Monday, 26 October 2015

Persuasive Writing Essay Questions

CXC suggests spending no more than 30 minutes to answer the persuasive essay question on Paper 2 of the English A exam. They also suggest 250 - 300 words as the length of the persuasive essay.

 
1. Write an article to the local newspaper expressing your concern about the high rate of traffic accidents in your country. Suggest three measures which would help to reduce this high rate of accidents.
 
2.Write an article for your school magazine about three major problems in your school and state how you would solve
each one.

 
3. You are on a committee planning the celebrations to mark the anniversary of your school. You have heard that some of your classmates plan to boycott the celebrations, and you have neen asked to make a speech to persuade them to take part. Write out your speech.
 
4. Your school council has asked for nominations for the "Teacher of the Year award. Write a letter to the council in which you suggest someone from your school,
giving strong arguments to support your choice.

 
5. Write an article for a school magazine in which you present strong arguments either for or against the topic:
"School should be abolished."

Friday, 24 April 2015

SHORT STORY SAMPLE QUESTION

Here are CXC past paper type short story questions.
These are the types of short story questions that have been on
CXC English A past papers

NB CXC suggests spending no more than 45 minutes to answer the short story question on Paper 2 of the English A exam. They also suggest 400 - 450 words as the short story length
1.
Write a story entitled,"The decision that saved my life."
2.
"Jamila turned and walked away. I knew then that I had lost a friend."
Write a story in which this sentence plays an important part.
3.
Write either a story OR a description entitled,
"The village where nobody lives anymore".
4.
Write a story which leads up to the following ending:
 "To this day, people passing through Coconut Grove still stop to ask for Waspie."
5.
Write a story entitled: "The Dream That Came True."

SAMPLE CSEC PAST PAPER QUESTIONS


Here are CXC past paper type persuasive essay questions.

These are the types of persuasive essay questions that have been on
CXC English A past papers

NB: CXC suggests spending no more than 30 minutes to answer the persuasive essay question on Paper 2 of the English A exam. They also suggest 250 - 300 words as the length of the persuasive essay.


1.
Write an article to the local newspaper expressing your concern about the high rate of traffic accidents in your country. Suggest three measures which would help to reduce this high rate of accidents.


2.
Write an article for your school magazine about three major problems in your school and state how you would solve
each one.


3.
You are on a committee planning the celebrations to mark the anniversary of your school. You have heard that some of your classmates plan to boycott the celebrations, and you have been asked to make a speech to persuade them to take part. Write out your speech.


4.
Your school council has asked for nominations for the "Teacher of the Year award. Write a letter to the council in which you suggest someone from your school, giving strong arguments to support your choice.


5.
Write an article for a school magazine in which you present strong arguments either for or against the topic: "School should be abolished."

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Summary Work

Here is a CXC past paper type summary writing question.
This is the type of summary writing question that has been on
CXC English A past papers

NB: CXC suggests spending no more than 35 minutes to answer the summary writing question in Section one, paper 2 of the English A exam.
Read carefully the following conversation between Ross and Susan and then answer the question below it.

Ross:
Susan Charles, a fine secretary you are! Don't you know that the students from Guadeloupe arrive on September 15th?
Susan:
Both the boys and the girls. So what else is new?
Ross:None of your wisecracks. That's only a month away and we haven't found accommodation for them as yet. The hotel says there won't be any room at that time. As secretary of the club, it's your responsibility...
Susan:I know, I know. I'll arrange for them to stay in private homes. I'm sure the villagers won't mind taking them in for a small charge. It's only for two weeks. Our visitors are booked to leave on the 30th.
Ross:Not a bad idea. Why don't you write to all the villagers asking them to write to us if they are interested in putting up these students? I wonder how much they'll charge.
Susan:I'll ask them to give their rates. We'll have to insist, though, that the villagers who are interested must be able to speak French. The Guadeloupans speak no English.
Ross:At least not the six who are coming. Should the villagers provide meals?
Susan:Breakfast and dinner, except on Sundays when they must include lunch as well.
Ross:I think we should let the villagers know that two club members will want to inspect homes and chat with the applicants before making the selection.
Susan:Agreed. Letters from those who are interested should reach us by August 26th. Then our members can visit on the 28th.
Ross:After six p.m., I suppose? Should the villagers write to you as secretary?
Susan:
Right on both counts; I'll tell them to write to:
   The Secretary
         Denby Sports Club
P.O. Box 63
   Arroyo Village.
Ross:But suppose a villager can put up more than one student?
Susan:All the better, my friend, all the better.
Imagine that you are Susan. In not more than 150 words, write the letter to the villagers.
Marks will be given for (1) content, (2) organisation and (3) expression

30 marks



ANSWER

The Secretary
Denby Sports Club
P.O. Box 63
Arroyo Village
Dear Villagers,
A pleasant day to you. The Denby Sports Club is seeking your help on accommodating six (6) Guadeloupan students both male and female for two weeks. The reason for this is of the inconvenience with the hotels being filled at this time. The students will be arriving on September 15th and departing on the 30th.
Villagers interested must be able to speak French fluently, to provide breakfast and dinner daily except on Sundays where lunch should be included. Please state your fees of accommodation and write back to us by August 26, where as an inspection by two (2) members of the club to select appropriate homes and chat with applicants will be done on August 28 after 6pm. Thanks in advance.
Regards,
Susan Charles.

