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This short story is about a white American woman's encounter with a black man on
the street of an unnamed island in the Caribbean. The story opens with the youn
g lady waiting at a bus stop on the night of a blackout. She encounters a young
man who approaches her and politely asks for a light (for his cigarette). She ex
plains that she does not have a light, but he points out that she is smoking a c
igarette. She grudgingly acquiesces to give him a light from her cigarette. She
holds her arm out for him to take her cigarette and light his, but instead, as i
s the case with many smokers, he bends over the offered arm and lights his cigar
ette. He looks up to thank her and realizes that she has discarded her cigarette
. An ongoing internal monologue occurs, where it is revealed that the white woma
n is racist. The black male proceeds to educate her on the differences in race r
elations in the Caribbean versus America. The situation remains unresolved as th
e woman boards the bus and goes on her way and the man remains at the bus stop,
where he picks her half smoked cigarette out of the gutter.
An unnamed island in the Caribbean.
The story occurred around the time of World War II.
American Woman (White)
Took pride in the fact that she was an American young woman who did not scare ea
Considered herself to be superior to the young man.
Caribbean Man (Black)
Had a sense of pride about being black.
Did not consider himself to be inferior to the American woman.
This is a strong theme in this short story. The simple act of asking for a light
becomes a tension filled moment in time where two individual's honestly confron
t each other about their beliefs. The fact that the woman feels that she is supe
rior to the man, based on race, is highlighted when she expresses the following
1. 'She could snub him quietly, the way she should have properly done from the s
tart" (Mais, p.10)
2. 'In America they lynched them for less than that' (Mais, p.10)
3. 'Do you really think that all men are created equal?' (Mais p.10)
The young man's reaction to her rejection of him is to be quietly contemptuous,
a reaction that she categorizes as insolence, proving that she believes herself
to be superior to him. Her reaction implies that he should be accepting of whate
ver she 'dishes out' to him. She boards her bus, shaken, but still holding on to
her beliefs, as seen in her refusal to take a last look at him. However, the yo
ung black males show of strength is, ironically, lessened by the fact that he pi
cks her cigarette out of the gutter.
Shabine - Literature Notes
'Shabine' is the story of Justene, a mixed race woman who is constantly mocked f
or being poor, of mixed heritage, and presumably promiscuous. She was taunted wi
th the words jamette and shabine (half white, or of mixed heritage) on the stree
ts. The story opens with the narrator explaining that she had a fiery temper, wh

ich she unleashed on her tormentors when provoked. Her two sons, Gold and Silver
, were subjected to similar taunts, with Silver reacting in the same way as his
mother, while Gold tried to do damage control. The reader then learns that Juste
ne had lived with her mother, who was a maid in Justene's father's house. It is
implied, by the narrator, that her mother invited white sailors surreptitiously
into her house to sleep with Justene. The rest of the story is filled with the n
arrator's regret for what could have existed between him and Justene.
The name of the Caribbean island is not mentioned.
The story is set around the time of WWII, when American troops were prevalent in
the Caribbean.
Justene (Shabine)
She is described as having 'pale, reddish skin colour, the mass of coarsish red
hair that resembled the wool of sheep, the grey eyes ... the chocolate freckles.
' (Simmonds-McDonald, p.14).
She is very coy and provocative, as can be seen in her response to the narrator.
She does not fear her taunters, but boldly defends herself.
She is fiercely protective of her children, as can be seen when she defends them
She is a proud woman who does not want her children to stoop to the level of the
ir taunters.
He is male.
He seems to be completely enthralled by Justene, as is seen with the token of fr
uit, paradise plum, that he ritualistically left for her on the gate post.
He mourns the loss of the possibility of a future that he might have had with Ju
Gold - Justene's son. He had thick wooly red curls, red bushy eyebrows, a freckl
ed face and grey eyes.
Silver - Justene's son. He was sort of blond, he had straight close cropped, sun
bleached white hair and he was fearless.
Mr. Cazaubon - Justene's mother's employer. He is also Justene's father, but he
does not acknowledge her.
Mrs. Cazaubon - Wife to Mr. Cazaubon. She is aware of Justene's parentage, and t
reats mother and child in a contemptuous manner.
Shabine's mother - Mrs. Cazaubon's maid. It is rumoured that she died from 'too
much rum and grief because Misie Cazaubon had never kept his promise to her to a
cknowledge Justene as his daughter and to send her to Convent School.' (Simmonds
-McDonald, p.13).
Love and Family Relationship
This theme is brought out by Justene and her two children. She protects them by
dispersing her children's tormentors in a hail of her own words and stones. She
then told them that they should not respond to their tormentors because they wou
ld become like them. This is the hallmark of a loving mother. She defends and pr
otects her children, yet teaches them the value of maintaining their pride. This
is in contrast with the very vague details surrounding the relationship with he
r mother.

Whereas the reader sees Justene hugging and comforting her children, there is on
ly the implication that Justene's mother allowed white sailors to 'visit' her ho
me, implying that Justene might have been the lure, or the mother herself. The n
arrator also implies that he had good intentions towards Justene through his shy
, patient and consistent courting, however, Justene's mother discourages this: '
Justene's mother had come to complain about his giving of paradise plums and put
ting ideas in Justene's head and upsetting her life' (Simmonds-McDonald, p.14 ).
The narrator implies that she robbed her daughter of a future that was close to
'paradise' as Justene would have gotten. She is not a totally bad mother, howev
er, because she stands up for her child when Mrs. Cazaubon attempted to treat he
r like a servant.
Women in Society
This short story highlights the fact that women, in general, have very few choic
es. Justene's mother has a child by her employer and remains under his roof. Man
y people would argue that she had a choice to leave with her child, but that is
easier said than done. Raising a child takes a village, so it is difficult for a
nyone to decide to leave a space of financial security. The argument is the same
for Mrs. Cazaubon. She stays with a man who has fathered a child, in her own ho
me, with their maid. What is even worse is that the maid and the child, the evid
ence of her husband's indiscretion, remains in her home. Her impotence, concerni
ng the situation and her life, is seen in her treatment of Justene and her mothe
r, as well as her quarrels, or rather, abusive monologues, with Mr. Cazaubon. Bo
th women are tied to this man based on the fact that he provides financial secur
ity in a world that can be even more cruel to women who lack this.
The severe hypocrasy in the society, as it concerns the sexual indiscretions bet
ween men and women, is also highlighted in this short story. Justene and Mr. Caz
aubon are treated very differently for their sexual indiscretions. Mr. Cazaubon
remains a respected gentleman, despite fathering a child with the maid, and havi
ng them reside under the same roof with his wife, while Justene is stoned and ca
stigated in the streets for keeping company with white sailors, as implied by th
e narrator. Society appears to have different rules for women and men in the sex
ual arena.
Paradise Plums
Paradise plums represent the alternate life that Justene could have had. The fac
t that this fruit was used to court Justene in such a shy, innocent and consiste
nt manner, implies that her life with the narrator could have been very pleasant
and healthy.
Emma - Literature Notes
This short story is told from the first person perspective of a little girl call
ed Dorian York. The focus of her thoughts is her mother; the games that they pla
y together, and the games that she plays with her friend, that revolve around he
r mother. The first person perspective of the narrative gives the reader an int
imate view of how the little girl sees her mother, as well as how she feels abou
t her. We are also able to garner information about the people around her from h
er innocent narrative, innocent because the little girl does not understand many
of the things that she reports. The audience learns that Emma and Mr. York have
a volatile relationship that is seemingly caused by his infidelity. This infide
lity is initially implied by Emma s constant watching of the clock and waiting for
her husband to return home, as well as the fight that Dorian reported. Grandfat
her s visit brings a happy atmosphere to the family unit because daddy starts to d
o things with the family, and they seem more like a conventional happy family. T
he audience is given the impression that things go back to normal after grandfat
her leaves, however, due to the spectral presence of the lady at the train statio

n , as well as Mrs. Robinson s pointed discussion about Mr. York s status as a player . T
he narrative climaxes with the death of Emma at the train station. She saw her h
usband with the mysterious lady and runs away, followed closely by Dorian and Ja
ck. Unfortunately, when Jack caught her by the arm, she ran into the path of an
oncoming vehicle and was killed. Jack and Mrs. Robinson then get romantically in
volved, and they send both Maria and Dorian to St. Agnus, a boarding school, in
the country.
The story occurs in three places; the York residence, an unnamed mall and the ol
d train station.
The mood of the story fluctuates from happiness to sadness.
Jack York (Daddy)
He is Doran s father and Emma s husband.
He is characterized as a player by Mrs. Robinson.
He is not faithful to his wife.
He was not ready for the arrival of his daughter, Dorian, and does not seem to h
ave a close relationship with her.
Emma York
She is Dorian s mother and Jack s wife.
She is a good mother who plays with her child and treats her well.
She is a good wife who loves her husband (as seen in how she greets him when he
gets home) and is considerate of his feelings; as seen in her reasons for not ha
ving another baby.
She is a very smart and polished lady who can handle herself with people who are
coy and critical of her; as seen in her argument with Mrs. Robinson in the mall
Dorian York
A very innocent little girl who is the first person narrator of the story.
She is younger than her friend Maria, who is nine (9) years old.
She adores her mother and her grandfather.
She is often puzzled by the content of adult discussion.
Emma s father.
Brought joy into the family because daddy stayed home, came home early, and spen
t quality time with the family, due to grandaddy's implied interference.
Loved her grandfather because he seemed to do what her dad didn t
spent time with
her and her first person perspective of him reflected her love.
Ruby Robinson
She is Emma s friend and Maria s mother.
She is not a good friend to Emma because she is both critical and jealous of her
She gets romantically involved with Jack after Emma dies.
She s very impatient with both girls.
She sends Maria and Dorian to boarding school in order to enact her plan to keep
the player .
Maria Robinson
She is the nine (9) year old daughter of Ruby Robinson.
She is Dorian s playmate.
She filters and explains a lot of the adult conversations that Dorian does not u

This theme is epitomized by Dorian York. The story is told from her perspective,
therefore, the reader gets a firsthand view of the innocence behind her misunde
rstanding of adult conversation and situations. She senses emotions, but misses
a lot of the innuendo, as is seen when she tells the audience about the fight th
at her parents had. Her innocence is also seen in her expectation that her mothe
r would come home after the accident, but instead, she finds Mrs. Robinson in he
r mot her s bed. Her growth, or advancement into maturity, is highlighted in the e
nd of the short story when Dorian reassures Maria that everything will be ok, t
hey will play adult games better.
Love and family relationship
There are two types of families in this short story, the nuclear family and the
single family unit. Dorian s family is the nuclear family, consisting of mother, f
ather and child. This family is a troubled one because the father is seemingly m
ore absent than present due to an implied other woman , who is later confirmed as v
ery real. He also seems uncomfortable around his only child, as is confirmed by
Emma, who decides to forgoe having another child because Jack wasn t ready for Dori
(Cole, p.53). Emma, on the other hand, seems to live to please both her child an
d husband. She is very affectionate with Dorian, and this love is returned ten f
old, as seen in the adoration that imbues the tone of the narrator. She is the s
ame with her husband, but the reception is less enthusiastic. It would be unfair
to say that the family is dysfunctional, because one parent is at least investe
d in the emotional happiness of the child, but the family has issues because the
head of the household s concentration lies elsewhere.
Mrs. Robinson is a single mother, parenting her only child; Maria. She does not
appear to be particularly liked by both girls because no-one wants to play at bein
g her. She aggravates her child constantly and appears to be unhappy with her li
fe. This family structure can be seen as dysfunctional because the parent does n
ot seem to devote her energies toward making her child feel loved and comfortabl
e, which is one of the primary aims of any family structure.
There are two contrasting friendships in this short story. There is the friendsh
ip between Dorian and Maria, which is characterized by play, conversations and s
upport of each other. Then there is the friendship between the adults, Emma and
Mrs. Robinson, which is contrastingly characterized by cattiness and jealousy; m
ostly on Mrs. Robinson s part.
The motif of play appears to be a strong one in this short story, perhaps due to
the fact that the narrator is a young child. The children play at being adults, i
mmitating and fighting over
their favourite adult. They also literally see the l
ife of adults as play. Dorian confirms this at the end of the story when she rea
ssures Maria that I learned a lot about this game. When it s our turn to play, we ll
play smarter. (Cole, p.58).
Deck of cards
The deck of cards that Emma carries around in her purse is a powerful symbol for
life. In any card game that is being played, every-one has a chance at success,
or failure, depending on how they play the game. Mrs. Robinson gives Emma an al
ternate way to play the game of life, with success being the joy of keeping her p
layer husband. Emma, however, chooses to play the game in an another way, one in
which she attempts to satisfy the needs of both Dorian and Jack. Emma is the los
er in the game, however, because she dies with the joker in her hand. This signi
fies that her future could have gone in any direction because the joker introduc

es the element of chance to the game; it can be a bonus, a penalty, or both, dep
ending on how it is used in the game. In the game of life, Emma lost because she
chose to take a chance with pleasing both members of her family, instead of con
centrating solel
y on her husband, as Mrs. Robinson suggested. The game of life gives every-one c
hances however, just like a card game, and Mrs. Robinson was given a chance to b
ag her rich man with Emma s exit from the game.
The Man of the House - Literature Notes
This short story is about a little boy called Dooley who has a sick mother. Dool
ey is initially unconcerned about his mother s illness, and mildly pleased, becaus
e he got to stay home and play at being the man of the house . However, his initial
delight changes to concern on the second day due to his fear that his mother ha
s pneumonia. The second night and the third day are even more frightening becaus
e he had to fetch the doctor and travel to the North Dispensary to get her medic
ation. At the dispensary he meets a young girl who tricks him into drinking, and
sharing the medicine, with the result being an empty bottle to take home to his
mother. Dooley suffers extreme guilt as a result of this and goes home crying.
His mother consoles him and forgives his childish misdemeanor.
A town called Cork, in England.
Dooly (Sullivan)
A very responsible little boy.
Enjoys playing at being a man by taking care of his mother and the household cho
A sickly lady.
She feels guilty that her son has to display such maturity by taking care of her
Displays what a loving mother she is by understanding that Dooley is an innocent
boy that succumbed to peer pressure.
She also takes excellent care of her son when she is able to do so.
Minni Ryan
She is a family friend who advises Dooly during the course of his mother s illness
A middle aged woman who is very knowledgeable.
Very pious and gossipy; according to Dooly.
He was a fat, loud voiced man.
He was the cleverest doctor in Cork.

Love & family relationship
This is shown in the relationship between the mother and her son. Dooly is frigh
tened that his mother will die of pneumonia, so, despite his fear, he enters a p
ublic house (pub) in order to ensure that she gets her home-made remedy, and tra
vels to an unsavory neighbourhood in order to get her medicine. The mother is eq
ually devoted to her son, as seen in her guilt over the fact that he has to take
care of her. She is also very understanding when he succumbs to the peer pressu

re of drinking her medicine. She understands that one cannot expect a child to b
e a man, no matter how well he does at playing at being a man. Her love for her
child is also manifested in the pride she feels when he displays the level of ma
turity akin to an adult.
The fact that Dooly does not recognize that his new friend is using him for a ta
ste of his cough syrup proves that he is still an innocent young man, at least i
n relation to the ways of the world. Despite playing at being a man, he is still
an innocent child. His reaction, after realizing that he was used, also points
to his innocence. He reacts in the manner that any child would, he ran home cryi

Septimus - Literature Notes

The short story 'Septimus' is set in Barbados. It is told from the perspective o
f an adult and opens in the present . Mama is crying over a letter that she has rec
eived from Septimus. The last sentence of the letter makes Mama cry
at last I can
have a whole apple for Christmas . A flashback occurs at this point. Septimus fami
ly resides in the Gap and the reader learns that the seven children have claimed
the place and its residents. The story really begins one Christmas Eve when Mam
a sent the girls on an errand to Aunt Bless house. She had recently returned fro
m shopping in town and Septimus saw three shiny apples on the top of the shoppin
g bag. He ran off with one because he wanted it for himself. He was told that th
is was impossible because the three apples had to be shared among the nine membe
rs of the family. Septimus was not pleased, but he was appeased by Aunt Bless, w
ho later gave him an apple for himself. When he returned home, he sliced the app
le in nine pieces and offered it to his mother.
The story is set in Barbados.
Gentle and caring.
Strict with her children, for example, the girls thought that Septimus would get
in trouble for accepting the apple.
The seventh child out of six.
The only boy and the youngest child.
6 years old at the beginning of the story with a childish selfishness.
Performs a caring and beautiful thing by sharing his apple.
Aunt Bless:
Real name is Letitia.
Given the nick name by Septimus because of her habit to greet people with a bles
Loves all the children.
Septimus is her favourite of the seven children.
Old Bostic:
A watch maker.
A very grumpy man who tolerates the children.
The family is very poor, as seen in the description of where they live, the Chri
stmas gifts that Mama bought and the sharing of three apples among nine people.
The narrator herself confirms that the family is poor, the principle had to be es
tablished that what we had which was not much
had to be shared
p. 107.

Despite their physical state of being poor, the seven children were very happy.
A major part of this happiness was their ownership of the Gap and the people in
it, they had a sense of belonging.
Septimus defines this through his youth, as well as his actions based on his you
th. He is perturbed by the concept of sharing, initially, but once he got pass t
his feeling, he embraced the concept with the vivacity of innocence and youth.
The apple represent knowledge and a loss of innocence because a six year old chi
ld is forced to face the reality of being poor. He cannot have a whole apple for
himself. The child is no longer innocent after he is faced with this reality be
cause he learns that life is not fair because he cannot always get what he wants
. The apple also represents growth as well because Septimus is able to accept hi
s situation by voluntarily sharing his apple.

