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Baccalauréat 2004 - Sections: L

Corrigé

Nobody spoke.
Betty said, 'Good morning, everyone! Y'all waiting to see the royal train go by?'
Still nobody spoke. I felt her pressing closer to me.
'Peggy,' she whispered, 'let's hand round some gum or something, show them we're friendly.'
Audrey roared. 'Jeez, Betty,' she said, 'anybody'd think we were in Sioux territory.'
There were people there wearing black armbands, and a woman carrying a Union flag, no stockings on, just zip-front boots, and her hair rolled up in a scarf, and her legs all wind-burned behind her knees. She kept looking our way.
I smiled and nodded and next time I looked she'd moved a bit nearer. Audrey and Lois smiled and nodded, and she moved nearer still.
It was Lois made the breakthrough. 'Hi,' she said, 'I'm Lois Moon. You care for a stick of Juicy Fruit?'
Close up she was younger than she'd seemed. Thirty, maybe not even that. She just wasn't making the best of herself. Matter of fact, sometimes she still don't. Over the years, I have learned the average Englishwoman has scant interest in good grooming(1). She's more likely to buy herself a new garden tool than get her nails done. But I'm running ahead of myself. That morning, back in '52, she was plain shabby. And she couldn't take her eyes off Lois in her red jacket. She came and stood right next to her.
Betty found her voice again. She said, 'Do you happen to know the estimated time of arrival?'
She took a while to answer. Or maybe just took a while to understand the question. 'That won't be long now,' she said. 'That's only got to come from Wolverton.'
Betty said, 'The funeral train? But I understood it was coming from Sandring Ham?'
She looked at Betty for the longest time. 'That's right,' she said. 'They're bringing him from the house up to Wolverton, put him aboard the train and that's a fair old step, along that lane. That must be three miles, Jim?' She called across to a man in an armband. Looked like he didn't have a tooth in his head. 'Jim?' she said. That must be three miles from Sandringham to the siding?'
He didn't answer. Just blew his nose and turned his back on us. Didn't like her fraternising.
Lois whispered to me, 'How come we're getting the evil eye? I thought we were on the same side as these guys?'
Me too. In fact, my understanding was we were owed a little gratitude.
Betty said, 'Well, we're very sorry for your sad loss.' She said it loud, kinda addressing the assembled throng. 'Your royal family is the envy of the world. And the folks back home are just gonna die when they hear about us being here, so close to it all.'
Audrey said, 'Well, I don't know that die was the happiest choice of words.'
Lois said, 'You guys see them around much? The King and Queen? They drive around in their carriage, waving and be-knighting(2) people and stuff ?'
I heard somebody say, 'Bloody Yanks.'
Then things started to happen. First there was a humming in the rails, and then the ground started to rumble and people were pushing forward, craning and looking left. We could feel that something big was heading our way, bearing down on us, but we couldn't see it.
And then, out of the mist it came, real slow and heavy, a Standard Pacific engine and nine cars, dressed overall in black silk. Someone called out 'God save the King!' and every man there held his cap in his hand and bowed his head.
'And the Queen,' Lois's new friend shouted. 'Don't forget her!'
I didn't bow my head. I didn't intend no disrespect, but we had driven there to see a princess at the very least. I looked long and hard as it passed us, but what with the steam and the mist, I couldn't even pick out which car the casket(3) was in. Audrey nudged me to look at Betty. She was standing to attention, eyes closed, with a kinda ecstatic look on her face. Then the train slid away, back into the mist, and the ground stopped rumbling and the rails stopped humming and Lois said, 'Well, I didn't see a darned thing.'
To her dying day Betty claimed she'd had the best view ever. The Queen, all veiled in black, and the princess very pale and strained, in a little velour hat and a mink collared coat, who had actually given her a sad wave of thanks.

Laurie Graham, The Future Homemakers of America, 2001

1. Give the narrator's name.
______________________________________________________________________________

 

2. a) When does the scene take place ?
______________________________________________________________________________

b) What do the underlined pronouns refer to ?

'That's only got to come from Wolverton.' (line 23) : ________________________________
'They're bringing him from the house' (lines 25-26) : _________________________________
c) In your own words, explain why the characters have gathered on that day.
______________________________________________________________________________

d) Describe the mood that prevails among the British people there. Justify your answer with four quotations from the text.

______________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________

 

3. In the crowd, there are also American people. Give their names.
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

4. Describe the Americans' behaviour towards the group of British people. (40-50 words)
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

5. a) What is the general feeling towards the Americans ? How does that feeling show ? Use your own words. (40-50 words)
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

 

b) Focus on lines 31 to 33 and say how the protagonists react to that feeling.
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

 

c) What in the historical context makes them think that they 'were on the same side as these guys' and that they 'were owed a little gratitude.' ?
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

 

6. One British character doesn't have the same attitude towards the Americans as the others.
a) What relationship does the character try to establish with them and how ? (30 words)
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

b) How does that character feel about the Americans ? Pick out the sentence that best exemplifies that feeling.
______________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________

 

7. a) Focus on Betty's words and reactions throughout the text. What do they reveal about her personality ? (50 words)
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

b) What words spoken by another person reveal a similar reaction ?
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

c) Comment on Audrey's reaction to Betty's words.
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

8. Focus on the passage from line 41 to the end.
a) What is the climax of the passage ?
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

b) How do the protagonists gradually perceive the scene ?
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

c) Is the event up the expectations of all the characters ?
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Expression

Choose one of these subjects (300 words approximately. Write down the number of words.)
Subject 1 : Some people develop a fascination for royalties or celebrities. How do you account for that ?
Subject 2 : Imagine you can travel back to the past. Write a story describing your arrival in the period of your choice.

 

 

Translate from line 14 ("Close up she was younger ...") to line 23 ("... won't be long now, she said.")

 

Corrigé

 

 











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