CSEC Short Stories

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

To Da-duh, in Memoriam- Short Story

“To Da-duh, in Memoriam” is an autobiographical story told from the point of view of an adult looking back on a childhood memory. The story opens as the nine-year-old narrator, along with her mother and sister, disembarks from a boat that has brought them to Bridgetown, Barbados. It is 1937, and the family has come to visit from their home in Brooklyn, leaving behind the father, who believed it was a waste of money to take the trip. The narrator’s mother first left Barbados fifteen years ago, and the narrator has never met her grandmother, Da-duh.
Although an old woman, the narrator’s grandmother is lively and sharp. When she meets her grandchildren, Da-duh examines them. She calls the narrator’s older sister “lucky,” but she silently looks at the narrator, calling the child “fierce.” She takes the narrator by the hand and leads the family outside where the rest of the relatives are waiting. The family gets in the truck mat takes them through Bridgetown and back to Da-duh’s home in St. Thomas.
The next day, Da-duh takes the narrator out to show her the land covered with fruit orchards and sugar cane. Da-duh asks the narrator if there is anything as nice in Brooklyn, and the narrator says no. Da-duh says that she has heard that there are no trees in New York, but then asks the narrator to describe snow. The narrator takes advantage of this opportunity to impress Da-duh with all the things that New York does have, and she describes the snow as falling higher than Da-duh’s house and cold enough to freeze a person. Then the narrator decides to show her grandmother popular dances from America and sing popular songs. When the performance ends, Da-duh stares at the narrator as if she came from another planet, but then smiles and gives her a penny to buy candy.
For the remainder of the visit, the narrator spends most of her time with her grandmother. They walk among the sugar cane, and the narrator tells Da-duh all about New York, describing the world of the city with its buildings, machines, and modern appliances. The narrator can sense her grandmother’s fear at hearing about all of these signs of urbanity. The narrator even tells Da-duh that in New York she beats up white girls, a remark which leaves Da-duh speechless.
Toward the end of the visit, Da-duh takes her granddaughter to see a very tall palm tree. She asks the child if they have anything as tall in New York. The narrator almost wishes that she could say no, but she tells her about the Empire State building, the tallest building in the world and over one hundred stories high. Da-duh gets angry and accuses her granddaughter of lying. The narrator says that she will send a postcard of the Empire State building when she gets home. Da-duh realizes that she has been defeated. They return to the house, Da-duh looking uncertain and the narrator feeling triumphant but sad.
The next morning, Da-duh doesn’t feel well. The narrator sings for her until breakfast. Then the two take their customary walk, but it is short and dispirited. At home again, Da-duh spends the rest of the afternoon napping. This pattern continues until the family returns to Brooklyn. On the day of their departure, Da-duh reminds her granddaughter to send the postcard.
However, by the time the narrator mails the postcard, Da-duh has died. Shortly after the family left, riots in Bridgetown took place. To quell the protest, the British sent planes to fly over the island and scare the people. Everyone in the village fled into the cane fields for safety, with the exception of Da-duh; she stayed in the house and watched the plans swoop down. The narrator imagines that, to her grandmother, it must have seemed that the planes were going to come right at her, in her house. When the planes witfidraw and the villagers return, they find Da-duh dead in her chair by the window.
The narrator recalls how she always remembered her Da-duh. As an adult, she does penance for how she treated her grandmother, living in a downtown loft in New York and painting pictures of the sugar cane while the machines downstairs thunder noisily.

Characters

Da-duh

Da-duh is the narrator’s eighty-year-old grandmother. She has lived her whole life on Barbados and is confident and proud of her lifestyle, surroundings, and ways of looking at the world. She dislikes the trappings of the modern world, such as any form of machinery, and is uncomfortable in the city of Bridgetown. When Da-duh first meets the narrator, the narrator imagines that she saw “something in me which for some reason she found disturbing.” However, Da-duh also feels connected to her granddaughter, as evidenced when she clasps her hand.
Da-duh is completely at home in the countryside of St. Thomas where she lives. She takes her granddaughter on daily walks on the land surrounding her house. She shows off the glories of the natural world, and listens with an air of fear to her granddaughter’s descriptions of life in New York. She is not accustomed to having her life challenged, as her granddaughter does, and she attempts to assert authority through the royal palm tree, which is the tallest thing she has ever seen. When her granddaughter tells her about the Empire State building, Da-duh is finally defeated.
The small instances of surrender that the narrator had seen throughout the visit now pervades Da-duh’s person. Instead of eagerly going on walks, she spends mornings staring out the window and spends her afternoons napping; grandmother and granddaughter take only brief, dispirited walks.
She dies shortly after her family leaves, and her death suggests both her stubbornness and her defeat. When Britain sends planes to fly low over the island in retaliations for riots and strikes, Da-duh, alone among her community, refuses to take cover in the cane fields. …

