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Aufgabe II

Aufgaben
Download als Dokument:PDF
1.
Outline the conflict in the Petersen family.
2.
Compare this conflict with the conflicts depicted in Billy Elliot and “My Son the Fanatic.”
3.
You are taking part in the international school project “Young People and Their Dreams.” Your contribution is an article for the project website. Write the article in which you discuss whether young people should follow their dreams regardless of what their parents say.
#hakannesser#hanifkureishi#outline
Material 2
$\;$

Text: Excerpt from David Nicholls, Us (2014)

The first-person narrator, Douglas Petersen, is a scientist. His wife Connie is an artist. Their seventeen-year-old son Albie has started experimenting with photography.
$\;$
[Albie]'s a mumbler, a swallower of words. Despite spending the last six years in a perfectly nice part of Berkshire, he speaks in a bored Cockney drawl[1] because God forbid anyone should think his father has done well or worked hard. God forbid anyone should think that he's comfortable and cared for and loved, loved equally by both of his parents even if he only seems to desire and require the attentions of one.
5
In short, my son makes me feel like his step-father.
I have had some experience of unrequited love in the past and that was no picnic, I can tell you. But the unrequited love of one's only living offspring has its own particular slow acid burn.
[…]
Albie announced his intention to devote his life to a hobby. Why, I asked Connie, could he not study a more
10
practical subject and do the things he enjoyed at weekends and in the evenings, like the rest of us? Because that's not how an arts-based course works, said Connie; he needs to be challenged, to develop his famous 'eye'[2], learn to use his tools. But wouldn't it be cheaper and quicker to just read the manual? I could understand if people still used darkrooms as I had as a young man, but all of that know-how was obsolete, and how could Albie hope to excel in a field where anyone with a phone and a laptop could be
15
broadly proficient? It wasn't even as if he wanted to be a photojournalist or a commercial photographer, taking pictures for newspapers or advertisements or catalogues. He didn't want to photograph models or weddings, athletes, or lions chasing gazelles, photographs that people might pay for, he wanted to be an artist, to photograph burnt-out cars and bark, taking pictures at such angles that they didn't look like anything at all. What would he actually do for three years, apart from smoke and sleep? And what
20
professional job could he hope for at the end of it?
'Photographer!' said Connie. 'He's going to be a photographer.'
We were pacing around the kitchen, furiously tidying up, by which I mean tidying up, furious. Wine had been drunk and it was late, the end of a long, fraught[3] argument that, as was his way, Albie had provoked then fled from. 'Don't you see?' said Connie, hurling cutlery at the drawer. 'Even if it's hard, he has to try! If he
25
loves it, we have to let him try. Why must you always have to stomp on his dreams?'
'I've got nothing against his dreams as long as they're attainable.'
'But if they're attainable then they're not dreams.'
'And that's why it's a waste of time!' I said. 'The problem with telling people that they can do anything they want to do is that it is objectively, factually inaccurate. Otherwise the whole world would just be ballet
30
dancers and pop stars."
"He doesn't want to be a pop star, he wants to take photographs."
"My point still stands. It is simply not true that you can achieve anything if you love it enough - it just isn't. Life has limitations and the sooner he faces up to this fact then the better off he'll be!"
Well, that's what I said. I believed I had my son's best interests at heart. That was why I was so vocal[4],
35
because I wanted him to have a secure professional life, a good life. Listening up in his bedroom, no doubt he had caught all of my words and none of my intention.
Still, the argument was not my finest moment. I had become shrill and dogmatic but even so I was surprised to discover that Connie was now standing still, wrist pressed to her forehead.
'When did it start, Douglas?' she said, her voice low. 'When did you start to drain the passion out of everything?'
Quelle: David Nicholls, Us (2014; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2015), pp. 49-53.

Annotations
[1] Cockney drawl: East London working-class accent
[2] to develop one's eye: here_ to develop a sense for the perfect photo
[3] fraught: showing or producing tension or anxiety
[4] vocal: outspoken
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$\blacktriangleright$  1. Outline conflict
In the excerpt from David Nicholl's "Us" from 2014, a typical scene is being shown, a conflict between the parents Douglas and Connie and their son Albie that in the end turns out to become a conflict between husband and wife as well.
Introduction
The family is undergoing a lot of conflicts at the time given. First of all, it needs to be said that three different characters collide with each other. There is Albie's father Douglas who is a scientist and rather practical, then there is his mother Connie who is an artist, and there's Albie who wants to become a photographer, an artist, as well. Due to those differences, there is a general conflict going on between father and son. Douglas feels rejected by his son although he loves him just like the mother does. He is sad because Albie speaks a dialect of the working class in order to not being associated with his father or the honorable work as a scientist that he is doing. All in all, Albie makes Douglas feel as if he were the evil step-father.