Literature Notes
The Day the World Almost Came To An End
This short story was told from the perspective of an adult and chronicles the ev
ents behind a child s (the adult narrator) belief that the world was about to end.
The story is set on a plantation in Louisiana in 1936, where the church was the
axis around which plantation life revolved. Despite this fact, the narrator was
holding on to being a sinner because she believed that she could not live uprigh
t . One day, while she was playing, her cousin Rena informed her that the world wa
s coming to an end. This was based on a conversation that Rena overheard, and mi
sunderstood, about the eclipse. The hellfire sermons in church did not help to s
tem the narrators mounting panic and she worried herself into a frazzle as a res
ult. She had a conversation with her father about this issue and he tried to que
ll her fears, but unfortunately, he only managed to increase it with his stateme
nt that the world could come to an end at any time. The narrator spent the night
conjuring images of dooms day, which led to her overreaction to hearing the rum
blings of an old airplane. She ran out of her house screaming that the world was
coming to an end. Her father caught her on the road and calmed her down. She ap
preciated life a lot more after that and lived her life to the fullest.
The story occurs on a plantation in Louisiana in 1936.
Has a good relationship with his daughter
1st person narrator:
This is the central theme in this short story. Plantation life was centered on r
eligion to the extent that even the narrators father was a deacon. Religious fer

vor, in the form of hellfire preaching, is also the fuel for the panic that over
takes the narrator/protagonist in this short story.
Love & Family Relationship:
The love and trust between father and daughter is glaring. When the narrator/pro
tagonist was worried about the world coming to an end, the first person that she
thought to consult on this issue was her father. His response to her childish f
ears, in turn, highlights the easy relationship between the two. Daddy's care in
covering his daughter after her mad dash through the turnrow is also an indicat
ion of the love that he has for his child.
'The Day the World Almost Came to an End'
Beryl Clarke, Contributor
It has been three weeks now that we have not looked at the short story on which
we were working earlier. This week we will return to it. Let us deal with those
questions that I had given you and which you have had ample time to answer.
1. Is the speaker describing something that has happened or something that is ha
ppening? How do we know this?
You will agree with me that the speaker in 'The Day the World Almost Came to an
End' is telling us about something that had already taken place. We know this be
cause she uses the past tense and informs us that she guesses that she 'got some
good out of it too'. While she does not seem sure of this, there is the suggest
ion that she has had time since the incident to reflect on the impact it had on
her. Notice she says that the event, to which she refers as a calamity, 'befell'
her 'back in 1936'. If she had been describing something that was happening at
the time, she would not have used the word 'back' in addition to the past tense.
2. What is the relationship between the church and its members?
The church, in this short narrative, is influential. The pastor is described as
a hell-fire preacher, one who scared people with his description of the devil an
d hell. He would have kept his congregation, that is, those members who took the
Bible literally, in a state of fear. I want you to notice that although the spe
aker's father is a deacon and church council member, he is not as easily frighte
ned as other members. The church was more than that. It meant a great deal to th
ose who lived on that Louisiana plantation. Everything on that plantation revolv
ed around the church. People worked in partnership with it.
"...the Mother to whom the folks took their problems, the Teacher who taught the
m how the Lord wanted them to live, the Chastiser who threatened them with hell.
It is clear that the church was powerful, whether that power was in the hands of
the pastor or the church council is not important here. What is, however, is th
e control that the church would have been able to exercise over these people as
it found solutions to their troubles, interpreted the Bible and the mind of God,
and doled out punishment.
3. What does Rena mean when she tells her cousin to 'get some religion'?
Do you think Rena understood what she was telling her cousin to do? I have my do
ubts. This was a phrase, it appears, that she had heard her elders using. It is
likely, though, that she believed that it had something to do with saving one fr
om going to hell but the specifics do not seem to be clear to either girl. If th
ey are, they do not come out in the story. Miss Daya throws some light on the si
tuation when she says:
'Lord bless you down there on your knees, baby! Pray to the Lord 'cause it's pra
ying time!'
She continues with the question of whether both girls 'had got religion', thereb
y establishing a link between prayer and getting religion.
4. What convinces the speaker that the world was coming to an end?
She had probably heard the pastor deliver several hell-fire sermons, the informa
tion in the Book of Revelation terrified her, and the warnings from Rena and Mis
s Daya made her jittery, but it was the rolling, terrible rolling sound (of the
plane) that convinced her that the world was coming to an end.
5. What do we learn about those persons who interpreted the occurrence of an ecl

ipse as the end of the world?

Those persons who interpreted the occurrence of an eclipse as the end of the wor
ld obviously lacked knowledge of this phenomenon. It showed their limited educat
ion. Mark you, the garbled explanation that Rena gave may not have been the one
that the ladies shared.
6. What is Daddy's role in this story?
Daddy was the anchor in his daughter's life. She trusted him. He was an active C
hristian, husband and father, seemingly hard-working and sensible. He is present
ed as a level- headed character in our story; and although a member of the churc
h, he does not accept or seem to be bothered by the pastor's scare tactics. He h
as explained to his daughter that:
'Nobody knows anything about Revelation...'
'Ain't never been nobody born smart enough to
figure out Revelation since that Mr John wrote it.
He's just going to have to come back and explain it himself.
It is Daddy who gave a rational explanation about the end of the world. He infor
med her that only God knows when the world will end and, therefore, she was not
to be alarmed by prophecies. He comforted her and informed her of the source of
the noise that had frightened her so very badly. His laughter at her reaction to
the passing airplane must have calmed and reassured her. Instead of being worri
ed or judgemental about her behaviour when he caught her, he made a joke of the
situation. Daddy was the only adult in the story with a sound and balanced view.
Every time I read Pearl Crayton's story The Day The World Almost Came To An End,
I laugh. What about you? What do you find amusing in it?
Our storyteller is also our major character. She is reflecting on a childhood in
cident. She was 12 and still involved in childish pastimes. When we meet her she
is playing in the mud and she is comfortable in her own company. She is, howeve
r, old enough to recognise that she is a sinner and that there is a way to escap
e punishment for her sins. Like many human beings she has decided to continue en
joying her 'sinful' ways for as long as possible. You see, it was her belief tha
t when she is old, it would be time enough to get religion. (Do you know anyone
who thinks this way?)
I wonder if you remember the sins of which she accuses herself. We are told that
she had 'saved' her neighbour's ripe plums and peaches from going to waste, 'ne
glecting to get the owner's permission'; 'the fights' she 'had with the sassy li
ttle Catherine'; 'the domino games' she 'had played for penny stakes'; the lies
she had told as well as 'other not so holy acts'. These, she believed, would ear
n her a place in the burning fires of hell.
It strikes me as strange that although the church or rather the teachings of the
denomination she attended, yes attended, perhaps, very regularly, for she was a
church-going sinner, warned her, she did not stop doing what she considered to
be wrong. She finds her sins too sweet, 'delicious' she call them, to give up. I
t is obvious, though, that she knows right from wrong.
Her unwillingness to 'get religion' in her childhood is something that makes our
story very realistic, for to a child death would have seemed far away, and asso
ciated with old age. After all, many 12-year-olds are not particularly intereste
d in their salvation. Realism is maintained through several other means. The inc
ident is set in 1936, reference is made to a real person, Ralph Waldo Emerson American lecturer and essayist and poet, Rena warns her of the impending end of
the world on a Friday, there is talk of an eclipse although the information is g
arbled, and a real airplane does fly over the area.
As is customary in a story of this length, there are few characters and of these
only two are developed. These, as you are aware, are our narrator and her fathe
r. Pearl Crayton has created two likable characters in them. Our child storytell
er is honest in talking about herself and her actions and her attitudes to other
s. We are able to learn that she loves her father dearly and seems to have a clo
ser relationship with him than with her mother. Daddy plays the crucial role of
being her support. She trusts his knowledge and outlook. He listens to her conce
rns, explains matters that she does not understand, such as the sections of the
book of Revelation that she has read; he is the breadwinner of the family and an

officer in their church. This suggests that he was an exemplary member of the c
ommunity. Her skeptical position is clearly the result of her preferring to acce
pt what her father says above what others say.
I began this week by asking if you too find humour in this story and I think tha
t would have alerted you to the fact that it is one aspect of the work on which
you should reflect.
How does the writer make her story humorous? I would like you identify the metho
ds that are used. Let me start you off! The very first sentence is not only humo
rous, due to its surprising information, but it arouses the interest of the read
ers. The following sentence is also funny, made so through exaggeration, a techn
ique that is employed again as the story develops. Did you laugh out loud when y
ou read the explanation that was given for an eclipse? Some readers did. I can e
asily visualise the little girl in her long nightgown running and hollering loud
ly that the world was coming to an end. What a spectacle! Part of this humour is
because the storyteller makes fun of herself - but wait a moment, what I am doi
ng? You spot the rest.
I cannot close without pointing out how the writer creates tension in our narrat
or. She does not get the news until Friday afternoon that the world would end on
Sunday; soon after Miss Daya, who is passing, tells them that the Lord is comin
g soon, (the time must have seemed very short in which to 'get religion') her fa
ther on whom she depends for reassurance takes longer to come than he usually do
es, then he tells her that the world could end that night and, to top it off, it
was a moonless night on which this was to occur!
Literature Notes
The Boy Who Loved Ice Cream
This short story is about a little boy's obsession with ice-cream. Benjy is a li
ttle boy who lives in rural Jamaica. His family is extremely poor and the most i
mportant, and festive, day for them is the Harvest Festival. It is an even more
important event for Benjy because this is the only place that he can access the
coveted ice cream. Benjy has never tasted ice-cream, but he relishes the very t
hought of it through the second hand description that is passed on to him by his
sister. The story opens with the family's preparations to attend the festival a
nd their scenic journey down the hill. Benjy's obsession with ice-cream becomes
evident at this point because he cannot enjoy himself due to his anxiety surroun
ding when the ice-cream will be forthcoming. This mirrors his father's obsession
with scouting out the man whom he believes to be his wife's lover and Benjy's f
ather. The obsessions collide when Benjy finally gets his ice cream and it falls
out of his hand because his father sees a male talking to his wife and drags Be
njy along to confront him. The story, therefore, ends in disappointment for Benj
The story occurs in the small town of Springville in rural Jamaica.
The family is from an even smaller town called One Eye, located in the mountains
of Springville.
The second youngest child.
He is a really intense child in terms of achieving his desires.
Benjy's older sister.
She takes care of Benjy when his mother is busy.
She introduces Benjy to the foggy concept of ice cream.
She was very progressive and forward thinking.
She was a very sociable and friendly person.

Always eager to go or do something different.

He was a farmer.
The short story reveals that he was wedded to the soil.
He did not like to go out.
He preferred a predictable lifestyle.
He was very jealous.
Papa is irrationally jealous about his wife's activities. It is revealed that he
believes that she cheated on him when she spent three weeks away from him in Sp
ringville, where she was attending to her dying mother. He watches her like a ha
wk at the Harvest Festival, thereby getting very little enjoyment out of the fai
r. This jealousy has serious implications for his relationship with his son Benj
y. He does not believe that Benjy is his biological child, but a product of his
wife's 'affair' in Springville. Benjy, therefore, is not treated well by his fat
her, but viewed with suspicion and slight contempt. The narrator tells us that B
enjy is in a state of constant suspense in terms of what his father's response t
o him will be.
Ice cream:
Ice cream, in this short story, is the symbol for anything that is intensely des
ired, anything that is anticipated to bring great pleasure.

Berry - Literature Notes

Berry is about a young black man called Millberry Jones who is employee at Dr. R
enfield's Home for Crippled Children. He was reluctantly employed by Mrs. Osborn
, the housekeeper, because the Scandinavian kitchen boy had left without notice,
leaving her no choice in hiring Berry. Her reluctance to hire Berry stemmed fro
m his race, initiating questions like where he would sleep? How would the other
servants react to the presence of a Negro? She had a meeting with Dr. Renfield a
nd they decided to hire Millberry on a reduced salary. He was overworked and und
erpaid, but took solace in the children, whom he loved. An unfortunate incident
occurred, however, where a child fell from his wheel chair while in the care of
Berry. The result was that Berry was fired and given no salary for the week that
he had worked.
Dr. Renfiled's Home for Crippled Children
New Jersey coast
Millbury Jones (Berry)
A Black male, approximately 20 years old.
Described as good natured and strong.
Poor and uneducated.
Very observant and intuitive about people and places.
Very good with children due to his gentleness.
Mrs. Osborn
The housekeeper at the children's home.
Rumoured to be in love with Dr. Renfield.
Very high handed with her staff, but docile with Dr. Renfield.
Displays racist characteristics in subtle forms.

Dr. Renfield
Rumoured to have romantic affairs with his female staff.
Berry observes that the Home is 'Doc Renfield's own private gyp game' (Hughes, p
. 162), meaning that he runs his establishment for his own profit, instead of a
desire to take genuine care of the children.
He is blatantly racist.
This theme is apparent when Berry was being considered for employment at the Hom
e. Mrs. Osborn was concerned about where Berry would sleep, implying that he cou
ld not sleep with the white servants because he was considered to be beneath the
m. His salary was also cut due to his race, and he was overworked, with no discu
ssions of days off, 'everybody was imposing on him in that taken-for-granted way
white folks do with Negro help.' (Hughes, 162). Even more importantly, when the
unfortunate accident occurred with the child, there was no attempt at discernin
g what had occurred that led to the incident, but blame was laid on the obvious
person - Berry. As a result, he was relieved of his job a hail of racist slurs.

Mom Luby and the Social Worker - Literature Notes

This short story is about an elderly woman, fondly called Mom Luby, who fosters
two small children. The story opens with her visit to the Social Welfare office,
in order to obtain monetary assistance in taking care of the children. She then
returns home to find people waiting to get let in to the speakeasy that she run
s in her back room. There is a knock on the door, but instead of the police - co
ming to collect money - it is a social worker. The social worker, Miss Rushmore,
visits in order to investigate the living conditions of the children. She is sk
eptical about some of the answers that Mom Luby gives, but gives her information
about the many forms, along with lengthy directions, regarding the acquisition
of clothes and shoes for the children. Mom Luby is astonished, yet slightly amus
ed, about the length of time it could take to obtain clothes and shoes for the c
hildren. She responds by stating that she simply did not have enough time becaus
e she had a long list of chores to attend to. Miss. Rushmore volunteers to go al
ong with Mom Luby, expressing her disbelief that she could accomplish so much in
such a short time. They both return from completing the chores, with Miss Rushm
ore looking very bedraggled. She states that Mom Luby does not need her help bec
ause she got more things done in two hours, than Miss Rushmore has managed to co
mplete in two years. The great irony of the situation is revealed when Mom Luby
comments that the Social Welfare office should consider hiring her, but Miss Rus
hmore comments that that is not possible because Mom Luby is not qualified.
The United States of America.
Between 1920-1933, the time of the Prohibition in the United States.
Mom Luby
An elderly woman who is as strong as any young woman.
She has white hair and false teeth.
She runs a speakeasy in the back room of her house.
She fosters two young children.
She is a midwife, herb doctor and ordained minister of the Gospel.
She's a very productive woman who helps the people in her community.
She is very proud.
Miss Rushmore

She works at the Department of Child Welfare, Bureau of Family Assistance.

She is very thorough in her investigation of Mom Luby.
She is awed by Mom Luby's productivity.
Elijah (narrator) & Puddin' - The two young children that Mom Luby fosters.
Love and Family Relationship
The love that Mom Luby has for her two young charges is apparent by her simple a
ct of fostering them. She is a poor, older woman who runs a speakeasy to survive
, this is not the profile of someone who should be willing to take care of two y
oung children, as well as a whole community. The act of visiting the Social Secu
rity Office is a testament to her commitment to taking care of the two children.
The great irony in this short story is that a poor, older lady, is able to take
better care of two little children than the State agency that is assigned to do
so. This is because she can get more accomplished in two hours, to benefit them
, than the agency can accomplish in two years with their most motivated agent.

To Dah-Duh in Memoriam - Literature Notes

This short story is about a young girl's visit, from New York, to the island of
Barbados. The protagonist, along with her sister and mother, visit Dah-Duh. The
visit is an interesting one in which Dah-Duh and the protagonist develop a carin
g, yet competitive, relationship. Dah-Duh introduces her to the riches of Barbad
os (nature), while the protagonist introduces her grandmother to the steel and c
oncrete world of New York (industrialism). There is a competitive edge to their
conversations because they each try to outdo each other on the merits of their s
eparate homes. Dah-Duh, however, is dealt a blow when she learns of the existenc
e of the Empire State building, which was many stories taller than the highest t
hing she had ever laid her eyes on
Bissex Hill. She lost a little bit of her spa
rk that day and was not given a chance to rebound because the protagonist left f
or New York shortly after. The story progresses with the death of Dah-Duh during
the famous 37 strike. She had refused to leave her home and was later found dead
, on a Berbice chair, by her window. The protagonist spent a brief period in pen
ance, living as an artist and painting landscapes that were reminiscent of Barba
The story is set in Barbados, in the 1930's.
A small and purposeful old woman.
Had a painfully erect figure.
Over eighty (80) years old.
She moved quickly at all times.
She had a very unattractive face, which was stark and fleshless as a death mask
arshall, p.178).
Her eyes were alive with life.
Competitive spirit.
Had a special relationship with the protagonist.
A thin little girl.
Nine (9) years old.
A strong personality.
Competitive in nature.
Had a special relationship with Dah-Duh.


