O’Levels English Literature Tuition 2065 – How We Live Now
Humanities (Social Studies, Literature in English) 2262 Elective Literature/SS
‘How We Live Now’ is a chosen text for students taking O’Levels Literature in English (Syllabus 2065). It is a MOE Cambridge O-Level text for students taking exams from year beginning 2024.
This book is a compilation of Short Stories by Writers in Singapore, revolving around issues, themes concerning Singaporean settings and daily living on our sunny shores.
Close to Home By Jinny Koh
Told from the first person perspective of Nicky, readers are given a first hand recount of the narrator’s experience of being sent to live with a neighbourhood Aunty as his mother who is suffering from cancer could no longer take care of him for the moment.
During the short stay, Nicky discovers Aunty Loh’s past and current struggles, from an estranged husband to her own daughter suffering a miscarriage. On a fateful day, Aunty Loh’s flat caught fire. After the fire, Aunty Loh sold her flat and disappeared from Nicky’s life.
|Nicky the Narrator
|Aunty Loh’s Daughter Peifen
|Aunty Loh’s husband Uncle Loh
Points to note for this short story:
Relationships: Nicky and Mother
What is the relationship between Nicky and his mother like? Does Nicky openly express his views and feelings to his mother? Does he have love and affection for his mother? Why does he fear that ‘each time her eyes closed, they might never open again.’ (Pg 27) How was he like when he was preparing Mother’s Day card and why was he “embarrassed” by his own card? Do you think he yearns for her mother while being separated from her? How was that revealed? Was it through his actions such as how he often ‘peer(s) outside Aunty Loh’s window at the common corridor’ with the hope of ‘(catching) a glimpse of (his) mother’.
Relationships: Nicky and Aunty Loh
How would you describe Nicky’s connection with Aunty Loh? Did his opinions of her changed over time or was it always the same from beginning to end. Do you recall how Aunty Loh greeted Nicky when he arrived (see page 24 of the text) what did she say? What does that tell about her attitude? Similarly, was Nicky acting the same way to Aunty Loh from the beginning of his stay at Aunty Loh’s house to the end? Many interactions between them shows how their relationships evolved, for instance, Nicky helping to thread the needle for Aunty Loh when sewing the pillow for Peifen’s baby. We witness how she taught Nicky how to thread the needle and Nicky helping to clear up the sewing materials when Aunty Loh dozed off. (see page 32 of the text).
Preparing for Exams:
How does the writer make Aunty Loh an likeable / affable character?
Characters bring the readers on the journey. Writers often capture the interests of readers by creating relatable, likeable characters.
In the short story, ‘Close to Home, Aunty Loh is presented to be someone relatable that quickly captures readers’ hearts.
Here’s a quick questions-checklist that you can use to see if writer manages to make you like her.
1) Is Aunty Loh relatable? Most of us reader prefer characters that are interesting and relatable.
2) Is Aunty Loh’s behaviour, antics funny?
3) What makes Aunty Loh stand out?
4) Does Aunty Loh have sympathy?
5) Did Aunty Loh encounter some personal setbacks?
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