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The world of work

Von Gerhardt Brits

  • Englisch-Klausur (11.Klasse)
  • 2-stündig
  • 14 Punkte (Rechtschreib- und Wortfehler wurde korrigiert)


  1. Sum up the text in a few sentences.
  2. Characterize Mick. (Give evidence)
  3. What effects can unemployment have on young people’s self-confidence and their position in society?

Introduction: The 15-year-old school-leaver Mick has an appointment with the careers officer Mrs. Reid.

Mrs. Reid looked up and turned her chair towards him.
“Now then, Michael, it says here that you’d like to be a motor mechanic, or go into engineering. Something like that.”
Mick laughed and Mrs. Reid was so surprised by his response that she checked his card to make sure that she had read it correctly.
“What are you laughing at?”
“It always makes me laugh when somebody calls me Michael. It sounds as though they’re talking to somebody else.”
“Why, what do people usually call you?”
“You’d be surprised.”
“When they’re being polite, that is.”
“Right, Mick. Have you started looking for jobs yet?”
“Course I have. I look in the paper every day. I’ve written in for some jobs as well.”
“Have you had any replies yet?”
“I’ve had a couple saying they’ve no vacancies.”
“So you haven’t been for any interviews yet, then?”
Mick shook his head, but not slowly in a despondent manner.
“No, not yet. But I should get something, though. I’ve written in to stacks of places.”
“Well, I’m afraid we’ve nothing in your line at the moment, Mick. There are lots of boys after craft apprenticeships, but unfortunately there’s not many firms taking them on just now.”
She picked up the small pile of “jobs vacant” cards from her desk.
“I don’t suppose you’d be willing to consider anything else at this stage?”
“Like what?”
Mick watched her look through the cards. She knew their details as intimately as a little boy knows his footballers.
“Well, there’s a vacancy here for a junior an a warehouse… .” She made a tough face and continued to read from the card in a deeper, more masculine voice, “…Strong, fit lad essential.” And as she catalogued these athletic requirements she flexed one arm in a parody of a strong man. Mick could not tell whether she was suggesting the job seriously, or just ridiculing the advertisement.
“What would I be doing?”
Mrs. Reid became herself again.
“You’d be unloading lorries and carrying stuff about, furniture and things like that.”
“You what! I’m not doing that! I want a trade. What’s the point in taking exams and getting qualifications and then going into a dead-end job like that? It’s a waste of time, isn’t it?”
Mrs. Reid smiled and nodded sympathetically. She heard the same story a dozen times a day. But she did not have the heart to discourage him. He had only just left school. His working life had only just begun… .
“Well, we’ve got a note here of what you have in mind, Mick. If anything comes in and we think you might be suitable, we’ll be in touch. In the meantime, don’t just rely on us to find you a job. Something usually turns up if you try hard enough. Now then … .” She took a blank appointment card off a thick pile and began to fill it in. As she leaned forward her breasts rested on top of the desk. “This is your appointment card. You take this up to the Social Security office and sign on at the time it says here.” She pointed out the time in the appropriate box. ”That’s ten-thirty every other Wednesday. Have you got that?”
Mick read the details and nodded.
“If you don’t, your Giro won’t come through, so don’t forget.”
Mick stood up and walked across the room. When he reached the door, Mrs. Reid said:
“Good lick, Mick.”
Mick turned and smiled at her, then went out.

(taken from the novel: “Looks and Smiles” by Barry Hines, London 1981)

despondent – showing a loss of hope | stacks of (infml.) – a great number of | ridiculing – making fun of | Social Security office – place where the government helps the unemployed, the disabled and the ill. | Giro (cheque) – cashed in at the post office (money)


Assignment 1

The text “The World of Work”, taken from the book “Looks and Smiles” by Barry Hines, published in London in 1981, tells the reader about a 15-year-old school-leaver’s appointment with a careers-officer.

Upon his entrance the school-leaver is addressed with ‘Michael’, his full name, and he insists on being called ‘Mick’. Then he states that he has looked for jobs and applied for interviews beforehand, but has not yet obtained results. The careers officer, Mrs. Reid, turns him down and compensates by pointing out a vacancy in a warehouse, just to notice that Mick is not satisfied with it. Towards the end Mrs. Reid ensures Mick that they will keep him in mind and she informs him of the time and day of his regular appointment at the Social Security office, stressing that his cheque will not come through should he miss the appointments.

Assignment 2

Michael is a 15-year-old teenager, leaving school, he is a strong, fit boy with an athletic look. The information about his outward appearance can be derived from the fact that Mrs. Reid offers him a job with these requirements (ll.29-31). His goals in life include being a mechanic or an engineer (ll. 2-3), showing he is interested in science and physics.

It says that it “makes Mick laugh when somebody calls him Michael” (l.7) and together with his first response, a laugh, it is clear that Mick is a light-hearted young man. In ll.10-12 it becomes clear that Mick knows that his nickname sounds rather childlike, but this does not distract him nor disturb him. It shows that Mick is self-confident and self-assured, which is underlined in ll.18-19, when Mick is not discouraged by the fact that he has not yet been to any interviews (l.18: “Mick shook his head, but not slowly in a despondent manner.” ; l.19: “No, not yet. But I should get something, though.”).

Mick is also a bit arrogant, which becomes evident in l.14, when he is insulted by Mrs. Reid’s question, whether or not he has started looking for jobs yet (l.14: “Course I have[…]jobs as well.”), this is also underlined in ll.36-37. Mick is evidently interested in the discussion and anxious to get a job because in l.26 it says that he watched Mrs. Reid look through the cards, not glancing around the room or get distracted. In ll.33-37 it is shown that Michael is quite intelligent, because he informs himself of the details of the offered job before he refuses it, knowing what he wants. Lastly, Mick smiles at Mrs. Reid when he leaves (l.54), indicating that he is content with her services which in turn demonstrates that he was prepared for the appointment, knowing what to expect.
I think Mick is a pleasant person, and, apart from his arrogance, a role model of how one should behave when unemployed.

Assignment 3

During one’s time in school everything is given easily and without change. One has the certainty of getting up in the morning and, at least vaguely, knowing what the day will bring, and eventually one gets used to it. When one leaves school, going to college, things are not very different, but after that, being unemployed can be a subconscious, mental shock. It can mean that one loses a lot of the earlier certainty, and with that also a large part of one’s self-confidence, especially when finding a job proves to be exceedingly difficult and time-consuming. This is further worsened if one has hardly any qualifications or skills. A person that successfully finishes his education, be it high- or low-level, at least has the consolation of a steady foundation, for him the process of finding a job is less strenuous and generally faster, causing his self-confidence not to deteriorate so badly. The main reason for a loss of self-confidence, though, is the inability of planning any future, because one has nowhere to start, no place in the economical world.
One’s position in society is also largely influenced by one’s financial disposition, being very impaired when one is unemployed. People who do not have jobs are mostly looked down upon and not considered worth putting up with, while one is at least needed, when one has a job, although still dispensable. The only way to rise up in society is by obtaining money and power. Some people try to accomplish this by illegal means, resulting in a social downfall rather than a rise.

Kategorie: Englisch | Kommentare (3)