“The Rain Horse” – Quotations

As to make a deeper analysis of “The Rain Horse”, our techer, Pato, asked us to look up some quotations about important events in the text and try to understand better the story.

I wroked with Rochi and this is our work:

  1. Man, collar up in driving rain on hillside. Nature is dominant and man is not significant here – bored and frustrated:

“Holding his collar close and tucking his chin down into it”

  1. First view of “thin, black horse”. Use the similes of ill-omen:

“Over to his right a thin, black horse was running across the ploughlands towards the hill, its head down, neck stretched out. It seemed to be running on its toes like a cat, like a dog up to no good.”

  1. Man finds shelter through “barricade of brambles” and the ground sucking at his feet:

“In blinding rain he lunged through the barricade of brambles at the wood’s edge.”

  1. Second view of Horse -“watching him”:

“At the wood top, with the silvered grey light coming in behind it, the black horse was standing under the oaks, its head high and alert, its ears picked, watching him.”

  1. Horse attack – detail in description:

“…when the ground shook and he heard the crash of a heavy body coming down the wood. Like lightning his legs bounded him upright and about face. The horse was almost on top of him, its head stretching forward, ears flattened and his lips lifted back from the long yellow teeth.

  1. Horse: “tall as a statue” watching him. NB his state of mind:

“Out in the middle of the first field, tall as a statue, and a ghostly silver in the under-cloud light, stood the horse, watching the wood.”

  1. Horse attack with onomatopoeia:

“Its whinnying snort and the spattering whack of hooves seemed to be actually inside his head”

  1. Finds stones as weapons. Note comparison with eggs:

“He picked two stones about the size of goose eggs”

  1. Horse attack 3, man fights back. Note PF in passage:

“He let out a tearing roar and threw the stone in his right hand. The result was instantaneous. Whether at the roar or the stone the horse reared as if against a wall and shied to the left.

  1. Horse attack and hit with stones under “superior guidance”:

“With another roar he jumped forward and hurled his other stone. His aim seemed to be under superior guidance.”

  1. Horse cat-like pain response –domesticity. Man becomes dominant again:

“He felt a little surprise of pity to see it shaking its head, and once it paused to lower its head and paw over its ear with its forehoof as a cat does.”

  1. Closing image – man in barn. Ashamed and in pain.  Other images?:

“There was a solid pain in his chest, like a spike of bone stabbing, that made him wonder if he had strained his heart on that last stupid burdened run. Piece by piece he began to take off his clothes, wringing the grey water out of them, but soon he stopped that and just sat staring at the ground, as if some important part had been cut out of his brain”

“All My Sons” – Characters List

JOE KELLER – nearing sixty, a heavy man who has a solid mind and build. He has been a business man for many years, but has an imprint of the machine-shop worker and boss still upon him. He has had two sons, Chris and Larry, he is the protagonist of the story.

KATE KELLER – she is a woman in her early 50’s, a woman who has uncontrollable inspirations, and has a never ending love. She has worked for forty years and made a decent living for herself. She is the wife of Joe Keller and a mother of her two sons, Chris and Larry. Even though her son Larry has been missing, she still hopes for his longing return. Shes a supporting character to Joe Keller.

CHRIS KELLER – He is thirty-two, he is a lot like his father when it comes to being solid and built and a good listener. He’s a man that is capable of being affectionate and loyal. He is in love with Larry’s ex girlfriend, Annie and his parents are Joe and Kate Keller. His brother is Larry and he no longer believes he is alive. He thinks the world of his father but little does he know the real truth about him. He eventually develops hatred towards him and his wrong doings.

LARRY KELLER -born in August, is twenty-seven years old, has been missing since November 25th (3 years). He is the son of Joe and Kate Keller and the brother of Chris Keller. He was in love with Annie Deveer. His parents planted a tree to symbolize that he was missing, however it collapsed. He is mentioned a lot throughout the play and his mother is affected the most since he’s been missing.

STEVEN DEEVER -is somewhere in his mid 50’s to early 60’s. He is a tiny man who is very timid and soft spoken. He is the father of Annie and George Deever and partners with Joe Keller. His connection to the story is, he took the blame for the defected plane parts that killed several people, now he is in jail in the period of time through out the play.

ANNIE DEEVER– is twenty-six years old, she is very beautiful and considered one of the best looking in the town. She use to live in the same town as Keller’s but moved to New York. She is gentle but holds on to what she knows. She was once in love with Larry Keller but she is now in love with his brother Chris, which they’re getting married. Her father is Stephen Deever and her brother is George Deever. Her connection to the play is that she is determined to find out if her father is innocent and she is Chris’s love interest.

GEORGE DEEVER -is thirty-two, he is very pale, he is on the edge of his self-restraint, he is Annie’s brother and Steven’s son. George is a highly respected lawyer and lives in New York. He believes that Mr. Keller is guilty for the deaths of several pilots and that his father isn’t. His connection to the play is that he wants to prove that Mr. Keller is guilty and that that he doesn’t want his sister to marry Chris.

DR. JIM BAYLISS– is nearing the age of forty, he is a doctor, he likes to read, he is a very self-controlled man and a very easy talker. However, he has a clench of sadness that sticks to his self-effacing humor. He is married to Sue Bayliss and is the neighbors of the Keller’s. His connection of the story is that he is close with his neighbors but he has a feeling that Joe isn’t an innocent man.

SUE BAYLISS -is rounding forty, she is an overweight woman that feels that she is obese and is very insecure from it. She is married to Jim Bayliss and their neighbors with the Keller’s also. Her connection to the play is to prove that Joe Killer is a guilty man and that Chris isn’t a good kid.

FRANK LUBEY  – is thirty-two years old, he is lossing his hair, he is very pleasant and enjoys speaking his opinions on several things, he is very uncertain of himself, and very peevishish when you cross him. However, he always wants it to be calming and neighborly. He is very intelligent and enjoys writing horoscopes. His wife is Lydia Lubey and they have three kids together. His connection to the story is he’s neighbors’ with the Keller’s and they are good family friends.

LYDIA LUBEY – is twenty-seven, she is robust laughing beautiful girl, that is great with cosmetics and hair. She is married to Frank Lubey and they have three babies together and are very happily married. Their connection to the story is that their great family friends and are neighbor’s with the Keller’s.

BERT – is an eight year old with an exquisite imagination and is very energetic. He enjoys playing cop games with Mr. Keller and loves being in charge of things. The connection he plays in the story is that he is a friendly neighbor kid that enjoys Mr. Keller’s and Chris’s company.

Summary of Prose

Here are some summaries of the proses that we studied in class that our teacher Pato prepared for us in order to understand them better and to help us study.

HER FIRST BALL – Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)

Mansfield, brought up in New Zealand, was a notable writer of short stories.
As you re-read the story, explore the ways in which Mansfield presents Leila’s thoughts and feelings before and during the
ball. It would be useful to consider the way in which Leila is different from the other girls and how this affects their (and our)
impressions of her. How do you think Mansfield captures the excitement of the ball? Pay particular attention to the
contribution to the story of the two men who dance with Leila, the odious fat man and then the young man with curly hair.
Examine carefully the words Mansfield uses in the dialogue and description to guide readers’ responses to the various

Graham was a popular novelist and writer of short stories in his own lifetime. His novels have in the past featured as
examination set texts: for example, Brighton Rock, Travels with My Aunt and The Human Factor. The Destructors is a popular
choice for anthologies of short stories.
The destruction in the story is masterminded and overseen by the new boy to the gang, Trevor. He is called ‘T.’ as Trevor
sounds too middle-class a name. Explore how Greene presents the shifting power within the group as leadership passes from
Blackie to T. Explore your impressions of the various characters, and in particular T. with his adult-like appreciation of
architecture – ‘It’s a beautiful house,’ he says, using a social register that invites scorn from Blackie.
The story is told chronologically (in time order) by a third person narrator, and the references to Smarties, Woolworth’s,
bomb damage caused by the Blitz and wet Bank Holiday weekends supply a typically English backdrop of the time.
What do you make of the paradox at the heart of the story, namely, that the act of destruction is a form of creation? Explore
the ways in which Greene builds suspense. How effective do you find the ending with the driver and his convulsive laughter?