This theme is apparent when Dah-Duh and the protagonist discuss the fact that sh
e beat up a white girl in her class. Dah-Duh is quiet shocked at this and exclaims
that the world has changed so much that she cannot recognize it. This highlight
s their contrasting experiences of race. Dah-Duh s experience of race relations is
viewing the white massa as superior, as well as viewing all things white as best.
This is corroborated at the beginning of the story when it was revealed that Da
h-Duh liked her grandchildren to be white, and in fact had grandchildren from th
e illegitimate children of white estate managers. Therefore, a white person was
some-one to be respected, while for the protagonist, white people were an integr
al part of her world, and she viewed herself as their equal.
Love and family relationship:
This story highlights the strong familial ties that exists among people of the C
aribbean, both in the islands and abroad (diaspora). The fact that the persona a
nd her family left New York to visit the matriarch of the family, in Barbados, h
ighlights this tie. The respect accorded to Dah-Duh by the mother also shows her
place, or status, in the family. The protagonist states that in the presence of
Dah-Duh, her formidable mother became a child again.
Gender Issues:
This is a minor theme in this short story. It is highlighted when it is mentione
d that Dah-Duh liked her grandchildren to be boys. This is ironic because the qu
alities that are stereotypically found in boys - assertive, strong willed, compe
titive - are found in her grand daughter. An example of this is the manner in wh
ich the protagonist / narrator was able to win the staring match when she first
met Dah-Duh, this proved her dominance and strength.
Empire State Building
This building represents power and progress. It is in the midst of the cold glas
s and steel of New York city and, therefore, deforms Dah-Duh s symbol of power; Bi
ssex Hill. It is not by accident that the knowledge of this building shakes DahDuh s confidence. Steel and iron, the symbol of progress, is what shakes the natur
e loving Dah-Duh. It can, therefore, be said that her response to the knowledge
of the existence of the Empire State Building
defeat is a foreshadowing of her d
eath. This is the case because it is metal, in the form of the planes, that rattl
ed her trees and flatten[ed] the young canes in her field. (Marshall. p.186). Thi
s is a physical echo of her emotional response to the knowledge of the existence
of the Empire State building. The fact that she is found dead after this incide
nt is not a surprise to the reader.
sample essay
Shabine and Blackout are both short stories written by West Indian writers. They sha
re other similarities as well, such as social interaction between the two sexes
and races. Social interaction between men and women are common, inevitable and
they occur for different reasons.
In Blackout , a white female tourist finds herself at a lonely bus stop during a bl
ack out in a Caribbean island (possibly Jamaica). She is met by a local who is i
n need of a light for his unlit cigarette. As she is the only one around and has
a lit cigarette, he assumes she can be of some assistance to him. This sparks a
conversation on equality, race and gender. On the other hand, the man in Shabine
never speaks to Justine. Here, a young man recounts his fascination with the Sha
bine, the red haired woman whom society rejects. Years after he is still fascina
ted by her. His interaction with Justine is limited to the paradise plums he lea
ves on the wall for her. Despite several warnings from his grandmother, the boy,
though too coward to speak to or profess his love to Justine, a girl of mixed r

ace and frowned upon by society, uses the paradise plums to show his affection f
or her.
Her acceptance of the paradise plum is her acceptance of his affection towards h
er. And also her showing her resentment towards society and how they treat her.
She sees it as him going against society, his resentment of society and how they
treat her; but he is too much of a coward. He accepts the boundaries placed on
him when he refuses to cross the wall. The interaction (lack of conversation) hi
ghlights the stark difference with how society sees her and how the young man se
es her. At the same time, the lack of conversation cements the distance that exi
sts between them.
We learn a lot about Justine through the boy/man s visit to his grandmother. We l
earn of her love for her children when he observes her shouting profanities at t
he neighbourhood boys and hugging her children. We learn of her history from the
narrator. And also, we learn of her finally giving in to society when the boy r
efuses to come rescue her; she walks back, shoulders drooping. If not for the bo
y, we may not have been able to see Justine as human instead of a shabine, a thi
ng to be lusted and teased, to be shunned and secluded.
Similarly, in Blackout we learn more about the woman than the man. The writer puts
more focus on the woman s thoughts as she seems the more complicated of the two.
The man appears to speak his mind, unlike the tourist who tries to use tact unsu
ccessfully to hide her true thoughts. The local, however, reads her up quite eas
ily and exposes her for what she is, prejudiced. She not only finds the man deme
aning because of the colour of his skin, but also she feels, like the stories sh
e has heard, he may want to take advantage of her sexually. The man tries to put
her mind to rest, assuring her that she is not his type and tries to educate he
r of the culture of the place she is in. He tries to preach equality to her, to
bring her out of the darkness, out of ignorance. Her refusal to look back at him
from the bus suggest she is not totally changed. But the fact that she wanted t
o, suggests that he has placed a seed of question in her mind and had given her
something to think about.
Also, in Blackout , the themes are exposed through the interaction between the two.
Her hesitation at first highlights the social tension she is used to while the
ease with which he requests a light from her shows how he views her as an equal.
Though at first she appears to be smart , the dark figure turned out to offer a fo
rm of enlightenment to the woman. He addresses her thoughts about her prejudices
. The writer uses simple language and sentences to highlight the fact that a sim
ple situation is being dealt with, it s just a man and a woman conversing. This ma
kes the conversation more universal. Even the narrative point of view employed a
ides in the development of the theme as we may not have known the lady s true inte
ntions had we not been able to hear her views on the man. When she leaves, he be
nds and takes the discarded cigarette from the gutter exposing him as a lower cl
ass than her, but enlightenment comes from anywhere and the message delivers is
of no less importance; which is probably why the writer does not allow her to se
e this act. Racism is also the theme in Shabine . The boy is prohibited from speaki
ng to the girl because of the stigma attached to her because of her mixed race.
Sleeping with the white man is her mother s way of having Justine climb up the soc
ial ladder. She is confined to the two room adjoining the Cazabaun s house. We nev
er hear of her leaving the confines of the yard. Unlike the view of blacks in bl
ackout, the blacks in Shabine verbally and physically abuse those of the lighter c
omplexion. The boy s refusal to follow the instructions of his grandmother shows h
is refusal to conform to society s views. Like the man in Blackout , the boy accepts
her as an equal despite the colour of her skin or the class she is associated wi
th. The paradise plum is a means of escape for them both but he is not brave en
ough to make a stand for his beliefs. He lives in regrets, just like her.
Through social interaction much can be discovered about the characters involved.
The two stories explored share similar themes though the circumstances vary gre
atly. Both authors try to encourage the notion of equality, though the conflicts
are not fully resolved we are left with a small spark of hope for the character
s as each has resolved to accept things as they are. Justine walks back to her t
wo room apartment, the boy walks back over to his grandmother s, the man picks up

the lady s discarded cigarette and returns to the darkness and the lady drives off
in the lit bus refusing to look back lest the passengers thinks negatively of h
note the introduction sets up the reader for what is to come.
note the use of transitional phrases and sentences: similarly, also, unlike in .
.., another example etc.
each paragraph seems to flow into the next
all points are backed up with references to the stories.
the mandate of comparing and contrasting is maintained throughout.
conclusions sum up the gist of the essay, and in this case explores another poin
t that stems from the points discussed previously.

A Contemplation Upon Flowers - Literature Notes
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
Brave flowers, 1.that I could 5.gallant it like you, and be as little vain;
You come abroad and make a 6.harmless show,
And to your beds of earth again;
You are not proud, you know your birth,
For your embroidered garments are from earth.
You do obey your months and times, but I would have it ever spring;
My fate would know no winter, never die, nor think of such a thing;
Oh that I could bed of earth but view, 1.and smile and look as cheerfully a
s you.
Oh teach me to see death and not to fear,
But rather to take truce;
3.How often have I seen you at a 6.bier,
And there look fresh and spruce;
You fragrant flowers then 7.teach me that my breath like yours may sweeten and p
erfume my death.
Berry, J. 'A Contemplation Upon Flowers' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McW
att and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona wishes that he could be as brave as the flowers, who know who they o
we their life to - the earth. They know their place and obey the order, or cycle
, of life and death. The persona wishes that he could be this way because he is
the opposite, he wants to live forever. The persona wants the flowers to teach h
im NOT to fear death, but to accept it.
Stanza 1, line: The persona is wishing that he could be as brave as the flower.
This implies that the persona does not think that he is brave, but a coward in t
he face of death.

Stanza 2, line 14: This is another comparison between the persona and the plant.
The persona wishes that he could look death in the face and be cheerful, like t
he plant. Again, this emphasizes that he lacks.
This phrase is a replacement for the word death. It softens death and makes it a
ppear welcoming and pleasant.
It is ironic that the flowers look so fresh and alive when it is facing its very
mortality, on the top of a casket. Death is a sad affair, and the flowers are a
t their best when ushering people back to the earth.
The persona is speaking directly to flowers and giving them human qualities, the
refore, the whole poem is an example of the use of personification at it's best.
He even goes as far as to ask the flower to teach him things that will make him
be like it.
5. 'galant'
This word literally means brave or heroic. The word, however, also brings to min
d adjectives such as charming and attentive, like a knight would be in olden day
s. So the plants are not simply brave in their acceptance of death, but they are
also gracious.
6. 'harmless show'
The word harmless sticks out in this phrase because it implies that the flowers
are demure and quiet in their beauty.
7. 'bier'
This is a movable frame on which a coffin or a corpse is placed before burial or
cremation, or on which they are carried to the grave.
8. 'teach me that my breath like yours may sweeten and perfume my death'
This implies that if death is not feared, then the person will go into deaths ar
ms joyfully, without any sorrow, remorse or bitterness.
TONE: The tone of the poem is admiration, because the persona literally admires
the flowers for its accepting attitude towards death.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE: The mood, or atmosphere of the poem is a pensive one. The pers
ona is thinking about death, how he relates to it versus how others relate to it
CONTRAST: A contrast in this poem is the persona's fear of death, versus the flo
wers'acceptance of it.
Once Upon A Time - Literature Notes
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
3.Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes;
but now 4.they only laugh with their teeth,
while 1.their ice-block eyes behind my shadow.

There was a time indeed

they used to 6.shake hands with their hearts;
but that's gone, son.
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left 7.hands search
my empty pockets.
'Feel at home'! 'Come again' ;
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice
there will be no thrice for then I find doors shut on me.
So I have learnt many things, son.
2.I have learnt to wear many faces
like dresses - homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface
cocktail face, with all their 2.conforming smiles like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned, too.
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart
I have also learnt to say, 'Goodbye',
when I mean 'Good-riddance' ;
to say 'Glad to meet you',
without being glad; and to say 'It's been
nice talking to you', after being bored.
But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you. I want
8.unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake's bare fangs!
So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
3.once upon a time when I was like you.
Okara, G. 'Once Upon A Time' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Haze
l Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
A father is talking to his son and telling him how things used to be. The father
tells his son that people used to be sincere, but are now superficial and seek
only to take from people. The persona tells his son that he has learnt to be jus
t like these people, but he does not want to be. He wants to be as sincere as hi
s son.
The people's eyes are as cold as ice. This means that there is no warmth or real
feeling in the words that they say, or how they behave.This metaphor literally
allows you to visualize a block of ice, cold and unwelcoming.

Stanza 4, lines 20-21 emphasizes how constantly changing the persona's face is.
If you think of how often a woman changes her dress, then that is how often the
persona adjusts his personality to suit the people around him. The list of faces
that follow this line emphasizes this point.
Stanza 4, lines 23-24 compares peoples faces to smiles in a portrait. If you thi
nk about a portrait, it is usually very formal and stiff, even uncomfortable. Th
erefore, the implication is that the smiles are actually fake and stiff. They ar
e conforming, or trying to fit into, a preconceived mold that is set up by socie
tal expectations.
Stanza 6, lines 38-40 compares the persona's laugh to a snakes. When you think o
f a snake, words such as sneaky and deceitful come to mind. Therefore, the impli
cation is that the persona is fake, just like the people he despises.
This phrase is repeated at the beginning and the end of the poem. This usually s
ignals the beginning of a fairy tale. Therefore, it is implied that the persona
is nostalgic about the past.
4.'they only laugh with their teeth'
This emphasizes the insincerity of the people around the persona. To laugh with
your teeth means that only the bottom half of your face is engaged, the laugh do
es not reach the eyes.
5. 'shake hands with their heart'
To shake hands with your heart implies a strong handshake that is sincere, this
is the opposite of what now occurs between people.
6. 'search behind my shadow'
This implies that the person cannot look the persona in the eye, they are lookin
g everywhere but there. Looking someone in the eye during a conversation implies
that one is sincerely interested in what you have to say. Not being able to do
so implies shiftiness.
7. 'hands search my empty pockets'
People are only 'seemingly' nice to get something from you. So, they smile with
you, but it is not sincere, they are seeking to get something from you.
8. 'unlearn all these muting things'
The word mute means silence, think of what happens when you press the mute butto
n on the TV remote. Therefore, there is an implication that the insincere action
s that the persona describes are muting, they block, or silence, good intentions
. Hence, the persona wants to unlearn these habits.
The mood of the poem is nostalgic. The persona is remembering how things used to
be when he was young and innocent, like his son.
The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his nostalgia is sadness.
Death, childhood experiences, hypocrasy, loss of innocence, desire/dreams.
* It is IRONIC that the persona is behaving in the exact way that he despises, h
owever, and there is an implication that things cannot go back to what he rememb
ers, due to the influence of societal expectations.

Forgive My Guilt - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
Not always sure what things called sins may be, I am sure of one sin I have done
It was years ago, and I was a boy,
I lay in the 1.frost flowers with a gun,
2.the air ran blue as the flowers; I held my breath, 2.two birds on golden legs
slim as dream things 2.ran like quick silver on the 1.golden sand, my gun went o
ff, they ran with broken wings into the sea, I ran to fetch them in, but they sw
am with their heads high out to sea, They cried like two sorrowful high flutes,
With 1.jagged ivory bones where wings should be. For days I heard them when I wa
lked that headland, crying out to their kind the blue, The other plovers we
re going over south on silver wings leaving these broken two. The cries went out
one day; but I still hear them over all the sounds of sorrow war or peace
I ever have heard, time cannot 6.drown them, 1.Those slender flutes of sorrow ne
ver cease, 3.Two airy things forever denied the air! I never knew how their live
s at last were split, but I have hoped for years all that is wild,
Airy, and beautiful will forgive my guilt.
Coffin, R.P.T. 'Forgive My Guilt' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and
Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005. This is the OPINION of o
ne individual, which might not coincide with the views of others.
An adult is reminiscing about a traumatic childhood experience. The persona went
hunting and shot two birds, plovers. He suffers extreme guilt about this action
in adulthood. The poem describes the event, the actions of the bird, how he rea
cts, and, by the last line, asks the birds to forgive his guilt.
Line 4: The nature of frost is that it covers everything in its path, therefore,
when the flowers are compared to frost, it implies that there were a lot of flo
wers, enough to hide the boy from the birds.
Line 8: The sand is being compared to gold, the colour. It is emphasizing how be
autiful the setting was.
Line 12: This metaphor emphasizes the injuries that the birds sustained. The bon
es are compared to jagged ivory, which is a direct contrast to the smooth feathe
rs that existed before the injury.
Lines 20-21: The birds are compared to a flute, an instrument that plays beautif
ul music. This emphasizes the sadness that is related to their death.
Line 5: The air and the flowers are being compared, both are blue.
Lines 6-7: This simile offers a beautiful visual image of the birds. Dreams are
beautiful, and the birds are compared to this.
Line 7: The speed of the birds is being highlighted, while also maintaining that
beautiful visual imagery.
3. PUN
The pun is between the words 'airy' and 'air'. 'Airy' means light and beautiful,
while 'air' refers to the sky and flying. The poet is lamenting that these ligh
t and beautiful things can no longer fly and feel the pleasure of air rushing pa
st them.


