BACCALAUREAT 2012 - SUJET ET PISTES DE CORRECTION
I was about a hundred feet away from him when Pappy hollered, “Henry! Your brother’s home!
Henry emerged from the barn holding a feed bucket. “What?” he yelled. Then he saw Jamie. He
whooped, dropped the bucket and broke into a run, and so did Jamie. Henry’s bad leg made him
awkward, but he seemed not to notice it. He pelted forward with the joyous abandon of a schoolboy.
I realized I’d never seen my husband run before. It was like glimpsing another side of him, secret
They came together ten feet in front of me. Clapped each other on the back, pulled apart,
searched each other’s faces: ritual. I stood outside of it and waited.
“You look good, brother,” Jamie said. “You always did love farming.”
“You look like hell,” Henry replied.
“Don't sugarcoat it, now.”
“You need to put some meat on those bones of yours, get some good Mississippi sun on your
“That’s why I’m here.”
“How’d you get out here?”
“I hitched my way from Greenville. I met one of your neighbors at the general store in town. He
dropped me off at the bridge.”
“Why didn’t Eboline drive you?”
“One of the girls wasn’t feeling well. Sick headache or some such thing. Eboline said they’d be
down this weekend.”
“I’m glad you didn’t wait,” Henry said.
Jamie turned to me then, looking at me in that way he had—as if he were really seeing me and
taking me in whole. He held his hands out. “Laura,” he said.
I went to him and gave him a hug. He felt light against me, insubstantial. His ribs protruded like
the black keys of a piano. I could pick him up, I thought, and had a sudden irrational urge to do so. I
stepped back hastily, flustered. Aware of his eyes on me.
“Welcome home, Jamie,” I said. “It’s good to see you.”
“You too, sweet sister-in-law. How are you liking it here in Henry’s version of paradise?”
I was spared from lying by the old man. “You’d think a son would see fit to greet his father,” he
bellowed from the porch.
“Ah, the dear, sweet voice of our pappy,” said Jamie. “I’d forgotten how much I missed hearing
Henry picked up one of Jamie’s suitcases and we headed toward the house. “I think he’s lonely
here,” Henry said. “He misses Mama, and Greenville.”
“Oh, is that the excuse he’s using these days?”
“No. He doesn’t make excuses, you know that,” Henry said. “He’s missed you too, Jamie.” [. . .]
“If you say so, brother,” Jamie said, throwing an arm around Henry’s shoulder. “I’m not gonna
argue with you today. But I have to say, it’s mighty good of you to have taken him in and put up
with him all these months.”
Henry shrugged. “He’s our father,” he said.
I felt a ripple of envy, which I saw echoed on Jamie’s face. How simple things were for Henry!
How I wished sometimes that I could join him in his stark, right-angled world, where everything
was either right or wrong and there was no doubt which was which. What unimaginable luxury,
never to wrestle with whether or why, never to lie awake nights wondering what if.
AT SUPPER THAT NIGHT, Jamie regaled us with stories about his travels overseas. [. . .]
Henry was the only one of us who seemed impatient with Jamie’s stories. I could tell by the
crease between his eyebrows, which got deeper and deeper as the evening wore on. Finally he
50 blurted out, “And that’s what you’ve been doing all these months, instead of coming home?”
“I needed some time,” said Jamie.
“To play in the snow and eat fancy foreign bread.”
“We all heal in our own ways, brother.”
Henry made a gesture that took in Jamie’s appearance. “We l l , if this is what you call
healing, I’d hate to see what hurting is.” Jamie sighed and passed a hand across his face. The
veins on the back of his hand stood out like blue cords.
“Are you hurt, Uncle Jamie?” asked Isabelle worriedly.
“Everybody was hurt some in the war, little Bella. But I’ll be all right. [. . .]”
I would heal him, I thought. I would cook food to strengthen him, play music to soothe him,
tell stories to make h im smile. Not the weary smile he wore tonight, but the radiant, reckless
grin he’d given me on the dance floor of the Peabody Hotel so many years before.
The war had dimmed h im, but I would bring h im back to himself.
Hillary Jordan, Mudbound, 2008
I - COMPRÉHENSION
1. a) Who are the characters present in the scene?
Henry, Jamie, Pappy, Laura and Isabelle are the five characters present in the scene.
b) How are they related to each other?
Henry is Jamie's brother and Pappy's son.
Jamie is Henry's brother and Pappy's son.
Laura is Jamie's sister in law so she is Henry's wife.
Pappy is Henry and Jamie's father.
Isabelle (also called little Bella) is Jamie's niece so she is Laura and Henry's daughter.
c) Who is telling the story?
It is a first-person narrative and the story is told by Laura.
2. a) Where does the scene take place?
The scene takes place in the United States of America, in the state of Mississippi; more precisely in the farm where Henry lives.
b) Say in one sentence which particular event is happening on that day.
