of the following adjectives to describe the male character's reaction to her insinuations.
❑ frightened; ❑ envious
❑ curious; ❑ outraged
b) Pick out elements from the text to support your answer.
11. 
From "She's got the house…" to "he's a man."
a) Who does the pronoun "she" refer to?
b) Why is "she" criticised by China?
Questions 12, 13 and 14. Read from "China washed two tomatoes… to the end of the text.
12. What is the real purpose of the male character's visit?
13. What is the female character's reaction to the news?
14. Analyse her perception of the other character. (20 words)
Expression
Choose subject 1 or subject 2.
1. 
a) Getting a boat is a sign of freedom. What's your personal reaction to this statement? (150 words)
b) "Where the hell did you get two free tickets to Europe?"
Write a sequel to the passage. (150 words)
2. Do you look forward to going to university or would you rather consider going into working life soon? (300 words)
(1)UC : University of California.

Corrigé

Compréhension
1. The story takes place in the USA, in California.
  • The "University of California" / "UC".
  • "Thanksgiving".
  • "Mom" / "realise", both words written with the American spelling.
2. The main character is called a) "Cherokee" b) "River." He is also referred to as c) "Butch." He is d) "33" years old.
The female character is called e) "China." She is also referred to as f) "Chine". She is g) "younger" than he is.
They meet in h) "China"/ "Chine" 's kitchen.
3. They are brother and sister.
  • "She asked her brother".
  • "her brother".
  • "my little sister".
4. The female character's questions seem to imply that he is used to giving up courses and never completing them.
5. 
a) To earn his living the male character writes essays and dissertations for students who don't want to do them and he gets paid for that.
b) It seems it is quite a profitable occupation.
"If I wanted to do it for a career, I'd probably be able to retire when I'm forty."
6. The female character doesn't seem to want to prolong the meeting since:
  • She "took down one plate, a subtle hint that she hoped her brother would take."
  • She "began to tear it onto her plate."
7. The male character's plan consists in getting a second hand fishing boat that he intends to repair so as to take tourists on sea trips. He will also live on board the ship.
8. The female character strongly disapproves of his foolish project because she thinks it is totally unrealistic, as he knows nothing about boats and fishing.
9. 
a) She warns him against considering such a plan.
10. 
a) As she has a very low opinion of him, he feels outraged.
b) "Hey. What d'you think I am? […] Hell. I thought you'd be happy for me."
11. 
a) The pronoun "she" refers to their mother.
b) China criticises her mother because she thinks she has always been too lenient with him and even overindulgent.
12. The male character has come to offer his sister to come with him to Europe as he has got two free tickets.
13. The female character is suspicious. She thinks he is getting involved in some kind of fishy business once again.
14. She thinks she knows him inside out and sees him as a crook. She thinks he cannot be trusted. That's why she thinks his visit can't be totally disinterested.
Expression
1. 
a) Pour ce sujet, il faudra penser à définir ce qu'est la liberté et à peser le pour et le contre. Si avoir un bateau semble être un signe de liberté, il est toutefois clair que cette liberté a ses limites et c'est ce qu'il ne faudra pas oublier de montrer.
b) Comme il s'agit d'écrire une suite au texte, il faudra veiller à garder le même style et le même niveau de langue. Pensez aussi à respecter la psychologie des personnages pour rester logique avec ce qui précède. N'oubliez pas non plus de faire parler China qui doit rester sceptique face aux propos de son frère.
2. On the one hand, we can't really say that studies are essential to find a job. We all have around us people who are dropouts, which has not prevented them from finding a job, however very often a manual one. Moreover, in France there are still competitive examinations to become a civil servant, which does not require a diploma.
Nevertheless, nowadays employers more than often look for people who have diplomas considered as labels of qualification and selection. It can't be denied that when you look for a job you have a much wider range of opportunities if you have a diploma. Furthermore, you are quite sure that you will get a better salary in comparison with the one people receive when they are unqualified.
But on the other hand, going into working life is a turning point. Generally many teenagers find their first job at the occasion of summer holidays. They want to earn money to buy what they fancy.
This is also a way to feel more mature, to get closer to adulthood as they want to gain financial independence. Furthermore it also gives them a job experience that is more than often necessary nowadays when you look for a job once you have finished your studies and have your diploma.
These jobs pave the way to the ones they will look for and get later. It teaches them how to work in a team or with colleagues and quite often you have to be autonomous. We can say that it is a way to come of age, to really feel you are an adult and to become self-reliant. It is one of the major turning points in someone's life.
So making one's mind is not easy, but we can say that the decision depends on the kind of job people want to do and the kind of life they want to have in the future.
To conclude, we can say that, owing to the economic situation, it is better to have completed one's studies successfully in order to find a job more easily.