The Passage Based Question
  • You will only have ONE choice for this question
  • In the question, you will be provided with a passage from the text, which you will need to read and annotate, then answer a series of questions on.
  • Each question should be treated like a mini-essay, with a short introduction related to the question, a series of points (supported by quotations and analysis of those quotations), then a short summary of the main points that you have made.
  • Some of the questions will relate to the text itself – the characters & impressions of them, a theme which is raised, or perhaps the effects created by the playwright.
  • There will usually be a question which relates to the wider text, but is based on a character or theme in the text as a whole.

Exemplar Passage Based Questions

Question 1 - Act One, Scene 6


SCENE 6:
THE SERVANT AND THE CORPSE
The booming sound of construction in a distance. The sounds fade into a tap-tapping. Lights up on Jeremiah holding a huge file, to which he frequently refers. In his other hand, he has a big black umbrella with which he is tap-tapping the headstone. Unseen to him, Corpse opens its eyes when the headstone falls
JEREMIAH


CORPSE

JEREMIAH
CORPSE
JEREMIAH
CORPSE
JEREMIAH
What the……(he hurriedly puts it upright again) Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit….. (he is done, and nervously checks that it is properly aligned) God, I am such an idiot. (he takes a deep breath, and tries to regain his professional demeanour) All right. Um, excuse me. Mr….Um….(reads from the file) Mr Chan Ah….Gow? Right. Mr Chan Ah Gow. Um. I’m….My name is. Jeremiah Chong. I’m from the Ministry. And I’m here to…….(he nervously flips through his file and it crashes loudly to the ground) Shit! I’m mean…..Shoot. I mean…..Anyway. (he takes a deep breath, and reads obediently from the file) In line with the government’s Triple RE strategy, the Land Ministry has decided to limit the burial period for all graves to 15 years. With limited land available, it is necessary to extend the life span of the country’s cemeteries to cater for future burials. I am pleased to inform you that your grave will be part of Phase One of this exhumation exercise, which will begin in one month’s time. Next of kin will be alerted via newspaper notices and the Ministry’s website. Next of kin may choose to rebury the remains under the space saving New Burial System, or cremate the body and place in a columbarium. (he takes another breath, satisfied that the job is done) All right then. So if you don’t mind, Mr Chan. I’ll be back again in about a month’s time, when you’re due for exhumation.
No.
Jeremiah freezes. He looks around, to see who is speaking.
What was that?
No.
(to himself) Oh shit….Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
I said no!
I knew I shouldn’t have had that Red Bull before coming here

Questions
1. What impression is created of Jeremiah in this extract?
2. This is a very comic scene. How is the comedy created by Jean Tay?
3. What view of the Civil Service is created in this extract and Act One of the play as a whole?
Question 2 - Act One, Scene Five


SCENE 5:
BOON’s DREAM

Lights fade on the other agents, but spotlight remains on Boon. He is back in the old flat again, possibly in his imagination
BOON
(bitterly) Residue. That’s what this bloody place has. Mud you can clear up. Cobwebs you can sweep away. Stains, use bleach lah! But how to erase the history of your own life? When even the Superman stickers refuse to come off, but still cling desperately to the wall, white and scrabby. And when the scuff marks on the parquet look like train tracks. And black grime strangles the bathroom taps, like alien tentacles out of a B-grade movie. That is what I call residue. And it’s all his fault. Half the time, she’s on her knees, trying to scrub the stain of him from the floor, but what’s the point? He might as well still be here. So what if I got x-ray vision and a bulletproof body? What’s the point if he’s buried like kryptonite in the walls. Forcing me to wait like some gu niang, for somebody else to come and rescue me. Who’s going to come rescue me? (pause) Sometimes. You just got to do the rescuing yourself.


1. Explain why Boon is so bitter.

2. How does Jean Tay convey his bitterness to the audience through what he says?

3. Explain the significance of the Superman metaphor for the play as a whole.

Question 3 - Act One, Scene 9


Act One, Scene 9:
Corpses and Ghosts
Lights up on Jeremiah
JEREMIAH
Corpses are not the same as ghosts. Ghosts haunt. Corpses rot. The only thing connecting them is the rain-cold smell of death. Ghosts have long memories. They are tethered to the past. They are insubstantial, drifting in and out of walls, leaving no trace when they pass, except for a feeling of coldness, dampness. Corpses, on the other hand are muddy, mucky, stinking of rotten fruits and decomposing meat. When you are a corpse, you are nothing but a cluster of organic matter, whose only purpose is to decay. That is the only progress possible, as you gradually seep into the earth, cell by cell. But your own memory is slowly being leached away, as the soil soaks up your stories. Yet in doing so, you leave your own corpse-shaped imprint on the earth. In your decay lies your own immortality.

1. How does Jeremiah create a negative impression of ghosts and corpses?
2. Explain what he is saying about them.
3. What role do corpses and ghosts play in Boom as a whole?