e-Anglais.com Bac anglais interactif, série L, LV2 (1999)
NOTE Il n'y a pas de correction pour les questions en caractères rouges.

Ammu finished her schooling the same year that her father retired from his job in Delhi and moved to Ayemenem. Pappachi insisted that a college education was an unnecessary expense for a girl, so Ammu had no choice but to leave Delhi and move with them. There was very little for a young girl to do in Ayemenem other than wait for marriage proposals while she helped her mother with the housework. Since her father did not have enough money to raise a suitable dowry, no proposals came Ammu's way. Two years went by. Her eighteenth birthday came and went. Unnoticed, or at least unremarked upon by her parents. Ammu grew desperate. All day she dreamed of escaping from Ayemenem and the clutches of her ill-tempered father and bitter, long-suffering mother. She hatched several wretched little plans. Eventually, one worked. Pappachi agreed to let her spend the summer with a distant aunt who lived in Calcutta.

There, at someone else's wedding reception, Ammu met her future husband.

He was on vacation from his job in Assam where he worked as an assistant manager of a tea estate. His family were once-wealthy zamindars1 who had migrated to Calcutta from East Bengal after Partition.

He was a small man but well-built. Pleasant-looking. He wore old-fashioned spectacles that made him look earnest and completely belied his easy-going charm and juvenile but totally disarming sense of humour. He was twenty-five and had already been working on the tea estates for six years. He hadn't been to college, which accounted for his schoolboy humour. He proposed to Ammu five days after they first met. Ammu didn't pretend to be in love with him. She just weighed the odds and accepted. She thought that anything, anyone at all, would be better than returning to Ayemenem. She wrote to her parents informing them of her decision. They didn't reply.

Ammu had an elaborate Calcutta wedding. Her fatter-in-law was Chairman of the Railway Board and had a Boxing Blue from Cambridge.2 He was the Secretary of the BABA - the Bengal Amateur Boxing Association. He died before the twins were born. His cremation was attended by all the boxers in Bengal. A congregation of mourners with lantern jaws and broken noses.

When Ammu and her husband moved to Assam, Ammu, beautiful, young and cheeky, became the toast of the Planters' Club. She wore backless blouses with her saris and carried a silver lamé purse on a chain. She smoked long cigarettes in a silver cigarette holder and learned to blow perfect smoke rings. Her husband turned out to be not just a heavy drinker but a full-blown alcoholic with all of an alcoholic's deviousness and tragic charm. There were things about him that Ammu never understood. Long after she left him, she never stopped wondering why he lied so outrageously when he didn't need to. Particularly when he didn't need to. In a conversation with friends he would talk about how much he loved smoked salmon when Ammu knew he hated it. Or he would come home from the Club and tell Ammu the he saw Meet Me in St Louis when they'd actually screened The Bronze Buckaroo. When she confronted him about these things, he never explained or apologized. He just giggled, exasperating Ammu to a degree she never thought herself capable of.

Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things, 1997.

Notes

  1. Zamindars: local word for a particular social group.
  2. Had a Boxing Blue from Cambridge: was selected as a boxer for Cambridge University.
  1. Compréhension

