Topic outline

  • General


    Key unit competence: 

    To be able to analyse texts according to their social, historical and political contexts in European literary tradition.

    Introductory activity 

    Answer the questions below. 

     1. Explain the earlier periods of the European literary traditions basing on concrete examples, time and characteristics. 

    2. Match the European literary tradition in column A with their characteristics in column B below.

    Note: Contrary to Lemony Snicketin the book entitled, “The Blank Book”, he said, “Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course”. We have to analyse it instead and deepen it to our satisfaction.

    People from all different corners of the country need to share such views that are rarely found and analyse them to praise their beauty in their times. This brings us to appreciate them or criticize them accordingly. 

    A literary tradition is a literature that is written and spoken as well. Literary traditions are thought to have a form of underlying interconnectedness and coherence..

    1.1 Romantic literature

    Activity 1.1 

    Answer the following questions.

    1. The Romantic Movement is also referred to “Revolution in the art.” Explain? 

    2. What are two key terms associated with the Romantic Movement? How do you know? 

    3. a. Using library or internet try to explain deeply the term romanticism. 

        b. Examine its characteristics and its positive effects on society. 

    4. Basing on its publication date, in which period is this novel “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck? Discuss how it fits within the romanticism period. 

    5. Analyse the contribution of this literary work to the social, political and cultural context of Rwanda.

    Note: At the beginning of 19th century,the Enlightment idea of reason gradually gave way to another major movement, Romanticism. Romanticism was a movement of arts and ideas. It showed deep interest both in nature and in thoughts and in the  feelings of individual. In many ways, Romantic thinkers and writers reacted against the ideals class. They turned from reason to emotion, from society to nature. Nationalism also fired the Romantic imagination. For example, a fighter for freedom in Greece,Lord Byron, ranked as one of the leading Romantic poets of the time.

    The idea of Romanticism emotion, sometimes wild emotions, was a key element of Romanticism. Neverthless, Romanticism went beyond feelings. It expressed a wide range of ideas and attitudes. 

    In general, Romanticism thinkers and artists: 

    • Emphasized inner feelings, emotions, imagination. 

    • Focused on the mysterious and the supernatural; they also on the odd, exotic, and grotesque or horrifying 

    • Loved the beauties of untamed nature 

    • Idealised the past as a simpler and nobler time 

    • Glorified heroes and heroic actions 

    • Cherished folk traditions, music and stories 

    • Valued the common people and the individual 

    • Promoted radical change and democracy 

    Not all Romantic authors gave change on emphasis to these features. The Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, for example, concentrated on history and on the sense of national pride it fostered. During the first half of 19th century, they collected German fairy tales. They also created a dictionary and grammar on the German language. 

    Etymologically, the word romanticism is derived from “Roman” in the various European languages, such as “romance” and Romanesque. By the middle of the 18th century, two words “romantic” in English and;romantique’ in French were both in universal use as adjectives of praise for natural phenomena such as views and sunsets, in a sense close to modern English usage but without the amorous connotation. 

    It was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution where the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, the scientific rationalization of nature, all components of modernity embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature. Its major impact on historiography, education, social sciences, and natural sciences had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

    In the visual arts, landscape painting, gothic architecture and other different arts were of paramount importance.

    Application activity 1.1

    Read the following extract from “The  Pearl” by John Steinbeck and then answer the questions that follow.


    “Kino”, this pearl is evil. Let us destroy it before it destroys us. Let us crush it between two stones. Let us throw it back in the sea where it belongs. Kino, it is evil!

    And as she spoke the light came back in Kino’s eyes so that they glowed fiercely and his muscles hardened and his will hardened.

    “No, “he said.” I will fight this thing, I will win over it. We will have our chance.” His fist pounded the sleeping mat. “No one shall take our good fortune from us, “he said. His eyes softened then and he raised a gentle hand to Juana’s shoulder. “Believe me, “he said.” I am a man.” And his face grew crafty.

    “In the morning we will take our canoe and we will go over the sea and over the mountains to the capital, you and I. we will not be cheated. I am a man.”

    “Kino,” she said fiercely. “I am a man. Hush.” And she was silent, for his voice was command. “Let us sleep a little,” he said. In the first light we will start. You are not afraid to go with me?”

    “No my husband.”

    His eyes were soft and warm on her then, his hand touched her check. “Let us sleep a little,” he said.

    “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck


    1.  Describe Kino’s character as shown in this passage. 

    2.   Why do you think this literary work is still relevant today? 

    3.  Evaluate the role of women in this extract comparing it to the Rwandan women of today.

    1.2. Realism

    Activity 1.2

    Read the following excerpt from “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and answer questions.

    The pigs now revealed that during the past three months they had taught themselves to read and write from an old spelling book which had belonged to Mr. Jones’s children and which had been thrown on the rubbish heap. 

    Napoleon sent for pots of black and white paint and led the way down to the fivebarred gate that gave on to the main road. Then Snowball (for it was Snowball who was best at writing) took a brush between the two knuckles of his trotter, painted out Manor Farm from the top bar of the gate and in its place painted “Animal Farm”. This was to be the name of the farm from now onwards. After this they went back to the farm buildings, where Snowball and Napoleon sent for a ladder which they caused to be set against the end wall of the big barn. 

    They explained that by their studies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments. These Seven Commandments would now be inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalterable law by which all the animals on “Animal Farm” must live for ever after. With some difficulty (for it is not easy for a pig to balance himself on a ladder) Snowball climbed up and set to work, with Squealer a few rungs below him holding the paint-pot. The Commandments were written on the tarred wall in great white letters that could be read thirty yards away. They ran thus:

    The Seven Commandments

    1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. 

    2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. 

    3. No animal shall wear clothes. 

    4. No animal shall sleep in a bed. 

    5. No animal shall drink alcohol. 

    6. No animal shall kill any other animal. 

    7. All animals are equal.


     “Animal Farm” by George Orwell


    1. Analyse the seven commandments in Animal Farm and show their moral lesson in your daily life.  

    2. As a Rwandan citizen, how can you observe the country rules and regulations to maintain peace and values of people? 

    3. Why is the novel “Animal Farm” written in the 20th century still considered an instrument of social transformation in today’s society? 

