VCE Outcome 2: Witness – Identity and Belonging Folio

Written explanation: I’ve drafted here a short newspaper article that presents the results of an interview with the protagonist after the events of the film Witness. The article is short, to the point (to the prompt!), and assumes that the reader is already familiar with much of the past drama (of the film). As such, it presumes a media frenzy that has almost passed with respect to John Book, the Philadelphia police force, and the citizens of the Amish community. Almost, but not quite! The purpose and appeal of this article is to identify with the new celebrity cop. Readers here enjoy an opportunity to better understand the man who has become a legend. John Book is deliberately presented by the journalist as a humble hero, and an aura of both mystery (the wry smile) and unexpected power (see the final lines) is imbued. The article as published would definitely enjoy a photo of John at his most handsome, and the journalist would plan to present several more articles after his interview as part of a serialization (I might have made that word up).

    The article only hints at the importance of Rachel with respect to the prompt. Nevertheless, such an interpretation would appear in another article, for I’m convinced that she plays an important role in the text that cannot be understated!

    Prompt “As we journey through life, identity must be constantly renegotiated.”


      Sitting across from John Book, one is immediately struck by his sense of composure. His suit and tie might not be straight and perfect, but his eyes hold your own steadily and he shares a wry smile with you.

      It’s hard to imagine him hiding in a hay-loft from colleagues who sought to kill him.

      “Of course I was frightened,” he reflects, “Who wouldn’t be? I’ve always thought I was a strong, determined and courageous cop, but being hunted by other cops was truly terrifying. Yet there were innocent people in that community who had bravely defended me, even though I was a complete stranger to them – women and children who didn’t deserve to be caught up in such terrible events. I took courage from them, and did my duty.”

      Indeed, John Book became a hero when he exposed a ring of corrupt officers from his own department, a story of treachery and violence that culminated in a deadly shoot-out, and the final surrender of then police-chief Paul Schaeffer.

      “To discover such a betrayal from people you know and you trust – it’s heart-breaking, you know? When McFae and Georgie were first sent out after me and shot me, I had to hide to recover from the wound. I was in desperate need of a hospital and the bullet almost killed me, but I couldn’t risk them finding me. Yet what hurt even more was on the inside – learning that they were dishonest. These were good cops, the best of us. To learn it was all a lie was crushing. For a time I was trying to hide from myself – an officer of the law.”

        So how did the detective – now wounded, still hunted, and very confused – manage to rise against the officers out to kill him and become the top cop?

        John Book’s answer is enlightening: “Out there amongst the Amish, away from the harsh realities of the force and the hard hustle of Philadelphia, I found something real. Something I could believe in. Something I could live up to.”

        “You found God?” I prompted.

        “No,” and he gives me that wry smile again. “I found humanity again. And then I found myself.”

          Article written by police reporter Angus Davison.

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