The situation at hand complicates the difficult father-son-relationship as well: Albie chooses to make art photography his career. His mother, being an artist herself, is excited about this choice, claiming that it is important to take classes for learning how to use the different tools. She also wants her son to try out different things in his life and supports him throughout everything. She is the one who wants Albie to realize his dreams.
However, Douglas cannot understand Albie's choice, claiming that Albie should do something more practical with which he could earn more money or something more normal, just like everyone else is doing. He does not like the fact, that his son is "special" in his eyes. He also doesn't take the dream of his son seriously by saying that everyone with a camera and a laptop could be a photographer. Moreover, he is worried about his son's future and he starts making prejudices about Albie using drugs in the future. Hence, Douglas does not want to accept an unreasonable career choice and wants him to be more realistic. Basically, Douglas does not believe in his own son and does not assign him the skills to overcome obstacles or limitations that this job or life in general might bring with it. In addition, he is aware that his words are harsh and he is also aware that Albie has overheard all of them but Douglas simply states that Albie wouldn't listen to his intentions.
Moreover, the argument about Albie's career plans reveals problems in his parents' relationship due to different attitudes towards life. They both actually can't deal with the practical and free-spirited sides of each other. The argument of the excerpt leads to Connie shockingly wondering when Douglas started to drain all the passion out of everything.
Main Part
In conclusion, there are three major conflicts going on. There is the difficult father-son-relationship, then there is the conflict between Connie and Douglas about Albie's future and finally the fundamental conflict between Connie and Douglas about their differentiating attitudes toward life.
Conclusion
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Compare the father-son-relationships in "My Son the Fanatic", "Us" and "Billy Elliot"
The father-son-relationships in "My Son the Fanatic" by Hanif Kureishi, "Us" by David Nicholls and "Billy Elliot" by Stephen Daldry have one thing in common: they are all rather complicated. However, the relationships in those three different media have a lot of similarities and other differences as well.
Introduction
When comparing the relationship between Douglas and his son Albie in "Us" and the one between Jackie and Billy in "Billy Elliot" one thing becomes pretty obvious: both of the fathers don't really understand the career choices of their sons and are disappointed in them because they wanted their sons to walk in their footprints. Moreover, both Jackie and Douglas want them to have decent and reputable jobs that offer their sons some money and a good life. What is more, both sons have made career choices in the fields of art - Billy in dancing and Albie in photographing.
Main Part
similarities
  • career choices
  • disappointment
  • wish for decent jobs
  • career in the arts
However, the relationships in those two stories differentiate from another as well. For instance, Albie is supported by his mother, who is also an artist, whereas Billy finds support by his teacher Mrs Wilkinson. Both the female figures convince their protégés to follow their dreams and to be perseverant about it. In addition, Mrs Petersen functions as a mediator between father and son, in "Billy Elliot", there isn't even a mother in the Elliot family. Also, Billy's career choice defies traditional gender roles, Albie's choice is rather unspectacular instead. With regard to career choices, Billy's father had very specific career plans for his son to be a boxer - Douglas rather wants his son to do something practical. The relationships between father and son differs greatly as well. Billy wants his father to be proud of him, their relationship is also stable but rather unloving. Albie instead does not feel any affections or associations towards his father although Douglas is a loving father seeking appreciation from his son. The two stories differ from each other on the confrontational level, too. Billy faces a direct confrontation or argument with his father about what's wrong with ballet; Albie does not have an argument with his father, at least he had fled from it.
All in all, one could say that the similarities lie in the fathers having wished for different jobs for their sons. The differences can be found in the mother-role and gender roles, and the relationships between father and son themselves.
differences
  • mother / teacher
  • gender roles
  • mother role
  • career plans of father
  • feelings towards father
  • confrontation father / son
If you compare "Us" by David Nicholls with "My Son the Fanatic" by Hanif Kureishi, you can find a lot of differences and similarities in the father-son-conflict, too. What is similar is that both fathers cannot understand the choices their sons have made - neither Albie's career choice nor Ali's choice of lifestyle. Also, they both don't feel empathy towards their sons, their way of life is the only one that counts. However, both sons do not appreciate the efforts that their fathers make and mainly reject them - Albie by adapting another dialect and Ali by embracing the Muslim religion, when his father has strictly renounced being a Muslim. This is especially hard since both fathers want their sons to be more like themselves. Moreover, they are both worried about the future of their sons, and both assume their sons would take drugs which indicates that they don't have a really trustworthy relationship.
