Saturday, April 20, 2013

Step by Wicked Step sample Essay

·                                 Step-By-Wicked Step:Themes
The following are some themes for the novel Step-by-Wicked Step taken from my latest book, Step-by-Wicked-Step, Pelangi Publication:
1 The importance of preserving the family unit
This is the central message in the novel. The family institution is a solemn entity. It is created when two adults decide to tie the knot through their marriage vows. Hence, parents are mainly responsible in keeping the family unit intact through love and understanding because divorce and separation can only lead to ugly consequences as clearly shown in the novel.
The family institution should also provide security to children. However, when it is broken, children feel helpless and they feel they are victims of the situation. The novel reveals how the five children cope with difficult times when their parents’ marriage fails. Claudia and Pixie for example, have to undergo emotionally painful and tumultuous moments to get used to their parent’s divorce. The ugly effects of divorce and separations are also shown in the way Claudia and Pixie resist their step parents and siblings. The quarrels, the screaming, the sibling rivalry demonstrate that the harmony that is central in their families has long gone. Children suffer most from broken homes and they need a lot of time to adapt to their new situation. This is true in the case of Pixie, who needs a great deal of time to adjust to her step mother and step sisters, Sophie and Hetty.
The family institution must be preserved at all cost to avoid unnecessary sufferings on the part of the children. Parents must protect their children from the effects of divorce as much as possible. If a divorce is unavoidable, parents need to ensure that every care is taken to make life as normal as possible for their children.
2 Acceptance and tolerance 

Learning to accept and tolerate new members in the family is important when a divorce happens. The novel shows how children learn to accept their ‘new’ family members and make the best of their new circumstances. Although this sounds a big task for them, they all end up accepting their new life at the end of their stories. Despite their being young, they realize how important it is to learn to share belongings and love with their step siblings. For example, Pixie has to learn to share her bedroom with her step sister Hetty. She has to tolerate her privacy being taken away causing her to devise ways to get rid of Hetty from her bedroom. She considers her bedroom is her territory and Hetty’s presence an intrusion. However, she manages to get her room back after a heated argument with her step mother. In the end Pixie learns to tolerate her step sisters and accepts their differences.

Acceptance and tolerance can also be seen in Claudia’s story. She learns to accept the presence of her step mother when her father’s marriage to her real mother fails. The green pyjamas her step mother gave her and the dinner hosted by her step mother one night play a role in bringing them closer. Despite her earlier resentment towards her step mother, Claudia makes a big decision that it is not fair for her to hate her step mother. In doing so she also shows her maturity despite her young age. In Pixie’s story, she is shown to accept the fact that her new stepmother is having as much trouble "adjusting" as she is. It is amazing how these young characters show a lot of strength despite the distinct problems they face in their families. They learn to accept things around them gradually because they do not have a choice. Furthermore that life has to go on.
3 Responsibility
This is another theme that is evident in the novel. Responsibility is shown in different ways in the novel.
Marriage entails responsibility. It is about building a family and raising children that are part and parcel of a marriage partnership. This will include providing shelter, clothing, education and love. Therefore if a marriage is broken, children would be directly affected. Parents therefore must accept that they still have a responsibility to ensure that the divorce does not cost their children more than it already has. One of the ways this is shown in the novel is by the turns or visits the children have with their new families. Their parents although divorced, insist that their children take turns to visit them. Pixie for instance goes to her step family’s house ‘a few days in a month’ while Ralph has a more hectic and complicated schedule. He has to divide the weekdays to be at his divorced parents’ house. It is a pity that he has to shuffle his time between his parents but he pretty much accepts his situation without complaints.
The step parents also try their best to be responsible towards their step children. Stella tries to make Claudia feel comfortable every time she is with them. Colin’s mother shows a different kind of responsibility though. She moves to a different place to protect her son from her ‘rough-house’ husband. Although Colin misses his father very much, his mother has made the right decision for their safety. Another example is Robbo’s step father who sends Callie, his sister to school every morning and works over time to pay for repairs for the house.
It is fair to say that no one would wish for a divorce but when it happens, parents have to carry out their responsibilities well. They have to be sensitive to the needs of their children since children have a natural attachment to their parents. Sometimes children are simply attached to their surroundings, and moving into new surroundings can cause an understandable negative reaction. Colin for instance has trouble learning ‘being half asleep in school’.
4 Children have opinions too