MY GREATEST AMBITION – Morris Lurie (1938)

Morris Lurie is an Australian writer of comic prose fiction and plays.
The greatest ambition of the narrator (surname Lurie) is spelled out at the start of the story: he wants to be a comic-strip
artist. From his perspective, fellow pupils wanting to become farmers, chemists, doctors and so are dreamers and romantics.
The narrator’s mocking father (‘a great scoffer’) clearly sees his son as such a dreamer. Explore the way in which the fatherson
relationship is shown. The eventual trip to the offices of Boy Magazine is full of deft comic touches, from the shortness of
the boy’s trousers to his permanent smile and the awkwardness when the men in grey suits realise that the comic-strip artist
is a mere schoolboy. Consider the effectiveness of the story’s final paragraph and the narrator’s observation: ‘The only thing
that was ever real to me I had ‘grown out of’. I had become, like everyone else, a dreamer.’

THE CUSTODY OF THE PUMPKIN – P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)

Wodehouse was a prolific British writer of comic prose fiction. His stories are populated by aristocrats like the ninth Earl of
Emsworth, and take place in upper class settings. This story was originally published in US and UK magazines in 1924.
The story begins with a loving description of the sunshine alighting on, among other things, the Castle, its ivied walls, its
green lawns, wide terraces, noble trees and three characters: the Earl, his son Freddie and Beach, the butler. Readers will
note how Lord Emsworth relies on his butler to put his hat on and to take the cap off his new telescope. Much of the story’s
humour derives from the dialogue, with even the butler given choice lines. By contrast, the head-gardener is given a comic
Scottish accent (‘She’s paying’ me twa poon’ a week’). Make a note of dialogue and descriptions you find particularly funny,
and explain why they seem amusing.
The comic figure of Lord Emsworth is central to the story. Consider the way in which he responds to his son’s courtship and
eventual marriage to Aggie Donaldson, and what it reveals about snobbery and class. You might examine, too, how
Wodehouse portrays Lord Emsworth’s comic concern for the well-being of his prize pumpkin and also consider why the latter
makes its first appearance about a third of the way through the story.

THE SON´S VETO – Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Hardy is the writer of a number of classic novels of the English Victorian era. He stopped writing novels altogether following
the outcries that greeted Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895); both were judged in their day to be
too explicit in their treatment of personal and social themes. Thereafter he concentrated on writing poetry.
In The Son’s Veto, Sophy’s character is presented to us by concentrating on a number of telling moments in her life. The story
reveals detail gradually in order to allow us to build up an impression of her. The narrator begins writing from the perspective
of a man viewing the woman’s immaculate hair from behind. We hear the exchange of dialogue between son and mother in
which the former rebukes the latter for her poor grammar ‘with an impatient fastidiousness that was almost harsh’. The
boy’s sensitivity here will eventually lead to his veto over his mother’s wish to re-marry. The vignette of the public-school
cricket match illustrates perhaps best of all the class consciousness at the heart of the story.
Consider how you are meant respond to Hardy’s depiction of the boy who eventually becomes the ‘young smooth-shaven
priest’ at the end of the story. Consider how Hardy makes us feel sorry for the mother. Look back at specific details given
about the boy and the mother.

THE FLY IN THE OINTMENT – V.S. Pritchett (1900-1997)

V.S Pritchett’s life spanned the twentieth century and he became one of its most prolific short story writers.
The Fly in the Ointment begins with a sketch of a November day in London with its overcast sky and the mention of
unemployed and beggars ‘dribbling slowly past the desert of public buildings’. This provides the social backdrop against
which is played out the reunion of a son and his father; the father has recently made bankrupt after thirty years of being a
factory boss. Their reunion brings to the surface the underlying frictions in their relationship. Consider how Pritchett
gradually reveals this lack of mutual understanding. The narrator tells us straightforwardly that the father ‘despised his son’
and charts the alarming way in which the mood changes during their talk, with at one point the father’s ‘warm voice going
dead and rancorous’. Note the hints given about the father’s shady business dealings and consider possible reasons for his
absurdly excessive disgust and fear at the fly. In this respect, the significance of the title should be explored. Finally, how do
you think Pritchett encourages us to view son and father? Think about the reference to the father at the story’s conclusion.

A HORSE AND TWO GOATS – R.K. Narayan (1906-2001)

Narayan is one of India’s most celebrated prose fiction authors writing in the English language. This story was written in 1960
and published in 1970.
The story begins with a description of Kritam, where Muni lives. The third person narrator captures the largely unemotional
way in which Muni regards the significant decline of his fortunes. In more affluent times he had ‘lorded over a flock of fleecy
sheep’ whereas now he has only two ‘miserable gawky goats’. We see events through his eyes, and are made to see why he
feels like the ‘poorest fellow in our caste’. All of the detail thus provided about Muni makes the appearance of the red-faced
New Yorker all the more odd. The dialogue between the affable New Yorker and the initially awkward Muni reveals a lot
about them, though not to each other. You should explore what makes their ‘mutual mystification’ so amusing, taking care to
examine what these two characters’ words and actions show about their respective cultures. What do you feel about the way
in which the story ends?

– opens with a clear picture of the poverty in which the protagonist Muni lives. Of the thirty houses in the village, only one, the Big House, is made of brick. The others, including Muni’s, are made of “bamboo thatch, straw, mud, and other unspecified materials.” There is no running water and no electricity and Muni’s wife cooks their typical breakfast of “a handful of millet flour” over a fire in a mud pot. NB, “drumstick” is a type of edible radish.
– Muni and the American meet by chance and their inability to understand each other results in a misunderstanding wherein Muni sells the village’s horse statue for 100 rupees, thinking he is, in fact, selling his almost worthless goats. Two very distinct lives are clearly expressed via the men’s conversation (with themselves, so to speak), however one similarity does arise (women).
– the third person omniscient narrator reports clearly and objectively on the characters’ words, actions, and memories, and does not comment or judge. This is the writer trusting the reader to notice how absurd the conversation is without having to point it out, thus ruining the humour. It can also be a reflection of the same passivity seen in Muni when it comes to him accepting his fate. The narrator does nto have to explain how foolish or ironic the conversation is, it’s stronger if we see it ourselves.
– The main conflict of the story is their inability to understand one another. The climax can be said to be “the truth dawned on the old man” – there seems to finally be understanding between the two. However, we then get the twist, which shows that there is no understanding afterall (Muni misinterprets the American’s wish as for the goats).
The American – He typifies the “Ugly American”: he speaks only English, but is surprised and a little annoyed to find that Muni can speak only Tamil. Although he is in the tiniest village in India, he expects to find a gas station and English-speaking goatherds. Once he sees the statue of the horse, he must own it for his living room, with no thought for what the statue might mean or who might value it. Even when he can’t speak the language, he knows that money talks.
Muni – Our protagonist. He was once wealthy, but is not desperately poor. He relies on his wife heavily and no longer has any shame or pride when it comes to his poverty. He is the perfect example of a good Hindu who, because of Karma’s rules, accepts his lot in life/fate without anger. He feels anger toward those “bad men” who have slighted him in the past, but it is not up to him to punish them, it is God’s will. His world is a relatively small one by our standards, but this only leads him to be contented with ‘small’ luxuries (tobacco, sheep, 100 rupees, goal of simply opening a shop, etc). Conservative values (believes the cinema has spoiled people and taught them to do bad things, etc). Lacks the materialistic ideology of the American, therefore cannot understand that he is interested in the statue, not the goats (which have survival value). He is also disciplined, religious and lonely.
Horse Statue – Forgotten on the edge of the village, just as Kiritam seems to have been forgotten by India after the highway was put in. The paint has faded and the opulant accessories are goen – just as Muni’s wealth has deteriorated. Also represents how the newer generations are becoming less religious and more liberal – no one pays attention to the Horse anymore, not even to vandalize it. No one cares for the spiritual significance of this Horse anymore.
NB: there is an overall warmth and sympathy for his characters.
Culture Clash – clash of cultures, specifically the clash of Indian and Western cultures. Using humor instead of anger, Narayan demonstrates just how far apart the two worlds are: the two cultures exist in the same time and space, but literally and metaphorically speak different languages. The two main characters in this story couldn’t be more different: Muni is poor, rural, uneducated, Hindu, brown; the American is wealthy, urban, educated, probably Judeo-Christian, white. As a good Hindu, Muni calmly accepts the hand that fate has dealt him, while the American is willing and able to take drastic and sudden action to change his life (for example, flying off to India, or throwing away his return plane ticket to transport a horse statue home on a ship). A lack of respect is shown in the American, who does not consider the statue’s role/importance but simply wishes to own it. This lack of respect can also be seen in the fact that the American has no excuse for being so ignorant – he is educated and ‘worldy’ and has always wanted to go to India. Muni has never had an opportunity to learn about the West. The American has a very self-oriented perspective on the world.
The message? A) Cross-cultural awareness is paramouont in today’s world.
B) We are what we value (Muni vs. American).
Role of Women – There are three women in the story: Muni’s good wife, the postman’s bad wife, and the American’s wife. The good wife is a caretaker and provider who stays with Muni through thick and thin. The bad wife is an adulterer and a shame on the postmam, says Muni. This bad wife serves to characterize Muni and his values. The American’s wife is a stereotypical ‘strong’ wife who decides things – like Muni’s wife – these women are in the background, but they resurface always as the reason these men can keep going. Muni in the sense of survival and the American in the broadening of his horizons (she books the trip to where he’s always wanted to go). These mirrored relationships are not perfect, there is both caring and conflict. Women are broken down into their base stereotypes – good/bad. They are not full characters and are only ‘seen’ by the reader through the eyes of the men in their lives – the “Male Gaze” – which tells you more, perhaps, about the men doing the seeing than the women they’re talking about.
The message? A) Women reflect their men’s values (ie, women used to characterize men).
B) Discussion on the definition of a ‘good’ woman.
C) Behind every great man there is a great woman – the women are integral to the men’s lives.

