WASSCE LITERATURE-IN ENGLISH 3 DRAMA AND POETRY.
FINAL MARKING SCEHEME 2018.
DELE CHARLEY: THE BLOOD OF A STRANGER
QUESTION 1: How does the love of wealth and power influence the actions of the characters in the play?
Some of the characters demonstrate love for money that is greed and ambition throughout the play. Whitehead, the whiteman and stranger, Maligu, the king’s adviser, and Soko, the village shrine priest, are three of the characters that demonstrate this vice. Their sole objective is to get rich. Whitehead comes to Mando land intending to plunder the wealth of the people and carry away their diamonds, under the pretext of Tobacco farming.
Greed sets in when Maligu and Soko begin to lose trust in one another and plan to get rid of each other for the greater advantage of the diamond wealth. The three want Kindo, the son of the king of Mando land and head of the warriors, out of the way for them to succeed in their plan. Kindo recognizes it when he tells Maligu to “pray for greed and ambition not to destroy” him. Whitehead also wants Parker, an African who acts as his secretary and as assistant interpreter, and Soko killed as they do not exactly fit into his plan beyond using them to achieve his aim. When Maligu stands the chance to save Whitehead from death on his hands, he betrays him and simply thanks him for the diamond wealth that now apparently belongs to him alone. It is clear that some of the major characters of the play do not show concern for the good of all in Mabdo land but for themselves alone.
POINTS TO NOTE:
The theme of the play.
The characters involved in greed and wealth.
The machinations involving Whitehead and Maligu to exploit the diamond under the guise of tobacco farming.
The framing of charges against Kindo a firm defender of culture and tradition.
The apparent destruction of Mando culture by those interested in its wealth.
QUESTION 2: Asses Santigi’s reign as king of Mando land.
Santigi reigns in a time of peace, the people of Mando land come out of previous wars with neighbouring tribes. Assisted by Maligu his ‘’wise counselor’ and Soko, the priest, and his son who is Chief of the Warriors, he appears to be heading towards a quiet and peaceful death in his dotage [old age]. However, Santigi’s kingdom is suddenly ruffed by the news of Soko’s contrived divination of a white stranger apparent in the land. Aided and abetted by Maligu and Soko, the whiteman, symbolically, called Mr. Whitehead, who has sent his menssenger/secretary [interpreter], Mr. Parker [for short] before him, appears, much against custom. Kindo the king’s son, points this out, but his appeal is ignored by the king who rigidly insists on things being done according to custom.
Whitehead’s arrival in Mando land bodes no good for the people of Mando land under Santigi’s reign. In complicity with Maligu and Soko, he deceives the king [urged on by Soko and Maligu] that he brings prosperity to Mando land through the introduction of tobacco farming, when his real interest is the land’s diamond. Kindo , who suspects his real motive, which is exploiting the diamond resource of the land, is ever listened to by his father, the king. Thus Santigi’s reign is characterized by the violation of the custom after custom; for instance, the custom which forbids the people to smoke tobacco, alcohol and hard drugs and, as reported by Kindo, the men and women engage in sexual orgies, as societal norms and restrictions are abandoned ‘’in the name of happiness under the very eyes of Santigi’’. A normally self-sustaining farming people lose the will to work hard and embrace laziness, rather. Things do not improve, even at this stage, as Whitehead and his accomplices. Maligu and Soko, single out Kindo, the king’s son, as the main obstacle to pursuing their greed for money and wealth. They hatch a plot which receives the king’s support. To atone for the arrival of the stranger within, there should be a sacrifice involving ‘’the blood of a stranger born in another place’’. Soko interpretes this as being the blood of a virgin. Wara, Kindo’s woman, is chosen. However, such is the distrust between the accomplices that Soko spares Wara’s life and on the day of the sacrifice, Kindo kills Parker, Whitehead’s secretary, who then becomes the sacrificial lamb. Santigi sits on his throne unaware of his own custom and acquiesces to Wara being sacrificed instead. It takes Kindo to expose the grand deception and the killing of Whitehead to stop the descent into the depravity that has engulfed the people. Ironically, Kindo’s banishment is sanctioned by his own father, King Santigi, according to custom.