similarities
  • understanding choices
  • appreciation of fathers' efforts
  • rejection by sons
  • worries about sons' futures
  • no empathy
What the stories do not have in common is that the conflicts take place in different realms. In "Us" the conflict is more about the career choices whereas in "My Son the Fanatic" it is more about religion and the lifestyle that accompanies it. In addition, in terms of the sons' perspective, Parvez has struggled hard to offer Ali a prospective future by immigrating and by working hard as a taxi driver - Albie is rather free to choose whatever he wants to do financially spoken. Also, the mothers are playing different roles. Mrs Petersen is functioning as a mediator between father and son whereas Ali's mother does not play a significant or decisive role in the Parvez family. The relationships between the fathers and sons are different as well. At the beginning, Parvez tries to talk to his son about the problems - Douglas only talks to his son indirectly since Albie is sitting in his room and overhearing the conversation between his parents. However, the confrontation between Parvez and Ali even gets physical, with Parvez hitting Ali. Douglas does not seem the type to ever hitting his son instead.
differences
  • type of conflict
  • mother role
  • confrontation
  • enabling future
To sum it up, the sotries have in common that both fathers are not understanding or empathising with their sons and are thus rejected by it. Different here are the mother roles and the type of confrontations and conflicts.
Conclusion
$\blacktriangleright$  Write an article
In life, we face many choices. But we do not only have to decide things, we are also driven by our dreams. Dreams like travelling the world, becoming a popstar, studying philosophy or founding your own company. And these dreams sound amazing! But sometimes, the only thing that prevents you from following your dreams are your parents. So should you listen to your heart or your parents when it comes to deciding about major stages of your life?
Introduction
First things first: You yourself are responsible for your own happiness. If you pick up something just because your parents wanted you to, you cannot blame anyone else but yourself if you are not happy with the choice you have made. If you for instance chose to study law because your parents wanted you to and because you will make a decent amount of money you won't be happy with it on the long run. In fact, you will be more likely to succeed if you are motivated - and will you be motivated if you pursue something you are not really convinced of? Not really. But if you love something you put passion in it and then, the results will be better by far than when you don't love something that much.
Moreover, you will gain self-confidence and you will be proud of yourself if you accomplish what you have always dreamed of. You will also feel the strength of accomplishment when you prove the naysayers wrong and those challenges will help you grow as they make you step out of your comfortzone. Also, you might regret it later in life to not having pursued your dreams and this will make you feel unaccomplished. If Billy Elliot had not followed his dream of becoming a dancer, he would have never gained the self-confidence and he would have never stood tall against his father, sticking to his decision and in turn receiving the scholarship at the Royal Ballet School in the end.
Furthermore, following your dreams makes the life worth living - you will make your own experiences and life will feel more memorable. Your dreams and actions define you as well - everything you do will make another person out of you - if you let others make the decisions for you, they will define you with what they tell you to do and not to. Paulo Coelho is a good example for that. He got assigned to a mental institution three times by his parents to receive an electro-shock therapy just because he wanted to become a writer. Look what has become of him: one of the most successful and inspiring writers of the 21st century. Thus, you will define who you are by following your own dreams.
Pros
  • happiness
  • motivation
  • self-confidence
  • sense of accomplishment
  • definition of who you are
However, it is sometimes beneficial to accept parental advice. Your parents know you best at least, don't they? They know your strengths and weaknesses and can judge what you are able to do and what not. Thus, they might be able to point out potential challenges you might encounter that you had never thought of.
You can always learn from your parents, they are in some points more experienced than you. They also only want to protect you and the higher you set your aspirations, the bigger the potential for disappointment. Due to that, they might intervene when you are about to pursue a dream - they do not want to see you fall and they do not ever want you to get hurt.
If you have parents who have always worked hard to maintain their lifestyle, they might also want the same stability for you. They want to make sure that you have enough money to live off and that you do not have to worry about potentially failing in life - at least jobwise. Due to the same reason, Douglas from David Nicholls "Us" reacts the way he does. He only wants his son to not worry later in life because of a rather less profitable job. Sometimes in life, you will listen to your parents because they might be disappointed in you if you don't. Sad as this might be, you will protect yourself from the wrath of your parents by doing so. What could also happen is that your parents might not support you if they are disappointed in you due to not making the right choice in their eyes.
Cons
  • more experience
  • know your strengths and weaknesses
  • want stability for you
  • disappointment
  • support
In conclusion, it needs to be said that it always depends on your parents and on yourself. If you have parents who support everything you do, it is easier to follow your dreams because you always know that there is someone who has got your back in case something goes wrong. But if you have parents who are not very supportive, you should still try to listen to them - maybe you can learn something from their concerns. Either way - follow your dreams but talk to your parents about it - you don't have to necessarily listen to them!
Conclusion
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