This theme is portrayed through the five main characters in the novel. Since all the main characters come from broken homes, we learn that they too want their opinions to be heard and acknowledged. Very often than not, there is a communication breakdown between the children and parents who undergo divorce. For example, Colin does not have a say at all when her mother decides to move to another place to stay safe from his father. Colin has to start all over in a new school and make new friends. His opinion is never sought. In another example, Pixie shows that she wants to be heard. Her strong opinions about the adults around her are revealed when she quarrels with Lucy, her step mother. She expresses her frustrations and anger through her words.
The writer provides the opportunity for the children to voice out their opinions frankly and honestly through the stories they tell. Through each of the main characters, we realize that children too have opinions and that their opinions must also be sought. Pixie would like to have a say about her room arrangement and Colin, although quiet, often wonders why his mother makes decisions independently.
Through the main characters’ words and actions, we can also see a certain level of maturity in the children’s thinking. They are not without opinions. But how many parents actually sought for their opinions. Divorce is always an adults’ story and too often children are just trapped in between. The novel in a way is a tribute to the children’s spirit. They make us see the depth of their feelings and opinions through their unique stories. Too often children’s feelings are unnoticed, ignored and or not taken seriously resulting in failure in building relationships in broken homes.

Model questions, answer and personal response
The following are the novels studied in the literature components in English Language.
Catch Us If You Can - Catherine MacPhail
Step By Wicked Step - Anne Fine
The Curse - Lee Su Ann
Choose any one of the novels above and answer the questions below.
“It is important to have a person that you look up to in your life.”
From the novel that you have read, write about one character that you look up to. Give reasons why you choose him/her.
The novel that I have chosen is “Step by Wicked Step” by Anne Fine. Richard Harwick’s story is heart-rending with its tale of a lonely rich boy who is unable to accept that someone has taken the place of his father who has passed away.
Richard Clayton Harwick
- Runs away from home
- Unbearable living with his stepfather
- Always lost and lonely child – nobody tells him about his dying father, has to be brave, father – take care of his mother and sister. Only a young lad.
- Family fails to understand him. Hurt but cannot speak out. No one to talk to.
- Mother remarries a cold and unfeeling character – conform to his ways
- Accuses Richard to be wild and undisciplined
- Sends Richard to Mordanger School (4 years)
- Comes back – mother and sister get along well with Mr. Coldstone.
- Could not take it – decides to run away
- Torn between hatred for his stepfather and his love for his mother and sister.
- Makes a wrong decision
- Immatured – running away solve problems
- Has severe consequences on his mother, his sister and even his stepfather.
- Does more harm, mother dies of heartbreak trying to locate him, his stepfather of fury when he finds that Richard is the owner of Old Harwick Hall, and his sister marries someone whom she does not love but wealthy to keep the search for him till her dying day.
- Richard not happy – decision resulted in so much sorrow
• Brought suffering upon himself – immatured
• Led a sheltered life until sudden death of his father
• Tears his whole world apart and heaps a pile of responsibilities upon his frail shoulders
• Deserves our sympathy
• Important ingredient for happiness
• Before father’s death, can assume Richard’s family as close-knit and full of love.
• After father’s death, hatred for stepfather, love is gone, left with sorrow and pain.
• Hurt and angry – no one tells him that his father is dying.
• Only summoned to his father’s deathbed after suffering much anxiety
• Disappointed – father did not notice instead wants him to be brave
• Mr. Coldstone finds him to be rude and disrespectful. He treats him even more harshly after he becomes his stepfather. Richard clashes violently with him. He declares he will be “no son of his”
• Disappointed that his mother does not stick up for him when Mr Coldstone puts pressure
• Charlotte and Richard – Coldstone causes a rift between them. Richard accuses his sister of having forgotten their father. He refuses to hear his sister out and thinks that is better for everyone if he leaves home.
• Torn between love for his mother and sister and hatred for his stepfather.
• Runs away, sacrificing his love. Comes twice to the mansion. Coldstone – does not go in.
• Yearns to see him after his departure. It creates extreme grief for his mother who never stops looking for him
• Ends up spending the family’s fortune
• Dies of a broken heart without ever seeing him again
• Also made an ultimate sacrifice for Richard
• 16th birthday marries a man, Charles Devere whom she does not love but wealthy – to keep alive the search for Richard.
• She seems to die ‘in fever of childbirth” as she predicts before Richard is found.
• Richard’s mother and sister’s share of waiting and hoping to reunite with Richard were in vain
• Loves but not strong enough to face obstacles that come along
• Love is important to keep a family together – strong and deep to stand any test
• Richard loves his family but his deep hatred has clouded his judgement.
• He needs to learn to accept the fact that his father is dead and he has to move on, as his sister Charlotte pleads him to. He cannot run away from a problem and think that by doing so it will solve the problem.