Here, therefore, is a king who, though old and insistent on tradition, has no high moral integrity to show in his violation of custom for money. Instead of protecting his people from outside negative influence, he superintends a corrupt and effete society which is unlikely to improve under an equally corrupt Maligu, if he should die and Kindo is unable to return from banishment. When it emerges that it is Parker who has been sacrificed instead, Whitehead calls for the enforcement of the tradition which prescribes death for anybody who kills in peace time. Whitehead in turn dies on Kindo’s sword, accidentally.
POINTS TO NOTE:
The theme of the play.
Brief statements about the king and the ‘’courtiers’’
The central role of ‘’custom’’ and the king’s ambivalent or wavering attitude to custom.
The intrigues of Maligu, Soko and Whitehead in corrupting the king.
The machinations against Kindo and his subsequent banishment, and the prospect of Maligu ruling when Santigi dies.
FRANK OGODO OGBECHE: THE HARVEST OF CORRUPTION
QUESTION 3: Comment on the proceedings at the Wasa High Court of Justice.
Investigations into the activities of Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka are already in progress when Ogeyi goes to the police on account of her friend Aloho. Her story helps the police to wrap up their investigations and prefer charges against Chief and five others, including Ochuole, at Wasa High Court of Justice presided over by Judge. It appears only a fraction of the Minister’s sins against the state and some people are known. According to Judge. ‘’ For all the atrocities you have perpetrated in this country under the cover of Minister, which have not been detected, I say nothing’’. Chief then faces four counts of embezzlement, involving 1.2 billion naira [two counts]; dealing in cocaine and corrupting a public officer.
Prosecution Counsel clearly outlines the role of the police in their investigation and what makes each accused person culpable. Inspector Inaku’s evidence is clear and concise. What triggers police investigation is set down as ‘’ Miss Ogeyi Ogar and the Jacassan Flash of 21st June, 1977’’. Following the newspaper report, the inspector goes to the Ministry and bribes Mr. Ayo to get access to official document. By the inspector’s own admission, Mr. Ayo does not ask for a bribe; rather the Clerical Officer ‘’promise to cooperate after I enticed him with the sum of two thousand naira’’. This show of zeal is wrong. The law seems to be that both the giver and the receiver of bribe are criminals. One would expect, then that the court reprimand or even sentence Inspector Inaku once Mr. Ayo goes in for five years. In her evidence, Ogeyi clearly tells Aloho’s story and firmly incriminates Chief. Her reason for going to the police is consistent with her love for her late friend; failing to persuade Aloho not to abort the pregnancy, she ‘’was moved to go to the police to relate the story’’. However, Chief lies on oath, alleging that the ‘’cocaine had been put there to incriminate him’’. In the end, the court does not believe him and his breaking down avails him nothing. Of the two, Ogeyi is found credible by the court. Both counsels do not their work to the best of their abilities. Prosecution Counsel notes and draws attention to Defence Counsel’s ‘’cleverly weaving the evidence of the prosecution to confuse this honourable court’’. He draws the court’s attention to the relevant flaws in the case of the defence and leaves the rest to the judge and jury. The judge sums up succinctly and his guiding of the jury is balanced. On the whole the proceedings go well and the verdict from the evidence appears to be satisfactory.
POINTS TO NOTE:
Ogeyi’s assistance to the police and pressing of charges.
Charges against Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka.
Police investigation and prosecution in court.
Evidence of Ogeyi and Chief.
QUESTION 4: Consider Aloho as a foil to Ogeyi.
Aloho and Ogeyi are friends from their university days. They are both pretty, slim and of average height. While Aloho is dark-skinned, Ogeyi is fair. They are both born-again Christians. Years after their graduation, Ogeyi secures a job with the ABC Company as a receptionist, while Aloho is still searching for employment. Ogeyi, though not that well off, is very benevolent. She does not only accommodate and feed Aloho, she encourage her to be patient and not lose faith in God. When Aloho comes homes with a ‘bogus’ job by a notorious friend, Ogeyi counsels, caution, but in Aloho’s frustration and desperation, she flouts Ogeyi’s advice and accept the job of a protocol officer in the Ministry of External Relations.
