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Big Boy

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ZainFarhaan
Words 1591
Pages 7
Character map Introduction Tips for writing essays 2 3 15

Essay 1: ‘Vincent’s fulfilment of his dream seems to be the triumph of individualism but really rests on the support and cooperation of other people.’ Discuss. 17 Essay 2: ‘The characters in Gattaca are too caught up in private dreams and personal ambitions for genuine relationships to be possible.’ Discuss. Essay 3: “That’s how I did it, Anton. I never saved anything for the swim back.” ‘Vincent defies and transcends his destiny and, in doing this, inspires others.’ Discuss. Essay 4: ‘Gattaca shows that categorising people into a hierarchy of castes, into ‘superior’ and ‘imperfect/inferior’, is both false and dangerous.’ How? Essay 5: ‘Gattaca shows that the rights of a person surpass the need for control within a society.’ Discuss. Essay 6: ‘Gattaca’s director, Andrew Niccol, said: “I would hate for anyone to look at my film and think it is advocating that you never tamper with genes, because there … will be many positive things to come out of this … science in terms of curing diseases”.‘ So what is Gattaca condemning? Essay 7: ‘Gattaca presents a world destroyed by the pursuit of perfection.’ Do you agree? Essay 8: ‘The society of Gattaca works to repress rather than to enhance the potential of human beings.’ Discuss. 22

27 31 36

40 45 50

Essay 9: “I belong to a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the colour of your skin. No, we now have discrimination down to a science.” Does Gattaca show discrimination to be a science? 53 Essay 10: ‘Gattaca depicts a world that seems totally scientific and rational, yet passion still prevails.’ Discuss. Practice topics 57 61

© Insight Publications 2010

Sample essays on texts

Character map

Antonio Freeman INVALID Disappointed and critical of Vincent due to his genetic flaws. Prefers Anton, his other, genetically superior son.

married to

Marie Freeman INVALID Loving yet anxious mother of Vincent.

parents of

German VALID Illegal ‘Genetic Broker’, paid by Vincent to organise exchange of DNA from Jerome.

Anton Freeman VALID In charge of Mission Controller’s murder investigation. Assumes superiority over Vincent due to his genetic advantages.


re s



Vincent Freeman (Vincent/Jerome) INVALID Adopts Jerome’s identity by using Jerome’s DNA samples as his own. First Class Navigator who dreams of space travel. Has a weak heart.


Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jerome/Eugene) VALID Confined to wheelchair after failed suicide. Adopts identity of ‘Eugene’ after giving his own identity and DNA to VIncent.

Detective Hugo INVALID Subordinate to Anton. Rigorous ‘old fashioned’ detective who has to play down his effective methods in investigating the murder in deference to the VALID Anton.

lovers and colleagues



Irene Cassini VALID Obedient Gattaca employee who becomes Vincent’s lover and helps him conceal his Invalid identity. Also has a weak heart.

Director Josef VALID Vincent and Irene’s superior. Murdered the Mission Controller. Supports Vincent: may be aware of deception.

Caesar INVALID Gattaca’s head janitor and Vincent’s first boss there before he assumes Jerome’s identity.

Doctor Lamar VALID Medical technician who helps Vincent conceal his identity due to inspiration Vincent gives to Lamar’s Invalid son.

© Insight Publications 2010

© Insight Publications 2009


Andrew Niccol, a screenwriter and director, was born in New Zealand and moved to England at the age of 21 to direct commercials. He has written and directed Gattaca, Simone and Lord of War, as well as earning an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay The Truman Show.