    4. What is George Orwell’s message in the novel Animal Farm? 

    5. With examples from “Animal Farm”, demonstrate how power and corruption are portrayed and their impact on society.

    Note: Realism in literature is defined as an approach that attempts to describe life without idealization or Romantic subjectivity. It was introduced in England by William Dean Howells. Chiefly it was concerned with the commonplaces of everyday life among middle and lower classes, where character was a product of social factors and environment was the integral element in the dramatic complication. Some of Realism major writers are  GeorgeEliot (1819-1880), Edith Wharton (1862-1937), Mark Twain (1835-1910), Henry James, (1843-1916), etc…

    Realists rejected Romanticism which had dominated French literature and art since the late 18th century. Realism was born in a chaotic era marked by revolution and social change.It revolutionised painting and expanding conceptions of arts. Dramatically, it changed the life of Europe because of the introduction of machine within Industrial Revolution in Europe. 

    Application activity 1.2

    Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow.

    The Absolutely True Diary of A Part Time Indian.



    1. Referring to Yana, explain realism. 

    2. Differentiate between Romanticism and Realism in terms of characteristics.

    1.3. Modernism

    Activity 1.3 

    Answer the questions below.

    1. Referring to the novel “Animal Farm,” what does “Beasts of England” symbolize in modernism? 

    2. What do yo understand by modernism?

    Note: Modernism can be defined as a style or movement in the art that aimed to depart significantly from classical and traditional forms, in accordance with modern ideas, especially in the Catholic Church in the later of 19th early 20th centuries mainly in Europe and North America.

    Among  the  factors that shaped modernism was the development of modern industrial  society, rapid growth of cities, which were followed by the harrowing reaction to World War I.  It rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking and religious belief. It was characterized by self-consciousness and irony concerning literary and social traditions, which often led to experiments with forms, along with the use of techniques that drew attention to the process and materials used in creating painting, poems, buildings, etc…

    In literature, modernism was a diverse movement that spanned Europe, , the Americas, and even parts of Africa and Asia. In England, it took hold in the first decade of the 20th century. As the economic, political, and social structure of Britain began to crumble in those years, British writers began to experiment with ways that would question the basic elements of literature of a poem or the narrative elements of a fictional story.

    A key figure in the modernist movement was James Joyce, whose novels, short stories, and poetry were anything but traditional. The 1922 publication of his work Ulysses marked the peak of the modernist movement in fiction Other modernist fiction writers include Woof , J Con Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley and Evelyn Waugh.

    Application activity 1.3 

    Read the novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and answer the questions that follow.

    1. Why did George Orwell choose a farm as the novel’s setting? 

    2. a) Which symbols are featured in “Animal Farm”? 

        b) Are they easily recognized by readers who do not know the historical context of the novel? Why?

    1.4. Post modernism

    Activity 1.4.1

    Read the following passage, analyse it and answer the questions that follow

    I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife. And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother. Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is looking for another wife. As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too, would like to have a wife. Why do I want a wife?I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent upon me. I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I am going to school, I want a wife to take care of my children. 

    I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments and to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturing attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need Special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.

    I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. I want a wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook.  I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying. I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school. I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene.

    I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course studies. And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them. I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life. When my wife and I are invited out by my friends, I want a wife who will take care of the baby-sitting arrangements. When I meet people at school that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me and my friends. I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us. 

    I want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guests so that they feel comfortable, who makes sure that they have an ashtray, that they are passed the hors d’oeuvres, that they are offered a second helping of the food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their coffee is served to them as they like it. And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night out by myself.

    I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it. I want a wife who assumes the complete responsibility for birth control, because I do not want more children. I want a wife who will remain sexually faithful to me so that I do not have to clutter up my intellectual life with jealousies. And I want a wife who understands that my sexual needs may entail more than strict adherence to monogamy. I must, after all, be able to relate to people as fully as possible.

    If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one. Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life; my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.

    When I am through with school and have a job, I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties. 

    My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?

                                                                                                                 “I want a wife” by Judy Brady


    1.According to the essay by Brady, identify the different activities that a wife is needed for.

    2.a) What point do you think Brady is trying to put across in the essay above?

       b)How is the point of this essay related to Post-modernism? 

    3.How does the choice of form -serve the writer’s purpose?

    4.How significant is the ordering of the paragraphs in which Brady presents his message.

    Activity 1.4.2

    Study the characteristics of modernism given in the table below and share your view with your partner.

    Note: Post-modernism is late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the selfconscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories. It is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In mind, it shoots from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality.

    Some of the common characteristics are aligned like: truth is relative; consumerism is all, transformation of the mix, disillusionment with the idea of progress, uncertainty, fragmentation of social life, incessant choice, globalisation and the impact of ICT. It has been enlightened by irony, playfulness, black humour, pastiche, inter-sexuality, meta-fiction, temporal distortion, techno-culture and hyper-reality, a sense of paranoia, maximalismand minimalism, fiction and tabulations, magic realism and scepticism toward all sort of meta narratives.

    Application activity 1.4 

    Answer the following questions.

    1. Using the library or any other sources explain the term Post-Modernism and compare it to Modernism.

    2.  Examine the effects of Post-Modernism in cultural context in European literary traditions.

    3. Discuss how the two novels “Animal Farm” and “The Pearl” fit into a specific era in European literary period.

    End unit assessment activities 

    Read and answer the following questions.

    1. Write a short essay on the novel “Animal Farm” to demonstrate the characteristics of certain periods of the European literary tradition.

    2. Discuss how the specific setting in the novel “Animal Farm” have influence the plot development and characters.  

    3. After reading “The Pearl” discuss how writers in that period got relevant works of the epoch.

    4. Analyse the positive influence of European literary tradition to African Literature.

    Files: 2URLs: 4

    Key unit competence: 

    To be able to explore the structure of the plot, analyse the structural devices, and explain the effects of different types of narrators.

    Introductory activity 

    Read and answer the questions below.

    1. With reference to the novel you have read, explain the term prose. 

    2. Referring to unit 1 of S4 entitled “Review of the key aspects of prose”,explain the following literary terms: Plot, character, theme and setting. 

    3. Examine the plot development in prose.

    2.1. Review of Prose

    Activity 2.1

    Read the text below and answer the questions that follow

    Kino and Juana came slowly down to the beach and to Kino’s canoe, which was the one thing of value he owned in the world. It was very old. Kino’s grandfather had brought it from Nayarit, and he had given it to Kino’s father, and so it had come to Kino. It was at once property and source of  food; for a man with a boat can guarantee a woman that she will eat something. It is the bulwark against starvation. And every year Kino refinished his canoe with the hard shell-like plaster by the secret method that had also come to him from his father. Now he came to the canoe and touched the bow tenderly as he always did. He laid his diving rock and his basket and the two ropes in the sand by the canoe. And he folded his blanket and laid it in the bow.