Ogeyi does not give up in her preachings; she tries to dissuade Aloho, but her words fall on deaf ear as the glitter of the good life eggs Aloho on. Aloho soon finds herself in police custody for trafficking drugs. As soon as she is cleverly acquitted and discharged through the corrupt string-pulling of Chief Ade-Amaka, Aloho discovered that she is pregnant. She attempts to abort the pregnancy but fails due to her nightmarish dreams, Dr. Chukmuma the gynaecologist’s evasive delay tactics and Ogeyi’s fervent dissuasion. In her cornered and remorseful situation, she finally returns to her family, but later dies in childbirth, though the baby survives. Ogeyi launches into action to seek justice for her friend’s death. She testifies boldly in court against Chief Ade-Amaka, helping to bring him to his deserved ‘’harvest’’. Thus one can conclude that Aloho is a foil to Ogeyi as her actions accentive the wonderful qualities that Ogeyi is endowed with.
POINT TO NOTE:
Their physical appearance and time in the university.
Ogeyi’s ‘’born-again’’ adherence to her Christian faith which protects her against wealth and worldly success vis-a-vis Aloho’s rather worldly pursuit.
Aloho’s apparent ‘’success’’ and failure after being arrested for drug trafficking and being released.
Aloho’s pregnancy, attempt to abort the baby and dying later while Ogeyi stays the course and is the one advising her friend against her actions.
Ogeyi’s effort to bring Aloho’s adversaries to book.
NON- AFRICAN DRAMA
LORRAINE HANSBERRY: A RAISIN IN THE SUN
QUESTION 5: What is the significance Karl Lindner’s visits to the Youngers?
Karl lindner is a white man. He visits the Younger home twice on the same day. The purpose of his visit is to persuade the Youngers not to move into the house that Mama has bought in Clybourne Park for the family. These visits are significant for understanding some aspects of the world of the play. The day Lindner goes to see the Youngers they are preparing to move. ‘’The Man’’ meets Beneatha, Ruth and Walter. Mama is out. Lindner’s mission is simple: The Clybourne Park Improvement Association has sent him to let ‘’you people’’ know that they do not want the Younger family in the neighbourhood for the whitemen there come from ‘’a common background’’ to which the Youngers are unwanted aliens. He assures Walter that the ‘’overwhelming majority of our people out there feel that people get along better, take more of a common interest in the life of the community when they share a common background’’. For that reason, the white men want ‘’to buy the house from you at a financial gain to your family’’. The mission fails as Walter orders Lindner out of the house. As he goes out perplexed, Lindner leaves his card.
Lindner’s second visit is at the invitation of Walter. Ostensibly, Walter wants to seal the deal of the sale of the house. But this does not happen. Walter has been inspired by his mother’s fighting spirit as he departs. These visits are significant for understanding the Negro experience and the black-white relationship in America. Bobo’s intervening report of the loss of the family money that Walter has handed over to Willy Harris for the liquor business gives the family a philosophical outlook. Walter learns from here and takes the bold decision. It will be incompatible with the family’s pride to agree to sell the house since ‘’ain’t nobody in my family never let nobody pay ‘em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn’t fit to walk the earth’’. This is how succinctly Mama explains what Lindner seeks to do. Because ‘’we ain’t never that poor’’, the family must stick to its purpose and move into the new house. Mama is larger than life, as they say, and her stand establishes her as such.
The speed with which Walter picks the import of the philosophy is astonishing. This is a proud family and must hang on hope with tenacity. It is this that makes Walter decline Lindner’s offer with finality and for which Mama commends Walter as having ‘’finally come into his manhood’’. Though Lindner protests that his visit and the Clybourne Park residents’ resistance to the Younger family’s occupation of the property has no racial implications or racist undertones, that is not what the visit shows. The white man wishes to have little to do with the Negro as a neighbor. It is Lindner’s conviction and that of the white community in Clybourne Park that ‘’our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities’’. Lindner’s visits, therefore, reveal the reality of white rejection of Negroes as neighbours and the determination of the Negroes to improve the circumstances of their life at all cost.