Monday, 9 March 2015

Man of the House

Sullivan is a little boy of ten years. It’s a small family of two persons with meager means. The mother is working and the son like any other boy of his age goes to school. He is a loving son and for the mother her son is as good as gold itself.



SUMMARY
The story starts with a terrible sound of constant coughing of the sick mother which wakes up the little boy and he runs downstairs to look into the matter. There he finds his mother in a critical condition collapsing in an armchair holding her sides. Totally distressed she was trying to light a fire to make tea for the boy but the smoke generated by the wet sticks worsened her cough. Worried son immediately takes charge of everything. He stops her from going to work and makes her lie in the bed.

Dutiful Sullivan makes tea and toast for her. He immediately decides that instead of going to school he would stay at home to look after his mother and mind home affairs. Systematic boy heats up another kettle of water and cleans up the breakfast mess. Then he comes to his mother to make a list to shop for dinner. Caring Sullivan is worried and wants to call a doctor for his mother but thrifty mother declines his wish as she is afraid that the doctor would send her to hospital. To cheer up the frightened son the affectionate mother tries to pretend that she is fit and fine but their neighbor Miss Minnie Ryan has all the doubts that she might be suffering from pneumonia. She advises him to give his mother some hot whiskey mixed with a squeeze of lemon in it to comfort her.

Determined Sullivan goes to the public house for the first time to get whiskey. Although scared he does not lose courage and overcomes his fear. Whiskey does not work that well and whole night depressed Sullivan could not sleep due to the terrible coughing of his mother. She keeps on rambling badly while talking. In the morning bewildered Sullivan heads to call the doctor from the distant dispensary. Before that he goes to get a ticket from the house of a Poor Law Guardian to save the doctor’s fees. The organized boy tidies the house and keeps ready the basin of water, soap and a clean towel for the doctor. Much to their relief the doctor doesn’t advise to hospitalize the mother instead he prescribes a cough syrup for her.

Reliant Sullivan’s sincerity and concern earns all the praise of Miss Ryan and the doctor for him. Again the poor boy sets off with a bottle to get the medicine from the dispensary situated at a distant place. On the way he comes across a cathedral. With complete devotion he prays for his mother’s quick recovery in his heart and makes up his mind to spend his only penny to light a candle in the church when he would finish his task. At dispensary he meets a little girl Dooley who has come to get medicine for her sister. The girl is very clever and talkative. Anguished Sullivan enjoys her company after going through such terrible times. On way back the innocent boy spends his penny on sweets which they both enjoyed. Dooly is a cunning girl. She incites Sullivan to taste the sweet cough syrup of his mother. Confused boy gives way to temptation. Both of them relish it immensely. When the entire medicine is consumed confused Sullivan realizes his fault. He begins to panic and starts crying. Dooly misleads him to tell a lie that the cork fell out.

Repentant Sullivan is full of remorse and guilt feeling. He fears that because of his negligence his mother would not get well. Panicked Sullivan prays the Virgin Mary to do some miracle to save his mother. He gets back home totally broken and shattered. Mother is alarmed to see him howl. She hugs and consoles him passionately. Truthful and honest Sullivan confesses his crime. The forgiving mother shrugs it off. The tired boy falls fast asleep under the intoxication of the medicine. With the grace of God the miracle happens and Sullivan wakes up to find his mother smiling and recovered.



ANALYSIS

The story is written in autobiographical mode. The language of the text is rich and descriptive. The content of the story is based on the delicate relationship of a mother and son. The marathon efforts of the little boy to make his ailing mother comfortable fill the hearts of the readers with compassion and sympathy. The childish act of drinking the medicine of his mother by the kids is the climax of the story. Along with the boy the readers too get nervous that what is going to happen now. The plot of the story is binding.



The title of the story is very appropriate. Having his mother ill the small boy takes up the whole responsibility to attend her and mind the household. He does everything that an adult person would have done to manage the situation. Even he goes to pub to get whiskey for his mother although he was scared to see the ruffians there. He acts like a mature person taking all the wise decisions to help his mother get well soon. That is why he is aptly called ‘The Man of the House’Early life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raised an only child in Cork, Ireland, to Minnie O'Connor and Michael O'Donovan. He attended school in the famous North Monastery CBS. O'Connor's early life was marked by his father's alcoholism, indebtness and ill-treatment of his mother. O'Connor's childhood was shaped in part by his mother, who supplied much of the family's income because his father was unable to keep steady employment due to his drunkenness.