    1. Geography
      In what country does the story take place?
       (1)
      Justify your answer by quoting three proper nouns from the text.
       (2)   (3)   (4)
    2. Ammu
      Complete the following table with information showing what Ammu did in the different places where she lived. Quote from the text or use your own words.
      Numbers 7 and 9 must be in alphabetical order here.
      Place where she lived What she did in each place
       (5) She went to school
      Ayemenem  (6)
       (7)  (8)
       (9)  (10)
    3. Ammu and the Other Characters
      1. Complete the following table with information about the other characters in the text.
        Two words maximum. Omit possessive adjectives and prepositions.
        What was Pappachi's relationship to Ammu?  (11)
        Where did he live?  (12)
        What was his occupation?  (13)
        Where did Ammu's mother live?  (14)
        What was her occupation?  (15)
        What relation of Ammu's lived in Calcutta?  (16)
        Where did Ammu's father-in-law live?  (17)
        What was his main occupation?  (18)
        Where did Ammu's husband live?  (19)
        What was his occupation?  (20)
        What relations were the twins to Ammu?  (21)
        Where did they live?  (22)
      2. Quote three elements giving information about the sort of life Ammu had with her parents before she got married.
        Quote full sentences (using cut 'n' paste, i.e. 'copier-coller'); respect the order of the text.
         (23)  (24)  (25)
      3. What were her feelings about her life at that time?
         (26)
      4. What did she do as a consequence?
         (27)
    4. Ammu and Marriage
      1. Quote from the text to say what she found likeable about her future husband. (4 qualities)
         (28)
         (29)
         (30)
         (31)
      2. "He proposed to Ammu" (paragraph 4). Express in your own words how she reacted and why.
         (32)
      3. Was her marriage successful? Using elements from the text, justify and explain in your own words. (30 words)
         (33)
    5. Ammu in Assam
      Using elements from the text and in your own words describe:
      1. What kind of life Ammu had outside the home.
         (34)
      2. The sort of person she was then.
         (35)

  2. Compétence Linguistique

    1. Change the phrases in italics into compound adjectives. Fill in the gaps with them.
      1. When her father retired Ammu was still a girl; She was sixteen years old.
        When her father retired Ammu was still a  (36) girl.
      2. It took Ammu some time to get the freedom which she had long awaited.
        It took Ammu some time to get her  (37) freedom.
      3. She had suffered too much from a position of subordination which has lasted long.
        She had suffered too much from her  (38) position of subordination.
      4. When she went to Calcutta she had turned into a young woman and she looked lovely. When she went to Calcutta she had turned into a  (39) young woman.
      5. A lot of men with broken noses attended her father-in-law's funeral.
        A lot of  (40) men attended her father-in-law's funeral.
    2. Ask a question about each sentence so that the answer is the underlined element.
      1. There was very little for a young girl to do in Ayemenem.
         (41)
      2. At someone else's wedding reception, Ammu met her future husband.
         (42)
      3. Her husband was small and well-built.
         (43)
      4. He had been working on the tea estates for six years.
         (44)
      5. Her father-in-law was Chairman of the Railway Board.
         (45)
    3. Complete the comments made on the following sentences:
      1. "She wrote to her parents informing them of her decision. They didn't reply."
        1. Ammu's parents objected  (46).
        2. Certainly Ammu resented  (47).
      2. "All day she dreamed of escaping from Ayemenem..."
        1. She wished  (48).
        2. She would  (49).
      3. "He never explained or apologized.
        1. She wished he  (50).
    4. Rephrase the sentences using some of the following modals:
      must, may, might, can, should, will, would, can't, mustn't
      1. The father-in-law very probably had education and money.
        The father-in-law  (51).
      2. It was Ammu's habit to wear backless blouses.
        Ammu  (52).
      3. She did not immediately realize that he was a heavy drinker. That was a mistake.
        Ammu  (53).
      4. Most probably her husband was not happy.
        Her husband  (54).
      5. Perhaps her husband felt lonely on the tea estate.
        Her husband  (55).
    5. Rephrase the following sentences using the prompts given.
      1. A college education is not necessary for a girl.
        A girl  (56).
      2. No proposals came Ammu's way.
        No one  (57).
      3. I have been working on this estate for six years.
         (58) when I was 19.
      4. When she confronted him about these things...
        She reproached  (59).
    6. Complete the following sentences using expressions of quantity.
      1. When Ammu returned to Ayemenem she discovered there were  (60) things she could do.
      2. When she married, she didn't have  (61) idea of what life was like on a tea estate.
      3. Ammu quickly realized her husband drank too  (62).
      4.  (63) her father  (64) her mother answered Ammu's letter from Calcutta announcing her marriage.
      5.  (65) had ever exasperated Ammu like her husband.

  3. Expression

    1. Traiter un sujet au choix. (350 words)
      1. Ammu writes a letter to a friend in Delhi whom she has not seen since they were at school. She tells her about her life since then.
      2. Can a woman be as successful in life as a man today?


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