POINTS TO NOTE:
Lindner visits the Youngers twice the same day to ask them to sell their house.
The first visit-he meets Walter and the Young women.
Walter rejects the offer.
Walter calls Lindner to come seal the deal, but rejects it finally as a mature man.
The visits show that blacks are not wanted by whites as neighbours.
They also reveal the tenacity of a proud black family.
QUESTION 6: Trace the transformation of Walter ‘’into his manhood’’ in the play.
Walter, as a man, should have been head of the family. Yet, it is Mama who has been at the helm of affairs from the outset. Not satisfied with his station in life, Walter is preoccupied with his dream of making it big through the investment of money that is not his own. He dreams constantly of becoming a self-made man with the backing of his wife, while complaining that no one understands him. Several times he has proved a disappointment to Mama. Uncaring about what goes on around him, Walter gets a good opportunity of showing himself as the worthy man his mother expects him to be when his wife decides to have an abortion. Typically, he is not even aware of his wife’s condition until Mama tells him. Mama urges him to take the bull by the horn and speak firmly to his wife and talk her out of her decision. He falters in this and, bitterly disappointed, Mama calls him a ‘’a disgrace to your father’s memory’’.
When George Murchison calls to take Beneatha out, Walter is inexplicably rude to the young man. He will not leave them alone despite Ruth’s many attempts to have him behave civilly. George aptly describes him as ‘’all whacked up with bitterness’’. On his part, Walter goes on and on about his vision and his being little understood. Unable to see the wisdom in Mama’s buying the house with the insurance money, Walter becomes bitter. He is rude at home and even absents from work. Hurt because his mother will not approve his liquor business intentions, he gets another chance to prove worthy as head of family ‘’like you supposed to be’’, when Mama entrust the remainder of the insurance money to him with specific instructions. Walter speedily goes and hands all of it over to Willy Harris who takes off with the money.
The final opportunity to become man he should be comes when he rejects Lindner’s offer to buy Mama’s new home. Bobo’s report that Willy has bolted with the money shows that the family has no more of the precious insurance money left. This makes the prospects of moving into 406 Clybourne Street in the white neighbourhood of Clybourne Park particularly bleak and precarious. The man in Walter emerges, however, and he invites Lindner over. Under a show of accepting the white man’s offer to buy out the family, and contrary to the family’s fears, rejects the offer. He tells Lindner, ‘’We have decided to move into our house…don’t want your money’’. All this while, Mama has been showing her approval, ‘’as though she were in church with her head nodding the amen yes’’. Thus from a spineless dreamer and loafer, Walter transforms into a responsible head of the sixth generation Younger family. Henceforth, things look secure in his hands.
POINTS TO NOTE:
Mama’s initial roles as the head of the family-always putting her foot down.
Walter’s general attitude to life and his dreaming, as well as his failure his failure to discuss with Ruth her decision to have an abortion.
George’s description of Walter in reaction to Walter’s rudeness to him as well as Walter’s absenting himself from work and losing the money Mama entrusts to him.
Walter’s finally coming out on top of the situation and proving himself by resisting the bid to keep the family out of Clybourne Park.
Mama’s approval of Walter’s transformation.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH: SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
QUESTION 7: Examine the importance of the jewels in the play.
The jewels in the play refer to the box of jewels that Constance Neville’s inheritance left in the care of Mrs. Hardcastle, her aunt. Mrs. Hardcastle does not want to release the jewels to the rightful owner, Constance. She intends to keep such inheritance in her family. Therefore, she covers up this intention by forcing Constance to marry Tony, her mischievous son. Constance is wise enough to play along with Mrs. Hardcastle by letting her ‘’suppose that I am in love with her son and she never once dreams that my affections are fixed upon another’’. Hastings is the one Constance loves and not Tony. Tony on his part, prefers Bet Bouncer to Constance. Because he is aware of his mother’s plan to rob Constance of her inheritance, he agrees to be in love with his cousin, Constance, in the presence of his materialistic mother.