Irish nationalism

In 1918 O'Connor joined the First Brigade of the Irish Republican Army and served in combat during the Irish War of Independence. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and joined the Anti-Treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War, working in a small propaganda unit in Cork City. He was one of twelve thousand Anti-Treaty combatants who were interned by the government of the new Irish Free State, O'Connor's imprisonment being in Gormanston, County Meath between 1922 and 1923.

Literary career

Following his release, O'Connor took various positions including that of teacher of Irish, theatre director, and librarian. In 1935, O'Connor became a member of the Board of Directors of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, founded by William Butler Yeats and other members of the Irish National Theatre Society.[1] In 1937, he became managing director of the Abbey. Following Yeats's death in 1939, O'Connor's long-standing conflict with other board members came to a head and he left the Abbey later that year.[2] In 1950, he accepted invitations to teach in the United States, where many of his short stories had been published in The New Yorker and won great acclaim.[3]

Death

Frank O'Connor had a stroke while teaching at Stanford University in 1961, and later died from a heart attack in Dublin, Ireland on 10 March 1966. He was buried in Deans Grange Cemetery on 12 March 1966.[4]

Work

O'Connor was perhaps best known for his varied and comprehensive short stories but also for his work as a literary critic, essayist, travel writer, translator and biographer.[5] He was also a novelist, poet and dramatist.[6]

From the 1930s to the 1960s he was a prolific writer of short stories, poems, plays, and novellas. His work as an Irish teacher complemented his plethora of translations into English of Irish poetry, including his initially banned translation of Brian Merriman's Cúirt an Mheán Oíche ("The Midnight Court"). Many of O'Connor's writings were based on his own life experiences — notably his well-known The Man of the House in which he reveals childhood details concerning his early life in County Cork. The Sullivan family in this short story, like his own boyhood family, is lacking a proper father figure. Also, evocative descriptions of the Irish countryside are featured in this bitter-sweet tale. In other stories, his character Larry Delaney, in particular, is reminiscent of events in O'Connor's own life. O'Connor's experiences in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War are reflected in The Big Fellow, his biography of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins, published in 1937, and one of his best-known short stories, Guests of the Nation (1931), published in various forms during O'Connor's lifetime and included in Frank O'Connor — Collected Stories, published in 1981.

O'Connor's early years are recounted in An Only Child, a memoir published in 1961 which has the immediacy of a precocious diary. U.S. President John F. Kennedy remarked anecdotally from An Only Child at the conclusion of his speech at the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center in San Antonio on November 21, 1963: "Frank O'Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall--and Athen they had no choice but to follow them. This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space and we have no choice but to follow it."[7]

O'Connor continued his autobiography through his time with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, which ended in 1939, in his book, My Father's Son, which was published in 1968, after O'Connor's death.

‘‘To Da-duh, in Memoriam’’

‘‘To Da-duh, in Memoriam’’ is an autobiographical story told from the point of view of an adult looking back on a childhood memory. The story opens as the nine-year-old narrator, along with her mother and sister, disembarks from a boat that has brought them to Bridgetown, Barbados. It is 1937, and the family has come to visit from their home in Brooklyn, leaving behind the father, who believed it was a waste of money to take the trip. The narrator’s mother first left Barbados fifteen years ago, and the narrator has never met her grandmother, Da-duh.

Although an old woman, the narrator’s grandmother is lively and sharp. When she meets her grandchildren, Da-duh examines them. She calls the narrator’s older sister ‘‘lucky,’’ but she silently looks at the narrator, calling the child ‘‘fierce.’’ She takes the narrator by the hand and leads the family outside where the rest of the relatives are waiting. The family gets in the truck that takes them through Bridgetown and back to Da-duh’s home in St. Thomas.

The next day, Da-duh takes the narrator out to show her the land covered with fruit orchards and sugar cane. Da-duh asks the narrator if there is anything as nice in Brooklyn, and the narrator says no. Da-duh says that she has heard that there are no trees in New York, but then asks the narrator to describe snow

    To Da-duh in Memoriam | Author Biography Marshall was born on April 9, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York, the child of Barbadian immigrants who were among the first wave of Caribbean islanders to relocate to the United States. Her early life was suffused with Caribbean culture; she spoke its language and followed many of its traditions. Marshall made her first visit to the Caribbean when she was nine years old, which inspired her to write poetry.

After graduating from high school in 1949, she attended Brooklyn College (now part of the City University of New York). She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English...