4. 'the blue'
This literally translates to the sky. The birds were crying out to the other bir
ds that were flying away.
5. 'in war or peace'
This phrase highlights the fact that the persona feels extremely guilty about ki
lling the birds, so much so that he thinks about it all the time. Their cries we
nt out for literally one day, but he thinks about the birds all the time.
6. 'drown'
It is important that the poet chooses to use the word drown, because it means de
ath. He cannot get rid of the sounds of sorrow that the birds made while they we
re dying.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE: The mood of the poem is nostalgia and guilt.
TONE: The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his guilt is sadness.
THEMATIC CATEGORY: Death, childhood experiences, nature, guilt, loss of innocenc
e, desire/dreams.
This is a poem which derives all of its power from the literal truth it denotes.
The most potent poetic device is simply imagery. The images of this poem put fo
rth the real horrors of the first `modern war'* in which England took part more
intensely, probably, than video even now would be able, precisely because the im
ages are filtered through a human consciousness. Literary allusion-- to a very f
amous apothegm from one of Horace's Carmina-- is the other dominant device. The
images sandwich the motto, `dulce et decorum est... pro patria mori' (sweet and
proper it is, for the fatherland to die...) to create an very bitter irony.
I suppose it is otherwise worth nothing that the poem is in written in seven ABA
B rhymed quatrains of iambic pentameter, so rhyme and metre are two more poetic

Obviously you can find ubiquitous devices like alliteration too-- on b: `bent do
uble, like old beggars...', on m: `men marched asleep,' etc. The word `guttering
' in probably onomatopoeia for choking noises. And so on.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks is the use of a simile to tell us just h
ow extreme the situation is when young, otherwise healthy men, are like the old
beggars on the street. The simile on the second line coughing like hags .
The personification used, Jaws of death, and Mouth of hell
cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them, repetition
onomatopoeia trudge and sludge
He uses the simile As under a green sea because a green sea is usually seen to be
"coughing like hags" This is a very effective simile because it shows us that th
ese young men have aged long before their time, and that their health has really
deteriorated since fighting in the war
Men marched asleep alliteration
The oxymoron (a form of paradox, where two words, placed together, seem to contr
adict one another) marched asleep further shows the men s exhaustion, and they can o
nly continue their march whilst cursing. Their senses are dulled, and they are d
escribed as being lame , blind , drunk and deaf ; most of these words are used metaphori
ly (figuratively, or non-literally), to suggest the men s lack of feeling

West Indies, U.S.A - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
Cruising at thirty thousand feet above the endless green 1.the island seems like
dice tossed on a casino's baize, some come up lucky, others not. Puerto Rico ta
kes the pot, 2.the Dallas of the West Indies, 2.silver linings on the clouds as
we descend are hall-marked, 1.San Juan glitters like a maverick's gold ring.
All across the Caribbean we'd collected termin
als - 1.airports are like calling cards, cultural fingerprints; the hand written
signs at Port-au-Prince, Piarco's sleazy tourist art, the lethargic contempt of
the baggage boys at 'Vere Bird' in St. Johns ....
And now for 4.plush San Juan.
But the pilot's bland you're safe in my hands
drawl crackles as we land, 'US regulations demand all passengers not disembarkin
g at San Juan stay on the plane, I repeat, stay on the plane.' 3.Subtle Uncle Sa
m, afraid too many 5.desperate blacks might re-enslave this Island of the free,
might jump the barbed
electric fence around 6.'America's back yard'
and claim that vaunted sanctuary ..... 3. 'give me your poor .....' Through toug
hened, tinted glass 7.the contrasts tantalise; US patrol cars glide across the s
himmering tarmac, containered baggage trucks unload with 8.fierce efficiency. So
soon we're climbing,
low above the pulsing city streets; galvanize
d shanties overseen by condominiums polished Cadillacs shimmying with pushcarts
and as we climb, San-Juan's 9.fools-glitter calls to mind the shattered innards
of a TV set that's fallen off the back of a lorry, all painted valves and circui
ts 1.the road like twisted wires,
the bright cars, micro-chips. 10.It's sharp
and jagged and dangerous, and belonged to some-one else.
Brown, S. 'West Indies, U.S.A' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Ha
zel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona is travelling in a plane, looking down at San Juan, Puerto Rico as t
he plane descends. He is saying that this island is the wealthiest in the Caribb
ean because it has won the jackpot, it has come up lucky. He then points out tha
t he, and others, had travelled to many Caribbean islands and received a hint of
the flavour of each island through it's calling card, - its airport - all of wh
ich fail when compared to plush San Juan. As they land, they are instructed to s
tay on the plane if their destination is not San Juan. The persona takes offence
and states that America does not want blacks in San Juan, implying that they mi
ght be a disruptive force. He notes the efficiency with which things flow, enabl
ing them to take to the skies once more. During the ascent, the persona notes th
e contrast between the influences of the Caribbean and America. He likens San-Ju
an to a broken TV, it Iooks good on the outside, but broken on the inside.
Line 2: Puerto Rico is compared to dice that is tossed on a casino's baize, it c
an either come up with winning numbers, or losing numbers. Puerto Rico comes up
with winning numbers in the game of chance, as reflected in its wealthy exterior
, which is supported by America.

Lines 7-8: San Juan's glitter is compared to a maverick's gold ring. The word ma
verick implies non-conformist, an individualist. This implies that San Juan, Pue
rto Rico is in the Caribbean, but not a part of the Caribbean. It belongs to Ame
Lines 10-11: Airports are compared to calling cards. This means that, like a cal
ling card, the quality of the airport gives you an idea of the island's status e
conomically. The airport is also compared to a cultural fingerprint. A fingerpri
nt is an individual thing, therefore the airport gives the traveler an idea of t
he island's cultural landscape.
Line 39: The road is compared to twisted wires. This means that the roads, from
above, look both plentiful and curvy. This does not carry a positive connotation
, but implies confusion.
Line 5: Dallas is an oil rich state in America. Therefore, many of its inhabitan
ts are wealthy, and the state itself, is wealthy. By stating that San Juan is th
e Dallas of the West Indies, it implies that it is a wealthy island in the West
Lines 5-7: An allusion is being made to the well known cliche; 'every cloud has
a silver lining'. It means that behind everything that is seemingly bad, there i
s good. In the context of this poem, it means that the good, the silver lining,
has a mark, or stamp, that authenticates its good quality; it is hallmarked. thi
s implies that it will always have its silver lining showing.
Line 20: This statement means the exact opposite of what is stated. The persona
is disgusted that Uncle Sam (America) would have such a regulation. This regulat
ion bars anyone from stepping a toe on Puerto Rican soil, if it is not your inte
nded destination. You just have to remain in the air craft, no matter the waitin
g period, until it is time for takeoff. The persona believes that the Americans
are being blatantly discriminatory, and are attempting to camouflage it through
the use of regulations. He does not believe that they have achieved their goal o
f subtlety.
Line 26: The persona implies that America is all talk and no action. They really
do not want the poor because they bar them from entering and expediently sends
them on their way when they enter their airport. The statement is sarcastic beca
use it is loaded with an alternate meaning, due to the contrast in statement and
4. 'plush'
This word implies soft, like a teddy bear. It also implies luxury. So San Juan i
s all of these things.
5.'desperate blacks might re-enslave this Island of the free'
These 'desperate blacks' to whom the persona is referring are the poor people of
the Caribbean. If they converge on the glistening San Juan, sucking up its reso
urces, then it might become re-enslaved by poverty.
6.'America's back yard'
A backyard means one of two things for people. It is a haven where you relax, th
erefore you decorate it and invest time and money in it. Or, you ignore it and s
pend all your time indoors, not investing any time, energy or money in it. Ameri
ca viewed Puerto Rico as the latter, a prize in which it saw value. Therefore, w
hen the persona uses this phrase,heis implying that while it is valued, it is st
ill at the back. Slight sarcasm is being used here.
7.'the contrasts tantalise'
When something, or someone, is tantalising, it implies that it is intriguing. Th
e persona, by using this phrase, is trying to draw the readers attention to to t
he jarring contrasts by stating that he finds them intriguing.
8.'fierce efficiency'
The word fierce, used to describe the level of efficiency with which the people
worked to get the plane off the ground, shows the extent to which they were not

wanted on the island.

This implies that the flashiness of San Juan was not authentic.10.'It's sharp an
d jagged and dangerous, and belonged to some-one else.'
This implies that San Juan is not safe. The cultures are not melding, but jarrin
g against each other. The reason for this is because it belongs to someone else.
The contrast in this poem is found in stanza 5. The American cars etc, against t
he pushcarts. The American culture versus the Puerto Rican culture.
The mood of the poem is sarcastic.
The tone of the poem is slightly bitter, which is fueled by the sarcastic atmosp
Discrimination, oppression, places, culture.

Literature Notes
Sonnet Composed Upon A Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
Earth has not anything to show more 4.fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its 5.majesty:
1.This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples Lie open upon the fields, and to the
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
2.Never did sun more beautifully 6.steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
3.The river glideth at his own steep will:
Dear God! 4.the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Wordsworth, W. 'Sonnet Composed Upon A Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802' in
A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Ed
ucation Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona in this poem is reflecting on the perfection of the city. He believe
s that there is nothing on Earth so beautiful as the city in the morning. Only a
dull person would not appreciate such a majestic sight. He is awed by the calm
of the city.

The persona compares the manner in which the beauty of the morning settles over
the city, to that of a garment on a body. This emphasizes the perfection of the
beauty of the morning, just as a garment flows smoothly over a body.
Lines 9-10: The sun is referred to as a male who rises sharply and beautifully.
This emphasizes the beauty of the city in the morning. The use of this personifi
cation also helps the reader to personalize this beauty.
Line 12: Like the sun, the river is personalized as well. This allows the reader
to see the river as real, instead of a thing. It comes alive and we can visuali
ze it's movement, gliding, as beautiful.
Line 13: When some-one is asleep, they are peaceful. Therefore, when the persona
describes the houses as sleeping, he is emphasizing the peace that exists in th
e city in the morning. The inhabitants of the houses are asleep, therefore the h
ouses are quiet and peaceful.
4. 'fair'
The word fair, in this context, literally means beautiful. The persona is settin
g the stage for the reader, introducing the fact that the city is beautiful.
5. 'majesty'
This word implies that the city is regal in it's splendour. Therefore, it is bey
ond beautiful and has become stately.
6. 'steep'
This word describes the way in which the sun ascends into the sky, it is stresse
d that it does so in beautiful manner.
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is expressing his th
oughts, and reaction to, the city in the morning.
The tone of the poem is one of awe.
Nature, places.

Orchids - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
I leave this house pieces of the five week life I've gathered.
I'll send them on
to fill spaces in my future life.
One thing is left
a spray of orchid someone gave
4.from bouquet one who
makes a ritual of flower-giving sent.
The orchids have no fragrance
but purple petals draw you

to look at the 2.purple heart.

I watered them once
when 1.the blossoms were full blown
like polished poems.
I was sure they'd wilt
and I would toss them out with the five week litter.
They were stubborn.
I starved them.
They would not die.
This morning the bud at the stalk's tip 5.unfurled.
I think I'll pluck the 6.full-blown blooms
press them between 7.pages of memory.
Perhaps in their thin dried transparency
I'll discover their 8.peculiar poetry.
Simmonds-McDonald, H. 'Orchids' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and H
azel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona is moving from a house that she has lived in for five weeks. She has
sent her belongings to her future home, but one item remains in her old space,
an orchid. The persona clarifies that she was gifted the orchid, but implies tha
t it holds no value because the gifting of orchids is habitual for the person wh
o gave her. She describes the flower as odourless, but attractive to see. She wa
tered the orchid once, expecting it to die, but it survived. It not only survive
d, but bloomed. The persona contemplates plucking the bloom and pressing it betw
een the pages of a book. The purpose of this is to allow her to appreciate the f
The orchid's full blown blossoms are being compared to a polished poem. The word
polished in this comparison implies perfection, shiny and pleasant to read.
2. PUN
The purple heart literally refers to the splash of color in the center of the
orchid's bloom, but it could also refer to the bravery of the flower. This is so
because a purple heart, in the army, is a medal that a soldier receives for bra
very on the battle field.
3. 'box pieces'
This phrase implies that the persona's life is literally in boxes, all her belon
gings are stored and ready to be moved.
4. 'from a bouquet one who makes a ritual of flower-giving sent.'
This phrase implies that the persona places no value in the orchid because it's
giver gifted it without any sentiment attached.
5. 'unfurled'
This word literally means to open. Therefore, despite the persona's attempts at
killing the orchid, through starvation, it not only survived, but flourished.
6. 'full-blown blooms'

These full-blown blooms represent the flower at its peak, where it is most full
of life, as well as where it is most usually appreciated.
7. 'pages of memory'
This refers to the practice of placing a flower between the pages of a book, the
reby drying, or killing the flower. The purpose of this act is to keep the flowe
r for nostalgic reasons.
8. 'peculiar poetry'
This phrase highlights the persona's desire to discover the value in the flower.
It is very IRONIC, however, that she would choose to kill it in order to achiev
e this goal. Usually people place value in a living flower that can give pleasur
e through its beauty.
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is thinking about th
e lack of value that she places in the orchid.
The tone of the poem is one of almost bored musing.
Death, nature, survival, desire/ dreams.

Literature Notes
The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
Her son was first known to her
as a sense of unease, 5.a need to cry
for little reasons and a metallic tide
rising in her mouth each morning.
Such signs made her know
that she was not alone in her body.
She carried him 6.full term
7.tight up under her heart.
1.She carried him like the poor
carry hope, hope you get a break
or a visa, hope one child go through
and remember you. He had no father.
The man she made him with had more
like him, 2.he was fair-minded
he treated all his children
with equal and unbiased indifference.
She raised him twice, once as mother
then as father, 8.set no ceiling
on what he could be doctor
earth healer, pilot take wings.
But now he tells her is working
for you, 3.that you value him so much
you give him one whole submachine gun
for him alone.
He says are like a father to him

she is wondering what kind of father

would 4.give a son hot and exploding
death, when he asks him for bread.
She went downtown and bought three
and one-third yard of black cloth
and a deep crowned and veiled hat
for the day he draw 9.his bloody salary.
She has no power over you and this
at 10.the level of earth, what she has
are prayers and a mother's tears
and at 11.knee city she uses them.
4.She says psalms for him
she reads psalms for you
she weeps for his soul
her 12.eyewater covers you.
She is throwing a 13.partner
with 4.Judas Iscariot's mother
the thief on the left hand side
of the cross, his mother is the 14.banker, 15.her draw though
is first and last for she still throwing two hands as mother and father.
She is prepared, she is done.4.Absalom.
Goodison, L. 'The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son' in A World o
f Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Lt
d, 2005
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona in this poem is telling the story of a mother who loved her son. The
mother became aware of the child's presence when she experienced morning sickne
ss. She placed all her hopes in the child and raised him as a single parent beca
use his father was indifferent to the child's existence. The mother had set no b
arriers on what the child could become, but is told that he has an employer who
values him so much that he is given his own submarine gun. The son tells his mot
her that his employer is like a father to him, but the mother wonders at the fa
ther figure who purposefully endangers his child. She prepares for her son's dea
th by going downtown to buy funeral apparel. The mother feels powerless, so she
prays for her child and says protective psalms for him. On the other hand, she r
eads psalms of retribution for the employer and weeps for her son. Her situation
does not look good and is likened to a partner system in which she draws both t
he first and the last hand.
Lines 1-2: The persona emphasizes that the mother placed all her hopes in her so
n. When you are poor, generally, you have no prospects, you only dream and hope.
Therefore, the persona uses this metaphor to drive home the mother's dependence
on her son's success.
Line 17: The employer is being compared to a father figure. This implies that th
is person fills a gap in the son's life.
The persona appears to praise the child's father by referring to him as 'fair-mi
nded'. She is, however, chastising him for not only ignoring his son, but all of
his other children.

3. IRONY (situational)
The son innocently tells his mother that his employer values him so much that he
gave him a whole submachine gun for himself. The irony in this situation is tha
t if you really care about someone, you do NOT give them a gun due to the negati
ve results that are bound to occur.
4. ALLUSION (biblical)
Lines 28-29: This line alludes to a particular verse in the Christian Bible, Luk
e 11 vs 11. The verse questions what the actions of a good father should be.
Lines 38-39: Psalms is a particular chapter in the Christian Bible. In this chap
ter there are verses for protection, the mother uses those for her son, as well
as verses for retribution and rebuking. It is implied that the mother chooses th
ose for the employer.
Lines 43-45: In the Christian Bible, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Therefore, i
t does not bode well for the mother if she is in a 'partnership' with this perso
n because she might also be betrayed. The banker in the 'partnership' also happe
ns to be the thief on the left hand side of the cross' mother. This also does no
t bode well for the mother if the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Line 49: Absalom is the son of David, in the Christian Bible. Absalom betrayed h
is father, which implies that the mother feels betrayed by her son because she h
as placed all her hopes in him.
5. 'a need to cry for little reasons and a metallic tide rising in her mouth ea
ch morning.'
These two symptoms are early signs of pregnancy. The metallic tide refers to vom
iting. These signs usually occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.
6. 'full term'
This means that the mother carried her son for the full nine months that a pregn
ancy should last.
7. 'tight up under her heart'
This hints at the love that the mother harbours for her child. He was not simply
'close to heart', but 'tight up' under it. It implies that the son holds a spec
ial place in her heart.
8. 'set no ceiling'
A ceiling is something that blocks you in, you cannot get past it. The mother se
t no limits on her son, he could be anything he wanted to be.
9. 'his bloody salary'
This implies that the mother believes that the result of the son's 'job' will be
10. 'the level of earth'
The mother has no power to change her son's situation. Earth is used to emphasiz
e her powerlessness on this level, the realm of 'reality'.
11. 'knee city'
This refers to the fact that the mother constantly prayed for her child.
12. 'eye water covers you'
This implies that the mother cried constantly for the plight of her son. The fac
t that it 'covers her' speaks to the high quantity of tears that were shed.
13. 'partner'
This is an informal saving scheme set up with a specific number of individuals f
or the duration of a specific time span. Each person agrees to pay a designated
figure on a monthly basis. The 'draws' are decided, meaning who gets the money f
irst, second, third etc, on a monthly basis.The banker then collects the money a
nd gives the monthly pool to the person who is to receive their 'draw'. Therefor
e, a 'partnership' is dependent upon the honesty of the banker, who could abscon
d with the money, as well as the honesty of the members of the savings scheme, w
ho could decide NOT to pay after they have received their draw.
14. 'banker'
The banker, or financial controller, of this partnership is the mother of a thie
f. This does not bode well for the mother if the thief on the cross learnt it fr

om his mother.
15. 'her draw though is first and last for she still throwing two hands as mothe
r and father'.
This statement implies that though the mother has the advantage of first draw as
mother, she loses that advantage because she also has the role of father. Mothe
rs cannot father sons. The fact that the son has found a father figure proves th
is to be true. Therefore, she has the last draw, which carries with it the disad
vantage of not receiving a full 'draw'. The longer one waits for a draw is the m
ost likely that dishonesty will come into play on the part of the participants.
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about a mother's res
ponse to her son's life choices.
The tone of the poem is pragmatic and pessimistic. The persona is telling the ta
le as it is, with no positive energy.
Death, love, survival, desires/ dreams, childhood experiences.
It is the Constant Image of your Face - Literature Notes
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
It is the 3.constant image of your face
framed in my hands as you knelt before my chair
the 4.grave attention of 1.your eyes
surveying me amid my of knives
that stays with me, 1.perennially accuses
and convicts me of 2.heart's-treachery:
and neither you nor I can plead excuses
for you, you know, can claim no loyalty my land takes precedence of all my loves.
Yet I beg mitigation, pleading guilty
for you, my dear, accomplice of my heart
made, without words, 6.such blackmail with your beauty
and proffered me such dear protectiveness
that I confess without remorse or shame
my still-fresh treason country
and hope that she, my other, dearest love
will pardon freely, not attaching blame
being your mistress (or your match) in tenderness.
Brutus, D. 'It is the Constant Image of your Face' in A World of Prose. Edited
by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona reflects on the image of some-one he cares for. This love interest a
ccused him, with their eyes, of breaking their heart. The persona admits that bo
th of them (he and the love interest) can make no excuses for his behaviour beca
use the love interest does not take precedence over his land, or country. Despit
e this fact, the persona begs for mercy, pleading guilty for being seduced by hi
s love interest's beauty. This person protects him dearly and he admits that, as

a result of this, he has committed treason against his country. He hopes that h
is country, his other dearest love, will pardon him because he loves both his co
untry and his love interest.
Lines 4, 6-7: The love interest's eyes constantly accuses and convicts the perso
na. This device highlights the extent to which the persona has hurt this person.
Lines 18-20: The persona hopes that his country, his other dearest love, will fo
rgive him for the treasonous act of loving another. This highlights the patrioti
sm that defines the persona's relationship to his country.
The term heart's-treachery implies that the heart, something so vital and indica
tive of love, has committed a terrible crime. It highlights the heartbreak that
the persona has caused his love interest.
3. 'constant image'
This implies that the persona constantly, or always, remembers his love interest
's face. It emphasizes the guilt he feels in relation to this person.
4. 'grave attention'
The love interest's eyes display grave attention. The word grave implies intense
ly serious, so this person is truly hurt.
5. 'world of knives'
A knife inflicts pain and destroys. The persona, therefore, is identifying his w
orld with causing pain.
6. 'such blackmail with your beauty'
To blackmail someone is to have something over them that puts their will in your
control. The love interest's beauty has captivated the persona in such a way th
at he betrays his country with this person.
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his two loves
and how he is torn between the two.
The tone of the poem is sadness and guilt. The persona is guilt ridden over this
love triangle and sadness permeates the words that he uses to describe it.
Love, guilt, patriotism, places, desires/ dreams
God's Grandeur - Literature Notes
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
The world is 7.charged with the 8.grandeur of God.
1.It will flame out, like shining from shook foil:
1.It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. 2.Why do men then now not reck 3.his rod?
4.Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
9.And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
5.And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
is bare now, 10.nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;

