Analysing language in non-fiction

Help, tips and assistance for students. This blog is part of a range specifically for students and can be found, along with others, under Student GCSE Blogs.

A question will be worded like this:

Q3 You now need to refer only to source B

  • How does the writer use language to describe a Victorian Christmas

This is using the same skills as analysing language for Paper 1 Q2. However, non fiction texts will not be full of imagery in the way fiction texts are. Analysing the right words might be harder.

Source B – Christmas Day -Christmas in Grantham, Lincolnshire 1894

Everyone loved the Christmas crackers again this year. Who would have thought that Tom Smith, a London confectioner started adding a motto to his sugared almond bon-bons which he sold wrapped in a twisted paper package some years ago, and they have become these Christmas crackers now ?

It`s fun crossing your arms to pull all the crackers at once. Holding the cracker in your right hand and pulling the other person`s cracker with your free left hand. Young Tim were laughing away, Bless him !

Molly and I even had a go. Inside we all got a paper crown made from tissue paper, and we laughed at all the silly mottos.Young Tim started singing `Polly Wolly Doodle` again and we all joined in with him.

Archibald got the coin in the Christmas Pudding. 2nd time in a row, he did last year too ! Bless him ! We all cheered and laughed.

All the family went up to the Front Parlour and they asked Molly and I do join them in a while which we did. Master James had lit the candles on the Christmas tree today and they had given out their presents to each other earlier while we was preparing Christmas Dinner. When Molly and I went in, I was given a grand present of the book, `The Story of a Modern Woman` by English author Ella Hepworth Dixon , a copy of Cassell’s Family Magazine edited by H. G. Bonavia Hunt and some money for Christmas. Molly got some money too.

We was both well pleased, we were.


Possible choices to analyse are:

  • The writer uses the collective pronoun ‘everyone’ followed by past tense verb ‘loved’. Immediately the reader is aware of the importance of Christmas to the narrator and the Victorian ‘family’.
  • The sheer delight at opening a cracker with a chocolate, using patterns in language such as ‘fun’ ‘laughing’ and ‘singing’ when pulling the cracker. The emotive first two abstract nouns have strong positive connotations associated with extreme joy and happiness.
  • This is soon followed with the joy at finding a coin in the pudding again ‘all’ were happy. This gives the reader the impression this is a really special time for the family.
  • Finally the family all join in singing and finally giving out of presents; a book, a magazine, handkerchiefs etc. All of the gifts are purposeful items which will be used by the recipient connoting to a time when it wasn’t about receiving but the giving of gifts.


You MUST identify:


You need to identify a method the author has used and discuss why it’s important/successful in context of the text.

Thanks for reading.



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