Read the extract from The Teacher by Catherine Lim. Please refer to the image.    I need some help on question B(Literary Analysis). What is your impression of the student and do you sympathize with her? Support your answer with evidence from the passage.  Thanks

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To complete a literary analysis in  answering the question about feeling sympathy towards the girl mentioned in this extract from The Teacher by Catherine Lim, it is necessary to establish a context for the passage. 

The teacher mocks his students and feigns interest in them but the reader is drawn towards the girl Tan Geok Peng as she struggles with her English studies. Even though language skills and mastery are apparently the central issues of this passage (certainly to the teacher), the reader learns a lot about Tan Geok Peng which unfortunately her teacher fails to do!

Consider any main ideas and support them with textual evidence such as the girl's desperate circumstances as she has an abusive father which becomes clear in her essay when she writes "only he must drink....and sometimes he beats my mother." The girl's obvious devotion to her mother and siblings is testament to her desire to achieve her "ambition" and make a better life for them all as she "must strive very hard." 

In forming a topic sentence, the tragic irony of the situation with a teacher who places grammatical proficiency above basic survival should be noted. He fails to recognize Tan Geok Pen's desperation although he is quick to recognize the "nonsense" that she writes. So a basic observation could be: 

  • A teacher so quick to recognize shortcomings in others without being aware of his own     OR
  • A tragedy that could have been avoided if the teacher had recognized Tan Geok Pen's attempt to communicate despite her poor grammar            OR
  • how sad that a teacher versed in the art of communication failed to appreciate the attempts of Tan Geok Pen

"If only she had told me of her problems" is the teacher's response to her apparent suicide. The reader is inclined to be angry at the teacher for his (or her) lack of understanding and his absorption in his own self. The word use is important as "the poor teacher" and "that girl will be the death of me" reveal truths that, even after her suicide will unfortunately not be apparent to the obtuse teacher.

So based on the above analysis, the reader can only feel sympathy to wards the "mousy-looking girl" who tried so hard to make herself "heard" but with tragic results.  

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