In the extract below, the bombing of a town is described.
(a) Comment on the style and language of the passage. 
(b) Basing your answer closely on the language and style of the original extract, write a description (between 120–150 words) of another dramatic event (real or imaginary) where a peaceful environment is suddenly disturbed. 
The town far below was asleep. It lay pillowed on the secure shore; violet shadows leaned against its pale buildings; there was no movement in its streets; no smoke from its chimneys. The ships lay still in the deep close harbor; their masts rose out of the green water like reeds thickly growing with the great funnels and turrets of the warships like strange plants among them. The sea beyond the strong breakwater was smooth as a silver plate; there was no sound anywhere.
The aeroplane descended in slow spirals upon the town, tracing an invisible path through the pearly air. It was as if a messenger from heaven were descending upon the people of the town who dreamed.
Suddenly a scream burst from the throat of the church tower. For an instant the sky seemed to shiver with the stab of that wail of terror rising from the great stone throat. Surely the town would waken in a panic – and yet, no, nothing stirred. There was no sound or movement in any street and the sky gave back no sign. The aeroplane continued to descend until it looked from the church tower like a mosquito; then there dropped something from it that flashed through the air, a spark of fire.
Silence had followed the scream.
The aeroplane, superbly poised now in the spotless sky, watched the buildings below it as if waiting for some strange thing to happen; and presently, as if exorcised by the magic eye of the insect, a cluster of houses collapsed, while a roar burst from the wounded earth.
Still, the neat surface of the wide city showed no change, save in that one spot where the houses had fallen. How slow to wake the town was! The daylight brightened, painting the surfaces of the buildings with pale rose and primrose. The clean empty streets cut the city into firm blocks of buildings; the pattern of the town spread out on the earth, with its neat edges marked by walls and canals, gleamed like a varnished map.
Then the siren in the church tower screamed again; its wail followed by a second roar and a ragged hole yawned in the open square in the middle of the town. The aeroplane circles smoothly, watching.
And at last signs of terror and bewilderment appeared in the human ant hill beneath it. Distracted midgets swarmed from the houses: this way and that they scurried, diving into openings in the ground: swift armored beetles rushed through the streets; white jets of steam rose from the locomotives in the station yard: the harbor throbbed.
Again there was a great noise, and a cloud of debris was flung into the air as from a volcano, and flames leapt after it. A part of the wharf with a shed on it reeled drunkenly into the sea with a splash.
The white beach was crawling now with vermin; the human hive swarmed out on to the sands. Their eyes were fixed on the evil flying thing in the sky and at each explosion they fell on their faces like frantic worshipers.
The airplane cavorted, whirling after its tail in an ecstasy of self-gratification. Down among the sand dunes it could see the tiny black figures of men at the antiaircraft guns. These were the defenders of the town; they had orders to shoot to death a mosquito floating in boundless heaven. The little clouds that burst in the sunlight were like materialized kisses.
The face of the city had begun to show a curious change. Scars appeared on it like the marks of smallpox and as these thickened on its trim surface, it seemed as if it were being attacked by an invisible and gigantic beast, who was tearing and gnawing it with claws and teeth. Gashes appeared in its streets, long wounds with ragged edges. Helpless, spread out to the heavens, it grimaced with mutilated features.
Nevertheless the sun rose, touching the airplane with gold, and the aeroplane laughed. It laughed at the convulsed face of the town, at the beach crawling with vermin, at the ant people swarming through the gates of the city along the white roads; it laughed at the warships moving out of the harbor one by one in stately procession, the mouths of their guns gaping helplessly in their armored sides. With a last flick of its glittering wings, it darted downward defiant, dodging the kisses of shrapnel, luring them, teasing them, playing with them: then, its message delivered, its sport over, it flew up and away in the sunshine and disappeared. A speck in the infinite sky, then nothing – and the town was left in convulsions.
Writer: Faiza Urooj
The given passage is a fictional text most likely to be found in a novel, or a short story. The writer intends to describe the bombing of a town, and how unexpected and disturbing the incident was. The passage has a poetic function as it conveys the writer’s perception of the event. Towards the end it also performs the expressive function as he zooms out of the image of the town.
The passage begins with a description of the town’s serenity. In a calm tone the writer relates how stagnant the whole town was at the time. He describes each image in vivid detail with the use of various similes to describe a landscape of a town which was ‘like a varnished map’. The fact that there ‘was no sound anywhere’, implies that the whole ‘town far below was asleep’. The writer oscillates between describing the town and an airplane that flew above. He demarcates these changes in the scene by the changing paragraphs. The movement of the airplane is slow at first, hence the description of the plane as it ‘descended’ like a ‘messenger from heaven’ is quite similar to the description of the asleep town.
The writer makes use of repetition, of the word ‘scream’ each time he refers to the church bell. He refers to the tolling of the bell as a scream and an alarm for the impending doom. In a foreboding tone the writer personifies the ‘scream’ of the church tower to be ‘a wail of terror’, upon hearing which; the writer hoped the whole ‘town would waken in panic’. Line 17 is a very short and impactful sentence that stands out as a paragraph on its own. The ‘silence’ according to the writer is like the quite before the storm. This short paragraph is followed by a long, complex sentence that describes the threat that the airplane poses to the town.
This sentence speeds up the action and the readers can visualize the airplane is closing in.The writer is almost frantic at how ‘slow to wake the town was!’ This exclamation is reflective of his worry and bias towards the townspeople and their safety. He describes ‘buildings’, ‘walls’ and ‘canals’, to exemplify the image of the calm and peace that prevailed over the entire town.
Another short sentence in line 30 contributes to the forthcoming doom and the town’s relative inertness to this fact.
Upon the appearance of signs of ‘bewilderment’, the writer zooms out of the picture and describes the frantic humans as ‘distracted midgets’ and ‘swift armored beetles’. He describes them as insignificant creatures. This foreshadows their status after the bombing, and also reflects their powerlessness and incapability in face of the attack.
The writer uses a metaphor to describe the result of the bombing due to which ‘debris was flung into the air as from a volcano’, this exemplifies the effect of the destruction caused by the attack.
The people are again referred to as insignificant creatures like ‘vermin’; ‘crawling’ ‘like frantic worshippers’. Alliteration in the line 41 on the ‘f’ sound intensifies and imitates the frenzy of the whole situation. The fact that the ‘tiny black figures of men’ were not able to ‘shoot’ the airplane that bombed them is a reflection of their helplessness.
The writer makes an efficient use of linguistic devices and appropriate diction to describe the bombing of a town and the reaction of the unaware people of the town.
(b) The surface of the water was smooth. Trees swayed gently in a lullaby sway, in the warm summer breeze. A family of bears rested, unaware, in the shade of the trees. He was closing in, slowly; with each stealthy step he neared the unaware creatures. A gun hitched to his side, and a hat pulled over his face.
One of the younger bears moved, he stretched his arms, awake from the deep slumber. The innocent did not know what was about to come.
The scream of a shot was heard.
A fountain of red gushed forth. A struggle to survive ensued, but to no avail. He had accomplished what he had come for.
Another shot was heard. This time coupled with joy.