    Juana laid Coyotito on the blanket, and she placed her shawl over him so that the hot sun could not shine on him. He was quiet now, but the swelling on his shoulder had continued up his neck and under his ear and his face was puffed and feverish. Juana went to the water and waded in. 

    She gathered some brown seaweed and made a flat damp poultice of it, and this she applied to the baby’s swollen shoulder, which was as good a remedy as any and probably better than the doctor could have done. But the remedy lacked his authority because it was simple and didn’t cost anything. 

    The stomach cramps had not come to Coyotito. Perhaps Juana had sucked out the poison in time, but she had not sucked out her worry over her first-born. She had not prayed directly for the recovery of the baby - she had prayed that they might find a pearl with which to hire the doctor to cure the baby, for the minds of people are as unsubstantial as the mirage of the Gulf.

    Now Kino and Juana slid the canoe down the beach to the water, and when the bow floated, Juana climbed in, while Kino pushed the stern in and waded beside it until it floated lightly and trembled on the little breaking waves. Then in co-ordination Juana and Kino drove their double-bladed paddles into the sea, and the canoe creased the water and hissed with speed. The other pearlers were gone out long since. In a few moments Kino could see them clustered in the haze, riding over the oyster bed.

    Light filtered down through the water to the bed where the frilly pearl oysters lay fastened to the rubbly bottom, a bottom strewn with shells of broken, opened oysters. This was the bed that had raised the King of Spain to be a great power in Europe in past years, had helped to pay for his wars, and had decorated the churches for his soul’s sake. The gray oysters with ruffles like skirts on the shells, the barnaclecrusted oysters with little bits of weed clinging to the skirts and small crabs climbing over them. An accident could happen to these oysters; a grain of sand could lie in the folds of muscle and irritate the flesh until in self-protection the flesh coated the grain with a layer of smooth cement. But once started, the flesh continued to coat the foreign body until it fell free in some tidal flurry or until the oyster was destroyed. For centuries men had dived down and torn the oysters from the beds and ripped them open, looking for the coated grains of sand. Swarms of fish lived near the bed to live near the oysters thrown back by the searching men and to nibble at the shining inner shells. But the pearls were accidents, and the finding of one was luck, a little pat on the back by God or the gods or both.

    Kino had two ropes, one tied to a heavy stone and one to a basket. He stripped off his shirt and trousers and laid his hat in the bottom of the canoe. The water was oily smooth. He took his rock in one hand and his basket in the other, and he slipped feet first over the side and the rock carried him to the bottom. The bubbles rose behind him until the water cleared and he could see. Above, the surface of the water was an undulating mirror of brightness, and he could see the bottoms of the canoes sticking through it. Kino moved cautiously so that the water would not be obscured with mud or sand. He hooked his foot in the loop on his rock and his hands worked quickly, tearing the oysters loose, some singly, others in clusters. 

    He laid them in his basket. In some places the oysters clung to one another so that they came free in lumps.

    Now, Kino’s people had sung of everything that happened or existed. They had made songs to the fishes, to the sea in anger and to the sea in calm, to the light and the dark and the sun and the moon, and the songs were all in Kino and in his people every song that had ever been made, even the ones forgotten. And as he filled his basket the song was in Kino, and the beat of the song was his pounding heart as it ate the oxygen from his held breath, and the melody of the song was the gray-green water and the little scuttling animals and the clouds of fish that flitted by and were gone. But in the song there was a secret little inner song, hardly perceptible, but always there, sweet and secret and clinging, almost hiding in the counter-melody, and this was the Song of the Pearl That Might Be, for every shell thrown in the basket might contain a pearl. 

                                                                                                                     “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck


    1.  Explore the plot development in the extract above. 

    2.  What did Coyotito’s mother do to prevent him from hot sunshine? 

    3.  Why did Kino and Juana go to the beach? Explain what pushed them to go there.

    Note: Prose refers simply to any special written piece of work that is built on sentences, paragraphs and grammatical structure rather than a rhythmic structure as in traditional poetry, where the common unit of verse is based on meter or rhyme. The term prose is used simply as a contrast to verse. It is what linguists call the “unmarked” form of language. Literary critics divide prose into fictional and nonfictional.  Examples of prose include novels, novellas, short stories, essays, letters, editorials, articles and journals.

    Characteristics of prose

    • The prose is written in paragraphs 

    • It tells the story rather than describes an image or metaphor 

    • Generally, it has characters and a plot. 

    Basing on its characteristics given above, prose can be broken into four categories, divided by purpose:

    1. Narrative: writing which tells a story (can be fiction or non-fiction); usually told in chronological order; has characters; follows the basic plot-line/ development/chart/diagram - exposition, rising action, climax, falling action.

    2. Expository: It gives basic information; used often in speeches and essays; does not tell a story or argue.

    3. Descriptive: It describes something in detail, again without telling a story or arguing a point; used most often in combination with another mode of writing, but alone is often found in scientific or medical reports.

    4. Persuasive: It tries to convince (persuade) someone to take a particular issue or point.

    Note: Modern prose exhibits natural flow of speech and grammatical structure in written form whereas traditional prose was in form of rhythmic structure as in poetry. The common unit of verse was based on meter and rhyme.

    Application activity 2.1

    Using the library, look for more examples of prose texts and compare their plot structure. Present and share your findings with the class.

    2.2. Review of plot development

    Activity 2.2 

    Read the following extract from the story “When the Sun Goes Down” by Goro  wa Kamau and answer the questions.

    Maureen stole a glance at Kanja. The poor man was fidgeting and sweating. She rose and opened the window. She served several glasses of fruit juice and passed them round. Kanja held the glass cautiously, his fingers shaking like an alcoholic’s. “Welcome Kanja.” It is great to have you visit,” She said.

    “Kanja has no idea how good it was for him to come.” When you are suffering from AIDS, one good friend is all you need to make lifeless suffocating. A person is only a person through other persons”. Steve observed.

    “You too? Suffering from AIDS?” Kanja breathed the one question he had been afraid to ask. He sounded perplexed. Steve smiled vaguely. But before he could speak, Maureen weighed in. The story, she seemed to suggest, was hers to tell. “I remember I had gone for a routine prenatal check when the doctor broke the news. When I was diagnosed with AIDS, I had only one player. In that moment, when the sun seemed to set on my life, I prayed that my unborn child be free of the virus. 

