Texte de Joanna Trollope


The scene takes place in Charleston, South Carolina.
« The gallery door to the street opened. "Dear," Sarah Cutworth said. "Grandmama!" "Your mother said you were working here–" Sarah paused and looked round. She wore a powder-blue linen two-piece and pearls. "Why," she said, "this is just precious." Gillon came forward to kiss her cheek. "I just waxed the floor." Sarah looked down. "You did?" Gillon nodded. "Cleaned every picture." She backed herself up against the table, shielding the sculptures. "I call this", Sarah said, "a lovely place to work." You get to meet people here. "Mostly people who don't quite buy a picture. And tourists." Sarah made a dismissive gesture. She had seldom herself been west of Virginia, and no further north than New York City, where she stayed, firmly, at the Waldorf Astoria(1) because of its welcoming Junior League floor(2). "Tourists. They are ruining this city." Gillon pointed. "Do you like that landscape, Grandmama?" Sarah looked. "No, dear." She took a few neat steps sideways and peered at the table. "What are those? Hallowe'en goblins?" "Sculptures, Grandmama. Figures of female deities." Sarah put out a trimly manicured small hand and picked up a soapstone goddess. She inspected it in silence. Then she returned it to the table. "Nice people", she said, "don't need to see such things." "It's art"– "Art", Sarah said firmly, "is not a licence for obscenity." Gillon put a reassuring finger on the soapstone goddess. "It isn't obscenity to many people, Grandmama. It's truth and beauty." "Don't argue with me, Gillon," Sarah said. She straightened and looked about her. "It's a charming place." "Yes." "More", Sarah said, "than I gather your present residence is?" "It's not too bad–" "Society Street," Sarah said. "What are you thinking of? It's quite bohemian." Gillon bit her lip. "It's cheap." "And what is the matter with your home? Or my home?" "I need my independence–" "You won't have one shred of independence, my girl, until you marry." Gillon turned the goddess round so that her solid little back was towards Sarah. "Is that why you came to see me, Grandmama? Did you come to find me here to tell me what you've told me at least one hundred times before?" "No," Sarah said, "I came to invite you to dinner." "Oh–" "I have met your perfectly charming English friend." She gave Gillon a coquettish look. "He is coming. He is delighted to come." "Henry–" "What a fine young man," Sarah said. "Grandmama," Gillon said, "Henry is not here as – as a kind of family play thing. Henry is here to work. Henry is here to take pictures of the lowcountry.(3)" "Your mother and father are very taken with him." "He's a nice guy–" " Miss Minda is making chicken enchiladas. And a German chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Or maybe sweetpotato-stuffed apples. What do you think?" "Either," Gillon said. "Anything–" Sarah leaned forward and brushed her cheek against her granddaughter's. "Find a dress, dear," she said. "Or a skirt at least. Just to please me." »
Joanna Trollope, Girl From the South, 2002

Compréhension de l'écrit
a) Choose the right answer. The characters are in a place where you can:
  • stay overnight
  • buy art
  • play games
  • get beauty treatments
b) Pick out three words from the text to justify your choice in the first question.
c) Copy the following paragraph and fill in the blanks using elements from the text (one blank is one word).
Gillon is a) ......'s b) ....... She works in a c) ....... d) ...... has come to e) ...... Gillon in order to f) ...... her for g) .......
Focus on Gillon
a) Where does she live exactly in Charleston?
b) Quote the three reasons why she chose that address.
a) Is she married?
b) Justify your answer in the previous question by quoting from the text.
4. Choose three adjectives among the following. Justify each answer with one quotation.
Gillon is .......
affectionate – aggressive – funny – furious – meticulous – rude – self-restrained
Focus on Sarah
5. Find three quotations showing that Sarah has a high standard of living.
6. Choose and copy the right statement from the following list.
  • Sarah has a supportive attitude towards Gillon.
  • Sarah's values are traditional.
  • Sarah is open-minded.
  • Sarah is patient.
  • Sarah is easily influenced.
a) Who or what do the underlined words refer to? Quote from the text.
  • "They are ruining this city."
  • "What are those?"
  • "It's quite bohemian."
b) Read the three sentences in the previous question. What can you conclude about Sarah's state of mind? (10 words maximum)
Read from "Gillon pointed." to "… Sarah said."
The conversation is about the works of art shown in the place.
a) Quote two words or phrases which Gillon uses to refer to them.
b) Quote two words or phrases which Sarah uses to refer to them.
c) What does the conversation reveal about their views on the topic? Explain in your own words. (20 words max.)
Read from "`No' Sarah said […]" to the end.
a) Who does "He" refer to?
b) Give information about this character (country of origin, age group, occupation). (15 words max.)
a) Quote two phrases illustrating what Sarah thinks of the character referred to in 9. a).
b) Quote two phrases illustrating how Gillon views that character.
c) Compare the two women's views on that character. (15 words max.)
a) Who invites the character mentioned in 9. a) for dinner?
b) What seems to be the real motivation behind this invitation? (10-15 words)
"`Find a dress, dear,' she said. `Or a skirt at least. Just to please me.'"
a) Who is the speaker?
b) Explain in your own words what the speaker actually means. (20 words max.)
Expression écrite
Les candidats de la série S choisiront de traiter l'un des deux sujets au choix (200 mots).
Les candidats de la série L devront obligatoirement traiter les deux sujets (300 mots au total, son environ 150 mots pour chaque sujet).
1. A week later, Gillon comes to Sarah's place for the dinner, wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Write the conversation.
2. Is a work of art necessarily beautiful? Illustrate your view with examples.
(1)The Waldorf Astoria: a luxury hotel.
(2)Junior League floor: an area of the hotel reserved for the association of the Junior Leagues of America.
(3)The lowcountry: South Carolina's coastal counties.


