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English Language & Linguistics

English Language


Hollow Point Questions and Tasks

Questions and Tasks

  • Listen first to the music up to the point where the words begin (the first 40 seconds). What are your first impressions?
  • Listen to the whole song first without reading the lyrics. Now write your impressions. It is definitely a folk song. Does that influence your opinion?
  • The song begins slowly with solo guitar and some pauses between lines even before the first words are sung. Does this suggest serious intent, lack of pace, a slow build up ….?
  • Award points on a scale of 0-10 for “emotion and tension” for each stanza then create a simple graph of emotion and tension (vertical axis) against stanza (horizontal axis). What pattern emerges?
  • “It was a gorgeous summer’s morning”. Does the singer’s voice and guitar convey this? If it does not, why? Is it related to pronunciation, tone of voice, or simply the pace and tempo of the song?
  • What is the significance of the cotton jacket and why it is “all” he carried?
  • Footsteps behind him – is this the first sign of a sense of foreboding?london map
  • “The bus stop at Tulse Hill” seems a rather banal place for a dramatic tale. Is it? And if it is, how might that help the dramatic nature of the narrative?
  • Follow the route he took on the map.
  • “It’s just another working day”. Is this also very banal or does it act as a counterpoint to the imminent threat of people who “were right behind him from the start” ? Notice how the music adds bass and drums at this point.
  • “Though the video was buggered” – what effect does this contemporary informal phrase have on the narrative? What does it tell us of police competence (or determination to keep evidence secret)?
  • “something in the air” and “something going down” – do these suggest tension, unease, doubt, uncertainty? What is the young man’s appreciation of this?
  • “And so to Stockwell Tube he came” finishes as a long drawn out line, followed by an instrumental refrain. What impression does this give to the listener?
  • “Down and down” etc. What is the significance  of this?
    How does the writer deal with the actual shooting of De Menezes, without describing it? What is hinted at, what is omitted and what is conveyed by the music?
  • “Awake, arise” is repeated at the end. Does it have greater poignancy now? Explain the effective use of pathos in the song.
  • Points of view. There is natural sympathy for the family of the dead man and sorrow for the manner of his death. However the security forces have a responsibility for protecting us from terrorists – and this involves great danger for them as well as the probability of making a mistake. What if the young man had actually been a bomber, like the men the day before and the fortnight previous to that?
  • Write a piece explaining the security service’s point of view. This could be a personal account by an officer who was there, written as a song or as a report.
  • When you’ve finished, comment on the differences in style between your account and “Hollow Point”.

 See also