    I prayed that somehow Steve would be free of the virus too. Oh, how intently I prayed. When my son was born and he turned out negative, my night suddenly went ablaze with a thousand stars. But there was one problem.  Steve would not take the test when he finally acquiesced, He was positive I was devastated. My stars waned….”

    Steve knew the signs all too well. The clouds were gathering and soon there would be storm, a deluge, he knew. He did not like the way she spoke. Her earnestness sounded almost unnatural. And why must she try to sanitise him?

    “I have forbidden you to blame yourself for anything!” Steve growled.

    “Oh, you don’t know how it feels seeing you suffer and knowing that I brought this pestilence on you but I swear I have been a faithful woman……. I was faithful to my husband. I was faithful to you, Steve……” her voice broke and she burst into tears.

    “Listen Maureen,” Steve spoke with a tenderness that surprised Kanja. A strange light played in his eyes. “Never cry when the sun goes down for if you do, the tears will not let you see the stars,” He pleaded.

    She heaved and gasped painfully, trying to get hold of her emotions. Finally, she wiped her tears and looked at her son, playing innocently on his father’s lap. She had two daughters from her first marriage but this boy, the fruit of the only true love she had ever known in her thirty and five years under the sun, was the crown of her life. Still, a fear tugged at her heart leaving her belly feeling an airy hollowness. Would she leave to see him grow up into a man? And if she died, would Steve care for him or would h let the boy to wonder unloved, unwanted on the harsh streets of life? Maureen had no doubt that Steve would live: He had the will. She wished she too could summon up that Kind of sprit. She looked at Steve and their son again, the way a seer peers at the contents of his diviner-gourd to read the secrets of life and she smiled wearily. These were her men. She could die but these two, father and son, would always be together. Nothing could separate them. She could see that in the way they sat and played so snugly with his father, in the way Steve held him as if he would never let go. 

    It was such a perfect picture. Just as if the whole world was just the two of them. Still, she wanted reassurance but when she tried to speak, the words would not form. Steve held her eyes in his in that judicious manner of his and she knew he knew what she wanted to us. And the answer was in his eyes –a more profound answer than any words could speak. In that moment, Maureen felt strangely relaxed and her heart sang: Ngûmbûkanyumethîî, Magegania meekwo thîî, matarîmekwo? Yes! She would fly out of this world and wonders hitherto unseen would be performed on earth…Maureen felt ready to fly.

    Source: “When The Sun Goes Down” by Goro wa Kamau


    1. Basing on what happened in the story; use a plot line to record events. 

    2. Describe the characters mentioned in this story. 

    3. In what ways does each character react to other people? 

    Note: Plot development can be simply defined as the progression of events leading to a resolution. The events can provide obstacles and questions, making the going difficult for the protagonist and exciting for the reader to follow. In a narrative or creative writing of course, a plot is a sequence of events that makes up a story. A complete plot contains the following elements: exposition rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.

    Application activity 2.2 

    Read and answer the questions below.

    1. Basing on your own skills, compose your own short story and explore the organization of its plot. 

    2. Read and analyze the novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, then describe the organization ofits plot.

    2.3. Structural devices

    2.3.1 Stream of consciousness

    Activity 2.3.1 

    Read and answer the questions below.

    1. Do research on internet or in a library and identify structural devices that characterize modern prose. 

    2. Read carefully the passage below, “Arrested development” by Sandisile Tshuma and then answer the questions that follow.

    Arrest development 

    I have been standing at Max’s garage for almost three hours trying to hitch a ride to Beit bridge. I am not the only one here though; there must be at least fifty people, maybe even a hundred. Or more, I do not know, whatever; it is hot and I am tired.

    The point is there is a sizeable crowd of would- be travelers with things to do and places to be and we are all waiting. Desperately! So much about life here and now entails waiting.

    If you are serious about life, if you are ago-getter and you want to make things happen then you need to know how to wait seriously. You take a deep breath, put your ’game face’ on, brace yourself and wait. I had to wait two hours to get money from the bank to pay for my journey and now here am waiting again. It is what we do we wait for transport for electricity, for rain, for slow- speed internet connections at the dingy cyber-cafés in town where we check our mail if a nifty little website has found us a job in Dubai or a scholarship to on obscure foreign university, anything really to get us out of here. And there is never anything, mind you, but you know how hope is. It never dies. So we tell ourselves that there isn’t anything yet. We will find a way out; in the meal time let us wait. If you are serious about your life, about surviving, about the future, then you sow some seeds, invest in yourself and you wait. It is my favourite oxymoron, arrested development.

    I am not hard to spot in this crowd at the barely functioning filling station. I am the sore thumb a twenty something years old women wearing high-end sunglasses and trend jeans, carrying minimal luggage and standing in a statuesque pose that is supposed to convince motorists that I would be great company on a major road trip so they should stop for me. 

    I have been here for three hours so clearly something is not working. Maybe they can tell that behind the cool-as-a-cucumber façade of togetherness I am trying to portray is a quivering, fearful little girl with just dying for someone to take her by the hand and help her cross a busy road. People around me have started grumbling that it is not fair that there are so many cars going to Esigodin but nothing going to Beitbridge or even Gwanda. They are right. No one seems to be going as far as beitbfridge and the longer I stand here the more asinine I feel for thinking that I could do an entire research project on border jumper in just one lousy weekend.

                                                                                                “Arrested development” by Sandisile Tshuma


    1. Discuss the nature of the narrator in this story and explain how his choice of words contributes to convey the message in the story. 

    2.  In which mood was the narrator during the time of narrating the story? Explain your answer.

    Note: Stream of consciousness is a narrative mood or method that attempts to show the innumerable thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind of characters. 

    It is also called “inertial monologue” where the individual thoughts precede the character. This is associated to his actions, portrayed in the form of a monologue, addressed to the character itself. Therefore, it is different from the dramatic monologue or soliloquy, where the speaker addresses the audience or the third person.

    Application activity 2.3.1 

    Re-read carefully the passage above “Arrested development by Sandisile Tshuma above and answer the following questions.Uraelleris vit. Tilis ina, quos furor


    1. Where is the narrator at the beginning of the story? 

    2. Explore the nature of the narrator in this passage and explain how his choice contributes to assigning the message in the passage. 