To Da-duh in Memoriam | Characters Da-duh
Da-duh is the narrator’s eighty-year-old grandmother. She has lived her whole life on Barbados and is confident and proud of her lifestyle, surroundings, and ways of looking at the world. She dislikes the trappings of the modern world, such as any form of machinery, and is uncomfortable in the city of Bridgetown. When Da-duh first meets the narrator, the narrator imagines that she saw ‘‘something in me which for some reason she found disturbing.’’ However, Da-duh also feels connected to her granddaughter, as evidenced when she clasps her hand

“Nothing endures but change” (Heraclitus 540-480BC). People are born, only to die again. In a never-ending cycle of life and death, new ideas replace older ones and an evolution of perspectives takes place. Paulle Marshall aptly portrays this cyclical nature through her last line “she died and I lived” referring to her grandmother. The death is not physical alone. It is the death of old ideologies, dated traditions and disparate acceptance of modernization. In a vivid recollection of her grandmother Da-Duh’s reluctance to accept change during Paulle’s childhood visit, she narrates how the old lady loathes urbanity and finds delectation in her little island of natural beauty. The interactions that the narrator has with her grandmother remind us of the passage of time between generations. The demise of Da-Duh signifies the change that is inevitable, the transition from the old to the new. Symbolism Paulle Marshall’s work is replete with a richness of literary devices like symbolism, imagery and metaphors. Describing the foreboding character of death, the narrator feels that the planes that bring death to the little village are “swooping and screaming…monstrous birds”. The sugarcanes that grow in the village are Da-Duh’s delight and also the reason for the exploitation in the village. The pride of Da-Duh, the sugarcanes appear threatening to the narrator she feels that the canes are “clashing like swords above my cowering head”. This is a description of the duality of life. Where there is joy, there is pain and when there is life, death is bound to follow. Imagery The life-death antithesis is depicted in the closing lines of the book where the narrator paints “seas of sugar-cane and huge swirling Van Gogh suns and palm trees [in] a tropical landscape . . .while the thunderous tread of the machines downstairs jarred the floor beneath my easel.’’ Light is identified by the surrounding darkness and life, by death that eventually follows. The transient nature of life is evidenced by the changes that happen over a period of time. Death’s morbidity invades the colorful mind. The narrator imbues the reader’s mind with images that allude to this dark reality. “All these trees….Well, they’d be bare. No leaves, no fruit, nothing. They’d be covered in snow. You see your canes. They’d be buried under tons of snow.” Metaphor With a judicious use of metaphors, the narrator has drawn us to the reality of inevitable changes that our lives are subject to. Again, the sugarcanes are metaphorically perceived as the ominous danger that “...would close in on us and run us through with their stiletto blades.” Later, the planes that cause the death of her grandmother are visualized by the narrator as “the hardback beetles which hurled themselves with suicidal force against the walls of the house at night.” She points at our dogmatism in accepting the fact that the world is constantly changing. Those who fail to see this at first, experience it the hard way later. Conclusion However prejudiced we might be, towards change, the hard-hitting reality of a life-death cycle is inevitable. Time stands testimony to this fact. Paulle Marshall has illustrated this through the depiction of conflicting ideas between her and Da-Duh and she conveys this message at the start when she writes, “both knew, at a level beyond words, that I had come into the world not only to love her and to continue her line but to take her very life in order that I might live.”

To Dah-Duh in Memoriam - Literature Notes SUMMARY
This short story is about a young girl's visit, from New York, to the island of Barbados. The protagonist, along with her sister and mother, visit Dah-Duh. The visit is an interesting one in which Dah-Duh and the protagonist develop a caring, yet competitive, relationship. Dah-Duh introduces her to the riches of Barbados (nature), while the protagonist introduces her grandmother to the steel and concrete world of New York (industrialism). There is a competitive edge to their conversations because they each try to outdo each other on the merits of their separate homes. Dah-Duh, however, is dealt a blow when she learns of the existence of the Empire State building, which was many stories taller than the highest thing she had ever laid her eyes on – Bissex Hill. She lost a little bit of her spark that day and was not given a chance to rebound because the protagonist left for New York shortly after. The story progresses with the death of Dah-Duh during the famous ’37 strike. She had refused to leave her home and was later found dead, on a Berbice chair, by her window. The protagonist spent a brief period in penance, living as an artist and painting landscapes that were reminiscent of Barbados.

SETTING

The story is set in Barbados, in the 1930's.

CHARACTERS
Dah-Duh:

A small and purposeful old woman.
Had a painfully erect figure.
Over eighty (80) years old.
She moved quickly at all times.
She had a very unattractive face, which was ‘stark and fleshless as a death mask’ (Marshall, p.178).
Her eyes were alive with life.
Competitive spirit.
Had a special relationship with the protagonist.

Protagonist:                                                    

A thin little girl.
Nine (9) years old.
A strong personality.
Competitive in nature.
Had a special relationship with Dah-Duh.

