Mapping the World

Merci !

Annales corrigées
Classe(s) : Tle ES - Tle L - Tle S | Thème(s) : Espaces et échanges
Type : Écrit LV1 | Année : 2015 | Académie : Polynésie française



Polynésie française • Septembre 2015

Séries générales • LV1

Mapping the World

Text 1 A Russian Aborigine

In Alice Springs – a grid of scorching streets where men in long white socks were forever getting in and out of Land Cruisers – I met a Russian who was mapping the sacred sites of the Aboriginals.

His name was Arkady Volchok. He was an Australian citizen. He was thirty-three years old.

His father, Ivan Volchok, was a Cossack from a village near Rostov-on-Don, who, in 1942, was arrested and sent with a trainload of other Ostarbeiter to work in a German factory. One night, somewhere in the Ukraine, he jumped from the cattle-car into a field of sunflowers. Soldiers in grey uniforms hunted him up and down the long lines of sunflowers, but he gave them the slip. Somewhere else, lost between murdering armies, he met a girl from Kiev and married her. Together they drifted to a forgetful Adelaide suburb, where he rigged up a vodka still and fathered three sturdy sons.

The youngest of these was Arkady.

Nothing in Arkady’s temperament predisposed him to live in the hugger-mugger1 of Anglo-Saxon suburbia or take a ­convention­al job. He had a flattish face and a gentle smile, and he moved through the bright Australian spaces with the ease of his footloose forebears.

His hair was thick and straight, the colour of straw. His lips had cracked in the heat. He did not have the drawn-in lips of so many white Australians in the Outback; nor did he swallow his words. He rolled his r’s in a very Russian way. Only when you came up close did you realize how big his bones were.

He had married, he told me, and had a daughter of six. Yet, preferring solitude to domestic chaos, he no longer lived with his wife. He had few possessions apart from a harpsichord and a shelf of books.

He was a tireless bushwalker. He thought nothing of setting out, with a water-flask and a few bites of food, for a hundred-mile walk along the Ranges. Then he would come home, out of the heat and light, and draw the curtains, and play the music of Buxtehude and Bach on the harpsichord. Their orderly progressions, he said, conformed to the contours of the central Australian landscape.

Neither of Arkady’s parents had ever read a book in English. He delighted them by winning a first-class honours degree, in history and philosophy, at Adelaide University. He made them sad when he went to work as a school-teacher, on an Aboriginal settlement in Walbiri country to the North of Alice Springs.

He liked the Aboriginals. He liked their grit and tenacity, and their artful ways of dealing with the white man. He had learnt, or half-learnt, a couple of their languages and had come away astonished by their intellectual vigour, their feats of memory and their capacity and will to survive. They were not, he insisted, a dying race — although they did need help, now and then, to get the government and mining companies off their backs.

It was during his time as a school-teacher that Arkady learned of the labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia and are known to Europeans as ‘Dreaming-tracks’ or ‘Songlines’; to the Aboriginals as the ‘Footprints of the Ancestors’ or the ‘Way of the Law’.

Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the legendary totemic beings who had wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path — birds, animals, plants, rocks, water-holes — and so singing the world into existence.

Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines, 1987.

1. Hugger-mugger: busy life.

Text 2 An old map


There was a map of Vietnam on the wall of my apartment in Saigon and some nights, coming back late to the city, I’d lie out on my bed and look at it, too tired to do anything more than just get my boots off. That map was a marvel, especially now that it wasn’t real anymore. For one thing, it was very old. It had been left there years before by another tenant, probably a Frenchman, since the map had been made in Paris. The paper had buckled in its frame after years in the wet Saigon heat, laying a kind of veil over the countries it depicted. Vietnam was divided into its older territories of Tonkin, Annam and Cochin China, and to the west past Laos and Cambodge sat Siam, a kingdom. That’s old, I’d tell visitors, that’s a very old map.If dead ground could come back and haunt you the way dead people do, they’d have been able to mark my map CURRENT and burn the ones they’d been using since ‘64, but count on it, nothing like that was going to happen. It was late ‘67 now, even the most detailed maps didn’t reveal much anymore; reading them was like trying to read the faces of the Vietnamese, and that was like trying to read the wind. We knew that the uses of most information were flexible, different pieces of ground told different stories to different people. We also knew that for years now there had been no country here but the war.


Michael Herr, Dispatches, 2009.

Compréhension 10 points

Text 1

1 What is the name of the main character the narrator chooses to talk about?

2 Find the following information about this character in the whole text.

1. age.

2. nationality.

3. origins.

4. brother(s) and sister(s).

5. children.

6. job.

7. studies.

3 List all the main character’s hobbies (at least three elements expected).

4 Focus on lines 6 to 14. Find the following information concerning the main character’s father.

1. The place where his children were born.

2. The place his wife was from.

3. The place he never reached.

4. The place where he escaped.

5. The place he was from originally.

5 In your opinion, why were the main character’s parents disappointed with his career choice?

Text 2

6 Where does the scene take place (specific location, town and country)? In which year?

7 Are the following statements true or false? Justify your answers by quoting the text.

a) The narrator spends his days at home.

b) The narrator is the first occupant of the flat.