    3. In your own words, make the plot summary of this passage. 

    4. Analyse how corruption in the story impacts negatively on the development in the country.

    2.3.2. Flashback

    Activity 2.3.2

    Read the extract from the story, “The mirror” by Haruki Murakami then answer the questions.

    The mirror

    All stories you have been telling tonight seem to fall into two categories. There is the type where you have the world of the leaving on one side, the world of the dead on the other, and some force that allows for crossing over from one side to the other. This would include and the like. The second type involves paranormal abilities, premonitions, and the ability to predict the future. All of your stories belong to one of these two groups.

    In fact, your experiences pend to fall almost total under one of this category or the other. What I mean is, people who see ghosts just see ghosts and never have premonitions. And those who have premonitions do not see ghosts. 

    I do not know why, but there would appear to be some individual predilection for one or the other. At least that is the impression I get.

    Of course, some people do not fall into either category. Me, for instance. In my thirtyodd years I have never once seen a ghost never once had a premonition or prophetic dream. There was one time I was riding an elevator with a couple of friends and they swore they saw a ghost riding with us, but I did not see a thing. They claimed there was a woman in a grey suit standing right next to me, but there was no woman with us, at least as far as I could make out. The three of us were the only one in the elevator. No kidding. And these two friends were not the type to deliberately play tricks on me. The whole thing was really weird, but the fact remained that I have still never seen a ghost.

    But there was one time- just the one time- when I had an experience that scared me out of my wits. This happened over ten years ago, and I have never told anybody about it. I was afraid to even talk about it. I felt that if I did, it might happen all over again, so I have never brought it up. But tonight, each of having related his own scary experience, and as the host I cannot very well call it a night without contributing something of my own. So, I have decided to just come right out and tell you the story.

    I graduated from high school at the end of the 1960s, just when the student movement was in full swing. I was part of the hippie generation, and refused to go to college. Instead, I wandered all over Japan working at various labour jobs. I was convinced that was the most righteous way to live. Young and impetuous, I guess you would call me. Looking back on it now, though, I think I had a pretty fun life back then. Whether that was the right choice or not, if I had to do it over again, I am pretty sure I would.

    n the fall of my second year of my roaming all over the country, I got a job for a couple of months as a night watchman at junior high school. This was in a school in a tiny town in Niigata prefecture. I had got pretty worn out working over the summer and wanted to it easy for a while. Being a night watchman in exactly rocket science. During the day I slept in the janitor’s office and at night all I had to do was go twice around the whole school making sure ever thing was okay. The rest of the time I listened to record in the music room, read books in the library, played basketball by myself in the gymnasium. Being alone all night in a school is not so bad, really. Was I afraid? No way. When you are eighteen or nineteen, nothing fazes you.

                                                                                                                    “The mirror” by Haruki Murakami


    1. Describe the plot development of this passage. 

    2. With concrete examples, explain where the writer uses flashback. 

    3. How long is it since the narrator had the frightening experience? Why has he never shared this experience with anyone? Why does he choose to share it now? 

    4. Using different resources differentiate “flashback” from “flash-forward.”

    Note: Flash back is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point in the story. Itare often used to recount events that happened before in the story’s primary sequence of events to fill in crucial back story. It interrupts the normal chronological order of events in theshort story. In the opposite direction, a flash-forward reveals events that will occur in the future.

    Application activity 

    1. You have seen that flash back is the interruption of the normal chronological order of events in the story. Compose your own short story which contains flash back. Then, draw its plot line. 

    2. Re-read short story “The mirror”  then summarize it in not more than 250 words.

    2.3.3. Foreshadowing

    Activity 2.3.3 

    Read the passage below from “Diamond Dust” by Anita Desai and answer the questions.

    Diamond Dust

    “That dog will kill me, kill me one day!” Mrs. Das moaned, her hand pressed to her large, soft, deep bosom when Diamond leapt at the shop she had cooked and set on the table for Mr. Das, or when Diamond dashed past her, bumping against her knees and making her collapse against the door when she was going to receive a parcel from the postman who stood there, shaking, as he fended off the black lightening hurled at him. “Diamond! Why did you call him Diamond? He is Satan, a shaitan, a devil. Call him a devil instead,” Mrs. Das cried as she washed and bandaged the ankle of a grandchild who had only run after a ball and had that shaitan snap his teeth over his small foot.

    But to Mr. Dos he was Diamond and had been Diamond ever since he had bought him, as a puppy of an indecipherable breed, blunt-faced, with his wet noise gleaming and paws flailing for action. Mr. Das could not explain how he had come upon that name. Feebly, he would laugh when questioned by friends he met in the park at five o’clock in the morning when he took Diamond for a walk before leaving in the office, and say, “yes, yes, black Diamond you see, black Diamond.”C.P Biswas, baring his terribly stained yellow teeth in an unpleasant laugh, said, “Ah, coal-then call him, my dear fellow, coal, Koyla- and we would all understand.”

                                                                                                               “Diamond Dust” by Anita Desai


    1.  With examples, identify where the writer has used foreshadowing in the passage above. 

    2.  Differentiate between foreshadowing from flashback. 

    3.  As a literature student, explain the contribution of foreshadowing to any literary work. 

    Note:  Foreshadowing has been defined like a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. It often appears at the beginning of a story. To develop expectation about the upcoming events is its role to the reader. 

    Foreshadowing in fiction creates an atmosphere of suspense in a story, so that the readers are interested to know more. This, literary device is generally used to build anticipation in the mind of readers about what might happen next. Moreover, foreshadowing can make extraordinary and bizarre events appear credible as the events are predicted beforehand so that readers are mentally prepared for them.

    Application activity 2.3.3 

    Read and answer the questions below.

    1. Read “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and; 

             a) Examine how the author starts the chapters. 

             b) Explain where the author uses foreshadowing in the novel. 

    2. a) Compose a story using foreshadowing.   

        b) Summarize its plot.

    2.3.4 Motif

    Activity 2.3.4

    Read the passage below “I stand here ironing” by Tillie Olsen and answer the questions.

    I stand here ironing

    I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron. 

    “I wish you would manage the time to come in and talk with me about you daughter. I ‘m sure you can help me understand her. She’s a younger who needs help and who I’ m deeply interested in helping 

    “Who needs help…?” even if I come, what good would it do? You think because I am her mother I have a key, or that in some way you could use me as a key? She has lived for nineteen years. There is all that life that has happened outside of me, beyond me. 