THEMES
Race:
This theme is apparent when Dah-Duh and the protagonist discuss the fact that she ‘beat up a white girl’ in her class. Dah-Duh is quiet shocked at this and exclaims that the world has changed so much that she cannot recognize it. This highlights their contrasting experiences of race. Dah-Duh’s experience of race relations is viewing the white ‘massa’ as superior, as well as viewing all things white as best. This is corroborated at the beginning of the story when it was revealed that Dah-Duh liked her grandchildren to be white, and in fact had grandchildren from the illegitimate children of white estate managers. Therefore, a white person was some-one to be respected, while for the protagonist, white people were an integral part of her world, and she viewed herself as their equal.

Love and family relationship:
This story highlights the strong familial ties that exists among people of the Caribbean, both in the islands and abroad (diaspora). The fact that the persona and her family left New York to visit the matriarch of the family, in Barbados, highlights this tie. The respect accorded to Dah-Duh by the mother also shows her place, or status, in the family. The protagonist states that in the presence of Dah-Duh, her formidable mother became a child again.

Gender Issues:
This is a minor theme in this short story. It is highlighted when it is mentioned that Dah-Duh liked her grandchildren to be boys. This is ironic because the qualities that are stereotypically found in boys - assertive, strong willed, competitive - are found in her grand daughter. An example of this is the manner in which the protagonist / narrator was able to win the staring match when she first met Dah-Duh, this proved her dominance and strength.

SYMBOL
Empire State Building
This building represents power and progress. It is in the midst of the cold glass and steel of New York city and, therefore, deforms Dah-Duh’s symbol of power; Bissex Hill. It is not by accident that the knowledge of this building shakes Dah-Duh’s confidence. Steel and iron, the symbol of progress, is what shakes the nature loving Dah-Duh. It can, therefore, be said that her response to the knowledge of the existence of the Empire State Building – defeat – is a foreshadowing of her death. This is the case because it is metal, in the form of the planes, that ‘rattled her trees and flatten[ed] the young canes in her field.’ (Marshall. p.186). This is a physical echo of her emotional response to the knowledge of the existence of the Empire State building. The fact that she is found dead after this incident is not a surprise to the reader.

The Two Grandmothers by Olive Senior

Olive Senior, author of 'The Two Grandmothers', was born in Trelawney, Jamaica. She attended Montego Bay High School, then went on to study journalism in Cardiff, Wales. She then studied at Carlton University in Ottowa. She currently lives in Canada, but visits Jamaica regularly.

SUMMARY
The story opens with a little girl telling her mother about her experiences with her two grandmothers; grandma Dell and grandma Elaine a.k.a Towser. Grandma Dell is her 'country' grandmother who lives in rural Jamaica, raises lifestock, caters to her community,  takes her grand daughter to church and is enamored by her grand daughter's 'pretty' skin and hair. Grandma Elaine, on the other hand, is her 'town' grandmother. She has had multiple marriages, is a socialite who dates wealthy men, travels, and is very concerned about her physical appearance. The grand daughter, initially, prefers her country grandmother, who is very attentive to her needs and loved to 'show her off' to her friends and neighbours. However, as the story progresses, and the narrator ages and matures, she begins to prefer her town grandmother, who is more cosmopolitan and appreciative of material things. With her change in attitude to grandma Dell, however, also comes a change in attitude to her country friends. They are no longer figures who inspire awe, but girls to look down on as 'less than'. The story closes with the teenage narrator proposing that her family should spend a day with her country grandmother - then she would be taken care of until next year - ensuring that they have more time to spend with Towser (Grandma Elaine) as well as pursue more interesting exploits.

SETTING

The story occurs in three places; rural Jamaica, Kingston and Clearwater in the USA.
The story occurs in the 1980's.

CHARACTERS
Grandma Dell

Traditional/ old fashion
Christian minded and simple in her approach to life
Altruistic
Never married
Never dates
Prejudiced
Hypocrite

Grandma Elaine (Towser)

Non-traditional/ Socialite
Materialistic
Narcississtic
Married multiple times
Goes on dates
Prejudiced
Blunt and speaks her mind


Narrator (1st person)

The readers first meets her when she is a little girl.
She grows and matures as the story progresses, by the end of the story she appears to be a teenager.
She initially prefers the company of Grandma Del, but as she grows up, she begins to show a preference for Touser.
She reports a lot of sensitive information, for example - the 'fall' of grandma Del, Pearlie's home situation, Eulalie and Ermandine's pregnancies - but does not appear to understand the gravity of the various situations.
As she grows up, she appears to become more materialistic in her desires, she wants to be like every-one else.
She appears, by the end of the story, to be confused about how to feel about her physical appearance.
She cannot be bothered with her country grandmother, grandma Dell, by the end of the story.
She begins to appreciate her hip socialite grandma Elaine, aka Touser, by the end of the story.