Born in Cairo, Soueif was educated in Egypt and England.
The story movingly portrays the breaking down of the relationship between an English writer and her Egyptian husband. The
story opens with a lyrical description of the narrator sitting on the beach where the water rolled in. You should consider the
significance of this opening description to the title and also to the story as a whole. The first summer holiday at the place
described (which was new to the narrator though not her husband) was a time of joy when her husband was a ‘colossus
bestriding the waves’. During the second summer holiday she misses their earlier time together spent in London. Explore the
evidence that, in spite of the passage of time, the wife finds it difficult to fit into a different culture and to consider what
effect this has on her relationship with her husband. You might begin with this excerpt: ‘My foreignness, which had been so charming, began to irritate him. My inability to remember names, to follow the minutiae of politics, my struggles with the
language, my need to be protected from the sun, the mosquitoes, the salads, the drinking water.’

– Unnamed protagonist – blank narrator; fading love; disillusioned; displaced; lost; without solid purpose in life; alienated from new “place” (and daughter?); passive
– Unnamed husband – no identity (removed out of bitterness, or because he is simply no longer her life’s ‘focus’?); unwillingly fading love; still cares
– Lucy – new ‘focus,’ (therefore she gets a name?); torn between cultures
Basic Plot:
– Protagonist recounts (via narration and flashback) the generalities of her relationship to her now husband. This includes their early relationship (characterized by pure love, excitement of ‘foreignness’ and innocence), the decision to marry (supposed realization that he is the most important thing in her life via near death experience, also that he becomes her ‘reason to live’ (she writes for him, collects stories for him, etc) and – somewhat – vice versa), decision for children (penultimate expression of her love for him) and the slow breakdown of their relationship (drifting apart because of ‘practical’ differences and a waning of original emotions. The focus/ ‘reason for living’ shifts to Lucy). The exterior relationship begins to fall apart as she searches for her place in the world – this is something that shifts from Man to Lucy, but neither of these things are true purposes, just passing ones.
– A summer afternoon spent at a beach-house is rather inconsequential; therefore, deduce that the actions of our characters, since they do not contribute to the plot, are actually reflections of their personality.
– Narrative structure includes disconcerting juxtapositions between memory and the present to show the narrator’s state of mind.
– Cross-cultural tensions/ ‘stranger in a strange land’ experiences
– Identity (how place influences identity/shows you things about yourself – like poems “Summer Farm” and “Where I Come From”) and finding one’s place in the world.

Summary of Poems

Here are some summaries of the poems that we studied in class that our teacher Pato prepared for us in order to understand them better and to help us study.


PIED BEAUTY – Gerard Manley Hopkins
Hopkins was born in England in 1844 and died in 1889. This poem was published in 1918, some forty-one years after Hopkins
wrote it in 1877, the year he became a Jesuit priest. His distinctive and innovative poetry found fame after his death rather
than during the English Victorian age in which he lived, when more traditional verse was popular and perhaps more
acceptable to the Victorian taste.
Overview of Poem:
Line 1 gives thanks to God for creating ‘dappled things’.
Lines 2 – 5 provides a list of specific things which are ‘dappled’ and which cumulatively express delight at such variety in the
natural world. In order, they are:
· skies presumably of blue sky and white cloud
· a ‘brinded’ cow – i.e. a cow streaked with different colours
· the trout with its specks of different colour (‘stipple’ is a speck)
· chestnuts glowing like coal – an image approaching the surreal, the black of the coal and the glow of the flame
· finches’ wings landscape of fields ‘plotted and pieced’ like a patchwork, some planted, some fallow and some
recently ploughed (‘fold, fallow and plough’).
Line 6 shifts attention from natural phenomena to the jobs that men (!) have and the different types of equipment they have.
‘Gear’ and ‘tackle’ are more recognisably comprehensible to the twenty-first century reader than the word ‘trim’ as used
Line 7 marks a turning-point. The language becomes more abstract in character, after the concrete detail of the previous
lines. It might be helpful to look at the final two lines of the poem first: God is the creator of all things mentioned in the
poem, and should be praised. Then go back to the adjectives in line 7: God is creator of ‘all things counter, original, spare,
strange’. These ‘fickle’ things are themselves ‘freckled’ with opposite qualities: swift / slow; sweet / sour; adazzle / dim.
Looking in detail:
Consider the relationship of the first line to the rest of the poem. The central place of God as creator is picked up again in the
final two lines. The ‘dappled things’ are listed in lines 2 – 5.
Think about what it is precisely that God is being praised for. Look closely at the descriptions of cow, trout, chestnut, finches
and landscapes. In what ways do the descriptions appeal to the sense of sight?
Before dealing with lines 7 – 9, consider the significance of the final two lines to the whole poem. What do you make of the
made-up word ‘fathers-forth’ and the short final line ‘Praise him’ in the context of the overall poem?
Then explore the meaning of lines 7 – 9. What do you think ‘things’ refer to, and what do you make of the four adjectives
‘counter, original, spare, strange’? Use a dictionary here: ‘spare’, for example, is among other things defined as ‘surplus’,
‘leftover’ and ‘unwanted’. Which of these words do you feel to be the most suitable synonym, and why?
Consider how the list of opposites (lines 8-9) links with the idea of dappled things? You should now have a clearer idea of
what Hopkins is celebrating. Support your ideas by careful reference to the words of the poem.
How would you describe the tone? Do the references to God help them to answer this question? There is a note of religious
devotion in this celebration of the diversity of God’s creations.
In what ways do you feel the sounds reinforce the poem’s meanings?