    And when is there time to remember, to sift, to weight, to estimate, to total? I will start and there will be an interruption and I will have together again. Or I will become engulfed with all I did or did not do, with what should have been and what cannot be helped. 

    She was a beautiful baby. The first and only one of our five that was beautiful birth. You did not know how all those years she was thought homely, or see her poring over her baby pictures, making me tell her over and over how beautiful she had been-and would be, I would tell her- and was now to the Seeing Eye. But the seeing eyes were few or nonexistent. Including mine. 

    I nursed her. They feel that it is important nowadays. I nursed all the children, but with her, with all the fierce rigidity of first motherhood, I did like the books then said. Though her cries battered me to trembling, I waited until the clock decreed. 

    Why do I put that first? I do not even know if it matters at all, or if it explains anything. 

    She was beautiful baby. She blew shining bubbles of sound. She loved motion, loved light, loved color and music and textures. She would lie on floor in her blue overalls patting the surface so hard in ecstasy her hands and feet would blur. 

    She was a miracle to me, but when she was eight months old I had to leave her daytimes with the woman downstairs, to whom she was no miracle at all, for I worked or looked for a work and for Emily’s father, who “could no longer endure” (he wrote in his goodbye note)”sharing want with us”

    I was nineteen. It was the pre-relief, pre-WPA world of the depression. I would start running as soon as I got off the streetcar, running up the stairs, the place smelling sour, and awake or asleep, when she saw me she would break into a clogged weeping that could not be comforted, a weeping I can hear yet.

    After a while, I found a job hashing at night so I could be with her during the day, and it was better. But it came to where I had to bring her to his family and leave her.

    It took a long time to raise the money for her fare back. Then she got chicken pox and I had to wait longer. When she finally came, I hardly knew her, walking quick and nervous like her father, looking like her father, thin, and dressed in a shoddy red that yellowed her skin and glared at the pockmarks. All the baby loveliness gone.

    She was two. Old enough for nursery school they said, and I did not know then what I know now- the fatigue of the long day, and the lacerations of group life in the kinds of nurseries that are only parking places for children.

    Except that it would have made no difference if I had known, it was the only place there was. It was the only way we could be together; the only way I could hold a job.

    And even without knowing, I knew. I knew the teacher that was evil because all this year it has curdled into my memory, the little boy hunched in the Conner, her rasp,” why aren’t you outside, because Alvin hits you? That’s no reason, goes out, and scared.” I knew Emily hated it even if she did not clutch and implore” don’t go mommy” likes the other children…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      By Tillie Olsen



    1. Discuss the challenges Emily faces as a child. How does she cope with the situation? 

    2. After reading the extract above, analyze the writer’s motif in this passage. 

    3. Describe the challenges of single parenthood in a country like Rwanda.

    Note: A motif is a literary term that is an idea, object, or concept that repeats itself throughout a text. It gives clues to theme or reinforces ideas an author wants to emphasize. Motif and Theme are very similar and closely related. One finds it difficult to distinguish between them easily. Below are a few pointers to make it easy:

    • A theme is the underlying dominant idea in every written piece, while a motif is a repetition of certain patterns, ideas or images to reinforce the main theme.

    • A theme is broader than a motif. For example, if love is the underlying theme of a book, motifs may be in the form of a good-looking hero.

    The author uses motifs to highlight the theme of his story. If the writer takes revenge as his theme, he will highlight it by using related motifs, like crime being committed, someone being wronged, person going through agony, protagonist planning revenge – all pointers to the main theme of the writing.

    Application activity 2.3.4

    1. Read and analyse “Animal  Farm”  by George Orwell, then explain motif and themes used by the author in the novel. 

    2. Create your own short story and identify the motif that pushed you to write about it. 

    At last the day came when Snowball’s plans were completed. At the Meeting on the following Sunday the question of whether or not to begin work on the windmill was to be put to the vote. When the animals had assembled in the big barn, Snowball stood up and, though occasionally interrupted by bleating from the sheep, set forth his reasons for advocating the building of the windmill. 

    Then Napoleon stood up to reply. He said very quietly that the windmill was nonsense and that he advised nobody to vote for it, and promptly sat down again; he had spoken for barely thirty seconds, and seemed almost indifferent as to the effect he produced. At this Snowball sprang to his feet, and shouting down the sheep, which had begun bleating again, broke into a passionate appeal in favour of the windmill. Until now the animals had been about equally divided in their sympathies, but in a moment Snowball’s eloquence had carried them away. In glowing sentences, he painted a picture of Animal Farm as it might be when sordid labour was lifted from the animals’ backs. His imagination had now run far beyond chaff-cutters and turnip-slicers. Electricity, he said, could operate threshing machines, ploughs, harrows, rollers, and reapers and binders, besides supplying every stall with its own electric light, hot and cold water, and an electric heater. By the time he had finished speaking, there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go. But just at this moment Napoleon stood up and, casting a peculiar sidelong look at Snowball, uttered a high-pitched whimper of a kind no one had ever heard him utter before.

    At this there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws. In a moment he was out of the door and they were after him. Too amazed and frightened to speak, all the animals crowded through the door to watch the chase. Snowball was racing across the long pasture that led to the road. 

    He was running as only a pig can run, but the dogs were close on his heels. Suddenly he slipped and it seemed certain that they had him. Then he was up again, running faster than ever, and then the dogs were gaining on him again. One of them all but closed his jaws on Snowball’s tail, but Snowball whisked it free just in time. Then he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare, slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more.

    Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into the barn. In a moment the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine where these creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and reared privately. Though not yet full-grown, they were huge dogs, and as fierce-looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon. It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr. Jones.

    Napoleon, with the dogs following him, now mounted on to the raised portion of the floor where Major had previously stood to deliver his speech. He announced that from now on the Sunday-morning Meetings would come to an end. They were unnecessary, he said, and wasted time. In future all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a special committee of pigs, presided over by him. These would meet in private and afterwards communicate their decisions to the others. 

    The animals would still assemble on Sunday mornings to salute the flag, sing ‘Beasts of England’, and receive their orders for the week; but there would be no more debates.

    In spite of the shock that Snowball’s expulsion had given them, the animals were dismayed by this announcement. Several of them would have protested if they could have found the right arguments. Even Boxer was vaguely troubled. He set his ears back, shook his forelock several times, and tried hard to marshal his thoughts; but in the end he could not think of anything to say. Some of the pigs themselves, however, were more articulate. Four young porkers in the front row uttered shrill squeals of disapproval, and all four of them sprang to their feet and began speaking at once. But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again. Then the sheep broke out into a tremendous bleating of “Four legs good, two legs bad!” which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour and put an end to any chance of discussion.