THEMES
Racial Prejudice
This theme is highlighted by Grandma Elaine/ Towser and the Clearwater relatives. Grandma Elaine highlights this theme by her reference to the narrator's hair; 'your mother had better start to do something about your hair from now it's almost as tough as your father's .... If you were my child I would cut it off to get some of the kinks out.' (Senior, 119) and skin tone; 'Joyce says Grandma is sorry I came out dark because she is almost a white lady and I am really dark.' (Senior, 120). The grandmother's preoccupation with the fact that her grand daughter has predominantly black features highlights the theme of racial discrimination. She sees these features as flaws and passes this sentiment on to her grandchild. We see the child questioning if being dark is a bad thing 'Is dark really bad, Mummy?' (Senior, 120).

This is in contrast to the country grandmother, Grandma Del, who re-enforces the very opposite view of Grandma Elaine. She believes that her grandchild's hair is beautiful 'Grandma loves to comb my hair she says it's so long and thick and she rubs it with castor oil every night.' (Senior, 117) and her skin is beautiful as well 'Grandma Del says my skin is beautiful like honey' (Senior, 117). Despite this positive re-enforcement by Grandma Del, it still comes from a place of prejudice. She too, like Grandma Elaine, believes that being too dark and having too much 'kink' in one's hair is a bad thing. The two grandmothers only differ in terms of their idea of what is 'too dark', or 'too kinky'.

The Clearwater relatives, particularly Maureen, highlights the theme of racial prejudice. She introduces the term 'nigger' to the story. The narrator questions her beauty based on what she observes as beautiful around her, and finds herself lacking; 'how can I be beautiful? My skin is so dark, darker than yours and Maureen's and Jason's and Auntie Rita's. And my hair is so course, not like yours or Maureen's but then Maureen's father is white. Is that why Maureen called me a nigger?' (Senior, 124). The narrator declares that she hates Maureen, based on the before mentioned incident, but, ironically, she wants to be like Maureen and is even more ashamed of her hair.


Social Prejudice
This theme is highlighted by Grandma Elaine, Grandma Dell, and the narrator. Grandma Elaine has a distinct disdain for Grandma Dell. She believes that 'granny Del' is a country bumpkin from the 'deepest darkest country' (Senior, 118). She sees her as irrelevant and believes that she is brainwashing her grandchild with information that is not only irrelevant, but embarrassing as well. This disdain comes from the fact that Elaine is a socialite who's world is the direct opposite of the simplistic life that Grandma Del leads. Grandma Elaine dates rich white men, travels, and ensures that she maintains her beauty. She views Grandma Dell with scorn because she does not do the same.

The reader receives no inkling of Grandma Del's feelings toward Grandma Elaine, but we are treated to the judgement that she quietly metes out to her neighbours in the country. She views Ermandine and Eulalie as 'a disgraceful Jezebel-lot and dry-eye' (Senior, 121) because they have disgraced their parents by getting pregnant. She views them as being beneath her, despite the fact that she also did the same, and was also shunned by the communityfor a period of time.

The narrator, in turn, adopts the prejudices of both grandmothers. She starts to dislike going to the country because 'there's nobody but black people' (Senior, 123) there. She looks down on her friends - Ermandine, Eulalie and Pearlie - due to their multiple pregnancies and bedraggled state. She starts to literally avoid them because she does not want them to ask her for some of her clothes.  Everything about being in the country (rural area), from the people to her experiences, annoys her - in her teen years - because visiting the country is shameful in relation to going to Europe or America. It is not considered to be a socially relevant activity.


Love and Family Relationships
Both grandmothers love their grandchild, and she loves them in return. Grandma Del shows her love by combing her grand daughter's hair, taking her to church, steering her away from negative influences, and educating her about appropriate behaviour. Initially, this education is appreciated and accepted by the narrator, but as she grows up and matures, she views this show of love as stifling and irrelevant. The narrator does not love her grandmother any less, it is just that their point of views no longer align.

Grandma Elaine, on the other hand, shows her love for her grandchild by highlighting her flaws and seeking to improve them. Therefore, she points out that the child's hair is kinky and her skin is too dark. Undoubtadley, this is an inappropriate conversation to have with a small child, however, this is her flawed way of showing her love. She suggests activities for improving the child's social prospects such as finishing school and visits off the island. The narrator returns this love by eventually placing Grandma Elaine as the favoured grandmother. She even adopts, eventually, her materialistic sensibility.


Women in Society
This is a story about women, the values that they pass on, and the way that they treat each other. There are women of different social status' and financial backgrounds in the , and all of them contribute to this theme. Grandma Elaine is of a high social status and she treats grandma Del, who is of a lower social status, with disdain. Grandma Del, in turn, treats Eulalie, Ermandine and Pearlie with disdain for being poor, as well as victims of their financial, and social, circumstances. The narrator joins this cycle by discriminating against her 'country' friends by viewing herself as better than them. Ironically, she suffers the same treatment at the hands of her cousin, Maureen, who treats the narrator as 'less than' as well. The possible moral of this tale is that women should try to understand and accept each other.