5.There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, the brown brink eastward, springs Because the 11.Holy Ghost over the bent
6.World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Hopkins, G.M 'God's Grandeur' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Haz
el Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The poet expresses that the world is full of God's glory and greatness. This gre
atness, however, will burn out in a dramatic manner because of man who smears,
smudges and pollutes everything without consciousness. Nature is resilient, howe
ver, and will persevere from deep in the earth and burst forth, counteracting al
l of man's ill.
Line 3: This line indicates
nk of how shiny and reflective foil
e earth will temporarily burn out.
Line 4: Think of the manner
taking over as much of the surface
rld gathers to a greatness.

that the world will burn out in a brilliant way. Thi

can be, that is the brilliance with which th
in which oil slowly spreads across water, eventually
as possible. That is the way in which the wo

The persona questions why men do not care about God's wrath. He implies that thi
s wrath is sure because the Earth is charged, or commanded with the grandeur of
3. ALLUSION (biblical)
This 'rod' refers to the rod of correction that is found in the Christian Bible.
See 2 Samuel 7:14. This line implies that God will punish man for being reckles
s with the world.
This device highlights the damage that man has done to the world. Trodding impli
es that one walks, or tramples, in order to crush or injure.
Lines 10-11: This device emphasizes the impact that man has had on his environme
nt. He has impacted every crevice of the world in some negative way, as implied
by words such as 'smudge'.
Lines 14-15: This device clarifies that the Earth is resilient, no matter what m
an does to harm it, it will bounce back.
Lines 18-19: This device simply re-iterates the resilience of the Earth, we can
actually visualize the sun rising.
When one broods, they are pondering on something. Therefore, the world ponders,
but in a positive way, with warm breasts. This implies that it feels good becaus
e it has persevered despite of man's interference.
7. 'charged'
This word implies intensity, impassioned. Therefore, the world has been gifted w
ith intensity of the greatness of God.

8. 'grandeur'
This implies that something is awesome, or awe inspiring. Therefore, the world i
s infused with the 'greatness' of God.
9. 'And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
Everything in the world is tainted and influenced by man's presence.
10. 'nor can foot feel, being shod'
This means that man is blind to the damage that he has caused. If one is wearin
g shoes, it protects them from stones etc, therefore, man's consciousness is dea
dened by his inability to see the damage that he has caused.
11. 'Holy Ghost over the bent'
This can be interpreted to mean that salvation is on its way, it also implies th
at salvation is sure because when one is bent on something, it implies a strong
The mood of the poem is pensive because the persona is reflecting on man's influ
ence on the world.
The tone of the poem is one of confidence and formality.
Nature, religion

A Stone's Throw - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
5.We shouted out
'We've got her! Here she is!
It's her all right '.
We caught her.
There she was 1.A decent-looking woman, you'd have said,
(6.They often are)
Beautiful, but 7.dead scared,
8.Tousled - we roughed her up
A little, 9.nothing much
And not the first time
By any means
She'd felt men's hands
Greedy over her body 10.But ours were virtuous,
Of course.
And if our fingers bruised
Her shuddering skin,
These were love-bites, compared
To the 2.hail of kisses of stone,
The last assault
And 11.battery, frigid rape,
3.To come
12.Of right.

For justice must be done

Specially when
It 13.tastes so good.
And then - 14.this guru,
Preacher, God-merchant, God-knows-what Spoilt the whole thing,
Speaking to her
15.(Should never speak to them)
Squatting on the ground - her level,
Writing in the dust
Something we couldn't read.
16.And saw in her
Something we couldn't see
At least until
17.He turned his eyes on us,
Her eyes on us,
Our eyes upon ourselves.
18.We walked away
Still holding stones
That we may throw
Another day
Given the urge.
Mitchel, E. 'A Stone's Throw' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Haz
el Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
A crowd, of which the persona forms a part, has caught a woman. The persona impl
ies to the reader that the woman is not decent. She was beautiful, but scared be
cause she had gotten 'roughed up' a little by the crowd. The persona states that
she has experienced men's hands on her body before, but this crowd's hands were
He also makes a proviso that if this crowd bruises her, it cannot be compared to
what she has experienced before. He also speaks about a last assault and batter
y to come. He justifies this last assault by calling it justice, and it is justi
ce that feels not only right, but good. The crowd's 'justice' is placed on hold
by the interruption of a preacher, who stops to talk to the lady. He squats on t
he ground and writes something that the crowd cannot see. Essentially, the preac
her judges them, thereby allowing the lady to also judge the crowd, leading to t
he crowd inevitably judging itself. The crowd walks away from the lady, still ho
lding stones [which can be seen as a metaphor for judgments] that can be thrown
another day.
The persona is making the point that the lady was in fact NOT decent looking.
This device is particularly effective because the word 'kisses' is used. Kiss im
plies something pleasant, but it is actually utilized to emphasize something pai
nful that has happened to the lady; she was stoned.
3. PUN
Title: The title of the poem is itself a pun. A stone's throw is used by many pe

ople in the Caribbean to describe a close distance. eg. "She lives a stone's thr
ow away". The other use of the title is to highlight the content of the poem. It
is a figurative stoning, or judging, of a woman.
Line 23: There is a play on the word 'come'. The persona is telling us that the
crowd is planning to rape the lady, this act is to come, or occur, in the near f
uture. Come, in this context, also means to ejaculate, the culmination of the ac
t of sex. The rapists in the crowd also plan to 'come'.
4. ALLUSION (biblical)
The content of the poem alludes to the story of Mary Magdalene in the Christian
Bible. See John 8 v 5-7.
5. 'we'
This immediately tells the reader that the persona is in a crowd, which highligh
ts to us that the mob mentality exists in this context. The crowd acts as one en
6. 'they'
The use of this word immediately alienates the lady and places her in the scornf
ul realm of the 'other'.
7. 'dead scared'
The use of the term 'dead' to describe the lady's emotional state of fearfulness
implies that she is extremely frightened, it is beyond regular fear.
8. 'tousled'
This words mean to be handled roughly and, as a result, to look disorderly and d
isheveled. It is the perfect word to use in this context because it adds to the
sexual innuendo that exists throughout the poem.
9. 'nothing much'
The persona disregards the damage that they have done to the lady. He admits to
the rough treatment, but tries to make himself, and the crowd, look good despite
their wrong doing.
10. 'But ours were virtuous, Of course'
This is almost like a tongue in cheek admittance that their touch was actually t
he opposite of virtuous. The use of the term 'of course' highlights this interpr
11. 'battery'
In the Caribbean context, battery refers to the slang term for the rape of an in
dividual, conducted by several people in succession. Therefore, the persona is p
ointing out the intent of the crowd, or some people in the crowd.
12. 'Of right'
This is a clear indication from the persona that he believes that he and the mob
are in the right.
13. 'tastes so good'
'Taste', to a lot of individuals, is one of the higher senses. Therefore, when t
he persona uses this word, he is highlighting the intense pleasure that he antic
ipates from meting out this 'justice'.
14. 'this guru, Preacher, God-merchant, God-knows-what'
The persona's annoyance at this individual for disrupting his fun comes out in t
his statement. The persona is deliberately being disrespectful.
15. '(Should never speak to them)'
This particular line speaks to the alienation that the lady faces. She is groupe
d scornfully as 'them'.
16. 'And saw in her something we couldn't see'
The intruder saw value in the lady, something that the crowd did not see.
17. 'He turned his eyes on us, Her eyes on us, Her eyes upon ourselves.'
This speaks to the fact that the preacher and the lady judge the crowd, and, mor
e importantly, the crowd judges itself. The preacher's act of kindness sheds lig
ht on the cruelty that is inflicted on the lady by the crowd.
18. 'We walked away Still holding stones'

This implies that the crowd still plans to keep judging, and acting on their jud
gments, as they see fit.
The tone of the poem is mixed. At times it is almost braggadocious, then it beco
mes sarcastic, moving to scornful.
Discrimination, religion, survival, hypocrasy, oppression, alienation.

Test Match Sabina Park - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
Proudly wearing the 4.rosette of my skin
I 5.strut into Sabina
3.England boycotting excitement bravely,
6.something badly amiss.
Cricket. Not the game they play at Lords,
the crowd - 1.whoever saw a crowd
at a cricket match? - are caged
7.vociferous partisans, quick to take offence.
8.England sixty eight for none at lunch.
1.'What sort o battin dat man?
dem kaaan play cricket again,
praps dem should-a-borrow 2.Lawrence Rowe!'
And on it goes, 9.the wicket slow
as the batting and the crowd restless.
1.'Eh white bwoy, how you brudders dem
does sen we sleep so? Me a pay monies
fe watch dis foolishness? Cho!
So I try to explain in my Hampshire drawl
about conditions in Kent,
about 10.sticky wickets and muggy days
and the monsoon season in Manchester
but fail to convince even myself.
The crowd's 11.loud 'busin drives me out
12.skulking behind a tarnished rosette
somewhat frayed now but unable, quite,
to conceal a 13.blushing nationality.
Brown, S. 'Test Match Sabina Park' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt an
d Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona, a white man, proudly enters Sabina Park to watch a cricket match be
tween England and the West Indies. The persona notices that the game is slow and
that the crowd is not reacting well. He is, in fact, initially shocked that the
re is a crowd at all because this is usually not the case at Lords. By lunch, En

gland is sixty eight for none, and the crowd gets abusive. They even
maybe they should borrow Lawrence Rowe. The persona tries to explain
behind the slow pace of the British side, but fails to convince even
s embarrassment at England's performance has him skulking out of the

state that
the reason
himself. Hi

Stanza 2, lines 6-7: This question reveals that, despite the fact that cricket i
s a popular sport in England, the venues for the matches are not crowded. This q
uestion could also point to the fact that Sabina Park was very crowded.
Stanza 3, line 10: This question represents the general frustration of the West
Indians in the crowd. They are annoyed that the cricket match is progressing so
slowly, hence their annoyance.
Stanza 4, lines 16-18: These questions imply that the West Indian crowd's level
of frustration has escalated.
The allusion to Lawrence Rowe, a very colourful and successful West Indian crick
eter, emphasizes the fact that the match is slow and boring.
To 'boycott' is to abstain, or to stop, from doing something. Therefore, the per
sona is being sarcastic because excitement is a good thing, people usually boyco
tt for something negative. Therefore, the persona is, again, highlighting the sl
ow and boring pace of the cricket match.
4.'rosette of my skin'
Rosette implies a reddish colour, or tint, to the skin, that sometimes resembles
a rose. This description immediately identifies the race of the persona as whit
e. The persona is proud of his race, as he enters Sabina Park.
'This word means to walk proudly. It emphasizes the fact that the persona is pro
udly walking into Sabina Park.
6.'something badly amiss'
The persona is jolted by the fact that the match is going slowly. The word 'amis
s' implies wrong, the game should not be going so slowly.
7.'vociferous partisans'
Vociferous means to be very noisy and clamorous and patisan is a person who show
s biased, emotional allegiance. Therefore, the West Indian crowd was extremely n
oisy in their support of their team. They were also very unappreciative of the s
low pace of the match.
8.'England sixty eight for none at lunch'
While this is a good score, it never-the-less highlights the slowness of the mat
ch, hence the fact that the experience, for the crowd, was far from exciting.
9.'the wicket slow'
The purpose of the wicket is to 'out' the opposing side. Therefore, no 'outing'
is occurring, the wickets are standing. Everything about the match is going slow
10.'sticky wickets'
This implies a sticky, or awkward situation. It highlights England's situation.
11.'loud 'busin'
The English team was being loudly abused.
12.'skulking behind a tarnished rosette'
Skulking implies hiding in shame, and tarnished means tainted. Therefore, the pr
oud Englishman is now embarrassed, and the rosette of his skin is making him sta
nd out. Initially this was a very good thing, but now it is a disadvantage.
13.'blushing nationality'.

At this point, the Englishman admits to being embarrassed for his team, as well
as himself.
*There is a distinct CONTRAST between the beginning of the poem when the persona
is proud, and 'struts'. However, by the end of the poem, he is embarrassed and
There are two distinct voices in this poem. The English man and the West Indian.
The mood of the poem is tense.
The tone of the poem is one of frustration
Discrimination, places, culture and sports

Theme For English B - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you Then it will be true.
1.I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
3.I went to school there, then Durham, then here to this college on the hill abo
ve Harlem.
I am the only colored student in the class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem, through a park, then I cross St.
Nicholas, Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, the Harlem Branch Y, wher
e I take the elevator up to my room, sit down, and write this page:
It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, 2.I hear you: hear you, hear me - we too - you,
me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) 1.Me - who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records - Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not
like the same things other folks like who are
other races.
1.So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
4.But it will be

a part of you, instructor.

You are white yet a part of me, as I am a
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't
Nor do I often want to be a
But we are, that's true!
5.As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me although you're older - and
and somewhat more free.

part of you.
want to be a part of me.
part of you.

white -

This is my page for English B.

Hughs, L. 'Theme For English B' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and H
azel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
The persona's lecturer gave him an assignment to write a page that reflects 'him
', or who he is. The persona wonders if this is a simple task, and begins to thi
nk about his life. Things like his age, place of birth, race and place of reside
nce. Based on these musings, he surmises that he is confused due to his youth. H
e guesses that he is what he feels, sees and hears, which is Harlem, New York. H
e continues his musing about what he likes, and concludes that he likes the same
things that people of other races do. On this basis, he questions whether or no
t his page will be influenced by race. He concludes that it will not be white. H
e admits that his instructor, as well as the fact that this instructor is white,
will have some influence on his page. He states that they both influence each o
ther, that is what being American is about. He believes that both of them might
not want to influence each other, but it cannot be helped. He concludes that bot
h of them will learn from each other, despite the fact that the instructor has t
he double advantage of being older, white and more free. All of these musings an
d conclusions become his page for English B.

Stanza 2, line 6: The persona ponders the ease of what he is asked to do. This q
uestion, in turn, actually highlights the difficult nature of the task.
Stanza 3, line24: This question highlights the persona's confusion as to who he
is. He is unsure.
Stanza 4, line 32: The persona is wondering whether his race will affect what h
e writes on the page, despite the fact that he concludes that race does not hind
er people, in general, liking the same things.
This repetition emphasizes the profound impact that Harlem, New York, has had on
the personality of the persona.
4.'But it will be a part of you, instructor. You are white - yet a part of me, a
s I am a part of you.That's American.'
This statement reveals the fact that America is viewed as a melting pot by the p
ersona. He believes that different races and cultures influence each other, ther
eby forming the term 'American'
5.As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me - although you're older - and w

hite - and somewhat more free.

This statement, by the persona, repeats his belief that the American society is
a melting pot. It also, however, states that not every-one is equal within this
* It is interesting to note that the persona's 'page for English B' becomes a jo
urney of self discovery that actually does not end. He forms no conclusion as to
who he is because his personality is still 'in process'
MOOD/ ATMOSPHEREThe mood of the poem is reflective.
The tone of the poem is also reflective.
Racism, places

Dreaming Black Boy - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
1.I wish my teacher's eyes wouldn't
go past me today. Wish he'd know
it's okay to hug me when I kick
a goal.1.Wish I myself wouldn't
hold back when an answer comes.
2.I'm no woodchopper now
like all ancestor's.
1.I wish I could be educated
to the best of tune up, and earn
good money and 3.not sink to lick
boots.1.I wish I could go on every
crisscross way of the globe
and no persons or powers or
hotel keepers would make it a waste.
1.I wish life wouldn't spend me out
opposing.1.Wish same way creation
would have me stand it would have me stretch, and hold high, voice
Paul Robeson's, my 4.inside eye
a sun. Nobody wants to say
hello to nasty answers.
1.I wish 2.torch throwers of night
would burn lights for decent times.
1.Wish 2.plotters in pyjamas would pray
for themselves. Wish people wouldn't
talk as if I dropped from Mars
1.I wish only boys were scared
behind bravados, for I could suffer.
I could suffer a big big lot.
1.I wish nobody would want to earn
the terrible burden I can suffer.
King, H. 'Dreaming Black Boy' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Haz

el Simmond-McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.