Constance Neville is no way ready to part with her inheritance as she confides in Hastings, her lover. So she pleads with Hastings to bear with her until the moment the jewels are put into her hands; then, their marriage can take place. The more Constance persuades her aunt to allow her access to the jewels, even if for a day, the more Mrs. Hardcastle insists on her marrying Tony. Meanwhile, Hastings discovers that truly Tony prefers Bet Bouncer to Constance. He therefore, persuades Tony to help steal the jewels from his mother.
Mrs. Hardcastle tells Tony to bear false witness before Constance, that the jewel are missing. Ironically, the jewels are indeed missing because Tony has given them to Hastings to enable him elope with Constance. Hastings immediately gives the jewels to Young Marlow for safe keeping who in turn, gives them to Mrs. Hardcastle for safe-keeping too. Tony informs his mother that the jewels are stolen, the mother then goes to check and discovers that the jewels are really missing. She raises an alarm that she’s robbed but Marlow tells her that the jewels are with him and gives her the jewels. The jewels help to accentuate the irony, comedy and indeed the mistake of the night in advancing the plot. Through the jewels, Hastings and Constance’s plan of elopement is exposed. The jewels bring out the selfish and materialistic character of Mrs. Hadrcastle.
POINTS TO NOTE:
The jewels in the play are the inheritance of Miss Constance Neville.
Mrs. Hardcastle, Constance’s aunt is charged with the responsibility to keep the jewels safe.
Mrs. Hardcastle has no intention of giving the jewels to Constance. She feigns the jewels are missing.
Ironically, the jewels get stolen by Tony and given to Hastings.
Hastings gives the jewels to Marlow who in turn hands them to Mrs. Hardcastle, the landlady for safety.
The development plot is revealed.
The significance of the jewels in advancing the theme and humour in the play.
QUESTION 8: Assess the role of Tony Lumpkin in the play.
Tony Lumpkin is the older child in Hardcastle family. He is Mrs. Hardcastle’s child by her first marriage. He is a spoilt child, thanks to his mother’s permissive ways towards him. Obviously Mr. Hardcastle would have been of help in bringing up Tony Lumpkin properly, but his wife will not allow it. He enjoys making practical jokes.
In the first place, Tony loves to spend his time among the commoners in the village tavern. He is there when Young Marlow and Hastings come looking for their way to the Hardcsatles. Tony takes this opportunity to pay his stepfather back for calling names all the time. He misdirects the visitors, describing the Hardcastle home as an inn. This deception brings about exciting incidents in the plot. Young Marlow and Hardcastings go to the Hardcastles’ house thinking it is an inn and the many mistakes of the night unfold, including the first meeting between Kate and Young Marlow.
Secondly, when Tony learns that Hastings means to elope with his cousin, Miss Neville, whom his mother has been busily courting for him, he is more than willing to steal her jewels for her to enable her elope with Hastings. Tony succeeds in this, and gives the jewels to Hastings who in turn gives them to Marlow for safe keeping. Mistakenly, Marlow hands over the jewels to Mrs. Hardcastle. As a result of this, Mrs. Hardcastle decides Miss Neville must go and live with aunt Pedigree at Crackskul Common.
Again it is Tony Lumpkin who comes to the rescue of the lovers. He drives the carriage carrying his mother round and round pretending they are on the way to Aunty Pedigree. They end up close to where they set out from and after Hastings has to make a formal proposal to Miss Neville to settle matters. To conclude, Tony Lumpkin seems to be the pivot around which the plot of the comedy develops. Any time he appears, a new event begins or a situation is saved.
POINTS TO NOTE:
Tony’s family background which reveals the fact that he’s a step-child to Mr. Hardcastle.
His uneasy relationship with his step father who would have brought him up properly vis-à-vis the permissive attitude of his mother.
His retaliating pranks which are at the heart of the comedy.
Tony’s intervention in the development plot.
His being the instrument in the resolution of the mistakes
QUESTION 9: Examine the use of contrast in Okara’s Piano and Drums.