Innocence vs. Loss of Innocence
As a child, the narrator reports the actions of others without understanding a lot of what is happening. This is the definition of innocence. She also accepts people for who they are and sees the good in them. This is seen in her awe at Eulalee's skills in the kitchen, as well as her acceptance of Ermandine and Pearlie's babies. She simply accepted without judgement. This changes as the child matures and she starts to view herself as better than her friends. This is because her circumstances happen to be better than theirs. This signifies a loss of innocence that comes with maturity



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The Day the World Almost Came to An End- notes

SUMMARY

This short story was told from the perspective of an adult and chronicles the events behind a child’s (the adult narrator) belief that the world was about to end. The story is set on a plantation in Louisiana in 1936, where the church was the axis around which plantation life revolved. Despite this fact, the narrator was holding on to being a sinner because she believed that she could not ‘live upright’. One day, while she was playing, her cousin Rena informed her that the world was coming to an end. This was based on a conversation that Rena overheard, and misunderstood, about the eclipse. The hellfire sermons in church did not help to stem the narrator's mounting panic and she worried herself into a frazzle as a result. She had a conversation with her father about this issue and he tried to quell her fears, but unfortunately, he only managed to increase it with his statement that the world could come to an end at any time. The narrator spent the night conjuring images of dooms day, which led to her overreaction to hearing the rumblings of an old airplane. She ran out of her house screaming that the world was coming to an end. Her father caught her on the road and calmed her down. She appreciated life a lot more after that incident and lived her life to the fullest.


SETTING


The story occurs on a plantation in Louisiana in 1936.


CHARACTERS


Daddy:

Understanding
Has a good relationship with his daughter

1st person narrator:

Imaginative
Bold
Naive

Rena:

Naive


THEMES

Religion:

This is the central theme in this short story. Plantation life was centered on religion to the extent that even the narrator's father was a deacon in the church. Religious fervor, in the form of hellfire preaching, is also the fuel for the panic that overtakes the narrator/protagonist in this short story.


Love & Family Relationship:


The love and trust between father and daughter is glaring. When the narrator/protagonist was worried about the world coming to an end, the first person that she thought to consult on this issue was her father. His response to her childish fears, in turn, highlights the easy relationship between the two. Daddy's care in covering his daughter after her mad dash through the turnrow is also an indication of the love that he has for his child.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Stone's Throw (Poem)

Literal Meaning
         A crowd has caught a woman. The persona implies to the reader that the woman is not decent. She was beautiful, but scared because she had gotten 'roughed up' a little by the crowd. The persona states that the woman has experienced men's hands on her body before, but this crowd's hands were virtuous.

          He also makes a proviso that if this crowd bruises her, it cannot be compared to what she has experienced before. The persona also speaks about a last assault and battery to come. He justifies this last assault by calling it justice, and it is justice that feels not only right, but good. The crowd's 'justice' is placed on hold by the interruption of a preacher, who stops to talk to the lady. 

          He squats on the ground and writes something that the crowd cannot see. Essentially, the preacher judges them, thereby allowing the lady to also judge the crowd, leading to the crowd inevitably judging itself. The crowd walks away from the lady, still holding stones [which can be seen as a metaphor for judgments] that can be thrown another day.



Literary Devices
SARCASM:
          The persona is making the point that the lady was in fact NOT decent looking.

PERSONIFICATION :
         This device is particularly effective because the word 'kisses' is used. Kiss implies something pleasant, but it is actually utilized to emphasize something painful that has happened to the lady; she was stoned.

 PUN :
Title: The title of the poem is itself a pun on two levels. A stone's throw is used by many people in the Caribbean to describe a close distance. eg. "She lives a stone's throw away". The other use of the title is to highlight the content of the poem. It is a figurative stoning, or judging, of a woman.


 ALLUSION (biblical) The content of the poem alludes to the story of Mary Magdalene in the Christian Bible. See John 8 v 5-7.

Contrast
Lines 13-15: These lines show that the men who were ‘holding stones’ believe they are more morally upright than the other men with whom the woman associates.  

Irony
One would think that men with ‘virtuous’ hands would have only pure thoughts, but these men intend to stone the woman , who  seems utterly defenseless. Also, images of cruelty are used, such as ‘bruised’, ‘kisses of stone’, ‘battery’ and ‘frigid rape’. 

TONE
         The tone of the poem is mixed. At times it is almost braggadocious, then it becomes sarcastic, moving to scornful.
Themes
Discrimination-  The poor treatment the persona receives by the men in the poem as a result of her profession. 
Religion
Appearance vs reality
Hypocrisy
Oppression,
Power and Powerlessness



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