This is the OPINION of o
ne individual, which might not coincide with the views of others.
The poem is about a black boy who wishes that he could have the regular things i
n life. Things such as a congratulatory hug, to be educated to the highest level
and to travel without harassment. The persona yearns to stop fighting for the b
asic right to be successful, to rise above societal expectations.
The constant repetition of the phrase 'I wish' points to a yearning, a desperati
on even, for the basic things that life has to offer. The repetition gives crede
nce to the idea that the persona might believe that his wishes are actually drea
ms that might not come true.
Stanza 1, lines 6 and 7, alludes to slavery, the state of lacking control over o
ne's own life and destiny. The fact that reference is made to this hints to how
the persona feels about his life. He does not feel as if he has control over it.
Stanza 3, lines 19 to 20, alludes to Paul Robeson, a black intellectual, who att
ained success despite difficult circumstances. The persona yearns to be like thi
s person. He wants room to stretch intellectually.
Stanza 4, lines 22 to 25, alludes to the klu klux klan. Burning lights refers to
the burning crosses and the pyjamas alludes to their white outfits that look li
ke pyjamas. The persona wants them to leave him alone, find something else to do
other than make his life difficult, as well as contributing to his wishes remai
ning a dream.
3.'not sink to lick boots'
This refers to the concept of being subservient. To have no choice but to kowto
w to people in order to get ahead.
4. 'Inside eye a sun'
This refers to the persona's mind. He wants to show how intelligent he is withou
t fear. He wants his mind to be a sun. Sun represents brightness and light, that
is how he wants his intelligence to shine.
TONE: The tone/mood of the poem is one of sadness. The persona is thinking about
how he is treated and he reacts to this in a sad way. He keeps wishing that thi
ngs were different.
THEMATIC CATEGORY: Racism, survival, oppression, desire/dreams.
O'l Higue - Literature Notes
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
You think I like this 5.stupidness! 6.gallivanting all night without skin,
1.burning myself out like cane-fire frighten the foolish?
2.And for what? A few drops of baby blood?
2.You think I wouldn't rather
take my blood seasoned in fat
black-pudding, like everyone else?
And don't even talk 'bout the pain of salt

and having to bend these old bones down

to count a thousand grains of rice!
If only babies didn't smell so nice!
And if I could only stop
hearing 3.the soft, soft call
of that 7.pure blood running in new veins,
4.singing the sweet song of life
tempting an old, dry-up woman who been
8.holding her final note for years and years,
afraid of the dying hum ...
Then again, if I didn't fly and come
to that 9.fresh pulse in the middle of the night, would you, mother,
name your ancient dread?
2.And who to blame
for the murder inside your head ...?
Believe me As long as it have women giving birth
a poor ol' higue like me can never dead.
McWatt, M. 'Ol' Higue' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simm
onds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
In this poem, the Ol' Higue / soucouyant tells of her frustration with her lifes
tyle. She does not like the fact that she sometimes has to parade around, in the
form of a fireball, without her skin at night. She explains that she has to do
this in order to scare people, as well as to acquire baby blood. She explains th
at she would rather acquire this blood via cooked food, like every-one else. Her
worst complaint is the pain of salt, as well as having to count rice grains. Sh
e exhibits some regret for her lifestyle but implies that she cannot resist a ba
by's smell, as well as it's pure blood. The 'newness' of the baby tempts the Ol'
Higue, and she cannot resist because she is an old woman who fears death, which
can only be avoided by consuming the baby's blood. She affirms her usefulness i
n the scheme of things, however, by claiming that she provides mothers with a na
me for their fears (this being the death of a child), as well as some-one to bla
me when the evil that they wish for their child, in moments of tired frustration
, comes true. She implies that she will never die, so long as women keep having
Cane-fire has a very distinct quality. It burns very quickly and its presence is
felt through it's pungent smell. Therefore, when the Ol' Higue compares herself
to cane fire in her fireball state, it implies that she uses a lot of energy qu
ickly, and is very visible.
Stanza 1,line 4: This rhetorical question highlights the scant regard that the H
igue has for the average person. She is thoroughly annoyed that she has to liter
ally waste her energy on them.
Stanza 1, line 5: This highlights the fact that, again, she is annoyed that she
has to expend so much energy to obtain a few drops of baby blood.
Stanza 1, lines 6-8: The Ol' Higue is emphasizing the fat that regular people in
gest blood too, just in a more palatable manner. She would not mind if she could
ingest it in the same manner as well.
Stanza 3, lines 22-23: At this point, the Ol' Higue is making excuses for her pr

esence, claiming that she serves an actual purpose in the scheme of life. If a c
hild dies of unknown causes, she can be scapegoated for it.
Stanza 3, lines 24-25: 'The murder inside your head' refers to the moments, when
out of pure frustration and tiredness, a mother might wish ill on her child. Th
e Ol' Higue is implying that, again, she can be used as a scapegoat if something
unfortunate happens to the child. The mother is relieved of bearing the burden
of guilt.
The repetition of the word 'soft' emphasizes the fact that the call of the child
's blood has captured and beguiled the Ol' Higue'. She implies that she cannot r
esist that call.
This device emphasizes the Ol' Higue's dependence, even addiction, to the sweet
blood of the baby.
5. 'stupidness!'
This is a distinctly Caribbean phrase that highlights frustration or scorn. Ther
efore, it highlights the Ol' Higue's frustration with her lack of self control.
6. 'gallivanting'
This term refers to some one 'playing around', having fun. The Ol' Higue is bein
g sarcastic at this point. She is expressing displeasure at having to fly around
to seek prey.
7. 'pure blood running in new veins'
Babies are often associated with purity, this is what is emphasized here. The Ol
' Higue simply cannot resist the lure of new and pure blood.
8. 'holding her final note for years and years, afraid of the dying hum ...'
This tells us that the Ol'Higue has been living this desperate existence for a l
ong time. It also implies that she will keep hanging on, despite her frustration
. The final line confirms this point: 'As long as it have women giving birth a p
oor Ol' Higue like me can never dead'
The mood of the poem is reflective.
The tone of the poem is slightly bitter and resigned. She accepts that the cycle
of her life cannot change.

Le Loupgarou - Literature Notes

The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in
the text.
A 5.curious 1.tale that threaded through town
Through greying women sewing under eaves,
Was how his greed had brought old Le Brun down, 1.greeted by slowly shutting jal
When he approached them in 6.white linen-linen suit,
Pink glasses, cork hat and 2.tap-tapping cane,
3.A dying man licensed to sell sick fruit,
Ruined by fiends with whom he'd made a bargain.

It seems one night, these 4.Christian witches said,

He changed himself into an 7.Alsatian hound,
A slathering lycenthrope, hot on a scent,
1.But his own watchman dealt the thing a wound
Which howled and lugged its entrails, trailing wet
With blood back to its doorstep, almost dead.
Walcott, D. 'Le Loupgarou' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel
Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views o
f others.
This poem tells the tale of old LeBrun, a man that was rumoured by the townspeop
le to be a loupgarou. Old women would relax under eaves and gossip about Le Brun
, while literally shutting him out of their lives with their closing windows. Th
e prevailing gossip, in this poem, is that he transformed into a hound one night
, but was dealt a wound by his own watchman. He then lugged his entrails back to
his doorstep, almost dead.

Lines 1-3: This alliteration gives the reader a visual imagery of the manner in
which the gossip about Le Brun spread. A thread is thin and fine and can weave i
tself in any crevice, sometimes in a very non-linear and sinuous manner. This de
scribes the way in which the gossip spread. It managed to touch the whole villag
e in an almost insiduous, and complete, manner.
Line 5: This literary device speaks to the results of the gossip. Le Brun is ali
enated from the people of the town. Their fascination with him, however, is evid
ent by the fact that they slowly shut their jalouses/windows. The lack of speed
implies that they are watching him, while also alienating him.
Lines 17-21: This alliteration highlights the severity of the loupgarou's injuri
es. You can almost see and hear the wetness of the blood, as well as see the ent
rails trailing wet through the use of this device.
The tap-tapping cane is a part of Le Brun's physical description. He appears to
stand out, in terms of his physical appearance, down to the use of his cane.
This statement appears nonsensical at first, but actually makes sense in the lon
g run. The loupgarou is, in fact, a man who is leading a half life as man and be
ast, so he is not really 'living'. The fact that he can pass on the 'gift' of be
coming a werewolf clarifies the fact that Le Brun is actually 'licensed to sell
sick fruit', or pass on his sick 'gift'.
The words 'Christian' and 'witches', placed together, emphasizes the dual nature
of the women in the village. They are good Christian women who mean no harm, bu
t their fear of the 'difference' that they sense in Le Brun (contributed by his
mode of dress), leads them to react in an unchristian manner, like witches, in d
ealing with him.
It is ironic that Le Brun's own watchman dealt him a lethal blow.

This word emphasizes the strangeness of the story that is circulated about Le Br
6.white linen-linen suit, pink glasses, cork hat (and cane)
This outfit would let anyone be seen in a crowd, or other wise. It emphasizes Le
Brun's difference , hence, one of the reasons that he would be the focus of gos
sip. Imagine an individual dressed in the combination below:

7.Alsatian hound, a slathering lycenthrope

This description of Le Brun displays the distaste that is felt towards him in hi
s animal form.
The mood of the poem is reflective.
The tone of the poem is calm and reflective. The persona is simply recounting a
piece of gossip.


Trevor Rhone s Old Story Time
Trevor Rhone s play Old Story Time portrays a Jamaican storytelling situation in t
wo acts with one and six scenes, respectively. Pa Ben, who is the narrator as we
ll as a character in the play, tells the story of the Tomlinson family. Using fl
ashbacks, Rhone stages events in a time span of around thirty years, beginning w
ith Len Tomlinson s boyhood. Miss Aggy, Len s mother, puts him through school with r
igid pressure and is obsessed with the idea that he should marry Margaret, the m
inister s light-skinned daughter, in order to advance his social status.
While abroad on a scholarship, Len keeps only scarce contact with his mother. Wh
en she finally learns that he has married Lois, a black woman, she is absolutely
infuriated and convinced that Lois could have worked this only with a spell. Le
n returns home as a successful banker and sets out to ruin the business of Georg
e McFarlane, a light-skinned upper-class former schoolmate now involved in dubio
us financial dealings. When Miss Aggy speaks up on behalf of George, whose famil
y she still holds in high regard, this results in a serious confrontation betwee
n mother and son. Miss Aggy again blames Lois for using magic to alienate her so
n from her and decides to employ a fatal obeah spell against her daughter-in-law
The climactic final scene of the play reveals the real reason for Len s hatred aga
inst George: in school Len had once written a love letter to Margaret, which she
and her boyfriend George considered an impudence of a black, ugly, little big-li
pped (83) boy. They set Len up to be thrashed and utterly humiliated by George an
d his friends. Miss Aggy also learns that it was Lois s family who took care of Le
n right after this traumatic experience, which finally makes her accept her son s
wife and realize her own wrongs. In a happy ending, Len s family comes together in
a cathartic night of repentance, forgiveness, exorcism, and love (Stone 46).
Looking at contrasts in Setting, Costumes, and Roles in Old Story Time
The simple setting (Rhone 4) of Old Story Timeis represented by a stage divided in
to three frames. Of these three frames, two show the interior and exterior of Mi

ss Aggy s house in the beginning of the play, while the third suggests Pa Ben s old h
ouse (4) with its raised veranda. While this third section remains unchanged thro
ughout the play, the stage directions mention that during the first act, the sce
nery of Miss Aggy s house is changed to represent the interior of Len s house, while
Pa Ben fittingly sings a song titled Change the House Round (4).
This change of the setting reveals a creation of seemingly difference on multipl
e levels. While a picture of Jesus hangs on the wall in Miss Aggy s house, after i
ts reversal during the song it reveal[s] Len s college diploma (4). In this case, th
e setting opens up the contrasts of (religious) tradition and (secular) progress
. Another opposition, namely rich versus poor, is created by the reversal of the
panels that suggest the peeling wattle-and-daub walls (4) of Miss Aggy s house. Afte
r being turned around, these panels reveal the marble finish (4) of the walls in L
en s house and, in that, give an air of wealth as opposed to the rather poor ambie
nce in the house of Len s mother. The establishment of this contrast is further em
phasized by an old curtain hung in the centre of the frame [that] reflects Mama s p
overty (4), as stated in the introduction of Old Story Time. Removal of the curta
in during Change the House Round reveals books, candle-holders, a vase, etc. (4) to sh
ow the different conditions Miss Aggy and Len live in. Furthermore, the two fram
es representing Len s house are later in the play also used as George s office in th
e bank and described as freely interchangeable (5), creating yet another contrast:
the public (working) sphere and the private sphere.
In Old Story Time, the setting therefore represents one instance in which contra
st is staged in Old Story Time. In the change from Miss Aggy s house to Len s house,
contrasts are constructed and show distinct differences.
The contrast of wealth and poverty is portrayed again in the description of the
costumes in Old Story Time. While some characters, including Margaret, Lois, the
Real Estate Developer, and George are dressed in expensive clothes, the others
wear old and worn-out clothes reflecting their economically-bad situation. Where
as most characters are constantly wearing the same kind of clothing throughout t
he different events spanning around thirty years, there are two changes in that
respect: Len, who begins the play dress[ing] in the style of thirty-odd years ago ,
but later dresses in the mode of the successful banker in today s world , and Pearl,
who in the beginning of the play is a teenager in well worn clothes and goes from
an even more tattered dress to being literally dressed in rags (6).
The description of the costumes becomes relevant when Rhone writes that [a]ll the
characters are black, except George, a high brown man, and Margaret, a fair-ski
nned girl (7). In this sense, the dramatis personae of Old Story Time and the dif
ferent meanings of their respective costumes work against solid and identical id
eas of culture. Here, difference is portrayed on two levels: first, there is the
difference between the group of black characters and the two non-black characte
rs. Secondly, within the group of Afro-Caribbean characters, difference is creat
ed in terms of wealth and poverty.
By incorporating black and non-black characters in his play and bringing up the
contrast of wealth and poverty again, Rhone portrays Caribbean society as divers
e and assorted. Within the upper class segment of the characters, George and Len
constantly fight for money, power, and the chance for revenge; in the lower cla
ss segment, Miss Aggy is plagued by internalized racism and regards Pearl, who i
s struggling for survival throughout the play, with shame. Within the group of A
fro-Caribbean characters, there is no unity either, as conflicts between Len and
his mother as well as between Miss Aggy and Pearl destroy any illusions of disc
ourses of racial and/or cultural purity.
Language in Old Story Time
In Old Story Time, deviations from standard English occur right from the beginni
ng of the play. When Pa Ben enters the auditorium and addresses the audience, he
does so in nation language, which he uses throughout the play:
PA BEN: An mi father would wax warm, him mind pon the story an one eye pon the young
gal them. Ah, boy, those were the days. Yes, A can still hear the bamboo clarine
t, and the fife a whistle, and the drum a lick, an A can still see miself dress u
p in all mi finery stepping into the dance yard. (9)

It is obvious that Pa Ben uses a form of dialect3here, as do, to some degree, mo

st of the other characters in the play. The written forms mi (instead of my ), pon (inst
ad of upon ), an
(instead of and ), gal (instead of girls ),or A (instead of I ),for
e different pronunciations and/or intonations of the Caribbean dialect in compar
ison to standard English. The use of him (instead of the possessive pronoun his )and th
em (at the end of the first sentence in the above quotation) points to different
grammatical structures, or different uses of the language. Furthermore, differen
ces in the language between the standard variety of English and the Caribbean ve
rnacular used in Old Story Time can be seen in the play s glossary, where some of
the different lexical items are explained (xix-xx). Overall, the dialogue of Old
Story Time is largely written in a Caribbean dialect of English (cf. Stone 41),
or using Brathwaite s terminology in nation language. This use of the dialect means
that it is regarded as real yet inferior.The only characters that avoid using di
alect forms on a frequent basis are Lois, George, and Len the latter, however, doe
s so only after his return from studying abroad. This can be ascribed to their w
ish to distance themselves from the Afro-Caribbean culture that they perceive as
inferior throughout the majority of the play.
In the beginning of Old Story Time, Pa Ben enters the auditorium singing and add
ressing the audience:
Make yourselves comfortable on them nice chairs. You people lucky, years ago whe
n A was a boy and A use to go listen to story, it was never in no fancy place li
ke this, with all them pretty fandangles, pretty lights and whatnot. No, sir. (8
In this very moment at the beginning of the play, his role as narrative voice is
established and he reveals himself as the storyteller.
Pa Ben himself outlines the tradition of storytelling for the audience while the
actors who later play the different characters gather around him, representing
the villagers:
On an evening in the district, we would gather at the village square, everybody
gather round the shop piazza, some sit pon old drum, others pon the old crocus bag
s filled with salt, everybody chatting, some meddling in people s business, others
giving remembrance to who dead the week before, who saw the ghost and what not,
and my father was the chief Storyteller when him feel in the mood. (8)
Here, it becomes clear that storytelling is not only about educating in the sense
of passing on the history and culture of a community but that it also has an enter
taining function. Old Story Time portrays story-telling as a major avenue of reco
nnection for the audience with their past and also the present (249). Moreover, i
n Pa Ben s explanation of the storytelling tradition, its importance as a communal
action that supports the formation of a close-knit community is highlighted by
the description of people gathering to talk to each other, to give advice, and t
o mourn the dead.
Storytelling is portrayed as an important tradition in non-literate communities wh
ere history was preserved by the story-teller who held a privileged place central
to the maintenance and sustenance of the group s culture (126) indicating that the t
radition dates back to pre-slavery times.
In Old Story Time, there are indeed instances in which Pa Ben, in his role as st
oryteller, assumes a function of resistance to traditional Western views. In the
prologue, he openly admits that certain facts are unknown to him: What A don t kno
w as a fact, A will make up as A go along, and if A can t do it by miself, mi frie
nd here will help me. [Indicating his rum bottle.] (10). By that, he blurs the bo
undaries between fiction and history and indicates that the one is not to be ent
irely separated from the other.
This notion is further emphasized in the beginning of act II, scene one, when Pa
Ben appears as the storyteller again. The frame-tale from the prologue is picke
d up again as the actors once more portray the listening and commenting villagers ga
thered around Pa Ben:
ACTOR WHO PLAYS GEORGE: What secret Mongoose carrying for Miss Lois?
PA BEN: Miself want to know.
ALL THE ACTORS/VILLAGERS: You know, man, you know.