Contrast is a device used to juxtapose opposing ideas or structures for effect. The poem makes extensive use of contrast to elucidate the theme of cultural differences between the African and the Western culture. The very title of the poem presents two contrasting musical instruments, piano and drums. The former represents European culture while the latter, the African culture. The poet uses these contrasting musical instruments to comment on the effects on him. The drums are simple and easy to play. On the other hand, the piano requires more effort to master. Auditorily, the drums are ‘’pulsing’’ while the piano ‘’wails’’. The drums invoke memories of a past gone by- a past of ‘’hunters crouched with spears’’, a simple life filled with dances. The piano, on the other hand, speaks of ‘’complex ways’’, ‘’faraway lands’’ and the poet being ‘’lost in the labyrinth of its complexities’’
At the symbolic level, contrast is used as a device to sharpen the differences between the cultures and to convey the poet’s attitude towards both. Interestingly, the poet devotes the first two stanzas to drums while only one stanza is assigned to the piano. This contrast in structure suggests his bias. It shows his sincere interest in the ways of his people. In each stanza, the poet examines the sound of the instrument and its effects on him. The piano is ‘’wailing’’ and speaks of ‘’faraway lands’’ and complex ways, none of which the poet deciphers, leaving him confused.
The last stanza portrays the poet as one caught between the influences of the two cultures. However, the force of the drums seems overwhelming and tilts him towards the African culture.
POINTS TO NOTE:
Introductory explanation of contrast.
The contrast between the drums and the piano at their physical and symbolic level.
The structural contrast in stanza devoted to drums and the piano-which point to the poet’s preference.
The positive images of the drum which contrast with the rather and negative distant and negative images of the piano.
The poet’s leaning towards the African drum in spite of the veritable presence of the two in his mind.
QUESTION 10: Comment on the mood of the poet in Ambush
‘’Ambush’’ portrays a society under siege. The isolation of the people pre-empts peace or prosperity. The powers-that-be appear to hold their subjects in a vice-like grip. By the use of powerful imagery and symbols the poet unveils his mood of despondency in his deprived and gloomy circumstances. This is also the mood of the citizens of the land, who individually and collectively, are denied any means or opportunities of improving their lot. By whatever means imaginable [by sea, land or air] various agents, allies of ‘’the land’’ [the autocracy] reinforce the deprivation of the people. The people’s means of livelihood is obliterated; they are frightened and intimidated; their very existence is threatened. Above all, they dare not seek relief outside the land.
Through the metaphor of the ‘’giant whale’’, the poet conveys the miserable picture of the people’s chances of earning any livelihood being put paid to. The image of angling conveys this vividly, for the land swallows the angler’s hook, line and sinker thus ‘’aborting dreams of good catch’’. Thus the people are bereft of hope and expectation as their desires dwindle. The metaphor of the sea serves to convey the harsh restriction imposed on the people. The people are also held in terror unleashed by another agent of ‘’the land’’ by land. The frightful tiger keeps the whole population in fear. None is exempted: both the old and the young dare not exhibit any bravado, nor venture out at night. This is how the ‘’land’’ denies the people any escape by land.
The function of the agent that hovers overhead is to heighten the people’s fear and invite chaos on them. The hawk continuously ‘’court’’ ruin for the land with it’s ‘’hoots in space’’. The impossibility of attempting to escape without being picked up is made certain by the hawk’s presence. Matters are sealed for the poor masses as local forces are harnessed and the ‘’land lies patiently ahead/awaiting in ambush’’ for its own kith and kin. The purpose of the ambush is not to protect the people from invaders. Rather, it is to frustrate any attempt and the people need to migrate ‘’towards the shore of possibilities’’. But they dare not. The hopeless and frustrating circumstances of the poet make him utterly exasperated and depressed. Thus the mood of hopelessness.
POINTS TO NOTE:
‘’The land ‘’ depicting the homeland, where the people are under siege from their own [‘’the land’’]
The poet’s mood of despondency emanating from.
The depriving of the people of their livelihood.
The absence of any peace, happiness or satisfaction.
The dire circumstances of the people and their obvious need to run for it [escape].
NON- AFRICAN POETRY
QUESTION 11: How does the poet present death as a voyage in Crossing the Bar?
