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Annales gratuites Bac L : Compréhension du texte

Le sujet  1996 - Bac L - Anglais LV1 - Compréhension écrite Imprimer le sujet

Hurstwood has fled to New-York with Carrie, who has now become an actress and has left him.

One day, looking down the ad. columns of the Evening World, he saw where a new play was at the Casino. Instantly he came to a mental halt. Carrie had gone ! He remembered seeing a poster of her only yesterday, but no doubt it was one left uncovered by the new signs. Curiously, this fact shook him up. He had almost to admit that somehow he was depending upon her being in the city. Now she was gone. He wondered how this important fact had skipped him. Goodness knows when she would be back now. Impelled by a nervous fear, he rose and went into the dingy (1) hall, where he counted his remaining money, unseen. There were ten dollars in all.

He wondered how all these other lodging-house people around him got along. They didn't seem to do anything. Perhaps they begged - unquestionably they did. Many was the dime he had given to such as they in his day. He had seen other men asking for money on the streets. Maybe he could get some that way. There was horror in this thought.

Sitting in the lodging-house room, he came to his last fifty cents. He had saved and counted until his health was affected. His stoutness (2) had gone. With it , even the semblance of a fit in his clothes. Now he decided he must do something, and walking about, saw another day go by, bringing him down to his last twenty-cents - not enough to eat for the morrow.

Summoning all his courage, he crossed to Broadway and up to the Broadway Central hotel. Within a block he halted, undecided. A big, heavy-faced porter was standing at one of the side entrances, looking out. Hurstwood purposed to appeal to him. Walking straight up he was upon him before he could turn away.

"My friend," he said, recognising even in his plight (3) the man's inferiority, "is there anything about this hotel that I could get to do ?"

The porter stared at him the while he continued to talk.

"I'm out of work and out of money and I've got to get something - it doesn't matter what. I don't care to talk about what I've been, but if you'd tell me how to get something to do, I'd be much obliged to you. It wouldn't matter if it only lasted a few days just now. I've got to have something."

The porter still gazed, trying to look indifferent. Then, seeing that Hurstwood was about to go on, he said :

"I've nothing to do with it. You'll have to ask inside."

Curiously, this stirred Hurstwood to further effort.

"I thought you might tell me."

The fellow shook his head irritably.

Inside went the ex-manager and straight to an office of the clerk's desk. One of the managers of the hotel happened to be there. Hurstwood looked him straight in the eye.

"Could you give me something to do for a few days ?" he said. "I'm in a position where I have to get something at once."

The comfortable manager looked at him, as much as to say : "Well, I should judge so."

"I came here," explained Hurstwood, nervously, "because I've been a manager myself in my day. I've had bad luck in a way, but I'm not here to tell you that. I want something to do, if only for a week."

The man imagined he saw a feverish gleam in the applicant's eye.

"What hotel did you manage ?" he inquired.

"It wasn't a hotel," said Hurstwood. "I was manager of Fitzgerald and Moy's place in Chicago for fifteen years."

"Is that so ?" said the hotel man. "How did you come to get out of that ?"

The figure of Hurstwood was rather surprising in contrast to the fact.

"Well, by foolishness of my own. It isn't anything to talk about now. You could find out if you wanted to. I'm "broke" now and, if you will believe me, I haven't eaten anything to-day."

The hotel man was slightly interested in this story. He could hardly tell what to do with such a figure, and yet Hurstwood's earnestness (4) made him wish to do something.

Theodore DREISER, Sister Carrie, 1900.


(1) dingy : dirty-looking, dull.
(2) stoutness < = stout : fat.
(3) flight : condition of extreme difficulty.
(4) earnestness : seriousness.



Translate into French from "My friend" to "ask inside".


Etude du texte (veillez à intégrer les citations du texte dans son développement).

1 - Who and what are the characters mentioned in the text ? How are they portrayed or alluded to ?

Hurstwood is out of work and running out of money. He's afraid he'll be reduced to begging. He approaches a hotel porter whom he asks for work, then the manager, to whom he describes his plight. The missing character is Carrie, an actress.

2 - Quote the key phrases in the first paragraph that reveal Hurstwood's reaction to Carrie's departure.

"He remembered seeing a poster of her only yesterday, but no doubt it was one left uncovered by the new signs. Curiously, this fact shook him up. He had almost to admit that somehow he was depending upon her being in the city."

3 - Show that this departure leads him to unpleasant conclusions.

He feels a sudden nervous fear and immediately starts counting his money.

4 - Pick out the details which describe his present environment and those which allude to his previous situation.

"Dingy hall" (of the lodging home).
"His stoutness had gone… Even the semblance of a fit in his clothes".

5 - What stages does Hurstwood go through before finally reacting ? What actually makes him act ?

He is in state of shock over Carrie's departure. He counts his money, worrying where his next meal will be coming from. He also wonders how the other lodgers manage.

6 - a) Show how the narrator underlines the contradiction between Hurstwood's intention and what he actually does.

He has him walking around the city as another day goes by, even though he is now down to 20 cents.

b) "Now he decided he must do something." Explain why this is a key sentence in relation to his situation, pointing out the value of the modal "must". Could "must" be used instead of "have got to" or "have to" ? Justify your answers.

Now that he's practically reduced to begging, he finally realises it's high time he did something about finding a job.
Yes, "must" could be used instead of "have got to" and "have to". It's just as strong.

7 - a) Analyse the main character's attitude when addressing the porter and then the manager of the hotel.

He approaches the porter very politely, even obsequiously, though he's still too proud to say how desperate he is. With the manager, he's a little cockier, claiming he once managed a bar in Chicago, though he does finally admit he is broke and starving.

b) Compare the following verb forms :
I've been a manager myself" and "I was manager of Fitzgerald and Moy's place". What do they reveal ?

I've been a manager myself and "I was manager of Fitzgerald and Moy's place". What do they reveal ?

They reveal that, whatever his present situation, he still has a certain dignity and professional competence as well as equality with the manager.

8 - What do the underlined words refer to ?

"I should judge so." This refers to his shabby appearance.
"Is that so ?" This shows the manager's incredulity.

9 - What are the 3 elements which will influence the manager in his final decision ? Analyse them.

Hustwood claims he managed a bar, not a hotel.
The contrast between his shabbiness and the experience he claims is too great.
He has a "feverish glint" in his eye and mentions past "foolishness", not a good sign for a manager.

10. Back at his lodgings Hurstwood writes in his diary a few lines about what happened that day and dreams about a possible fresh start in life. (about 250 words)

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