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Notes for Selections from
Carrie's War by Nina Bawden
(1973 Victor Gollancz London pages 124 - 125.)

Ex # 1 AK - Passages
Ex # 2 (Mixed Sub Clauses) AK G 8 L3.1.2 Sub Cl
Ex # 3 (Bending the Rules) AK - L6.1

Usage, the Rules, and Breaking the Rules

     These three exercises are actually one consecutive passage in the novel. I have broken them apart simply to create single-page exercises. The passage was suggested by Celia in Wollongong, Australia. I love her suggestions because they force me to look at texts that raise interesting questions. I must confess that, when I looked at the submitted text, I decided to get the book. I was not sure that Celia's transcription was correct, and I did not want to ask an embarrassing question. I figured that I would simply get the text and make any needed corrections. There weren't any. The text violates the rules.
     Three things in particular had caught my attention. The first was that there were no periods after "Mr" and "Mrs." But then, there aren't any in the text I checked either. This may be a question of British as opposed to American usage, but it also might give some thought to teachers who insist on having every period where it "belongs." The second thing was the sentence that begins "If she were him . . . ." Isn't that, I thought, supposed to be "If she were he"? This is, I should note, a point of usage, a point that grammarians (and many non-grammarians) will argue about. But I like the fact that the text does read "If she were him."  Teachers can use the passage to get into a discussion of formal vs. informal usage. Finally, there is the subordinate clause fragment -- "That Hepzibah had bewitched Mrs Gotobed . . ." You'll still find it at the end of Exercise #1. Exercise #3 also ends in a series of fragments.
     Although it was the "errors" that initially caught my attention, in the process of actually analyzing the passage I found some relatively rare constructions -- subjunctive mood, complex appositives, and a noun absolute that functions as a subject. These selections will present a challenge to most eighth graders.

     I might note that the passage intrigued me, and, since I had the book, I decided to read it. It is a great book for teenagers. The characters are well-developed. There are mystery, war, and witches, but most of all, there is sensitive, thoughtful, and caring Carrie. I am, by no means, an expert on children's literature, but much of what I have seen is, to put it crudely, egocentrically "Poor me." The idea of these works appears to be that if we show teenagers stories of people who share their problems -- divorced parents, loneliness, loss of identity, etc., the teenagers will somehow relate, feel better, and read more. I am not sure that that idea works. "Poor me" may simply feel more justified in its egocentricity. Because of the war, Carrie is separated from her parents, and, as she says at the end of the selected passage, "Life was unfair." But she is always thinking of others, not just herself. As she immediately goes on to note, "Poor Hepzibah and poor Mister Johnny. Poor Carrie and Nick, having to live here with this rude, unfair man for the rest of the war. For the rest of their lives, probably . . ."

This border is based on the 
1985 Chevers Press (Bath) edition of the book, illustrated by Faith Jaques.