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English Lit/Lang Anthology [Malaka Gharib] Cheat Sheet by

A Level English Lit/Lang [OCR Exam Board] Text: Malaka Gharib: "I was their American Dream" 2019. This hasn't come up in an anthology exam yet.


About this graphic memoir

This text is taken from a graphic memoir about Malaka Gharib's childhood growing up as a Filipina Egyptian American. In this extract from Chapter 2, Gharib reflects on the ways her family contrasted with wider American culture.


Genre: Graphic memoir
Register: Informal
Audience: Fans of Gharib's work as an author, those interested in human experi­enc­es/­growing up/cul­tures- especially Filipina, Egyptian and American.
Mode: Drawn/­written
Purpose: To inform others of her childhood and share culture.
Subject: Gharib compares her experi­ences of childhood to her peers, establ­ished early on with "my family didn't look like the ones on TV."


Comics, cartoons, illust­rat­ions.

Graphology (perso­nality shown through handwr­iting)

Different fonts used to express speech of different charac­ter­s/o­bjects (such as page 1, there's a different between the font of Gharib to that of the TV.)

Emotive and intera­ctive

Gharib used colours of the American flag, clash of cultures.

Intera­ctive purpose- linked recipes, and she would "­circle all the things [her] parents didn't allow" .

Literary techniques

Semantic fields - family, belonging, expect­ations, cultural aliena­tio­n/d­iff­ere­nces, idolising nuclear American families.

Symbols: TV - "7th heaven­"

Phonology: "­mee­eee­eee­e!"

Juxtap­osi­tion: between nuclear families and hers, more colour in her family's drawing, emphasis on ethnic differ­ence.

Typogr­aphy: childlike font, mimic tone

Use of footnotes: heritage reduced to a footnote, but reclaimed through the recipe­/whole page.

Ironic use of American acronyms such as "­OMG­"


Structure is not straight forwardly linear: the author describes different aspects of her life, making use of images/­games presented in the visual form in order to describe her experi­ences, rather than telling a story with a clear beginn­ing­/mi­ddl­e/end.

Struct­urally, the narrative, in focused around Gharib's perception of the differ­ences between her childhood and that of her peers, is establ­ished at the beginning.

Analysis - general points

Syntactic parall­elism between the "on tv, families looked like this:" and "mine looked like this:" (page 2 of extract).

Deixis: family, identity, 'fitting in'.

Exclam­ative: "­Fab­ulous Monggo­!"

Impera­tives: (chara­cte­ristic of the genre) Refer to recipe page (page 3 of extract).
Oriented as conven­tional recipe - headings, listing, bullet points.

Dialogue: Turn-t­aking, adjacency pairs - establ­ishes charac­ters. (Page 4 of extract)
Most of her mother's responses in the dialogue are also interr­oga­tives or exclam­ative.

Informal phrasing reflects on the GRAMPS elements and is also aligned with the American setting.

Prosodic features to mimic conver­sation

Superl­ative: "­Mom's greatest extrav­agance was taking us on big trips abroad­" emphasises her mum's determ­ination to expose her daughter to a range of places and experi­ence.

Ellipsis: "love you, ma" charac­ter­istic of speech and presen­tative of different conver­sations and charac­ters.

Proper nouns "Hong Kong", "­Mad­rid­" are used as captions to show us the places she was able to visit.

Gharib defines the American Dream as peace, discovery & accept­ance.


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