HORSES – Edwin Muir
Muir was born in 1887 on a farm in the Orkney Islands, where he lived a happy childhood. At the age of 14, he moved with
his family to Glasgow, which he came to regard as a descent from Eden into hell. He became a critic and translator as well as
poet. He died in 1959. This poem Horses should not be confused with his later more frequently anthologised poem The
The sight of horses now, in the present, leads the speaker to consider his feelings towards horses when he was a child:
‘Perhaps some childish hour has come again’.
There is an other-worldliness about the description of the horses, something magical. Admiration and fear are mixed. There
is a clear Romantic feel about the poem: e.g. ‘And oh the rapture…’
Some archaic words are explained in the glossary. Here are other words that you might usefully probe more closely:
Stanza 1: ‘lumbering’ gives the impression that the horses are moving in a slow, heavy and awkward way.
Stanza 2: pistons in the machines in an ancient mill are used to describe the movement of the horses’ hooves as the child
‘watched fearful’. The use of imagery drawn from the early industrial age is interesting in what it tells us about the child’s
Stanza 3: the word ‘conquering’ suggests a reference to an even earlier age. The word ‘ritual’ and the descriptions ‘seraphim
of gold’ and ‘ecstatic monsters’ hint at something pagan or pre-historic.
Stanza 4: the ‘rapture’ conveys a Romantic sense of worshipping these natural creatures: see lines 2 – 4.
Stanza 5: ‘glowing with mysterious fire’ links with the ‘magic power’, which describes the horses he sees in the present day
(in the first stanza).
Stanza 6: the powerful force of the horses is captured in the eyes gleaming with a ‘cruel apocalyptic light’. The religious
imagery follows on from the ‘struggling snakes’ of stanza 5.
Stanza 7: the repetition of ‘it fades’ suggests loss, straightforwardly the fading of his memory. ‘Pine’ means to feel a lingering,
often nostalgic desire.
Notice the shift in time in stanza 2. The rest of the poem deals with the speaker’s recollection of his feelings as a child. What
impression do you feel is created by the simile of the ‘pistons’?
The references in this stanza 3are to a pre-industrial age. Consider the effects of these words: ‘conquering hooves’, ‘ritual’,
‘seraphim of gold’ and ‘mute ecstatic monsters’. They should consult a dictionary where appropriate.
What do you make of the tone in stanza 4? Explore the words used to describe the horses, and to consider what they reveal
about the speaker’s attitude? What contrast is signalled by the use of ‘But when at dusk…’ at the beginning of stanza 5?
What do you make of ‘mysterious fire’ here and the ‘magic power’ attributed to the present-day horses in stanza 1?
Ask students to analyse the effectiveness of the imagery in stanza 6: the ‘cruel apocalyptic light’ of their eyes and the
personification of the wind.
How does the tone I the final stanza differ from the tone in other parts of the poem?

HUNTING SNAKE – Judith Wright
Judith Wright was an Australian writer, born in 1915; she died in 2000. She celebrated nature in many of her poems. In her
later life she was a conservationist and campaigned for the rights of Aboriginal peoples.
Wright’s poem recalls something of D. H. Lawrence’s poem Snake. There is the same awe-struck observation, a sense of
stopping dead in one’s tracks.
There are three useful areas of content to focus on:
· the description of the snake itself
· the effect the snake has on the speaker and her walking companion
· the brief mention of the creature being hunted
Each stanza has four lines; each line has eight syllables; the rhyme pattern is similar for the first three stanzas but not the
last: these are of course statements of the blindingly obvious. But a useful starting-point might be to focus on structure and
how the content is arranged within and across stanzas.
What do the words ‘grace’ and ‘gentlest’ convey? How is the suddenness of their stopping suggested? You should consider
the contrast between ‘Sun-warmed’ and ‘froze’.
Look at the words which describe the physical qualities of the snake. The word ‘reeling’ is interesting. Look up meanings of
the word in a dictionary. In what ways might it apply to the people as well as the snake?
Consider the majestic qualities of the snake. You might consider the force of ‘the parting grass’, ‘glazed’, ‘diamond’ and ‘we
lost breath’.
Consider the effect of the alliteration in ‘food’, ‘fled’ and ‘fierce’ (in stanza three).
You should chart the reactions of the speaker and her companion to the snake as described in each stanza. How do the
words used convey their reactions? What do you make of the poem’s final two lines and their relationship to the rest of the poem?

PIKE – Ted Hughes
Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England in 1930. His poetry discards Romantic notions
about the natural world. He became British Poet Laureate in 1984 and was so until his death in 1998.
In Pike Hughes offers a far from Romantic view of nature in his depiction of this primitive and malevolent fish.
Stanzas 1 – 4 offers a mix of objective description (‘green tigering the gold’) and subjective description (‘their own grandeur).
Stanzas 5 – 7 include what appears to be personal anecdote of three pike kept at home inside an aquarium and then the
grisly description of two large pike that had been locked in deadly combat: ‘One jammed past its gills down the other’s
Stanzas 8 – 11 mingles personal recollection (‘A pond I fished, fifty years across’) with reflection.
Listening to the recording of Hughes reading the poem. It can be found on the www.poetryarchive.org website:
Here Hughes gives a brief account of how he came to write the poem in the introduction to his reading.
Stanzas 1 – 4
List what facts they learn about pike and their habitat. How does the use of colours add to the dramatic impact of Hughes’
Explore the effects of particular words or phrases: e.g. ‘Killers from the egg’, ‘malevolent aged grin’, ‘submarine delicacy and
horror’, ‘The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs’, ‘gills kneading quietly’. What do they make of the chilling line ‘A life subdued to
its instrument’?
What qualities do you think Hughes attributes to pike? You might start a detailed exploration of the language with the first
and last lines of stanza two.
Stanzas 5 – 7
Explain what happens in stanza five, which is a good example of the economy of poetry. What impressions are conveyed by
the use of the word ‘jungled’? This is another instance of a noun being made into a verb (see ‘tigering’ in the first stanza) –
though there will of course be more to observe than that. How effective do you find the final two-word sentence ‘Finally
How does the description of the two pike that begins on the third line of stanza six and ends in the final line of stanza seven
make you feel? Consider the precise effects of the words which make you feel as you do. What does the simile ‘as a vice
locks’ add to the description?
Stanzas 8 – 11
Explain the shift in content and tone that occurs with stanza eight. The pond where the speaker went fishing in his youth is
described as ‘deep as England’. Consider this simile with its connotations of England’s rich history and also the more
immediate context of a boy fishing.
You should explore how Hughes conveys the eerie atmosphere and the boy’s fear in the final three stanzas. Look at the words and also to listen to the sounds. It is interesting to hear the long ‘o’ sound in ‘rose slowly towards’ in the last line. How effective do you find this use of assonance and other uses of sound devices in adding to the drama of the situation?

