Comprehension Cars



QUESTION Below are four passages of prose and one of Verse. Each is written for a different purpose. Read them carefully. Write a paragraph on each passage, explaining what you think the writer’s purpose is, and what means (features of language) they use to try to achieve it.  Evaluate the success of each.


a) The rustle of silk, the sparkle of diamonds, the excitement of a special occasion… And the car, Fairlane by Ford! A special car that moves in expensive circles, and is bought by people who are accustomed to the best that money can buy. Yet the Fairlane is far from being expensive, even though it is available with all the extras you could wish for in a fine car. See your Ford dealer and be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to own a Fairlane, the car that says there’s something special about you. The car that’s outselling any luxury car you’d like to name, by more than two to one.

(From an advertisement.)

b) The automobile is treacherous, just like a cat is. It is tragically difficult to realise that it can become the deadliest missile. As enthusiasts tell you, it makes 110 kms an hour like nothing at all. But 110 kms an hour is 30 metres a second, a speed which puts a viciously unjustified responsibility on brakes and human reflexes, and can instantly turn this docile luxury into a mad bull elephant.

Collision, turnover or sideswipe, each type of accident produces either a shattering dead stop or a crashing change of direction - and since the occupant — meaning you — continues in the old direction at the original speed, every surface and angle of the car’s interior becomes a battering, tearing projectile, aimed squarely at you. There is no bracing yourself against those imperative laws of momentum.

(Article: ‘And Sudden Death”, reprinted in Road Safety.)


c) The new model incorporates several new safety devices: the main structural safety features are a collapsible steering column, dual circuit braking system with discs on the front, entirely new front and rear suspensions and a wider track. Other important safety features include better all-round vision, with enlarged front wind screen and windows generally, safety locking devices on all seat squabs, safety rim wheels and stronger front and rear bumpers.

(From a trade report.)



As a sloop with a swoop of immaculate wings on her delicate spine

And a keel as steel as a root that holds in the sea as she leans,

Leaning and laughing, my warm hearted beauty, you ride, you ride.

You tack on the curves with parabola speed and a kiss of goodbye,

Like a thoroughbred sloop, my new high-spirited spirit, my kiss.


(From “The Buick” by Karl Shapiro.)


e) The car has made man into a crustacean. To take it from him would be as cruel as denuding the snail, the tortoise or the yabby. Without his ducoed shell, he’d feel nude and vulnerable. But, inside it, he’s pampered by the heater, held by the harness, cooled by the conditioner and serenaded by the stereo. And the steady note of the engine may well evoke subconscious, foetal memories. Certainly the car is the one place in which he feels really at home, in some sort of control.

The Australian does everything in his car. He shops in it, copulates in it, sees films in it, is frequently born in it and more frequently dies in it and would, if he could, be interred in it.

(Phillip Adams.)