ACTOR WHO PLAYS LEN: Yes, him know.

PA BEN: I don t know, honest, would I tell a lie?
Here, the notion of truth is once more put into question. Pa Ben again admits th
at he does not know every detail of the story he is telling to the villagers. Wh
en they do not believe him, he poses the ironical rhetorical question if he woul
d lie to his audience which is promptly answered in the affirmative. The audience
grants full narrative authority to Pa Ben and wants the story to be continued, w
hile readily accepting the fact that Pa Ben could (and has already been proven t
o) lie to them.
The fact that Pa Ben appears in Old Story Time not only in his role as the story
teller, but also as a character within the fictional world of the play itself, n
ecessitates a distinction between these two roles. When Pa Ben takes the role of
a character within the fictional world of the play (that is, the story he is te
lling) and interacts with the other figures, we see that by performing both as t
he storyteller and as a character taking part in the story he is telling, Pa Ben
can be seen as having a two-fold function, since it is difficult to completely
separate the two roles he takes in the play. This becomes evident in two exempla
ry instances quoted and analyzed below, in which Pa Ben switches between his two
PA BEN: [Speaking directly to the audience] If A had mi wits about me, A would s
ave the boy a licking that evening. A should tell him mother that is me send him
out. A have to find him before she catch up with him. Lennie! [As he goes off c
alling, MAMAcan also be heard calling off stage, Lennard! ] (12)
Speaking towards the auditorium, Pa Ben offers his thoughts. Here, it is difficu
lt to determine whether he is speaking to the audience as the storytelling voice
or whether he addresses it in the form of a monologue in the role of his charac
ter. When he eventually goes off calling for Len, Pa Ben leaves that space of un
decidability between the two roles he takes in the play and returns to the world
of fictitious characters. Another instance in which the hybrid nature of Pa Ben s
character is portrayed is the following:
PA BEN: [Coming through the door of his little house] A year go by, and not a wo
rd pass between us. One piece a malice she keep up on me. A try to talk to her.
[He walks over to her space.] Morning, Miss Aggy. [MAMA s head flashes around only
to flash back again. She does not return the greeting. PA BENreturns to the aud
ience.] It hurt mi soul case how she was going on. [MAMA changes her scarf again
.] After all, she was mi best friend. A had to keep trying, for me is not one to
keep up malice. [He goes across to her space again.] Evening, Miss Aggy. (24)
Here, Pa Ben unquestioningly talks to the audience in the role of the play s story
teller. This becomes clear by him taking a mediating function and telling what h
as (or, rather, has not) been happening between him and Miss Aggy over the cours
e of a year. Pa Ben then spontaneously switches to his role as a character in th
e play when he walks over to Miss Aggy s house and greets her. Thereafter, he swit
ches back to his role as storyteller and, in the end of the quotation, reassumes
his role as a character within the fictional world of the play again. These two
instances illustrate the complexity of the character Pa Ben. This blurring of t
he boundaries between him as the storyteller (being the mediating system of comm
unication) and him as the character (participating in the dramatic situation) ca
nnot easily be dissolved, which makes it seem reasonable to speak of a hybrid fu
nction which Pa Ben carries in Trevor Rhone s play.
This two-fold function that Pa Ben carries is also important in creating a fusio
n of genre in Old Story Time. As shown, the setting and circumstances as well as
the language of Old Story Time bear a distinctively Caribbean mark which portra
y the fusion of Caribbean culture.
From a strictly formal point of view, Trevor Rhone s play can be categorized as a
n incorporation of a narrative voice, music, and dance, among others, into the
drama (cf. Cuddon 273-74). Rhone s use of the storytelling device, however, manage
s to introduce a specifically Caribbean element into this form of epic theatre.
This Caribbeanization of the play is also evident by the integration of Caribbean f
olk songs, as in the very beginning of the play when Pa Ben enters the auditoriu

m singing Old Story Time . . . Old Story Time (8) to the tunes of the music.
In traditional plays, storytelling was not considered part of the format of cons
tructing a play but in Old Story Time, there is the inclusion of Caribbean music
and storytelling and acting which makes it new and different. In this role, Pa
Ben is actually more than just a narrative voice. He appears as the focal point
of the play, because without a storyteller there would be no story told and in ext
ension, no play. However, he appears in this role only in parts of the play.
The strong presence of the storytelling voice in some parts of the play, in comb
ination with the complete lack of it in others, leads to a blurring of the genre
boundaries. While Old Story Time is without any doubt a form of drama in the mo
st encompassing sense of the term, it does not seem sensible to list it under th
e genre of a traditional drama, because it has so many new qualities of Caribbea
n influence through the character of Pa Ben. From this point of view, it seems
more fitting to call Old Story Timea storytelling drama than to categorize it as an
epic drama, as this draws attention to the fact that a fusion of drama has emer
ged from the Caribbean and European elements in this case.
Anything Black Nuh Good :Internalized Racism, Familial Conflict and Hybrid Identiti
es in Old Story Time
The central theme in Old Story Timeis the familial conflict developing between s
ingle mother Miss Aggy and her son Len and the final solution of this in the las
t scene of act II. The figure of Miss Aggy is especially interesting in this res
pect, due to the fact that her internalization of racist stereotypes fuels the c
onflict immensely. Internalized racism can be seen as one of the effects of havi
ng been a colonised country. This means the black person feels racial self-hatre
d and considers himself/ herself as inferior and powerless in the colonial situa
tion .
Miss Aggy is already characterized in her social status when Rhone describes the
setting and costumes of the play: we learn that the figure of Miss Aggy is blac
k (7) and lives in a rather poor house. After the prologue of the play, Miss Agg
y is the first figure to appear in the fictional world of the play when she is l
ooking for Len4, who is not at home even though she wanted him to stay in the hou
se an study him book (10). Her authoritarian style of education becomes clear in t
he following dialogue with her neighbor Pa Ben:
MAMA: If him can t hear him mus feel. [As she is going off] Is you help spoil him.
PA BEN: Lawd! Harass the poor boy so!
MAMA: [As she is leaving she sees a switch on the lower level] Ah, see it here.
Wait till A catch up with him, A going to scour his behind for him this evening.
When she finally catches up with him as he is playing with Pearl, she stops her
son from running away by the threat: If you run A murder you tonight (13). Even th
ough these words are not likely to be serious, it becomes clear that Miss Aggy d
oes not accept any objections and does not hesitate to use physical punishment i
f her son violates the rules she has set.
The motivation of Miss Aggy s harsh style of education is shown in the dialogue wi
th her son, which also reveals much about her psyche:
MAMA: Miss Esmeralda frowsy-tail, jiggerfoot, jersey ears, board head gal is you
r friend? Where is yuh ambition? You don t have any ambition? After A struggle out
mi soul case to send you to big shot high school, you come home come mix up wit
h that little dry-head gal? How much time A must tell you, don t mix up with the l
ittle dutty black gal dem in the district? How much time A must tell you, anythi
ng black nuh good? She is no advancement. It look like A will have to beat it in
to you. (14)
Here, Miss Aggy reveals one of her most predominant traits of character: she des
pises anything that is black. This hatred towards black people and, in extension
, towards herself, is emphasized even further when Pa Ben in his role as storyte
ller explains her behavior to the audience: You have to understand Miss Aggy. She
wouldn t even have a black chicken in her yard. One chop, off with the head (14).
Even though this is very likely to be an overstatement, it serves to show how de
ep-running Miss Aggy s despise of blackness actually is. Judy Stone also emphasize
s how the workings of the colour bias that not so long ago was upheld within the

West Indian society even by its victims (46) are represented in the dramatic figur
e of Miss Aggy.
While Miss Aggy s intentions in the strict upbringing of Len are based on the misg
uided premises of her internalized racism, they ultimately prove to be good. She
tells her son that she only wants what is best for him, and explains to him tha
t life is hard when you black, but with a little education you still have a chanc
e (14). Grace Owen describes the figure of Miss Aggy as a woman of courage, relent
less in her efforts to assist the next generation, her son, to rise above povert
y through education (72). While this observation holds true, it is still question
able if the advancement that Miss Aggy wants her son to achieve can be accomplishe
d by education alone. Furthermore, Miss Aggy s notions of ambition and advancement
are highly problematic, as both actually aim at gaining an idealized whiteness:
When time come for you to have girlfriend, A have a nice girl pick out for you.
Miss Margaret, Reverend Greaves daughter, a nice brown girl with tall hair down
to her back. She is advancement, you hear me (14). Pa Ben telling the audience th
at Miss Margaret was like an obsession with [Miss Aggy] (14) reinforces the notion
that the figure of the reverend s daughter is a personification of the advancement
towards whiteness, which is the driving force behind Miss Aggy s actions througho
ut the play.
Judy Stone identifies this constant pressure that the endearing but obsessively f
eudal Miss Aggie put[s] on her young son to advance himself towards whiteness (45-46
) as one of the problematic points in the relationship of the Tomlinson family.
Miss Aggy s internalized racism and obsession with advancement become even more of
a problem after Len s return from studying abroad. When she learns from a letter
that her son has indeed married, she is shocked and embarrassed to learn that in
stead of Miss Margaret or any other white or brown woman for that matter Len has cho
sen a black woman. In a dialogue with Pa Ben, her feelings of disgust for her so
n s wife surface for the first time:
MAMA: Me nuh care what she name. Me nuh want her beside mi son. [She tears the p
hotograph in two, throwing the part with LOISon the floor.]
PA BEN: Shame on you, Miss Aggy. Before you happy for the boy, you come with yuh
nonsense. [Picking up the torn photograph.]
MAMA: Nonsense. Shut yuh mouth. A know what A talking about. After I drum it int
o him head that anything black nuh good, I know is no way him could pick up that
of him own free will. [Pointing to the torn photograph in PA BEN s hand.] (23)
She cannot accept the fact that her son has betrayed her ideals, and therefore s
uspects his wife Lois of obeah, which is used in Jamaica to denote witchcraft, ev
il magic or sorcery by which supernatural power is invoked to achieve personal p
rotection or the destruction of enemies (Senior 355). Miss Aggy, believing that a
ny black woman is bound to intentionally destroy Len s future and his advancement tow
ards whiteness, projects all her racial self-hatred onto Lois when Len finally r
eturns to the village with his wife and on Pa Ben s bidding makes peace with his mothe
Despite the reunion of mother and son, Miss Aggy is not able to accept Len s decis
ion to marry a black woman. This becomes evident in the very first meeting betwe
en Miss Aggy and her son in years, when Len brings a gift a pretty frock (27) and she
is initially very glad:
MAMA: It really nice. You pick it out for Mama?
LEN: No, Lois did.
MAMA: Oh! A don t think it going to fit me. [She tosses it aside, not too carefull
y.] (28)
Miss Aggy cannot even accept a present that has been selected by Lois. This serv
es once more to show her systematic hatred towards her son s wife. While Miss Marg
aret served as a personification of the positive namely the advancement towards wh
iteness for Miss Aggy, Lois is evil personified a black woman trying to bring Len do
The first time that a direct encounter between Miss Aggy and Lois is staged in t
he play, the audience becomes aware of the level of confrontation between those
two characters:
MAMA: [From off] Hold dog! . . .

LOIS: I wish you would impress upon your mother that we do not have a dog.
LEN: Lois.
LEN: Unless of course she is referring to me, which in fact she is. (32)
By referring to Lois as dog, Miss Aggy in fact replicates the racist claim that peo
ple of African descent were not only inferior, but in fact subhuman. Lois, howev
er, reacts cynically and does nothing to deescalate the situation: Now you must e
xcuse me as I have to clean the shit out of the doghouse (33). Miss Aggy, who prom
ised her son to keep the peace , in reaction makes it clear that nevertheless she ne
ver promised to be nice to [Lois] (33).
Miss Aggy s internalized racism furthermore leads to her being financially cheated
by the corrupt banker George, whom she trusts mainly because he is not black, b
ut a high brown man (7):
MAMA: Only say that right now him in a little financial difficulty, but give him
a little time and everything will be all right, but I explain to him that he do
n t have to worry bout my couple pennies, just straighten out his own business firs
t. Since I know is Missa Mac in charge, I know my money safe. (58)
In this passage, Miss Aggy reveals her feelings of racial inferiority by blindly
believing George and by acknowledging that his financial problems are more impo
rtant than her own, for which, ironically, George is responsible.
In a confrontation with Len, during which he threatens to hit his mother with a
chair, Miss Aggy is pushed to the brink and is convinced that her son is under t
he spell of obeah by Lois. In this situation, internalized racism and religious
fervor drive Miss Aggy, as she decides to no longer accept the evilness that in he
r point of view has befallen her son, and to help him: Len, Len, son, listen to me,
son. Your soul is in bondage! A have to release you! A have to set you free! (60
-61). She decides to take matters in her own hand and destroy Lois through obeah
The figure of Miss Aggy swings between two main characteristics: the loving and
caring mother on the one hand, and the uneducated poor woman on the other, whose
sense of self is warped (Owen 72) as she has internalized the stereotypes and att
itudes of the colonial times towards black people and so now considers black peo
ple and their culture as inferior- even all the while forgetting that she is bla
However, the familial conflict that thus evolves within Old Story Time dissolves
into a happy ending, however. When it becomes clear to Len that he cannot prote
ct Lois from his mother s determination to obeah her, he decides to forgive his mo
ther and to throw overboard once and for all his monolithic views of her as a tra
itor to the race. He hopes that she can eventually do the same when she learns th
e story of Len s humiliation and how Lois and her father helped him back then. Pa
Ben, who throughout the play has the role of negotiator between mother and son,
brings Miss Aggy to Len s house, where the final scene takes place. Before the sto
ry of Len s humiliation is staged, Miss Aggy is again discomforted upon seeing Loi
s. She realizes the consequences of her drumbeat[ing] Miss Margaret so much in hi
m head (82).
Miss Aggy learns that Reverend Greaves whom she had valued so highly was overtly rac
ist, expect[ing] those [black] people to know their place (83), and that his daugh
ter the advancement she sought for her son was one of [Len s] principal tormentors (Stone 4
). Finally beginning to understand her son, she urges forward to kill George and
begs for Len s forgiveness:
MAMA: I have to kill him! [They take away the handbag.] No, don t make me go to mi
grave with mi soul in torment, Lawd, mi spirit in bondage. I have to atone for
mi sins. I have to cleanse mi soul. Oh Len, how I going to sleep tonight? How I
will sleep ever again? Oh Len, Len, forgive me, please, forgive me. (85)
When Len finally tells his mother that the good Samaritan and his daughter (85) wh
o took care of him after his humiliation were Lois and her father, her eyes are
opened and she realizes what her internalized racism has caused. Ashamed of hers
elf, she tries to escape and to save Lois from the consequences of obeah by sacr
ificing herself. She is finally able to accept Lois and embraces her, calling he
r daughter (86). She recognizes that she has been a foolish old woman (86) because s
he was not able to leave her racial self-hatred behind her before it was too lat

However, Len, Lois, and Pa Ben do not let her go. Len tells his mother: We need y
ou, Mama (86), even though Miss Aggy warns them that they are in danger if they t
ry to hold her back and to break the spell of obeah that is bound to destroy her
. Pa Ben, Len, and Lois all sing the twenty-third psalm and at times speak the A
frican words Omia n Twi. Mia Kuru. Omia n ani (87). They succeed in freeing Miss A
ggy from the evil spirits and she hugs Len and Lois and calls them both her chil
dren. Pa Ben sums up the night of exorcism:
All night long we pray. We pray for strength in this the vigil of the long night
. We bind ourselves together with strength and trust and confidence, and there w
as no doubt between us, no enmity in our hearts, for we knew that the one force
that could counteract all evil was there, and that force was love. (87)
Here, the acceptance of the mixed nature (black and light brown, racist and nonracist) of the family (extended by Pa Ben) is shown, as the entire group of fig
ures present in this scene realizes that love is what matters most. They bind th
emselves together, without doubt and enmity, showing clearly that they have real
ized the danger of views of the world. The (re)union of the family is successfu
l because in the end of the play, the three of them together (87) accept their ide
The familial conflict between Miss Aggy and her son can be read as an symbol of
the society of Jamaica, or the West Indies in general. Miss Aggy embodies (among
st others) the racist Eurocentric attitude, which is portrayed as destructive to
the family, and therefore, on another level, to Caribbean society. The acceptan
ce of the fusion of identities by Len and his mother in what Judy Stone has call
ed a cathartic night of repentance, forgiveness, exorcism, and love (46) and the su
bsequent happiness in the life of the family is the ultimate call for the accept
ance of the Caribbean s history. With the happy ending for the family, who is [a]ll
well (87) in the end of the play, Old Story Time can be read as calling for West
Indian society to accept its fusion and to rid itself of racist discourses of p
urity that have, for hundreds of years, plagued the area.
Contrast is staged in Trevor Rhone s Old Story Time on many levels such as descrip
tion of setting and costumes and by revealing the living conditions of the play s
main characters. The incorporation of the storytelling device by Rhone enable[d]
him to make a smooth transition from present to past and vice versa . Pa Ben, th
e storyteller, is himself a figure with a two-fold function, meaning that epic (
traditional story-telling) and dramatic ( as an actor) elements in the play are
intertwined. This two-fold function and the central role the Caribbean tradition
of storytelling plays in Old Story Time as storytelling drama instead of categori
zing it as a traditional drama. On the level of figures in the fictional world o
f the play, Miss Aggy can be regarded as an embodiment of Eurocentric negative a
ttitudes. In the final scene of the play, however, these negative attiudes based
on old colonial history are dissolved in a cathartic night of repentance, forgiv
eness, exorcism, and love (46). Miss Aggy realizes that her views of the world th
reaten to destroy herself and her beloved son, and she begins to accept the new
face of her family.
The Wine of Astonishment - LITERATURE NOTES
Born in Toco, Trinidad
Born in 1935
Spent most of his early years with his maternal grandparents in Tobago
He was an avid reader
He currently lives in Trinidad and Tobago
His passions in life are cricket and football