THE CITY PLANNERS – Margaret Atwood
Born in Canada in 1939, Atwood is an established poet, novelist and literary critic, perhaps best known to many as author of
the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale (published in 1985).
The poem begins with a satirical attack on the sterile uniformity of the residential suburbs. People are conspicuous by their
absence in her descriptions. In the first stanza the speaker declares: ‘what offends us is / the sanities’. The sanities include
houses in pedantic rows, sanitary trees and discouraged grass. There is nothing untoward; even the ‘whine’ of a power
mower is described in an oxymoron as ‘rational’. In stanza two, however, ‘certain things’ are listed that ‘give momentary
access to / the landscape behind or under / the future cracks… (stanza three). These things have the effect of disturbing the
order: the smell of oil, a splash of paint, a plastic hose ‘poised in a vicious / coil’ (suggestive of a snake) and ‘the too fixed
stare of the wide windows’. Stanza three anticipates the effects of the destructive power of nature with houses described as
sliding into the clay seas ‘gradual as glaciers / that right now nobody notices’. The last few words of stanza three lead on to
the ‘City Planners’ in stanza four, with their ‘insane faces of political conspirators’. The final three stanzas convey the futility
of planning, ‘guessing directions’ as the planners ‘sketch transitory lines’ in their attempts to impose order on the suburbs.
The planners are described as remote figures ‘concealed from each other, / each in his own private blizzard’.
What are your impressions of the suburbs described in the first stanza? Make sure you have evidence from the stanza to
support your points.
What evidence is there to suggest that the speaker is an outsider looking in? Consider the first two lines and also the
significance of the dent in the speaker’s car door. What does the word ‘rebuke’ refer to?
Make a list of the words/phrases that capture the speaker’s disapproving tone and to comment on the precise effects
created. For example, what effects do they feel are created by the underlined words in this quotation: ‘nothing more abrupt
/ than the rational whine of a power mower’? What do they make of the oxymoron ‘rational whine’?
How do other words in the stanza convey the soulless atmosphere of the suburb?
Consider the contrast between the first and second stanzas. What do they make of the driveways that ‘neatly / sidestep
hysteria / by being even’? What do the words ‘sanities’ and ‘hysteria’ have in common? And how are they different?
The syntax is somewhat complex. You will need to link the ‘certain things’ to what the speakers say they do (i.e. ‘give
momentary access to…’) in stanza three. List the things and to consider the words and sounds used to describe them. For
example, how do you interpret the ‘too fixed stare’ of the wide windows?
Consider the effectiveness of the concise line ‘certain things’ and its positioning within this stanza.
Look the image of nature presented in stanza 3 and comment closely on the effects of key words such as ‘capsized’, ‘slide
obliquely’ and also the simile of the glacier.
Probe closely the descriptions of the City Planners (note the capitals here). What attitude towards them is revealed in these
descriptions? Consider the following adjectives in relation to the planners’ actions: misguided, ignorant, futile. Which of
these adjectives (or any adjectives they might themselves suggest) best describes the planners here?
It is difficult to see in a blizzard: how effective do they find the use of the blizzard metaphor in stanza four?
How is their attitude towards the planners affected by what they read in stanza three?
How do you feel the final two lines should be read, and how effective do you find the metaphors ‘panic of suburb’ and ‘bland
madness of snows’?

THE PLANNERS – Boey Kim Cheng
Boey Kim Cheng was born in Singapore in 1965. He now lives and works in Australia.
After the title, the planners are referred to anonymously as ‘they’ six times. The word is used twice in the first line and
appears at the beginning of the first and second stanzas. ‘They’ are presented as all-powerful: nothing can stop them. In
stanza one there is a sameness and uniformity about the city which creates an exact but soulless landscape (similar to that of the residential suburb in Atwood’s The City Planners). The buildings are ‘in alignment’ and meet roads at ‘desired points’. The
stanza ends with personification of both the sea that ‘draws back’ and the skies that ‘surrender’ in the face of such progress.
In stanza two there is a sense that history is being erased: the ‘flaws’ and ‘blemishes of the past’. The drilling, we are told,
‘goes right through / the fossils of last century’. Anything not up to scratch is removed: ‘knock off / useless blocks with dental
dexterity’. An extended dentistry metaphor runs through the stanza. The line ‘Anaesthesia, amnesia, hypnosis’ is followed by
‘They [the planners] have the means’. This is an interesting line to consider, especially after considering the definitions of
these words:
anaesthesia – state of having sensation blocked
amnesia – condition in which memory is disturbed or lost
hypnosis – sleep-like state in which the mind responds to external suggestion.
In the light of the first two stanzas, what do you make of the final stanza, beginning ‘But my heart would not bleed / poetry’.
The words ‘single drop’ and ‘stain’ extend the blood/bleeding metaphor. The contrast between the final and first two stanzas
could not be more marked.
Probe the effects of particular words in stanza one. The words ‘gridded’, permutations of possibilities’, ‘points’, ‘grace of
mathematics’ are associated (broadly) with mathematics. What does their use here reveal about the speaker’s attitude
towards planners and city planning?
Explore the personification of the sea and skies in the final two lines of stanza one. What do the images suggest about the
relationship between man (more specifically, planners) and nature? What do you think is the speaker’s view of planners?
Consider the effect of the repetition of the word ‘They’ and also where each instance of the word appears in the poem.
List each reference to dentistry and dental work in stanza two, and consider closely the effect created by using each
word/phrase. Consult a dictionary for relevant meanings of the words in the line ‘Anaesthesia, amnesia, hypnosis’. Then
consider what contribution this line makes to the poem as a whole. What does it reveal about the speaker’s attitude towards
Re-read the poem’s first two stanzas again, practising getting right the tone (and any shifts in tone). Then you should
consider the meaning of the last stanza (beginning ‘But’) and its relationship to the rest of the poem.
What do you make of the ‘bleed poetry’ metaphor in the context of the poem? His heart would not bleed ‘a single drop / to
stain the blueprint / of our past’s tomorrow’. How do you interpret this, and do you find it an effective ending to the poem?

SUMMER FARM – Norman MacCaig
Norman MacCaig was born in Scotland in 1910 and died in 1996. Summer Farm contains MacCaig’s characteristic blend of
writing about nature and personal reflection.
The poem splits nicely into two parts:
· The first two stanzas offer descriptions of aspects of nature, chiefly concerned with what the speaker sees.
· The final two stanzas focus on the speaker: ‘I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass, / Afraid of where a thought
might take me…’
In this way the poem charts a movement away from the concrete to the abstract. The first two stanzas include descriptions
which are certainly original, perhaps even startling: e.g. ‘Straws like tame lightnings’, ‘ducks go wobbling’, ‘the dizzy blue’.
The mention, in stanza three, of fear ‘of where a thought might take me’ and the speaker’s description of himself as ‘a pile of
selves’ contribute to a more reflective and philosophical mood and type of writing. The speaker talks about lifting the lid of
the farm ‘with a metaphysic hand’. He ends the poem by stating that he is ‘in the centre’ of the farm. The phrases ‘Self under
self’ and ‘Farm within farm’ perhaps convey the sense that he is only part of a long sequence of people connected with the
farm. This is perhaps the thought that he was too afraid to countenance earlier in stanza three.
List the things the speaker sees in the first two stanzas, and then consider the precise effects created by the specific words
used in MacCaig’s descriptions. For example, how effective do you find the lightning simile in describing the straw and the
phrase ‘hang zigzag on hedges’?
How effective are the descriptions of:
· the water in the trough
· the ducks
· the hen
· the swallow
· the sky (‘empty’, ‘the dizzy blue’).
Comment on the contrast (in subject matter and tone) between the first two stanzas and the final two stanzas. You could
record their judgements in a table with two columns headed ‘Stanza 1’ and ‘Stanza 2’.
What is the speaker actually doing in stanzas three and four? What is the significance of the grasshopper which ‘finds himself
in space’?
Consider closely the possible meanings and effects of the following similes and metaphors in the final stanza:
‘Self under self, a pile of selves I stand / Threaded on time’ [What does ‘Threaded’ mean here?]
‘Lift the farm like a lid and see / Farm within farm…’
‘…in the centre, me.’
You should consider in what way the final stanza might explain these words from stanza three: ‘Afraid of where a thought
might take me’.
Comment on the effectiveness of the poem’s structure in relation to its subject-matter. You might consider the stanza
arrangement and the effects of particular rhymes.

