The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District

This study guide will help you analyze an extract from James Rebanks’ non-fiction book “The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District”, which was used for a written exam in English B on STX from 2 December 2020. In addition to help for your analysis, you can find a summary of the text and ideas for discussing it.

James Rebanks (b. 1974) is an English author and sheep farmer. The extract you have to analyze and discuss is taken from Rebanks’ book The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District, which was published in 2015. The book is autobiographical and discusses Rebanks’ decision to take up farming, following in his ancestors’ footsteps. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Humor and irony

Rebanks’ text contains many humorous passages. First, the story about the fight between a student and a teacher is meant to make readers laugh: 

One maths lesson was improved for me by a fist-fight between a pupil and the teacher, before the lad ran for it down the stairs and across the muddy playing fields, only to be knocked down by the teacher before he escaped into town. (ll. 15-17).

Despite the humor, the story also has a deeper implication, as it highlights the conflict between people of different backgrounds who share different values. 

Another amusing episode is presented towards the end of the story, when Rebanks highlights his immaturity and inability to overcome his childish habits: “But in that assembly in 1987 I was dumb and thirteen, so I just made a farting noise on my hand. Everyone laughed. She finished and left the stage fuming” (ll. 98-100). At the same time, this episode shows that Rebanks was expressing his frustration in the only way he knew how.

Irony is used when Rebanks presents the effect of Wordsworth’s poems on the locals of the Lake District. For example, Rebanks is ironic when he declares that Romantic poets have discovered a place where his family has lived for generations: “If Wordsworth and friends ‘invented’ or ‘discovered’ the Lake District, it didn’t touch our family until 1987…” (ll. 101-102). This shows that he feels that his own community was neglected and forgotten.

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The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District

  • 25-04-2022
    Givet af 3.g'er på STX