8 What is particular about the map on the wall? Find at least three elements in the text.

9 For the narrator, what was “like trying to read the wind”? (l. 18-19)

Both texts

10 Maps are mentioned in both texts. What do they suggest about the ways the main characters relate to the country they are in? Develop your answer in about 80 words.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L.

11 “Nothing in Arkady’s temperament predisposed him to [...] take a conventional job” (text 1: l. 16-18). In your own words, explain what the narrator means.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L au titre de la LVA.

12 What does the narrator mean, at the end of text 2, by saying there is a “war” where there used to be a “country”?

Expression 10 points

Tous les candidats traiteront une question au choix en 250 mots. (+/- 10 %)

1 What can exploring new cultures and places teach us?

2 You have decided to go and live in an unusual place. Write a letter to a friend, describing your first impressions.

Les candidats de la série L composant au titre de la LVA traiteront également la question suivante en 150 mots. (+/- 10 %)

3 Is it really possible to know a country without knowing its past?

Les clés du sujet

Texte 1


Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989) était un romancier britannique surtout connu pour ses récits de voyage. Il passa du temps en Australie afin d’étudier la culture aborigène et d’écrire The Songlines (1987), une de ses œuvres les plus réputées.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Le narrateur rencontre Arkady Volchok, un intellectuel d’origine russe qui consacre sa vie à parcourir la brousse australienne et à dresser une carte de la région de ses sites les plus sacrés.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

A grid (l. 1) : une grille ; scorching (l. 1) : brûlant ; a cattle car (l. 9) : un wagon à bestiaux ; a sunflower (l. 10) : un tournesol ; to give someone the slip (l. 11) : s’évader ; to drift (l. 13) : dériver ; to rig up (l. 14) : monter artisanalement ; sturdy (l. 14) : costaud : footloose (l. 19) : géographiquement libre ; forebears (l. 20) : ancêtres ; drawn-in (l. 22) : fermé ; to swallow one’s words (l. 23) : (ici) mal prononcer ses mots ; a bushwalker (l. 30) : randonneur ; grit (l. 41) : (ici) cran ; a feat (l. 44) : un exploit ; a water-hole (l. 56) : un point d’eau.

Texte 2


Michael Herr (1940-) est un romancier américain, ancien correspondant de guerre, notamment pendant la guerre du Vietnam. Dispatches raconte son expérience pendant cette guerre.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Le narrateur décrit son appartement à Saigon, et plus particulièrement une vieille carte accrochée au mur, représentant l’état du pays d’avant guerre. Il explique que la guerre a tout changé et qu’elle a même détruit et remplacé la notion d’un pays.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

A tenant (l. 6) : un locataire ; to be buckled (l. 7) : être déformé ; a frame (l. 7) : un cadre ; to lay a veil over something (l. 8) : voiler ; count on it (l. 15) : comptez là-dessus ; a piece of ground (l. 20) : un morceau de terre.

Les points de convergence

Les cartes géographiques sont au cœur des deux textes : le dressage d’une carte dans le premier texte et l’étude d’une carte ancienne dans le second. Chaque carte est essentielle à la façon dont les deux hommes voient le pays dans lequel ils se trouvent.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Pistes de recherche

Commencez par lister au brouillon toutes les idées qui vous passent par la tête. Ensuite, classez-les afin de préconstruire deux ou trois paragraphes cohérents. Par exemple : les bienfaits intellectuels, les bienfaits culturels et les bienfaits physiques ou encore, ce qu’on apprend du pays par rapport à ce qu’on apprend de nous-mêmes (le respect, la tolérance, les traditions). Dans l’introduction, reformulez la question afin de mieux organiser vos idées : We could argue that new cultures and places teach us just as much about ourselves as they teach us about them.

Vocabulaire utile

To be open-minded (avoir l’esprit ouvert) ; a benefit (un bienfait) ; beneficial (bénéfique) ; global awareness (la sensibilisation mondiale).

Le sujet d’expression 2

Pistes de recherche

Il faut choisir un endroit hors-pair qui vous donne envie : peut-être une péniche, une montagne, à l’écart de la civilisation ou au cœur d’une ville. Vous pouvez choisir une des îles britanniques ou un pays plus éloigné. Racontez comment ce déménagement a changé votre vie.

Vocabulaire utile

To move (déménager) ; to get away from it all (s’évader du quotidien) ; I’ve had enough (j’en ai assez) ; to make a new life for oneself (refaire sa vie).

Le sujet d’expression 3

Pistes de recherche

Réfléchissez au sens de « connaître » un pays et aux moyens d’y parvenir : recherche, expérience, avis d’autrui. Ensuite, prenez parti, il faut donner votre avis, même s’il est mitigé.

Vocabulaire utile

Reliable (fiable) ; to experience something (vivre une expérience) ; background information (renseignements généraux) ; first-hand experience (expérience directe) ; to fit in (s’intégrer).