WHERE I COME FROM – Elizabeth Brewster
Elizabeth Brewster is a Canadian poet and academic, born in 1922. The description in the second stanza of this poem
captures something of the rural Canada of her early years.
The first sentence in the first line is exemplified in the remainder of the first stanza. People have within them (in their
characters) something of the places where they live or perhaps where they were born. She lists jungles, mountains, seas and
the city. The greater part of the first stanza is devoted to city-dwellers in museums, glue factories, offices and subways.
Stanza two marks a shift from the city to a rural context, and with it perhaps a shift from present to past. The stanza begins
with a repetition of the title ‘Where I come from’. As with stanza one, there is a succession of images, though this time drawn
from the countryside. The images are parts of the people’s minds: pine woods, blueberry patches, farmhouses, and ‘battered
schoolhouses / behind which violets grow’.
The final four lines (straddling stanzas two and three) are central to the poem, and help to explain the formative influences
on the speaker’s mind. The focus is on the ‘chief’ seasons of spring and winter: ‘ice and the breaking of ice’. The final line of
the poem contributes to the wintry description with ‘a frosty wind from fields of snow’. The metaphor of the door in the
mind that ‘blows open’ demonstrates vividly the importance of the sense of place the speaker carries with her in her own
Divide a sheet of paper in two and list:
· the places in stanza one
· the places in stanza two.
Then consider the words and sounds used to describe each place. Which places do you feel are described more approvingly
and which places less approvingly? You should justify their views by close reference to the poem, always commenting on the
precise effects created by particular words.
Is there a sense that the description is uneven (with more given to the rural places)? Why do you think this is?
From your reading of the poem, what do you feel is the tone of stanza two? What effect is created by the phrases: ‘burnedout
bush’, ‘in need of paint’ and ‘battered schoolhouses’? What effect is created by the juxtaposition of violets growing
behind the battered schoolhouses?
You should next read the final four lines of the poem. How do they reveal the speaker’s thoughts and feelings? What is
meant by ‘Spring and winter / are the mind’s chief seasons’? How does this link with the content of the final two-line stanza?
How effective is the metaphor ‘A door in the mind blows open’? How does this connect with the final line and the central
idea of the poem?
Do you feel the poem has only a personal significance to the poet, or is it possible to detect a more universal significance? Is
the metaphor of a door blowing open one you can identify with in relation to a place you feel is important to you?
Which sounds in the poem do you find particularly striking, and why? Start by thinking about the sibilance in lines 4 and 5, or
the emphatic alliteration in ‘blueberry patches in the burned-out bush’. As always, you should think about the effects
created by the use of such devices.
Do you feel that other senses are used to powerful effect in the poem? Look for examples you find particularly striking, and
explain why.

Born in 1770 in the north of England, Wordsworth lived until the age of eighty. As a Romantic poet, he wrote of the beauty of
nature. The moment he captures in this poem is when he and his sister, Dorothy, stood on Westminster Bridge one early
morning before the city of London was awake.
Perhaps students could explore any similarities between Dorothy’s diary entry and her brother’s poem – see below.
The language of the poem is fairly straightforward. In addition to the words glossed in the anthology, the meanings of words
such as ‘majesty’ and ‘splendour’ might be given particular consideration as to how they are used in the poem. How do these
words reveal the speaker’s attitude, and how do they contribute to the overall mood?
This is a Petrarchan sonnet. The octave (first 8 lines) captures the beauty of this particular morning. Earth, personified, has
nothing more fair to show, which is praise indeed coming from this worshipper of nature. The city, personified, is wearing
only the beauty of the morning ‘like a garment’. The bare list of things in line 6 provides in an extremely economic way the
iconography of the city of London (largely familiar today – except for the ships). The rising sun makes everything ‘bright and
glittering’. The time of day is significant as such a beautiful image with its ‘smokeless air’ might be captured only before the
city wakes up and gets to work.
The sestet (last 6 lines) expresses the speaker’s view that the beauty of the city in early morning sunlight surpasses that of
‘valley, rock or hill’, more typical targets of praise in much romantic poetry. The effect on the poet’s mood is considerable:
‘Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!’
The final three lines have three instances of personification: of the river, the houses and the city itself, with ‘all that mighty
List all the views expressed by the speaker, starting with that expressed in the first line. You should annotate a copy of the
poem, showing the effects of particular words: for example, what do they make of ‘so touching in its majesty’?
Consider Wordsworth’s use of description in the octave. How effective do you find the simile ‘like a garment wear / The
beauty of the morning’? And the simple list used in line six? How important do they feel is the time of day and the mention of
‘smokeless air’ to the mood? Look for and comment on any change in subject-matter or change in tone, or any development in the argument, which
occurs in the sestet. Why do they think people are absent from the poem?
Explain the speaker’s feeling of ‘a calm so deep’, making sure you provide pertinent reference to the poem. How do you feel
the last three lines of the sestet contribute to the poem’s mood?
Find all the examples of hyperbole, personification and sound devices Wordsworth uses. As always, such notes should focus
on the precise effects created by using specific devices. This is not an invitation to simply log features. Select an example yiu
find particularly memorable, and explain how Wordsworth’s writing makes it so.

A BIRTHDAY – Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti was born in England in 1820 and died in 1894. She wrote this poem when she was twenty-seven. Perhaps
nowadays she is more famous for her poem Remember and the words of the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter.
The title of the poem makes sense when the final two lines of the poem are read. Here her love coming to her is described as
‘the birthday of my life’.
The poem is saturated with sensuous vocabulary, which you should explore fully. Unfamiliar words such as ‘dais’ and archaic
words such as ‘vair’ are explained in the glossary.
There is a clear contrast between the content of each stanza. The first deals with actual images of nature and the second with
the artificial and exotic images of nature (e.g. ‘gold and silver grapes’).
The first stanza describes the extent of the speaker’s happiness. The final line makes it clear that she is happier than all the
things she describes because her love is coming to her. In the second stanza she wishes to immerse herself in rich and
beautiful surroundings in order to celebrate her love coming to her.
How would you read the three imperative verbs which relate to the act of creating something (‘Raise’, ‘Carve’, ‘Work’) in the
second stanza? What other features of sound can they identify, and what effects do they create?
Explore the idyllic natural images in the first stanza: of the singing-bird, apple-tree and rainbow shell. What do the words
(and sounds) reveal about the speaker’s mood? Do you think this is all about happiness, as the last two lines of the first
stanza would seem to suggest: ‘My heart is gladder than all these’?
Consider how Rossetti vividly conveys the exotic nature of the things she describes in stanza two.
Note contrasts between the two stanzas, both in their content and style. You might usefully compare the last two lines of
each stanza.
Consider the significance of the title and how do you think Rossetti uses the word in the poem’s penultimate line?

THE WOODSPURGE – Dante Gabriel Rossetti
This poem is written by Christina Rossetti’s brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1892). Leading light of the Pre-Raphaelite
movement, he was as famous for his painting as for his poetry. This poem was written in 1856.
The title suggests that the woodspurge will be at the centre of the poem, but there is in fact no detailed description of this
wild plant. Having stared at it during a mood of depression, the speaker learns just one thing about it: ‘The woodspurge has a
cup of three’. The tone is matter-of-fact. The earlier mentions of ‘grass’ and ‘ten weeds’ are not described in any poetic detail
either. What there is of nature in the poem is used as a backdrop for the speaker’s depressed state of mind. He is carried
along somewhat aimlessly by the wind until it stops. He sits down, his hair touching the grass, and among the weeds he
notices the woodspurge. He seems to be in this position for some time: ‘My naked ears heard the day pass’. We do not,
however, learn what has caused him to be so sad and miserable.
The relative lack of description and the simple language perhaps serve to reinforce the speaker’s gloomy state of mind. There
is an unusual insistent rhyme scheme (AAAA, BBBB etc.) and many of the lines are monosyllabic. These features, too, may
play a role in conveying the speaker’s unhappy state of mind. Consider how this might be the case by selecting examples and
commenting on precise effects.
Consider the force of the end rhymes and the use of monosyllables in conveying the mood in the first stanza. You should
explore the description of the wind (the word ‘wind’ appears four times) and the effect it has on the speaker.
What are your impressions of the speaker from the first two stanzas? What do you make of his physical position and of the
words he speaks? Do you find him a sympathetic figure (or perhaps overly melodramatic)? How do you respond to the
repetition of ‘My’?
Do you think that stanza three depicts an authentic picture of depression? Or might it seem contrived? Re-read the poem
again and consider what significance the title has to the whole poem. What do you think are the poem’s deeper meanings?
Does the woodspurge have a symbolic significance? Does it have to? Consider the first two lines of the final stanza. What
effect is created by the use of oxymoron ‘perfect grief’? Do these lines provide the key to the poem’s meaning? Or do other
lines provide the key? Support their answers by close reference to the words of the poem.