While God s are Falling, 1964

The Schoolmaster, 1968
The Dragon Can t Dance, 1978
The Wine of Astonishment, 1982
Jestina s Calypso and Other Stories, 1984
Growing in the Dark, 2003
Is Just a Movie, due for publication in August 2010 on
The book is about Eva and Bee Dorcas, members of the Spiritual Baptist Church. I
t is about their experiences of being persecuted for their religious affiliation
and the faith that they have in Ivan Morton to change their situation. The char
acter Bolo is also at the forefront of this story because he embodies the result
of not being able to be a man in a society that does not view being Black as va
Time / Place:
The story is set over a 20 year time period, 1932
Set in a small, remote village in Trinidad called Bonasse
Political structure:
Trinidad was still a colony under the British Empire
Trinidad was ruled under the Crown Colony system
Head of State in England govern
ed the island via the Governor, who was his or her representative
Political power, therefore, lay in the governor, assisted by a Council
Universal adult suffrage (right of all adults to vote) did not occur to Trinidad
until 1946.
Power still lay in the hands of those who owned plantations and these people, in
turn, controlled the instruments of power; the legislature, the courts and the
The economy was still predominantly agricultural; sugar, cocoa, coffee, coconuts
and citrus.
The petroleum industry was just beginning to make an impact.
Subsistence farming (production of foodstuff for domestic use) was the norm
World War II led to the establishment of American bases, which introduced opport
unity to earn money
WW II also introduced a consumer attitude to life in Bonasse
Social structure:
Trinidad boasted a very diverse Creole society populated by a variety of ethnic
groups (Indian, Black, Chinese, White), each with its own cultural and religious
Trinidad was still a series of small villages connected by a network of tiny roa
ds, hence, travel between villages was infrequent
The protagonists in the novel are Spiritual Baptists/ Shouter Baptists
This religion arose out of a fusion of Protestant Christianity and African Orish
a elements
The religion was outlawed in 1917 on the grounds that they disturbed the peace w
ith their bell ringing, loud singing and highly expressive behavior during worsh
See video clip of Spiritual Baptist in Grenada at the bottom of this page.

Eva Dorcas:
The wife of Bee Dorcas and mother to 5 children
She is the emotional support for her husband
She is a strong Christian

The story is told through her eyes (1st person narrator)

She is patient and long suffering
Bee Dorcas:
Eva s husband and father of her 5 children
Pastor of the Shouter Baptist church in the text
He is a strong Christian
He is considered to be the pillar of the community
He is very wise, patient and long suffering
He is very persistent, as seen in his lobbying for Ivan Morton
Shoulders his responsibilities well and does not view them as a burden
Local stick fighting champion
Initially beloved and admired by the community, seen as a hero/warrior figure
Was imprisoned for 3 years for defending his mother, and the church, during a po
lice raid of the Shouter Baptist church
Later becomes the terror of the community because of how he bullied every-one af
ter his return from prison
A brave, yet simple character that was crushed by the realities of life as a bla
ck man in Trinidad
Ivan Morton:
Local boy who was considered to be the pride of the community because he was brig
Failed his college Exhibition examination twice
He eventually became a teacher within the community
He married a light skinned girl from Tunapuna, and abandoned Eulalie and their i
llegitimate baby
The community chose him to represent them on the Council and he became a true po
litician; talk without action
Ivan Morton s driver
A lot of second hand information about Ivan is gleaned from this character, via
Eventually marries Joyce
Mr. Buntin:
Black owner of the local shop
He believed in Black empowerment
He was not a good businessman; a lot of people owed him and his shop was virtual
ly empty by the end of the book
He enjoyed the company of his patrons
Carpenter on the American Base
Money-lender and contact man
Owner of the local shop that eventually competes with Buntin s shop
An example of some-one who has profited from the American presence in Trinidad
Bolo destroys his establishment
He campaigns for Ivan Morton during his bid for re-election to the council
The polar opposite of Bolo
Calm and able to go with the flow
A musician who eventual leaves Bonasse to become the successful Lord Trafalgar
He got along with everyone
The most attractive girl in Bonasse
Widely believed that she would eventually marry Bolo
She dated Ivan Morton instead
She became pregnant by Ivan and was abandoned by him
She eventually went to live in the United States
Corporal Prince:

He was tall and stocky

Enforced the law at all costs
Arrested and brutally beat Bolo, 1st time
Raided the Shouter Baptist church
He was unsympathetic to the Shouter Baptists
Quiet and gentle resident of Bonasse
He tried to be friendly with every-one
Bolo kidnapped his two daughters
Oldest of the Dorcas children
19 years old at the beginning of the story
Leaves Bonasse to become a police
16 years old at the beginning of the story
The most troubled of the Dorcas children
He got in trouble with the law and had to flee to Port of Spain
Also the most charming of the children
15 years old at the beginning of the story
Reader gets all the second hand news about Ivan Morton from her, via Clyde
Dated, then eventually got married to Clyde
At the end of the book, she is pregnant with her first child
8 years at the beginning of the text
A very intelligent young man
Preparing to take the college Exhibition exam in the middle of the text
Gets caught up with talk of black empowerment at Buntin s shop
gains a place in high school on his own initiative, at the beginning of the text
4 years old
Youngest child
Playful and very bright
Chapter 1:
The readers are introduced to the narrator, Eva, and her husband Bee, along with
three of their children: Joyce, Gem and Reggie. Reggie has failed his examinati
on and the couple debates whether or not to ask Ivan Morton for help. It becomes
apparent that the hope of the community rests on this young politician s shoulder
s. He disappoints the community, however, when he does not support the Shouter B
aptists. The reader is introduced to the budding relationship between Joyce and
Clyde, as well as Bolo s disappointment in the church s apathy. The chapter ends wit
h Reggie being placed in a high school after previously applying without his par
ents knowledge.
Chapter 2:
This chapter charts the changes in Bonasse and how it affects Bolo and Clem. Cle
m accepted and went with the flow, while Bolo just could not accept change and b
ecame disruptive. The banning of carnival, hence stick fighting, became a realit
y, and the change that Americans had on the cultural identity of the people was
emphasized throughout this chapter.
Chapter 3:
The church plays a vital role in this chapter. The pride that is felt about its
existence and perseverance is expressed by Eva. However, a law is passed that ma
kes the church illegal, thereby forcing the members to plot to keep the church a
live. The formulated a plan to be quiet in the way they worship and to try to put a
man in the Council . Other things that occur in the chapter are: the tragic tale
of Eulalie/Ivan/Bolo, Bolo losing his temper and its tragic results, and the com

ing of Prince. In the end, Bee decides to break the law because the church is sl
owly dying.
Chapter 4:
In this chapter, the reader learns about Bee s children, as well as their response
to his talk of breaking the law . Winston wants to become a police and Taffy wants
to leave Trinidad. Bolo sits in church as a question mark and eventually leaves
, while Bee finally breaks the law .
Chapter 5:
Bee breaks the law continuously until the church is raided. Everyone is dragged
to jail, but Bolo intercedes on behalf of his mother. He is beaten and subsequen
tly imprisoned for three years with hard labour. Bee was left with no choice but
to sell his cow to avoid going to jail. Buntin s shop becomes black empowerment
tral, attracting all the youngsters, including Reggie, to join the discussions.
Taffy stabs a boy and runs off to stay with his uncle in Port of Spain, while th
e Winston leaves Bonasse in order to become a police.


Chapter 6:
This chapter is all about the campaign trail and how diligently Bee worked to ge
t Ivan elected. An air of freedom and joy pervades this chapter. It ends, howeve
r, with Eva s observation of the changes that Ivan makes in his life, in accordanc
e with his new position, as well as her views on the implications behind Ivan Mo
rton s procurement of the house on the hill.
Chapter 7:
This is a very dramatic chapter that highlights Bolo s release from jail and the e
xtent to which things had changed during his incarceration. He tried to get land
and did not succeed, he tried to stick fight and faced cowards. The chapter end
s with the destruction that he wrought on the drums in order to express his ange
r and frustration.
Chapter 8:
This chronicles Bolo s descent into a mode of destructive behavior: (a) obtaining
a job and (b) extorting products from the market vendors, rum shop and gambling
shop. Bolo s fame extends outside Bonasse in this chapter, thereby highlighting th
e severity of his anger.
Chapter 9:
Joyce, the Dorcas only daughter, gets married, while Bolo kidnaps Primus two daugh
ters. Bee tries to get men to challenge' Bolo, since that is what he wants, but h
e barely succeeds at this. The police intercede and Bolo, as well as Primus young
est daughter, gets killed.
Chapter 10:
Election time and Ivan is on the trail. The reader
or not he is re-elected, but what is known is that
alized. The irony at the end of the book, however,
great victory, the spirit left the church. Despite
the music that the boys play on the steel pan.
Women in society
Education vs. religion
Power and authority

is not made aware of whether

the Shouter Baptists were leg
is that on the cusp of their
this tragedy, Eva hears it in

Wine Of Astonishment
In Earl Lovelace's book The Wine of Astonishment two main characters arise Bee a
nd Bolo.
Bolo's character is a warrior and he directs the people to the path of empowerme
nt by way of the warrior for that is what he knows and who he is. Bee's characte
r is a man of faith, patience, and a man of his people. Bee also chooses a path
of empowerment for the people of the village that is defined by his character, h
e guides the people to the path of faith. The journey in the book has both men p
ut their characters and paths of empowerment to the test. Who succeeds? Patience
, a man of faith, and a man of the people are how I describe Bee's character in
this book. Bee demonstrates his patience when it is tested against Corporal Pric
e. Prince comes to the village to enforce the law against the Spiritual Baptist.
Bee decides it is best to practice in the manners of the Catholics and Anglican
until he one day starts preaching in the original manner of the Spiritual Bapti
st. After that vitalizing sermon he continues till Corporal Price raids the chur
ch. Bee realizes that for the benefit of his people they, he must wait, be patie
nt till this injustice is lifted to preach again in the Spiritual Baptist way. B
ee is truly a man of the people. In the incident when Corporal Prince raids the
church Bee's first thoughts were for the people. Bee tells them Brethren, please
don't run. Please don't give them the excuse to brutalize you. He knew how the
police would act toward the congregation and he wanted to protect his people. Be
e puts the people of the village first for he is a man of the people. Bee is a m
an of faith. He puts his faith in the Spirit, and the people to stay strong. In
continuing with the occurrence of the raid from Corporal Prince you can see Bee'
s faith. The faith Bee has for the Spirit and the people when the congregation i
s walked though the village after being arrested and Bee joins in the hymn start
ed by Sister Isabel which the whole congregation then joins. The hymn goes I neve
r get weary yet, I never get weary yet, Forty long years I work in the field, An
d I never get weary yet. Saying they have done this a long time now and they have
still stayed strong. Here Bee puts his faith in the people and the Spirit toget
her from the uniting of the congregation in the song of the Spirit. Bee is a man
of faith, his people, and of patience, with these examples you can understand w
hy I characterize Bee in this manner.
The first descriptive words you read about Bolo are rising like a spear out of t
he back row, with the rest of the congregation, to sing the first hymn was Bolo.
With a new kind of toughness about him, a warrior still. I would character Bolo
as a warrior defiantly. He is a soldier for his people in this time of oppressi
on. Bolo started as a warrior in the beginning and ended as warrior. When he beg
an as a warrior with stickfighting as the book describes Bolo was in Bonasse, th
e champion stickfighter, the king, leading the village in battles down the lengt
h and breadth of the island. Bolo fought in pride for the warrior inside during
those times of stickfighting. Bolo's warrior disposition continued when Corporal
Price was transporting the congregation (including Bolo's mother) to the police
station for breaking the law of worshiping in the Spiritual Baptist manner. Bol
o made a stand for the people he was their soldier willing to fight even being o
ut numbered. The book refers to how Bolo headbutted Price till he went down. At
same time Prince was going down the 9 other police office jumped Bolo. He contin
ued to fight and fight till his head was split open by a police officer. Bolo wa
s a warrior no matter the odds he had to face. The last demonstration of Bolo's
warrior character was when he stood on the porch with Primus's 2 girls that he h
ad taken earlier. He waited for the people to retrieve these girls. He was not g
oing to let them go until the people made their stand to him and showed him they
are warriors. He was a warrior and should be faced as a warrior by warriors. A
few people of the village showed and the police. The police knew Bolo would not
cooperate with them and ended up shooting him. The warrior thrived in Bolo even
to the end of his life. Bee's path for empowerment is faith, have faith and it w
ill show you the way. The book starts Bee's path of faith in the church. He peac
hes his powerful sermons to the congregation guiding them to put faith in the Sp

irit. At a time when Spiritual Baptist practice is outlawed they would still com
e together and place their faith is the Spirit as a congregation. A good example
of this is how they were forced to move their church to the out skirts of town
to continue to practice this religion. Instead of converting to one of the accep
ted religions they choose to relocate. Bee and the congregation placed their fai
th in the Spirit to help them through this time of relocation. Bee focused his f
aith and the faith of the people to the government. He felt that if the people h
ave faith in the government they could work at making changes to the village and
what better way to do that than elect a man from your own village, Ivan Morton
to the Council. Bee put his trust in Ivan and guided the people to do the same.
Bee said Who we want in the Council is a man that qualify. What we want is a man
with education just as the people in Britain. And we have that man here,
This i
s the man! Born right here, a man of knowledge and understanding to represent th
e people: Ivan Morton! to tell the people that Ivan is a man of the village and
they should support him and put their faith in Ivan. That began their faith in t
he government by having a man from the village on the Council to support them. B
ee guided the people to put their faith in Spirit and the government as his choi
ce to empowering the people. Bolo is a warrior at heart. He believes the directi
on to guide the village to empowerment is to develop the people into warriors. H
e attempted to do this by example, by urging and by force. An attempt at Bolo tr
ying to lead by example is when he alone stands up against Corporal Prince and t
he police. The book tells us he is the only one who fights against the police an
d while his is doing this he affects only one person in the village, Taffy. He t
ries to join the fight Bolo is baring alone and is held back. Taffy says all o'
you stand up there and watch them beat him. And he was fighting for all you alon
g the walk home. Bolo was showing people how to be a warrior and stand up for th
eir beliefs. Bolo continues to impel the people of the village towards being war
riors. When stickfighting returns Bolo gets the opportunity to fight, and to sho
w the people how to fight I believe. Bolo gets in the ring with Innocent a fello
w stickfighter. They move around each like a dance. Bolo proceeds to make the fi
rst blow and Innocent puts his stick down. Bolo urges him to fight to be a warri
or. He say Crow crow jumbie-bird crow Jumbie-bird wouldn't crow calling him a co
ward to persuade Innocent to fight with no success. Bolo then brings the call to
anyone saying So nobody going to come in the ring? So nobody ain't fighting? Sti
ll no one is willing to fight. With the rage from no response from the people he
made one last attempt that night to stickfight by crushing and destroying the dr
ums and saying Who don't like it come and beat me. Come and beat me. Bolo urged th
e people of the village onto the warrior's path without success. After this is w
hen Bolo decided he would force the village to become warriors. He would force t
his on them as individuals by harassing and provoking the people. Bolo pressed t
he people of the village to stand up for themselves and be warriors. His last ex
treme effort was when he stood on the porch with Primus's 2 girls that he had ju
st taken because he wanted to the book states. He was not giving the village a c
hoice but forcing them to stand up and be a warriors now. Bolo wanted the people
to retrieve these girls and not the police. He was not going to let them go unt
il the people made their stand to him and showed him they are warriors. The poli
ce ended up shooting him. The few people who showed were the only ones to face B
olo as warriors and recover the girls. With Bolo using extreme force he did succ
eed with a few people of the village showing they have warriors in them. The pat
h Bolo selected to empower the people though the warrior did not reach the whole
of the people nevertheless it did reach a few. Bee and Bolo two different chara
cters who chose two different paths to empower the people of Bonasse. Bolo chose
a warrior's path of empowerment which represented his character. Bee's characte
r showed his faith and he used his faith for his path of empowerment. In the end
keeping faith prevailed, the ban on the religion of the Spiritual Baptist was l
ifted. And this is the goal Bee was after. There are always many solutions to a
problem you have to decide what is the best for you way to answer it. It will de
fine your character and your path of life.