• Richard’s rash decision to leave home causes devastating ripple effect which leaves him a broken man when he learns from his sister’s letter of what has happened during his time away. Richard’s action offers a powerful lesson about the need to think carefully before making any decision.
• Therefore, we see how important the family unit is, whether it is a normal family unit or reconstructed one of step parents. The family unit is important to ensure that the children can grow up in a happy and healthy environment.
• Mr Coldstone’s negative character and behaviour teach us to be more thoughtful and forgiving. His character also teaches us not to feel that we must always have the upper hand in our dealings and not to be too grasping. In wanting to control everything from the household and the people in it, Mr Coldstone loses everything in the end.
• Divorce or separation in the family – frightening for children – caught in between.
• Complicated – when a parent remarries – cope with a total stranger under the same roof. (give textual evidence- When Richard’s father dies and his mother marries Mr Coldstone, his whole world falls apart. He hates the cruel and overbearing Coldstone but he has no one to complain to and he cannot depend on his weak mother to defend him.
• Responsible parents help children to adjust to the situation. However, irresponsible adult like Richard’s mother leave their children to fend for themselves and let things spiral out of control. (Textual evidence)
• Children portray responsibility but not adults
• Children are caught in the web.
• Richard’s story is heart-wrenching with its tale of a lonely rich boy who cannot come to terms with his father’s death and his mother’s new status as the wife of another man. Unfortunately, having a wicked stepfather and living in the same house with him makes it all the more agonising and impossible for Richard to endure his ordeal. Each person longs to love and to be loved
• Decision making
• Expectations in life
• Dealing with problems
• Family relationships
• Adults should look around them and listen.
• children lack choices and real opportunity to speak frankly and openly about their feelings and situations to the adults around them.
• Ability to accept the reality of change and be able to move on is essential for the happiness of the person and the people around him. (Richard is unable to accept the new man in his mother’s life. So he makes life miserable for himself, his mother, his stepfather and his sister as well. Richard makes a decision to leave home that brings untold grief to his mother who eventually dies of heartbreak, as well as his sister who misses him till her dying day. His decision also sours his mother’s relationship with his stepfather.)
• Family relationships should be nurtured and not taken for granted
• When making decisions, we should take into consideration everyone’s interest.( When parents decide to divorce, their decision not only affects them but their children as well. They break up the family harmony too, without finding out how their children feel)
• We have expectations like family happiness, support and encouragement from all members of a family.
• We should work towards retaining a strong family home by giving support and encouragement to everyone.
• Do not look down on others.
• Do not give up easily when we are faced with problems.
• We must try to accept things the way they are and make the best out of it.
• “Now you must be brave for me. I will not have your father go troubled to his grave.”
• “You must be good to your mother and sister. You are the man of the house now. They will depend on you.”
• “…I have learnt nothing except how to freeze, and how to starve, and how to be bullied and beaten.”
• “… I wish it burnt to ashes.”
• Which is a “cold corner of hell” for him
• “Its very rumble turns my stomach to knots.”
• “the black bat”
• “It was more like a tomb” “… in this silent mausoleum…”
Based on one of the novel that you have studied, write about a memorable event and how the event affects one of the characters in the story.
Support your answer with close reference to the text.
I choose the novel Step by Wicked Step written by Anne Fine. The memorable event from the novel is the honest conversation between Pixie and her stepmother Lucy. I think that the conversation is important because it affects Pixie's life.
First of all, I think that the conversation is important because Pixie has a chance to tell the truth about her feelings. Pixie tells Lucy that she hates to pretend that their family is normal. It is hard for her to accept strangers as family. She dislikes her stepsisters. When Hetty moves into Pixie's bedroom after quarreling with Sophie, Pixie is very angry. She tries many ways to get rid of Hetty.
Apart from that, I think that the conversation between Lucy and Pixie is important because Lucy also gets a chance to express her feelings towards Pixie. Lucy hates being a step mother. It is very hard for her to take care of someone else's child. Lucy is angry when Pixie when Pixie tries to get rid of Hetty from her bedroom.
Last but not least, I think the heart to heart conversation is memorable because it improves the relationship between Pixie and Lucy. They understand each other better. at the end of the conversation, they are crying and hugging each other. After that day, their relationship becomes better and they are more like a normal family.
In a nutshell, I think that the honest conversation between Lucy and Pixie is memorable because it improves the relationship between Pixie and her step family. I learn many things from this novel.

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