Planning your answer

Before writing your answer, it is important that you plan it carefully. You must ensure that all the points you make are relevant to the question and that you are hitting the assessment objectives.

In your plan indicate how you are going to support your idea, what textual references you are going to use - preferably direct quotations.

Below is a structure you could use for your answer:

  1. Introduction - who is Judy Boone?
  2. How is she presented in this extract?
  3. How is she presented in the rest of the play?
  4. Does the audience perception of her change?
  5. Conclusion.

Sample answers

Concentrating on the second point in detail - how Judy is presented in the extract - here are two sample answers based around that.

Sample answer 1

Christopher's Mum, Judy is presented in a number of ways in this extract. First she shows that she cares enough about Christopher to explain herself to him, she says "I said I wanted to explain to you why I went away when I had the time to do it properly". This shows she values her relationship with Christopher enough to tell him her side of the story. She then presents herself as being a very honest person when she says "I was not a very good mother Christopher". This is a very direct short sentence, she does not try to avoid the topic, this sort of honesty can be seen as being very brave. This honesty continues when she talks about Ed, her ex-husband, she says "I'm not like your father. Your father is a much more patient person". Again, it must have been hard for her to admit this to herself and her son. Finally she shows that she can be impatient when she says "you were in the way of everyone so I got cross because I don't like shopping at Christmas either." This shows how she would lose her temper with Christopher, just like Ed does, sometimes.

Feedback - good but could be improved

  • The question has been answered but could be explored further.
  • The answer includes some good quotes, but more detail is needed on the impact of the individual words.
  • The answer is quite simplistic and gives no alternative interpretations of Judy.

Sample answer 2

Judy is presented as quite a complex character in this extract. At first we see that she wants to heal any pain she caused Christopher by explaining her side of events, she says "I said I wanted to explain to you why I went away when I had the time to do it properly". By saying that she wants to explain 'properly' we can infer that she knows that it is important that she gets this explanation ‘right’. Then she goes on to say "Now I have lots of time." This suggests that perhaps she is dissatisfied with her new life, she might be bored and misses Christopher even though life with him was unpredictable. In one sense, Judy is admirably honest when she says "I was not a very good mother Christopher." This short sentence is stark and shocking in its openness. However, she then goes on to say "maybe if you'd been different, I might have been better at it." There is the subtle suggestion here that she is not entirely taking the blame for the family falling apart, she is almost blaming Christopher, which seems a little unfair and perhaps selfish. This idea is further repeated in the line "you were in the way of everyone so I got cross because I don't like shopping at Christmas either", perhaps Judy was unable to put Christopher first and that is why she left.

Feedback - much better!

  • This answer is thoughtful and evaluative, showing a good understanding of the question.
  • The quotes chosen are explored in detail considering the impact of specific words.
  • The answer shows a good understanding of Judy's character and is a sophisticated interpretation of how she is presented.
  • Wider context could be considered a lot more - what society considers 'normal' and how Christopher's mum perhaps was keen to 'fit in' and that is what caused her to leave.

Now it's over to you!

Use the skills you have learnt and revised whilst reading this chapter and write your own response to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Time yourself and try to hit all the assessment objectives.