    Afterwards Squealer was sent round the farm to explain the new arrangement to the others.

    “Comrades,” he said, “I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon him. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills — Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?”

                                                                                                              “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

    2.3.5. Juxtaposition

    Activity 2.3.5

    Read the extract below, from “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck, and answer the questions.

    A town is a thing like a colonial animal. A town has a nervous system and a head and shoulders and feet. A town is a thing separate from all other towns, so that there are no two towns alike. And a town has a whole emotion. How news travels through a town is a mystery not easily to be solved. News seems to move faster than small boys can scramble and dart to tell it, faster than women can call it over the fences.

    Before Kino and Juana and the other fishers had come to Kino’s brush house, the nerves of the town were pulsing and vibrating with the news - Kino had found the Pearl of the World. Before panting little boys could strangle out the words, their mothers knew it. The news swept on past the brush houses, and it washed in a foaming wave into the town of stone and plaster. It came to the priest walking in his garden, and it put a thoughtful look in his eyes and a memory of certain repairs necessary to the church. He wondered what the pearl would be worth. And he wondered whether he had baptized Kino’s baby, or married him for that matter. The news came to the shopkeepers, and they looked at men’s clothes that had not sold so well.

    The news came to the doctor where he sat with a woman whose illness was age, though neither she nor the doctor would admit it. And when it was made plain who Kino was, the doctor grew stern and judicious at the same time. “He is a client of mine,” the doctor said. “I am treating his child for a scorpion sting.” And the doctor’s eyes rolled up a little in their fat hammocks and he thought of Paris. 

    He remembered the room he had lived in there as a great and luxurious place. The doctor looked past his aged patient and saw he sitting in a restaurant in Paris and a waiter was just opening a bottle of wine.The news came early to the beggars in front of the church, and it made them giggle a little with pleasure, for they knew that there is no alms giver in the world like a poor man who is suddenly lucky.

    Kino has found the Pearl of the World. In the town, in little offices, sat the men who bought pearls from the fishers. They waited in their chairs until the pearls came in, and then they cackled and fought and shouted and threatened until they reached the lowest price the fisherman would stand. But there was a price below which they dared not go, for it had happened that a fisherman in despair had given his pearls to the church. And when the buying was over, these buyers sat alone and their fingers played restlessly with the pearls, and they wished they owned the pearls. For there were not many buyers really - there was only one, and he kept these agents in separate offices to give a semblance of competition. The news came to these men, and their eyes squinted and their finger-tips burned a little, and each one thought how the patron could not live forever and someone had to take his place. And each one thought how with some capital he could get a new start.

    All manner of people grew interested in Kino - people with things to sell and people with favours to ask. Kino had found the Pearl of the World. The essence of pearl mixed with essence of men and a curious dark residue was precipitated. Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into the dreams, the speculations, the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lusts, the hungers, of everyone, And only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy. The news stirred up something infinitely black and evil in the town; the black distillate was like the scorpion, or like hunger in the smell of food, or like loneliness when love is withheld. The poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled and puffed with the pressure of it.

    But Kino and Juana did not know these things. Because they were happy and excited they thought everyone shared their joy. Juan Tomás and Apolonia did, and they were the world too. In the afternoon, when the sun had gone over the mountains of the Peninsula to sink in the outward sea, Kino squatted in his house with Juana beside him. 

    And the brush house was crowded with neighbors. Kino held the great pearl in his hand, and it was warm and alive in his hand. And the music of the pearl had merged with the music of the family so that one beautified the other. The neighbors looked at the pearl in Kino’s hand and they wondered how such luck could come to any man. And Juan Tomás, who squatted on Kino’s right hand because he was his brother, asked, “What will you do now that you have become a rich man?”

    Kino looked into his pearl, and Juana cast her eyelashes down and arranged her shawl to cover her face so that her excitement could not be seen. And in the incandescence of the pearl the pictures formed of the things Kino’s mind had considered in the past and had given up as impossible. In the pearl he saw Juana and Coyotito and himself standing and kneeling at the high altar, and they were being married now that they could pay. He spoke softly: “We will be married - in the church.”

    In the pearl he saw how they were dressed - Juana in a shawl stiff with newness and a new skirt, and from under the long skirt Kino could see that she wore shoes. It was in the pearl - the picture glowing there. He himself was dressed in new white clothes, and he carried a new hat - not of straw but of fine black felt - and he too wore shoes - not sandals but shoes that laced. But Coyotito - he was the one - he wore a blue sailor suit from the United States and a little yachting cap such as Kino had seen once when a pleasure boat put into the estuary.All of these things Kino saw in the lucent pearl and he said: “We will have new clothes.” And the music of the pearl rose like a chorus of trumpets in his ears.

    Then to the lovely gray surface of the pearl came the little things Kino wanted: a harpoon to take the place of one lost a year ago, a new harpoon of iron with a ring in the end of the shaft; and - his mind could hardly make the leap - a rifle - but why not, since he was so rich? And Kino saw Kino in the pearl, Kino holding a Winchester carbine. It was the wildest day-dreaming and very pleasant. His lips moved hesitantly over this - “A rifle,” he said. “Perhaps a rifle.”

    It was the rifle that broke down the barriers. This was impossibility, and if he could think of having a rifle whole horizon were burst and he could rush on. For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.

    The neighbors close pressed and silent in the house nodded their heads at his wild imaginings. And a man in the rear murmured: “A rifle. He will have a rifle.”

                                                                                                            “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck


    1. After reading the extract above, identify the lines where the narrator has used juxtaposition. 

    2. How does the author describe the process of a Pearl being made in an oyster? 

    Note: In literature, juxtaposition is a useful device for writers to describe their characters in great detail, to create suspense, and achieve a rhetorical effect. It is a human quality to comprehend one thing easily by comparing it to another. Therefore, a writer can make readers sense “goodness” in a particular character by placing him or her side-by-side with a character that is predominantly “evil.” Consequently, goodness in one character is highlighted by evil in the other character. Juxtaposition in this case is useful in the development of characters.

    Juxtaposition enable to writers  to surprise their readers and evoke their interest, by means of developing a comparison between two dissimilar things by placing them side by side. The comparison drawn adds brightness to a given image, controls the stepping of the poem or a narrative, and provides a logical connection between two vague concepts.

