Ginny, the main character of the story, is 16. She's turning out to be a brilliant artist like her mother, who died when she was a baby. In the extract you're going to read Ginny sees her mother's picture in the art gallery.
When Ginny was first becoming interested in art and the history of painting, Dad had given her a big book with hundreds of reproductions in it. She’d pored over it with more than delight — with a kind of greed, in fact. She absorbed everything the book told her about the Renaissance, and the Impressionists, and the Cubists, about Boticelli and Monet and Picasso, and she breathed it all in like oxygen she hadn’t known she was missing. And among the pictures in the book, there were two that made her gasp. One was Whistler’s “Arrangement2 in Grey and Black”, the portrait of his mother sitting on an upright chair, and the other was El Greco’s “View ofToledo”. She remembered her reaction quite clearly: a sudden intake of breath, caused by sheer surprise at the arrangement of shapes and colours. It was a physical shock.
And when she looked at the big painting that dominated the end wall, the same thing happened. It would have affected her the same way whoever had painted it, because it was a masterpiece. What it showed was a middle-aged black man, in a uniform with epaulettes and medals, in the act of falling on to the red-carpeted floor of a well furnished room. He’d been eating a meal, and on the table beside him was a plate of yellow soup. Beyond him, through the open door and at the open window, stood a crowd of people, watching: white people and black, old and young, richly dressed and poverty-stricken. Some of them carried objects that helped you understand who they were: a wad of dollar bills for a banker, a clutch of guns for an arms dealer, a chicken for a peasant; and the expressions on their faces told Ginny that they’d all in some ways been victims or accomplices of the man who was dying.
And all that was important, but just as important was the strange discord of the particular red of the carpet and the particular yellow of the soup, so that you knew it was something significant, and you guessed the soup had been poisoned. And the way the dying man was isolated by the acid red from every other shape in the picture, so that it looked as ifhe were sinking out of sight in a pool of blood. And mainly what was important was the thing that was impossible to put into words: the arrangements of the shapes on the canvas. These same elements put together differently would have been an interesting picture, but put together like this, they made Ginny catch her breath.
She began thinking of what her mother had wanted to say by the picture. Tell the story of the corrupt officer? Yes... But not mainly. What she had probably wanted to do was just to see what happened when she put that red and that yellow together. That was what could start it. Some little technical thing like that. And the shape of the man as he falls... Because there’s no shadow, you can’t see easily where he is in relation to the floor. He seems to be floating in space, almost. But at the same time no one could say that the picture wasn’t technically correct. It was amazing, brilliant! Ginny felt a lump in her throat.
(After "The Broken Bridge ” by Philip Pullman)
Choose the right answers to the questions.
1. What impression did the book given by her father make on Ginny?
a) She liked the chapters devoted to Boticelli, Monet and Picasso.
b) She had a mixed feeling of pleasure and disbelief.
c) She felt that she had badly needed a book like that.
2. What did Ginny feel when she first looked at her favourite reproductions of Whistler and El Greco?
a) The two pictures struck her as extremely original.
b) The girl was overwhelmed by the deep emotions the pictures awakened.
c) The girl was surprised by the colours and shapes in the pictures.
3. What type did the picture on the wall belong to?
a) It was a genre painting.
b) It was a portrait.
c) It was a battle scene.
4. Besides the officer’s victims, who were the people in the crowd?
a) His relatives.
b) His partners in crime.
c) His enemies.
5. How could one guess that the soup in the picture had been poisoned?
a) By the position of the plate.
b) By the discord of colours.
c) By the dark shade.
6. What did Ginny’s mother want to express by painting her masterpiece?
a) She wanted to tell a story.
b) She wanted to experiment with some painting techniques.
c) She wanted to tell a story and make it more effective by using some special techniques.