Brief synopsis
Gattaca is a story set, as an intertitle tells us, in the ‘not-too-distant future’, in a world where genetic engineering has become the ‘normal’ approach to procreation. We are introduced to Vincent Freeman, a child conceived not by genetic means, but through an act of love. He is what is known as a ‘faith birth’, a ‘God-child’, an INVALID. His brother, the genetically modified Anton, is superior in strength and favoured within the society. As a ‘natural’ child, Vincent’s imperfections (he possesses a 99% probability of fatal heart disease) see him ostracised and rejected. He is an employment risk due to his genetic inferiority, yet he dreams of a job in space – a task only performed by the most elite, genetically perfect members of society. Leaving his parents and his brother, Vincent performs the menial tasks assigned to the genetically inferior, the new underclass in a world that favours perfection. Ultimately, Vincent develops a plan to disguise his genetic inferiority and secure a place in the space program at Gattaca. He gains the assistance of Jerome Eugene Morrow, a VALID ex-athlete with superior genetic make-up who has been rendered a paraplegic after an accident. Using Jerome’s blood and urine samples to pass the rigorous screening process at Gattaca, Vincent ‘becomes’ Jerome Morrow and earns a place on an expedition to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. Vincent/ Jerome, with the assistance of Jerome/Eugene, becomes what is known as a ‘borrowed ladder’: someone who fraudulently moves upwards in society through the use of someone else’s genetic material. However, a murder at the Gattaca Corporation sees Vincent/Jerome come under suspicion, whilst his relationship with fellow worker, Irene, is complicated by his attempts to conceal the truth about his INVALID status. The murder investigation hinges on one vital clue: Vincent’s eyelash, with its ‘inferior’ genetic code, has been found at the murder scene. Vincent’s efforts to cover his tracks become increasingly difficult, and the revelation of his brother Anton’s involvement in the murder case complicates matters even further. Gattaca’s final moments centre on resolving the relationship between Vincent and Irene, the struggle for VALIDITY

© Insight Publications 2009

© Insight Publications 2010


Tips For Writing Essays
If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be assured of an extra mark or two!

10 Do’s
• • • • Know the text really well and answer the question properly. Write a plan. Structure your essay using an introduction, several body paragraphs and a conclusion. Use paragraphs with clear topic sentences to mark the progression of your argument. Remember ‘new paragraph = new point’. A good example of a clear topic sentence is: ‘The consequences of racial prejudice are explored in Othello’. Use correct spelling and ensure you always spell book titles, characters’ names or authors’ names correctly; for example, ‘Eli Wiesel’s Night’. Put direct quotations in inverted commas; for example: ‘Othello defends Desdemona’s loyalty to Brabantio, swearing ‘my life upon her faith’. Display your knowledge of the text by selecting relevant references to support your views. For example, if you choose to focus on the moments of Eli’s life that shaped his personality in Night, you might analyse the scene featuring the death of his father. Work out your own point of view on key elements such as characters, narrators, plot, etc. Keep to topic. Acknowledge the difference between genres; for example, film, play. For example, when discussing a film, refer to ‘shots’, ‘images’, ‘scenes’, etc. When discussing a play, acknowledge the performance aspects, such as stage directions, the playwright’s instructions for the setting, etc.

• • •

• • •

© Insight Publications 2009

© Insight Publications 2010


‘Vincent’s fulfilment of his dream seems to be the triumph of individualism but really rests on the support and cooperation of other people.’ Discuss.

In Gattaca, an ideology of success, linked to genetic engineering,

The opening reminds readers dominates society. Relationships are second to self-advancement, of the essential ideas of the text, expressing a clear which is achieved through meeting corporate standards and interpretation and response. joining the elite; ‘perfecting’ one’s children and mating with The use of the terminology someone of ‘good’ genetic potential. Vincent’s struggle and victory of the question indicates that the essay will be focused over his ‘destiny’ seem to endorse an ambitious individualism and relevant. The writer’s reflecting these values. However, his victory is won with other contention is stated strongly and sets up the framework people’s support and is a tribute to cooperation. The society, as for the body of the essay. This portrayed in the text, appears conformist and collectivist. Gattaca’s reference to the visual images employees, lined up and uniform in suits, seem objects, part of the of the film text serves to communicate that the writer geometrical designs. This hierarchical world represses freedom is aware of the text’s genre and self-determination. Vincent dreams of being an astronaut but, and the ways its features as an INVALID, he cannot achieve this. In the resultant conflict affect viewers.

with society to realise his ambition, he asserts his individuality in the community. Certainly, the imagery stresses the social barriers frustrating his personal quest. When his parents are told he isn’t allowed to attend school with other children, who are genetically superior, a close-up shows the gate shutting in his face. Before becoming ‘Jerome’, he can only work as a cleaner at Gattaca. He looks up through the windows at the genetically enhanced employees ascending the escalators inside, or up through skylights at Gattaca’s rockets rising, leaving him below. This is the ‘glass ceiling’ imposed by genetic discrimination, depicting Vincent’s exclusion by corporate society’s prejudices; how ‘the best test score in the world wasn’t going to matter unless I had the blood test to go with it’. Shadows criss-cross Vincent’s body like bars when he scrubs away his body materials, conveying a sense of
The style is succinct and unambiguous, expressing ideas strongly and clearly. Again, an awareness of important film aking m devices is displayed.

© Insight Publications 2009

© Insight Publications 2010

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