Texte de Jonathan Kellerman


« Midway through the ninth year of Irma's employment, Dr Marilyn Lattimore came down with an uncharacteristic cold and was home for two days. It was in the breakfast room that the conversation took place. Dr Marilyn sat reading the paper and sipping tea and dabbing at her red, drippy nose. Irma was in the adjoining kitchen, had removed the covers of the stove-burners and was scrubbing them single-mindedly. "Do you believe this, Irma? A week of surgeries and I come down with this arrogant little virus." Dr Marilyn's voice, normally husky, now bordered on masculine. "Back in medical school, Irma, when I rotated through pediatrics, I caught every virus known to mankind. And later, of course, when I had the children. But it's been years since I've been sick and I find this positively insulting. I'm sure some patient gave it to me. I'd just like to know who so I could thank them personally." Dr Marilyn was a pretty woman, small, with honey-colored hair, who looked much younger than her age. She walked two miles every morning at six a.m. Irma said, "You strong, you get better soon." "I certainly hope so… thank you for that bit of optimism, Irma… would you be a dear and get me some of the fig preserve for my toast?" Irma fetched the jar and brought it over. "Thank you, dear." "Something else, Doctor Em?" "No, thank you, dear. Are you all right, Irma?" Irma forced a smile. "Yes." "You're sure?" "Sure, yes, Doctor Em." "Hmm… don't spare me because of my cold. If there's something on your mind, get it out." Irma started to head back to the kitchen. "Dear", Dr Marilyn called after her, "I know you well, and its obvious something's on your mind. You wore that exact same look until we had your papers taken care of. Then you did it again, worrying about whether or not the amnesty would take effect. Something's definitely on your mind." "I fine, Doctor Em." "Irma." "I worry about Isaac." "Isaac? Is he all right?" "Yes, he very good. Very smart." Irma broke down in tears. "He's smart and you're crying? said Dr Marilyn. "Am I missing something?" They had tea and fig jam on thin toast and Irma told Dr Marilyn all of it. How Isaac kept coming home from school crying with frustration and boredom. How he'd finished all of his sixth-grade(1) work in two months, taken it upon himself to "borrow" seventh- and eighth- and even some ninth- grade books and had sped through them as well. Finally, he was caught reading a pre-algebra workbook slipped out of a supply room and was sent to the principal's office for "unauthorized study and irregular behavior". Irma visited the school, tried to handle it on her own. The principal had nothing but disdain for Irma's simple clothes and thick accent; her firm suggestion was that Isaac stop being "precocious" and concentrate on conforming to "class standards." When Irma tried to point out that the boy was well ahead of class standards, the principal cut her off and informed her that Isaac was just going to have to be content repeating everything. "That's outrageous," said Dr Marilyn. "Absolutely outrageous. There, there, dry your eyes… three years ahead? On his own?" "Two, some three." "My eldest, John, was somewhat like that. Not quite as smart as your Isaac seems to be, but school was always tedious for him because he moved too fast. Oh, dear, we had some dustups with him… Now John's the chief resident(2) in psychiatry at Stanford(3)." Dr Marilyn brightened. "Perhaps your Isaac could be a physician. Wouldn't that be fabulous, Irma?" Irma nodded, half listening as Dr Marilyn prattled. "A child that bright, Irma, there's no limit… Give me that principal's number and I'll have a little chat with her." She sneezed, coughed, wiped her nose. Laughed. "With this baritone, I'll sound positively authoritative." Irma didn't speak. "What's the number, dear?" Silence. "Irma?" "I don' wan' no trouble, Dr Em." "You've already got trouble, Irma. Now we have to find a solution." »
Adapted fromJonathan Kellerman, Twisted, 2005

There are five characters in this passage.
a) Identify them, saying whether they are present or mentioned.
b) Who does "Doctor Em" refer to?
c) Say how the five characters are connected or related.
Read from the beginning of the text to "missing something?"
a) Why is Doctor Lattimore at home on that particular day?
b) Pick out two expressions used by Doctor Lattimore, showing how she feels about her condition.
c) Say why she uses these expressions.
a) Quote Doctor Lattimore's words when she suddenly realizes that there is something wrong with Irma.
b) Analyse Irma's reaction, focusing on these quotations:"Irma forced a smile" and "Irma started to head back to the kitchen". (20-30 words)
a) From "Dear" to "Irma": analyse Doctor Lattimore's reaction at that point and comment on the use of italics. (20-30 words)
b) From "I worry" to "missing something?": is Doctor Lattimore satisfied with Irma's reaction? (20-30 words)
Read from "They had tea" to the end.
a)  In your own words explain why Isaac comes home from school "crying with frustration and boredom"? (30 words)
b) The principal reproaches Isaac for "unauthorized study and irregular behavior". What exactly does she refer to?
6. Describe the way the principal behaved towards Irma when they met (2 elements).
a) How does Dr Lattimore react to the principal's attitude towards Isaac?
b) Why does Dr Lattimore mention her son John in this quotation: "My eldest, John, was somewhat like that"? (20-30 words)
c) What solution does Doctor Lattimore propose?
8. Describe and analyse the contrasting attitudes of Irma and Dr Lattimore at the end of the passage (30-40 words).
Choose one of the following subjects (250 words approximately. Give the number of words.)
1. Doctor Lattimore finally decides to pay a visit to the principal. Imagine what happens.
2. Some parents prefer their children to be taught at home. In your opinion what are their motivations? Give your point of view.
Translate into French from "Dr Marilyn was a pretty woman…" to "Thank you, dear." and from "They had tea…" to "them as well".
(1)Sixth-grade : correspond à la classe de 6e.
(2)Resident : interne.
(3)Stanford (University) : université prestigieuse de Californie.


