2018/12/27 16:24:30



Write a story based on the following painting entitled Nighthawks by Edward Hopper in 1942.

You should write between 600 and 800 words.



吴晓灵 厦门大学(指导教师:Jasen Grant)

       Narrative writing和argumentative writing对我来说其实是完全不同的两种体裁。对argumentative writing,我更注重逻辑、句式和词汇;而在narrative writing中,氛围和主题是最重要的。也可能是因为这样的想法,我看到题目“write a story based on the given painting”时并没有很诧异。因为不过于注重复杂的情节,我在拿到题目时从画作入手,让这幅画引导我写一篇故事。或许是因为这学期接触了较多西方艺术史的缘故,我对art本身是有兴趣的,在此也启发大家平时要广泛涉猎,接触不同的领域。因此,我从composition(构图)、subject(人物)、environment(环境)、color combination (色彩)及历史大背景(二战)入手分析这幅画,自然地在分析过程中得出画家传达给观众的二战时期年轻人的迷茫心态及战争带来的影响。在本篇文章写作中,我没有写大段对话,而是把对话作为推动故事发展的节点,在主人公(bartender)的独白和回忆中给读者展现二战时期人们的精神生活。我希望打破时空的局限,因此在最后留下开放式结尾,希望通过这个故事建立读者与画中人之间的联系,引导他们反思自己、反思过去,走进这幅画,走进自己的心灵。


       I am a bartender. I have worked at Phillies for nearly ten years, and multiple horrible events happening in the last decade have transformed me from a talkative, dynamic man to a silent, middle-aged bartender. I don't want to talk; sometimes I just sit on the chair, witnessing pedestrians striding quickly by without any emotions revealed from their faces. To be frank, being surrounded by a brown triangular wooden table edge assures my mind, partially due to the caprices of life - perhaps my brother will die in the next second.
       I smell the war; it has been ongoing for five years, and people have learnt how to bear and live with it - some of them have become relentlessly resilient after the war started, and others have initiated a carefree lifestyle seemingly in search of the ultimate goal of life. Here come three guests tonight; apparently, people no longer relish in the peaceful life once the nation plunged into the war - they do not cherish that pleasure and these people who came here tonight, I guess, are merely another bunch of men and women who are seeking the meaning of life in a chaotic world. Having served hundreds of guests since I was 19, I have developed an eagle eye that can penetrate one's mind and read inner thoughts. That's the reason why I don't usually talk, at least for the time being - I appreciate my observant quality and quite often, I realize the potential to investigate and examine the fragile relationship between strangers, friends, couples, and families. The lady is in a scarlet dress and with blonde hair, leaving me a unique impression the first moment she entered the Phillies. Having ordered a glass of beer, she barely talks and is carefully, if not indifferently, watching the smoke - another lost girl dragged down by the dismal reality, with the air exhaling from her mouth turning into a string of glowing circles. In contrast, the man next to her did not order anything, and he seems to know the girl just a few days ago yet he does not initiate any casual talk with the girl. That's a norm nowadays though, with no one listening and talking to you; rather, everyone is trapped in the small triangle of their inner self - we only feel emotionally stable and consistent when we stare at the surrounding without anything interrupting our life. Admittedly, we do not expect any incandescently surprising or ecstatic moments, which are almost impossible in a time bombarded with guns and shrieks.