Compréhension de l'écrit
a) The characters are in a place where you can buy art.
b) The three words from the text that justify that the characters are in a place where you can buy art are: "gallery", "sculptures", "buy a picture".
c) Gillon is a) Sarah's b) granddaughter. She works in a c) gallery. d) Sarah has come to e) meet Gillon in order to f) invite her for g) dinner.
a) Gillon lives in Society Street in Charleston.
b) She chose that address to live here because it's bohemian, because it's cheap and because she needs her independence.
a) She is not married, she is single.
b) "You won't have a shred of independence, my girl, until you are married".
4. Gillon is:
  • affectionate: "Gillon came forward to kiss her cheek."
  • meticulous: "I just waxed the floor" "Cleaned every picture"
  • self-restrained: "Gillon bit her lip"
5. Sarah has a high standard of living since:
  • "She wore a powder-blue linen two-piece and pearls."
  • "where she stayed, firmly, at the Waldorf Astoria"
  • "Sarah put out a trimly manicured small hand"
  • "Miss Minda is making chicken enchiladas"
6. Sarah's values are traditional.
a) "they are ruining this city": "tourists"
"What are those?": "sculptures […] Figures of female deities"
"It's quite bohemian": "your present residence" "Society Street"
b) Sarah is very conservative not really open-minded. She criticizes many things. Obviously tourists are not welcome. She doesn't like the kind of art she sees since it is obscene to her and she disapproves of her granddaughter's place of residence which she finds a lower-class district.
a) "Sculptures"
"Figures of female deities"
"It's art"
b) "Hallowe'en goblins"
"`Art', […],`is not a licence for obscenity'"
c) The conversation reveals that Gillon and Sarah do not have the same point of view on art and they are really different. On the one hand, Gillon thinks art is really varied and on the other hand Sarah has a very traditional point of view and doesn't think primitive art is art but that it is obscene. Gillon is open-minded whereas Sarah is narrow-minded when it has to do with art.
a) He refers to Henry.
b) Henry is a young Englishman, he is a photographer.
a) "perfectly charming English friend", "What a fine young man".
b) "Henry is not a kind of family play thing", "He is a nice guy".
c) For Gillon, Henry is simply a friend and an artist, whereas for Sarah he is a potential husband for Gillon.
a) Henry is invited to dinner by Sarah.
b) The real motivation behind this invitation is to make Gillon and Henry meet and try to make them know each other better so that their friendly relationship may change and turn into a love affair as for Sarah and the family Henry is the perfect husband for Gillon.
a) The speaker is Sarah.
b) Sarah wants Gillon to dress for dinner, to change her look so has to be more attractive than she is to look more feminine.
Expression écrite
1. "Good evening Grandmother"
"Good evening Gillon. Dear, why are you wearing jeans and a t-shirt? I've asked you to dress when I invited you."
"Grandmother, that's the way I am used to dressing, and I'm not going to a stiff party but to have dinner with you."
"Gillon, we have a guest so at least you could have made an effort."
"Grandmother, I know that guest, he is a friend of mine, so I don't have to make effort for you and a friend "
"But Gillon, people dress for a dinner you know, even if I'm your Grandmother and if Henry is a friend of yours. That's the way people generally do."
"Grandmother, it is not a formal dinner and Henry is a guy who can perfectly understand what I think. You belong to another generation. Nowadays things have changed and people do not dress when they meet with a relative or with friends."
"Well at least that's what I would do and I think you should do the same, it is a way to respect people and to show we are attentive to them."
"Grandmother you really have to become aware that things are not what they used to be any longer. Besides, I perfectly understand that you want to attract Henry's attention on me. I'm not a fool and I know what you would like: you want to marry me with Henry, but he is only a friend and I'm afraid you won't succeed in your enterprise."
"Gillon, I think a woman like you should get married and I think that Henry is a very nice and charming man and that he would be a good husband for you."
"Grandmother I'm old enough to know if a man is good or bad for me and I will be the one who will choose my husband and decide to get married. Let's forget about that now, will you?"
2. I think we can't say a work of art is necessarily beautiful. The notion of beauty is very subjective and as a consequence very different from one person to another. What I think is beautiful may not be considered as beautiful by other people.
This is true in everyday life and consequently it is also true for art. In the text we can clearly see that for Gillon, primitive religious statues of deities are beautiful whereas her grandmother finds them obscene and doesn't like them.
This can also be the case for any kind of art. People like classical music but may not like modern music. Others may like old paintings by Rembrandt or Michael Angelo but may not like paintings by Picasso for instance.
Needless to say that we have all heard of an exhibition devoted to human bodies showing the inside of a corpse and that it has created a real debate among people who clearly had different points of view. For some it is art, and for others it is unbearable to display human corpses like that, they find it disgusting.
Throughout the centuries, there have always been debates on art. We all know that when a new trend in art appeared, there were those who clearly found that it was art and those who thought it was not art. It takes time for people to accept a new form of art and there are always some who won't find it is art.
To conclude, art and beauty are very subjective and may appeal to some and not to others. Art is not rational and it will never be, just like beauty. Each person who likes a work of art finds it beautiful but this view may not be shared by others.