This book gives my courage. I love Madeleine and her life, but her life is so much like my own that it is scary. I was really upset this week when I got my marks for an essay which I poured my heart and soul into and it was a middle 2:1. I’d had advice from it left right and center and was very proud of the end result. I was in Norwich Cathedral when my parents text me the result. My boyfriend and I were baffled as were my parents and a few of my friends. I was certain that the lecturer had a personal vendetta against me, to which my boyfriend concurred. But then he said that perhaps I was right a few months ago when I said that they didn’t want me to get a first? This was supported by our friend (soon to graduate) who pointed out that they don’t on principle, give firsts in our first year, and that my first semester was a blip as a result of anonymous marking. I feel arrogant though when I say this, as maybe my work only deserves this grade? I was very upset as I knew it deserved more, purely on the basis of the arguments discussed and evidence. The marksheet however was helpful, if not very nit-picky. Comments like, “I personally perceive this differently” is quite insightful as to how this particular lecturer marks. As are “I may have gone about [structure] differently” and “this is not the first choice that springs to mind when discussing xyz.” The last comment was in reference to my choosing a poem about God not making men equally in an essay about unity. But never mind. I was also penalized for not giving a definition of race or class. How do you do that quickly? And surely discussing the type of people which constitute each class does that? Apparently by not providing such pointless definition of class, my readers would have “no understanding of my argument.” I hate to break it to you Dr, but there are only two differences between black and white people, their pigmentation and how they’re treated. My conclusion was “excellent… although optimistic.” He also recommends that I talk about class and race in Gatsby and then in the Harlem Renaissance afterwards. I would like to point out that the briefing was a comparative essay, not two essays on the same themes in one document.
I am proud however that he said that my reference list was perfect, so if nothing else, I have now mastered that skill, which will be vital for the next two years. My Mum thinks that the department made a group decision to only give me 65 for every assignment that lacks anonymity. This was supposed to, but he made us submit our questions, in a class of less than 30 with only 2 very different people doing the same question, it’s not hard to guess. 65 means that I would be stupid to complain, but also have room to improve. I suspected as much, but this essay deserved 10, if not 20 marks more, so I know something isn’t right.
Like Madeleine in The Marriage Plot, I want to do a Masters, but in order to do this, I need my marks to either improve, or, like Madeleine, get published. So back to the novel and recreational essay writing I go.