A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat


Levine describes an unusual set of races that she witnesses.


Levine chose to travel on a one year trip around Asia. This resulted in her writing ‘A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat’, which was then developed into a documentary.

author’s purpose

This text is a travelogue; a non-fiction book describing a foreign country. The writer is aiming to engage both people who are interested in foreign travel and people who are interested in culture and sport with this particular story. She wants to __inform __readers about the traditions and culture of the exotic places she is visiting, and also to __entertain __readers with humorous and surprising stories which sum up the quirky and unexpected events she witnesses.



As they are waiting for the race to begin, dialogue is used:

‘‘We’ll open the car boot, you climb inside and point your camera towards the race. As the donkeys overtake us, we’ll join the cars.’ ‘But will you try and get to the front?’ ‘Oh yes, that’s no problem.’’

It is almost as though Levine is remembering word for word what occurred prior to the race. It emphasises the wait for the race to begin.

The time appears to be going extremely slowly: ‘Nearly one hour later.‘ This is contrasted by ‘revved’, which is a speedy action that is used once the important vehicles are spotted.

Short simple sentences are also used to reflect the movement of time: ‘The race was over. And then the trouble began’.

__Humour __

Levine begins the extract with ‘Wacky Races’, which sets the tone for the article. Unlike other extracts in the anthology, humour is created straight away. This allows for a lack of tension and the reader is looking forward to discovering other elements of humour that occur to Levine.


Despite the fast pace that occurs once the race begins, Levine also focuses on description:

‘The noise of the approaching vehicles grew; horns tooting, bells ringing, and the special rattles used just for this purpose (like maracas, a metal container filled with dried beans). Men standing on top of their cars and vans, hanging out of taxis and perched on lorries, all cheered and shouted, while the vehicles jostled to get to the front of the convoy.’

Within this paragraph, all the senses are covered, most noticeably the sense of sound. Using similes, such as ‘like maracas’, the sound becomes electric and exotic to the reader.


The beginning of the extract is the build up to the race: the race has not begun yet.

As the extract progresses, so does the race. This then reflects the pace of the piece. As the race begins, the sentences seem to become quicker.

The text is written in chronological order. This means that all of the events are written in the order in which they occur.


Within your examination, you will be asked a series of questions about the article.

Some of the questions will be short questions. For these questions, you must look at the number of marks in brackets. It is important to answer in full sentences.

Other questions will be long questions. For these questions, you must look at using analysis. You will also be asked to compare. Think carefully about the key comparisons and plan your answer first.

Assessment features are __coming soon: ____check back here in the next few days for the opportunity to ____unlock assessment ____and access ____teacher-written questions ____with ____model answers.

1. Who was Yaqoob?
Explanation: Jacob was the driver of the car
How many races were there?
Explanation: There were 2 races.
How does Levine use language and structure to present his emotions?
In this extract, there is an attempt to use time effectively. Evaluate how successfully this is achieved. Support your views with detailed reference to the text. (15)
How is humour used in the extract?
How is description used?
Provide 3 facts about Levine.