a) Two characters are present: Doctor Marilyn Lattimore and Irma. Three characters are mentioned: Isaac, John and the principal of Isaac's school.
b) Doctor Em refers to Doctor Marilyn Lattimore.
c) Doctor Lattimore employs Irma. Isaac is Irma's son. John is Doctor Lattimore's son. The principal is the head of Isaac's school.
a) She has got a cold, a dripping nose. She is ill. She has got a virus and has been sick for two days.
b) "arrogant little virus"
"I find this positively insulting."
c) She is normally very fit. She has not been sick like that for ages.
a) "Are you all right, Irma?"
b) Although she has got a problem, she pretends she is fine. She tries to avoid further questions by leaving the room. She is reluctant to speak about her situation. She is embarrassed, ill at ease and worried.
a) She is certain that Irma is hiding something. She wants to show her sympathy and her concern. The words in italics show that she insists so as to make her tell the truth and explain what's wrong.
b) She does not understand. It's not logical for a mother not to be pleased to have a son who is intelligent, and so she says, "Am I missing something?"
a) He is a lot better than other pupils are so the lessons are too slow for him that's why he gets bored. He would like to learn more and faster.
b) She reproaches Isaac for reading a pre-algebra book, which was too advanced for him.
6. She looked down on Irma and showed she felt superior to her. She didn't listen to her and interrupted her.
a) She is shocked by the principal's attitude.
b) Doctor Lattimore's son, John, was also a smart pupil. Like Isaac, he got bored at school because he understood everything very quickly, which was a source of problems.
c) She proposes to call the principal so as to solve the problem.
8. Doctor Lattimore sounds determined. Nothing will prevent her from calling the principal. Irma, on the contrary, is reluctant. She does not give Doctor Lattimore the phone number at once. She may be afraid of the consequences on her son's future in that school.
1. Il sera certainement utile de présenter le travail comme une narration dans laquelle il y aura un dialogue entre les deux personnages pour lesquels il ne faudra pas oublier de prendre en compte la psychologie, le comportement et l'état d'esprit afin de rester cohérent avec le texte. Ne pas oublier non plus de garder le même niveau de langue.
2. A majority of parents send their children to school, but some prefer their children to be taught at home for different reasons.
In England, it has long been a sort of tradition to teach children at home when the family belonged to the upper social class not to say the aristocracy. Parents thought school was not meant for their offsprings since everybody was able to attend such schools. They had an alternative that consisted in sending them to public schools where only children from the same social class were taught or to have them taught at home at least for the years corresponding to primary school. This was probably a way to protect them from everyday school life and not to mix with anybody. These children had their own teachers or private tutors.
Times have changed and nowadays this tradition has almost disappeared, but there are still parents who do not want their children to be taught at school which is true in other countries as well.
These parents are probably overprotective and think that school is a problem because there children have to socialize, which is a form of trauma for them. They think they have to protect them from the so-called threats they may have to face if they attend school. Other parents think that schools are not adapted and do not believe or trust teachers. They consider that forcing children to observe strict rules and a preset curriculum is a bad thing that is not fulfilling and prevents their children from asserting their personality.
Others may have suffered during their school years and do not want their children to experience the same situation.
That's why some parents prefer their children to be taught at home so as to protect them from school environment and to let them learn what they want. They don't want to traumatise them which may be a problem later on when they have to face everyday life and its problems. We may wonder if they will be able to fit in the society we live in without having socialised.
Le docteur Marilyn était une jolie femme, de petite taille, aux cheveux blond doré qui semblait/ faisait/ paraissait beaucoup plus jeune que son âge. Elle faisait trois kilomètres à pied tous les matins à six heures.
Irma dit : « Vous z'êtes solide, vous s'rez mieux bientôt. » 
« J'espère bien… merci pour cette touche d'optimisme, Irma… vous seriez gentille de m'apporter un peu de confiture de figue pour mes toasts, ma chère. » 
Irma alla chercher le pot et le lui apporta.
« Merci ma chère. »
Elle prirent le/ du thé avec de fines tranches de pain grillé et de la confiture de figues et Irma raconta toute l'histoire au Docteur Marilyn. Comment Isaac rentrait tout le temps/ à chaque fois de l'école en pleurant de frustration et d'ennui. Comment il avait fini/ bouclé tout son programme de sixième en deux mois, avait pris l'initiative « d'emprunter » des livres de cinquième, de quatrième et même quelques livres de troisième et comment de surcroît, il en était très vite venu à bout.