Unseen Paper

In our Literature, in order to practice for the IGCSE exam that we are having this year, our teacher asked us to write an Unseen Paper. This is mine:

The extract from a short story narrates how Mrs Mallard reacts to finding out that her husband has just died which is very unexpected and surprising. Her attitude is very shocking which makes the story startling and alarming.

At first, her response to hearing what had occurred seemed normal, how every other wife would react. She sobbed desperately in her sister’s arms giving the impression that she felt abandoned, alone and torn apart. But what was different from any other woman, was that she started crying right away, she didn’t refuse to believe the fact that she was now a widow like a lot of other people would. When there were no more tears left to shed, she went alone to her room, which can be a common attitude depending on the person. Many people like being left alone while going through a rough time while others prefer being surrounded by loved ones.

Although her behaviour was pretty ordinary, once she’s alone in her room, there was a twist. She started feeling this emotion growing inside of her which was frightening. Mrs Mallard tried to fight it back but it outgrew her. When this happened, a word escaped her mouth several times: “‘free, free, free!’”, which she could not figure out if it was joy overwhelming her or what. But as some minutes went by, as she imagined her husband’s dead body and the years to come, she realized that it was in fact, delight and happiness. Completely opposite and opposite feelings to the ones she had had before, when she had just heard the news. This can be seen when it is depicted that “she breathed a quick prayer that life might be long”, which means that she asked God for the remaining time of her existence to be enduring. She also reflects about how now, she wants to live a long time while when she was married, she feared living a long time. The word “free” is a metaphor that conveys that she is finally liberated from her prison, her marriage.

Finally, the ending has an even bigger turnabout. When she was descending the stairs, two things happened. Her husband appeared because apparently, the accident was all made up, he hadn’t actually been involved in a car crash; and since she suffered from a problem in her heart, she passed away and her death was caused by “a heart disease – of joy that kills”, which is ironic because she didn’t actually die of happiness, she died of horror when she saw him; which is dramatic irony as we, the readers, know that she was not happy to see her husband, but the other characters don’t.

In conclusion, the fragment of the story is very shocking and astonishing since the description of Mrs Mallard’s reaction and the way in which she comes to understand her feelings, are both very interesting.


In our Literature class we analysed the short story “Sandpiper” and since the term tests are coming and we are having the IGCSE exam this year, our teacher, Pato, left us some question to answer in order to practice and revise.

1) Why did the woman want to avoid making patterns in the sand? Describe how she stepped on the path?

She claims that she liked trying to decipher the patterns made by nature alone, in this case, the pattern made by the sand made by being blown with the wind. And that she didn’t like changing the course of the sand being blown by the wind because she thought it was pointless trying to decipher a pattern that she had made herself. She describes stepping on the path only with the ball of her foot on the white spaces free of sand.

2) Explain this quote from the first paragraph of the story. “I had an idea that the patterns on the stone should be made by nature alone; I did not want one grain of sand, blown by a breeze I could not feel, to change the course because of me. What point would there be in trying to decipher a pattern that I had caused.”

As I said before, in this quote, the voice describes that she liked when nature worked on its own, without being modified. And that she didn’t want to disturb this because she liked admiring and trying to decipher the pattern that the sand had made on the floor, therefore, she claims that she walks trying not to chnge the course of the sand because it would be pointless trying to decipher the pattern that she had caused.


3) Describe how the woman balances and looks for the next space not covered by sand. Is this a reflection of how she is balancing between two cultures and countries, trying to do nothing wrong to upset her husband’s family?

The woman balancing and looking for the next space not covered by sand. is definitely a reflection of how she is balancing between two cultures and countries because she tries to step between the both, meaning that she misses and wants to remain loyal to her original country but at the same time she wants to be able to adapt to this new country. And the fact that she barely and carefuly steps reflects the fact that she doesn’t want to disturb anyone with her adapting issues and her struggles.


4) The seaside is a place where she seems to seek peace from the tensions and changing husband and Egyptian culture. How is the sea an extended metaphor for the woman’s life and the changes that have happened? Is the sea constant or always changing?


The sea refclets her life as they are both constantly changing, but I also believe that it reflects her state of mind. The water rolls in and draws back while all throughout the story she talks about the present but constantly makes reference to the past.

5) What is the image that is presented where the unnamed woman says, “I used to sit in the curve and dig my hands into the grainy, compact sand and feel it grow wetter as my fingers went deeper and deeper till the next rippling, frothing rush of white came and smudged the edges of the little burrow I had made. Its walls had collapsed and I removed my hand, covered in wet clay, soon to revert to dry grains that I would easily brush away.

6) Does the last sentence in the above quote mirror the woman’s attempt to try and understand what has happened to her husband, marriage and her inability to grasp the Egyptian way of life that is imposed on her when she visits Egypt each summer?( look at the images of the crumbling walls, wet hands and dry grains easily brushed away)

7) Why does she continually revert back to her own culture and the way of life she experiences and lives in Britain? Why can she not accept the Egyptian way of life?

She still misses her native country, her culture and habbits. She wants to adapt to the Egyptian lifestyle and culture for her daughter but at the same time she can’t because she despices the fact that it was when they came to this country that she got to know her husband, and she did not like him.


8) Describe the imagery in paragraph 2 and what does this metaphorical language really represent?

9) Describe the times the woman and her husband had been happy, contented with one another and deeply in love. Use relevant quotes to back up your answer.

10) List the style of life the couple lived in the U.K. and explain the quotation, P731, “I thought of those things and missed them- but with no great sense of loss. It was as though they were all there, to be called upon, to be lived again whenever we wanted.”

The couple used to live in a “cosy flat, precarious on top of a roof in a Georgian square” and they had different habits, such as him meeting her at the bus-stop once she returned from work, sitting in the park while reading their newspapers on Sundays when it didn’t rain and going late at night to the movies. In the quotation she claims that she remembers and misses all those things but doesn’t feel as if they’re gone nor lost, she feels that anytime that they want, they can go back and return to that old lifestyle.

11) Explain the quite in relation to the woman’s feelings and difficulties. “ I tried to understand that I was on the edge, the very edge of Africa; that the vastness ahead was nothing compared to what lay behind me…my mind could not grasp a world that was not present to my senses.” (P371)

12) 2. Describe the woman’s feelings towards her coming baby (p371)

The woman narrates that, at that time, she was very excited. She expresses that her body had been preparing for that moment for seventeen years and that it had finally arrived. Nature had worked admirably. She loved her husband so much and now she was carrying thier child, but she claims that she wanted even more as she was so smitten to that love.


13) “From where I stand now, all I can see is a dry, solid white. The glare, the white wall, and the white path narrowing in the distance” Explain how this refers to her state of mind, marriage and relationship with the people of Egypt.



14) P372. What is the effect of the repetition of “I should have gone” three times and “I should have turned, picked up my child and gone.” How do these words impact on the woman’s situation?

This words and phrases are very striking as they show the woman’s regret for staying there and her desire to go back in time and make everything right in order to be happy.


15) List the things the woman finds strange in Egypt throughout the story. What does she want to do?

16) What implications do these words have on the woman’s life and her child? “She was born here…belonged her.” (P734) What would happen if the mother wanted to leave her husband in Egypt?

She had a huge desire of returning to England, but she couldn’t because her daughter had been born and raised, she didn’t know anything but Egypt, her husband’s country was her daughter’s home and there was nothing she could do about it, she couldn’t force her daughter to move away from her home.

17) In her sleep she makes use of me, my breast is sometimes her pillow, my lap her footstool. I lie content, glad to be of use.” Explain the quote and how do you think the woman is coping being waited on hand and foot by the family’s maid?