This is a particular day because Jamie is coming home to his brother after having been away for some time.
c) Why did Jamie go away?
Jamie went away because he enrolled in the army and went to the war overseas. We may suppose that he went to Europe to participate in the war.
d) l.50: “And that’s what you’ve been doing all these months . . .?” Explain what he has been doing.
Jamie did not come back to the USA directly after the war. As he was overseas, he took advantage of the situation to travel and visit countries he did not know. He seems to have enjoyed his trip.
3. Describe Jamie’s physical appearance. Answer in your own words and justify with two quotes from the text.
Jamie has suffered from the war experience. He looks skinny, weak, not healthy and extremely tired/ exhausted. He is a wreck after such an experience.
line 11 "you look like hell".
line 13 "you need to put some meat on those bones of yours, go get some good Mississippi sun on your face".
line 25 "he felt light against me, insubstantial. His ribs protruded like the black keys of a piano"
line 56 "the veins on the back of his hand stood out like blue cords"
line 59 " I would cook food to strengthen him"
line 60 "not the weary smile he wore tonight"
4. a) Describe Henry’s feelings at seeing Jamie. Justify your answer with two quotes.
Henry is overjoyed at seeing his brother again. He did not expect to see him at all. Henry must have been worried about his brother being in the army. He must have had no news from him and feared that he was dead. As a consequence, when he sees his brother, he runs to him and it is as if they were children once again.
line 3 "he whooped, dropped the bucket and broke into a run, and so did Jamie. Henry's bad leg made him awkward, but he seemed not to notice it. He pelted forward with the joyous abandon of a schoolboy"
line 8 "they came together, ten feet in front of me. Clapped each other on the back, oulled apart, searched each other's faces: ritual"
b) What does the way Henry reacts reveal about him to the narrator? Answer in your own words (20 words).
Henry is so happy to see his brother that he runs to him even if he walks with a bad limp. Laura is surprised at seeing him acting that way. It is the first time she has seen her husband so uninhibited / expressive. We may suppose that Henry is usually secretive and not used to showing or expressing his feelings easily.
5. l.60-61: “Not the weary smile he wore tonight, but the radiant, reckless grin he’d given me on the dance floor of the Peabody Hotel so many years before.”
a) What does the change in Jamie’s smile reveal about him? (30 words)
Jamie used to be a joyful and charming man. Laura remembers the great times they had together when they went dancing. But the war has changed him. His smile has turned into a grin, he seems bit and sad now.
b) What does this sentence reveal about the characters’ relationship so many years before?
Laura and Jamie might have been in love in the past. They certainly flirted with each other when they were younger.
6. What do you understand about the narrator’s feelings towards Jamie now? Justify with two quotes from two different parts of the text - one quote for each part. (30 words, quotes not included).
Laura is moved and disturbed at seeing Jamies. They used to flirth with each other when they were younger and she probably still has feelings for him. He is more than her brother in law. She really wants to help him recover physically and mentally from the war trauma.
line 23 "Jamie turned to me the, looking at me inthat way he had - as if he were really seeing me and taking me in whole"
line 24 "I stepped back hastily, flustered. Aware of his eyes on me"
line 59 "I would heal him, I thought. I would cook to strengthen him, play music to soothe him, tell stories to make him smile"
line 63 "The war had dimed him, but I would bring him back to himself"
7. a) Describe Henry’s personality as seen through the narrator’s eyes. Justify your answer with two quotes. (30 words, quotes not included)
Henry is described as a secretive man who rarely expresses his feelings. Moreover, he is portrayed as a determined man. He seems to take all the decisions; for instance he chose to live in the farm and to bring his father here without concerning himself with the fact that life in the farm is not easy to everyone. Finally, he doesn't waste time to make a decision and when his decision is made, it is the right one.
line 42 "how simple things were for Henry"
line 43 "How I wished sometimes that I could join him in his stark, right-angled world, where everything was either right or wrong and there was no doubt wichi was which".
b) What does the portrait the narrator draws of Henry tell us about the narrator’s personality and the way she sees her own life? Justify your answer with one quote. (30 words, quote not included)
Contrary to her husband, Laura is always wondering what the right decision is. She is always doubful and it even prevents her from sleeping quietly. Laura appears to be a lonely woman in the farm. She does not seem happy, cheerful.
line 39 "You too, sister in law. How are you liking it here in Henry's version of paradise?" I was spared from lyong..."
line 45 "What unimaginable luxury, never to wrestle with whether or why, never to lie awake nights wondering what if"
II - EXPRESSION
Choose one of the following subjects:
1. Do you think having a simple vision of life contributes to happiness? (300 words, +/- 10%)
2. Imagine the diary entry the narrator wrote after the evening “on the dance floor of the Peabody
Hotel” (l.61). (300 words, +/- 10%)