Cheers for the comments.
I'm a Brit, and the piece is set in the Industrial North of England, between Yorkshire and Lancashire.
My first draft was 2,500 words and had lots of local references, by way of dialect etc etc, but those darlings had to be axed to get anywhere near the 1,500 limit set by the exercise rules.
I can see your reading of the encodings, Jassnip, and think you are basically right.
More specifically though, I viewed TRUST as being the Deputy head not trusting the MC to represent her well, were she to nominate the MC for the scholarship. The awkward trashy kid, of course, being the risky choice, compared to the squeaky clean one whose family have all walked the halls of the school.
CAUSE I had as literally mum being dead. You are right though, because basically mum's voice in the MC's head are the aftershocks to the earthquake of her death.
TEST. Totally; just do what everyone is saying you have to succeed and be normal... and specifically, don't give the establishment an easy excuse not to award the MC the scholarship MC probably deserves.
EFFECT. You are right, though I was wanting it to be laced with the fact that the MC almost got drawn into alcohol for comfort/oblivion, in the same way that the father did after the mum's death.
On to your other points.
I'm glad you didn't know what MC's 'minority' was. I tried very hard to leave them gender neutral. Now, in the end it turns out they are at a boy's school, so probably the MC is a 'he', but I don't want to lock that in to the text. Happy to let the reader decide.
Motivation. This was something else that got lost in the cutting room as I hacked back to the word limit. I was happy to remove it because I felt there are enough cultural norms around being expected to do well at school, for that to carry the MC motivation. That and the fact there was an historical link between the school and the mum/grandmother, and obviously the MC revered the mother figure, so would want to honour that.
Totally accept that I imply these things, rather than state them, so your point holds.
The Cooper as Sigourney Weaver film characters probably needs a more generous word count to pull off. You are right. What I was getting at was that everyone in the narrative has prejudices and surface level assumptions about others (even the MC). I was also trying to make the point that Cooper had felt a need to make herself more masculine to succeed in an all male institution, and even though she was a minority herself, she was discriminating against others, who 'maybe' she should be more disposed to support.
On the whole, I think your points are all valid. My style is more suggestive and figurative than direct and explanatory, and getting the balance right so that there is enough direction in the narrative is key... I can meander, so the low word count was helpful in being lean here. One of the greatest benefits of sharing is to hear other people's reading styles come back with these feedbacks saying where it didn't sing for them as an individual, in some way, so thanks for sharing yours.
Thanks again for setting this up, I think it's wonderful.
Also. Apols to the forum Mods... I didn't select the right category when I posted, so someone must have cleaned up after me and yoink the post into the Workshop box!