In the poem, death is presented as the end of life on earth and the start of man’s return to his maker. The metaphor of a voyage appropriately describes this transition. The symbols marking the end of life are ‘’sunset and evening star’’. These constitute ‘’one clear call for me’’. Thus the persona knows when his life has come to an end and he needs only to embark gladly on the voyage home. Death, therefore, is not to be feared. The barrier between the mortal world and the world of eternity is the human body. This is represented by the sand bar. At death, one’s spirit leaves the mortal body and is free to go ‘’home’’. Without death, the spirit is not freed to set off. This makes death inevitable. Death is described as the final extinguishing of the light of life. It is when the light is gone that one sets out to board the eternity-bound vessel. This is captured succinctly as:
‘’Twilight and evening bell
And after that the dark!’’
The symbols appropriately echo the earlier symbols marking the end of life:
‘’Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!’’
The certainty of death and the obvious final signposts are clearly put down in the poem. After death, the spirit is transported across the waves as it ‘’turns again home’’. On crossing the bar, the spirit passenger boards the ship and must be introduced to the Captain, that is, ‘’see my Pilot face to face’’. The prospect of death and actually dying are not frightful, sorrowful or regrettable. They are all in the scheme of our mortality. As for the persona, he can take these in his stride. However, his experience has been that survivors do mourn for the dead. This is not necessary. He urges survivors of the dead thus:
‘’And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I embark’’.
His hope, which is almost a certainty, is that, when he has ‘’cross the bar’’ [died], he will be quite safe meeting his ‘’Pilot’’ who will take him to his destination, however far it is and however long the voyage lasts. Through effective metaphors and imagery, death is presented as the inevitable close of the chapter of living on earth and the opening of the way ‘’again home’’.
POINTS TO NOTE:
The notion of death as a transition to eternity.
The symbols associated with death and nature.
Symbols associated with voyage.
The attitude of the persona to his dying.
His attitude to those he leaves behind.
QUESTION 12: Examine Blake’s use of diction in The School Boy
‘’Diction’’ refers to the poet’s choice of words and expressions and how he uses them to impact the theme.
Regarding theme, the poem deals with the restrictions imposed by adults upon children’s natural freedom, as these stifle their natural growth and development. Blake uses the natural rhythm of speech to convey this theme, particularly as he allows the boy to express himself in his own language, as much as possible. Apart from the rhymed stanzas, most of the lines read like colloquial speech. The following examples illustrate the point. In stanza one, the boy expresses his love of summer in the words: ‘’ I love to rise in a summer morn’’. Then, in stanza two, he expresses his unhappiness about going to school in the line, ‘’Oh it drives all joy away’’. Many more lines are couched in such monosyllabic words. In addition to the above expressions, it can said that the very words used in the poem are simple. Indeed the longest word used in entire poem is ‘’mellowing’’ which is made up of three syllables. Words associated with spring and summer are used to describe the seasons positively.
They include ‘’sing’’, ‘’joy’’, ‘’sweet’’ company’’, ‘’blossom’’, and so on. The focus of the poem being summer, such words express the boy’s delight in being associated with its activities. Similarly, in referring to spring time, he refers to ‘’bud’’ and ‘’blossom’’. However, words associated with school do not have positive associations. In school the boy talks about ‘’sighing’’ and ‘’dismay’’ and ‘’drooping’’. The teachers are ‘’a cruel eye outworn’’ and school, which should be ‘’learning’s bower’’ has become a ‘’dreary shower’’. The boy associates his misery with that of a ‘’bird caged’’ and unable to ‘’sing’’ or with that of a tender plant that has been ‘’stripped’’ of its leaves, or with that of ‘’buds that have been nipped before they blossom’’.
Indeed there are many more negative words and expressions in the poem. These illustrate the boy’s melancholic mood as he laments his inability to enjoy summer because of the insensitivity of his parents to his feelings and natural inclinations by sending him to school. However, beyond this meaning is one larger, which is the need to give children opportunity to be self-expressive, so they can psychologically withstand the crisis of adulthood. It is to the poet’s credit that such profound wisdom is conveyed in the simplicity of the vocabulary or diction.
POINTS TO NOTE:
Brief explanation of ‘’diction’’.
Brief statement/explanation of the theme.
References to items of vocabulary/expressions that elucidate the themes,that is words that connote restriction versus words that connote joy.
Impact of diction on the development of the theme.
Conclusion-profound thought in simple words.