       I pretend to be wiping the silverware, while my eyes are fixed on the other man sitting across from me. He wears a black hat and a black suit, perfectly matching the lifeless bar in the stale air. All of a sudden, he asks, "How long have you been working here?" "Ten years," the two words spring from my mouth like bullets, piercing through the bleak autumn night and punctuating the silence of our favorite. "Oh, so many unpredictable changes happened in these years," another snide remark that I’m trying to ignore. Definitely, I understood his sarcasm; we were both born in the roaring 20s, when we could dance to the jubilant jazz music, and spoiled ourselves with a thick wad of notes, and most importantly, we had a buoyant life at that time. Whereas now, we are just cautious enough not to refer to the traumatic word - war, which has left a unrecoverable scar on the heart, especially in the nightmare every time I awaken to the bloody red scar stretching all the way along my brother's right cheek - he deserves a salubrious life, yet he is tortured and tormented by the bottomless war groaning like a wild wolf that is desperate to suck human blood. Gentle as my brother is, he shouts at me sometimes, complaining that he has suffered unbearable pains from the war and his life - all his friends go to the battlefield and they have never been in contact with each other since the war began; he becomes nostalgic, and so do I.
       "A beer, please," the man sitting beside the blonde-haired girl pulls me from a distant hurtful memory with a heavy metallic voice. I've always wondered why alcohol was invented - Was it because the inventor wanted to escape from the bloody truth wrapped in a net of lies? Was it because he could not find any panacea to heal himself but resorted to alcohol? Was it an accident like what was happening all the time at the incarnadine battlefield? All in all, he must be like any one of us; we would rather sweet intoxication to sobriety – it is just too painful to remain tuned to the turbulent reality.
       "Da..da..dada...," the girl is whispering some babyish words, simple yet meaningless. Pathetically, we are all the same - meaninglessness is the ultimate meaning of our generation.
       (为真实展示选手赛场上的写作风貌,文章为从iTEST 大学外语测试与训练系统中摘出的原生作品,仅供学习分享使用。)



田朝霞教授 南京师范大学



       第二,描写刻画细致,烘托手法高明。人物刻画细致入微,如Having ordered a glass of beer, she barely talked and carefully, if not indifferently, watched the fog - another lost girl dragged down by the dismal reality, with the smoke exhaling from her mouth turning into a string of glowing circles。文字与画面相映,女子的形象更加鲜活,所传递的情感更加清晰。这种例子在文中比比皆是。讲故事其实是传递思想,但是好的故事不会明说,只是展现。这是我们常说的“show instead of tell”。这篇故事的人物容貌和心理的刻画以及环境的描写,均旨在烘托一种情绪,一种语言表达不清楚的情绪,一种长期的战争带给所有人的一种淡淡的无尽头的迷惘和孤独感。虽远离硝烟,但是每一个人都被囚困在战争中了。他们以不同的形式展示着战争所带来的“囚困”感,正如文中所言:everyone was trapped in the small triangle of their inner self - we only felt emotionally stable and consistent when we stared at the surroundings without nothing interrupting our life. 多数选手能够讲出(tell)这种苦闷,但是能够如此清晰、准确、深刻地用英语语言描绘出来的人寥寥无几。这位选手的技艺,用炉火纯青来形容也不算太夸张。
       第三,英语语言运用准确、娴熟。选手不仅词汇量大,而且使用准确。上面一段中的两个例子已能够体现。再例如“... secures my mind”、“capricious life”、“smelt the war”、“examine the fragile relationship”、“turbulent reality”等搭配使用的准确;“he deserved a salubrious life, yet he was tortured and tormented by the bottomless war groaning like a wild wolf that is desperate to suck human blood”等句子中头韵、拟人、比喻等多重修辞手法在同一个句子中的使用;“I've always wondered why the alcohol was invented - Was it …? Was it …? Was it …?”排比的使用。语言使用中可圈可点的地方很多,足以判断这位选手“浸泡”在英语中已久。
       第四,对艺术的感悟能力极强。如果这位选手之前并不了解这幅世界名画,那么她对艺术的感悟力令人惊叹。她描绘的深夜小餐厅的一幕就是战争影响和改变着的人们。每个人都被“trapped”,都“lost”;人们需要一点儿“alcohol”,“we would love to be drunk than sober - it was too painful to remain tuned to the turbulent reality”;战争时期的生活意义对这一代人都一样,“Pathetically, we are all the same - meaninglessness is the ultimate meaning of our generation”。这样的感悟力,既说明名画之出色,更说明我们这位选手之出色。