All throughout the day her help is refused, she is told to rest, to keep her hands nice and soft and told to go to the club but she can’t as she doesn’t speak the language. She feels useless so when her daughter uses her as a pillow she feels glad that she finally is of some use which to me, shows how miserable her life was there.


18) Why include the image of the Pakistani woman with her son curled up beside her at the airport and explain the words, “All her worldly treasure was on that sofa with her, and so she slept soundly.”

19) The main character keeps referring to her trip to the African continent and how she took notes. “I leaf through my notes. Each one carries a comment and a description meant for him…What story can I write?”

20) How do you think an educated, liberated woman would feel being told about “the inferior status of women courteouslybecause being foreign, European, on a business trip, I was an honorary man”? (P373)

21) Is Egypt a country where women are liberated, able to make their own decisions and live as they like or is it male dominated? Do you think that this is something that may have driven a wedge in the marriage with the clash of different cultural values from the east and West?

Egypt is a country that is male dominated, it has mainly male influence and I believe this affected their marriage in the way that he might be the one who ‘wears the pants in the relationship’. He must make all the decisions and might probably be chauvinistic. This probably affects their marriage as well in the aspect that the cultures clash, because he comes from a country where women aren’t liberated and are underrated, while she comes from a country where women have pretty much equal rights as men.


22) Describe the parent’s relationship with their daughter.

A Birthday

On our Literature class, we started analysing the first poem of this year, “A Birthday” by Christina Rossetti. Our teacher, Pato, asked us to watch a video of an actress reciting the poem and answer the following questions. I worked with Jose, Lucía and Rochi.


a. What is the theme?

The theme is love, relationship, celebration, religion.

b. What is the tone?

The tone is peaceful, pacific, joyful.

c. What is the main difference between the two stanzas?

The first stanza revolves more around nature which can be seen with the imagery the author uses like “singing bird”, “nest in a watered shoot”, “apple-tree”, “boughs bent with…fruit”, “halcyon sea”. While the second talks more about material and luxurious objects, man-made objects. For example, “dais of silk”, “vair”.

d. How are the similes in the poem appropriate for the romantic longings the speaker feels?

In the first stanza the author states how happy she feels because “[her] love has come to [her]” by using natural images such as, “my heart is like a rainbow shell that paddles in a halcyon sea”, rainbow and paddling in a halcyon sea make reference to how peaceful, calm and glad she feels.

e. How is the metaphor of the birthday appropriate?

Because she feels like she was reborned,like there was a rebirth in herself, like she’s starting from scratch probably because she’s found love again.

f. Make a list of religious symbols. What do they mean in the poem?

“And peacocks with a hundred eyes” is a metaphor that means that God sees through the eyes of nature, of the animals. “Doves” are white birds and white birds represent peace.

A Horse and Two Goats – Essay

Since we’ve been working in our Literature class on the story “A Horse and Two Goats”, we were asked to write an essay.

  • The most important theme in “A Horse and Two Goats”, and in fact the central theme of Narayans work, is the clash of cultures. Do you agree?

In “A Horse and Two Goats” both the main characters have a different way of looking at the world, its significance and its history, but the following essay will analyse if the clash of culturs is the most important theme of the story.

First of all, the clash of cultures can be seen as the horse represents Muni’s past, his ancestors and India’s past but to the American it is just an oject that would look nice for decoration. “and my grandfather himself was this high when he heard his grandfather, whose grandfather…’ the other man interrupted him with, ‘I don’t want to seem to have stopped here for nothing. I will offer you a good price for this,’ he said, indicating the horse”, this quote shows how Muni was trying to explain its history but the foreigner showed no interest in knowing it nor what the statue represented. It also represents the lack of understanding which is another theme since throughout the story, the two characters can’t seem to be able to figure out what the other one’s saying.

Secondly, the clash of cultures can also be interpreted as the clash of the first and third world since Muni is desperate for money while the “red-faced man” has spare money. “… the red faced man took a cigarette and gave it to Muni, who recieved it with surprise, having had no offer of a smoke from anyone for years now. … Nowadays he was not able to find even matches”, this quote shows how the protagonist had lost the luxury of smoking many years ago and how now, he struggled with affording matches. Meanwhile, the American claimed that he was not rich even though he could pay for his business to be sponsored on TV. This clearly shows the different levels of development, which is also a theme: modern and underdeveloped countries.

On the other hand, the stroy deals with other themes as well, such as the disappearance of Indian culture and coloniser vs colonised which can be seen when the statue is taken away and forgotten by the coloniser.

All in all, the clash of cultures is a very important theme since its represented in many different aspects but “A Horse and Two Goats” also revolves around other themes.

Post-Colonialism Themes

Our Literature teacher, Daniela, asked us to explain in more details the post-colonialism themes.

1. IDENTITY: who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that makes them different from others

– in post-colonial literature, the protagonist usually struggles with questions of identity, usually caused by experiencing the psychological conflicts inherent to cultural assimilation to living between the old, native world and the dominant hegemony* of the invasive social and cultural institutions of the colonial imperialism of Mother Country.

2. *HEGEMONY: the position of being the strongest and most powerful and therefore able to control others.

3. DISCOURSE: communication in speech or writing.

– post-colonial literary criticism re-examines colonial literature, especially concentrating upon the social discourse, between the colonizer and the colonized, that shaped and produced the literature.

4. OTHERNESS: being or feeling different in appearance or character from what is familiar/expected/accepted.

– post-colonial literature has made questions such as: do self and other translate inevitably into ‘us’ and ‘them’? can the other know/speak itself?

5. DIFFERENCE: the way in which two or more things which you are comparing are not the same.

Essay – Composed Upon Westminster Bridge

Since in class we’ve been analysing the poem “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge”, our teacher Pato gave us this writing task:

Choose one of the points to talk about in the essay.

1.    Compare the attitudes of the writers towards the city in “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge” and “The City Planners” or “The Planners”.

2.    Explore amazement at nature and man-made objects in “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge”.


In the following essay I am going to analyze the different attitudes of the writers towards the city in the poems “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge” and “The Planners”.

On the one hand, in “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge”, William Wordsworth is amazed and delighted by the beauty of the city. He already starts the poem by saying “Earth has not anything to show more fair”. He is exaggerating a lot because in this quote, he says that the city is the most beautiful thing that the Earth has to show. He is fascinated and feels inspired by this amazing landscape. Moreover, he was very lucky because a lot of positive factors helped him feel that way, for example, he was there at dawn, “The beauty of the morning; silent, bare”, which is, in my opinion, the most calm part of the day. And this is the time when people weren’t working yet since they are still asleep. He uses personification to make reference to this in line 12 when he says: “the very houses seem asleep” meaning that since no one is awake, the houses look like their sleeping when actually, the people are the ones sleeping. Also, the weather influenced, and he describes it in line 8: “All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep” and he also is saying that the air is not polluted as the factories are still closed. Nevertheless, he doesn’t criticize nature either.

On the other hand, in “The Planners”, Boey Kim Cheng feels exactly the opposite. He feels anger and disappointment and hates the city progress and modernization because he thinks that it’s destroying nature and history. He expresses this in the first two lines of the second stanza: “They erase the flaws, the blemishes of the past”, meaning that the planners are erasing the mistakes of the past (culture). In addition to this, when he says “Anaesthisia, amnesia, hypnosis” he means that history hurts people and leaves scars that people try hard to heal, and that the planners try to silence this pain by ‘hypnotizing’ and making people forget the past, history. Also, in lines 8 and 9 he uses alliteration because he wants us to pay attention to how nature is afraid of human beings and expansion, while it should be the other way around: “Even the sea draws back and the skies surrender”. We should be scared of nature “taking revenge” with natural disasters. And what’s worse, is that he also depicts how the planners are business men that have “the means” conveying money, territory, authority, control, power.

In conclusion, both writers have very different opinions about the city because while in “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge”, the writer has a very positive attitude towards the city and is fascinated by it, in “The Planners” Cheng has a very negative and ‘bitter’ view towards it.