    Application activity 2.3.5 

    Answer the questions below.

    1. Why would an author choose to use juxtaposition as a literary technique? 

    2. Indicate where the writerhas used juxtaposition as one of the literary devices.

    2.4. Narrator (objective, omniscient)

    2.4.1 Objective narrator

    Activity 2.4.1

    Read the following extract “White Hands” by Jane Katjavivi and answer the questions.

    ……..She could rest in her single student room, away from the noise of other people and their praying eyes. She could study while she rested. She could afford to eat well, her scholarship allowing her the fruit and vegetables that were difficult to afford at home. She told Tembi but asked her not to tell anyone else. 

    She dared not even tell her husband; for fear that something might go wrong. But the Lord was with her. The baby stayed and grew. She felt it kick.

    Angelika approached the church once more and asked to stay in England until the baby was born. She could not face returning to the hospital in Windhoek. They offered her assistance from an emergence fund so she could give birth in Birmingham and continue her studies afterwards. When she became so large that no one could deny it, she told her husband of the news. When she had safely delivered she sent a message home…

                                                                                           “White hands” by Jane Katjavivi


    1. How many characters are mentioned in thepassage above? 

            a. How has the writer used the narrator to convey the message? 

            b. Which type of narrator is used? 

    3. In your view, explain the problem of Angelika. Which was her native country?

    Note: Objective narrator: Is a third person narrator that describes characters from the outside only, never revealing their thoughts. He functions like a video-recorder, telling the reader the action and dialogue of the characters but never entering the character’s thoughts.  

    The narrator is an observer,” a fly in the wall narrator,” as it is often called, is to describe character’s appearance, speech and actions in a way that enables us to infer their thoughts.

    He/she does not know more about the character than what they choose to show. When it comes to figuring people out, objective narrators are more like us, humans. We never know what’s on someone else’s mind and neither does an objective narrator. They might be useful because they will try to interpret other characters’ body language and the reader will get that challenge too.

    Application activity 2.4.1     

    Answer the questions below.

    1. Describe the characteristics of an objective narrator. 

    2. Compose your own short story and convey your message using an objective narrator as the story teller. Thereafter, describe its plot development.

    2.4.2 Omniscient narrator

    Read  the short story below Roman Fever by Edith Wharton and then answer the questions.

    Roman Fever

    From the table at which they had been lunching two American ladies of ripe but well-cared-for middle age moved across the lofty terrace of the Roman restaurant and, leaning on its parapet, looked first at each other, and then down on the outspread glories of the Palatine and the Forum, with the same expression of vague but benevolent approval.

    As they learned there a girlish voice echoed up gaily from the stairs leading to the court below. “Well, come along, then,” it cried, not to them but to an invisible companion, “and let’s leave the young things to their knitting,” and a voice as fresh laughed back: “Oh, look here, Babs, not actually knitting!” Well, I mean figuratively,” rejoined the first. “After all, we haven’t left our poor parents much else to do…” At that point the turn of the stairs engulfed the dialogue. 

    The two ladies looked at each other again, this time with a tinge of smiling embarrassment, and the smaller and paler one shook her head and coloured slightly. “Barbara!” she murmured, sending an unheard rebuke after the mocking voice in the stairway.

    The other lady, who was fuller, and higher in colour, with a small determined nose supported by vigorous black eyebrows, gave a good-humoured laugh. “That’s what our daughters think of us.” 

    Her companion replied by a deprecating gesture. “Not of us individually. We must remember that. It’s just the collective modern idea of Mothers. And you see!”” Half guiltily she drew from her handsomely mounted black handbag a twist of crimson silk run through by two fine knitting needles. “One never knows,” she murmured. “The new system has certainly given us a good deal of time to kill; and sometimes I get tired just looking!” even at this.” Her gesture was now addressed to the stupendous scene at their feet. 

    The dark lady laughed again, and they both relapsed upon the view, contemplating it in silence, with a sort of diffused serenity which might have been borrowed from the spring effulgence of the Roman skies. The luncheon hour was long past, and the two had their end of the vast terrace to themselves. At its opposite extremity a few groups, detained by a lingering look at the outspread city, were gathering up guidebooks and fumbling for tips. The last of them scattered, and the two ladies were alone on the air-washed height.

     “Well, I don’t see why we shouldn’t just stay here,” said Mrs. Slade, the lady of the high color and energetic brows. Two derelict basket chairs stood near, and she pushed them into the angle of the parapet, and settled herself in one, her gaze upon the Palatine. “After all, it’s still the most beautiful view in the world.”

    “It always will be, to me,” assented her friend Mrs. Ansley, with so slight a stress on the “me” that Mrs. Slade, though she noticed it, wondered if it were not merely accidental, like the random underlining’s of old-fashioned letter writers. 

    “Grace Ansley was always old-fashioned,” she thought; and added aloud, with a retrospective smile: “It’s a view we’ve both been familiar with for a good many years. When we first met here we were younger than our girls are now. You remember!”

     “Oh, yes, I remember,” murmured Mrs. Ansley, with the same indefinable stress!” There’s that head-waiter wondering,” she interpolated. She was evidently far less sure than her companion of herself and of her rights in the world. 

    “I’ll cure him of wondering,” said Mrs. Slade, stretching her hand toward a bag as discreetly opulent-looking as Mrs. Ansley’s. Signing to the headwaiter, she explained that she and her friend were old lovers of Rome, and would like to spend the end of the afternoon looking down on the view! “that is, if it did not disturb the service! The headwaiter, bowing over her gratuity, assured her that the ladies were most welcome, and would be still more so if they would condescend to remain for dinner. A full moon night, they would remember.... 

    Mrs. Slade’s black brows drew together, as though references to the moon were out of place and even unwelcome. But she smiled away her frown as the headwaiter retreated. “Well, why not! We might do worse. There’s no knowing, I suppose, when the girls will be back. Do you even know back from where? I don’t!” Mrs. Ansley again coloured slightly. “I think those young Italian aviators we met at the Embassy invited them to fly to Tarquinia for tea. I suppose they’ll want to wait and fly back by moonlight.”

    “Moonlight!” moonlight! What a part it still plays. Do you suppose they’re as sentimental as we were?”

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t in the least know what they are,” said Mrs. Ansley. “And perhaps we didn’t know much more about each other.” “No, perhaps we didn’t.” Her friend gave her a shy glance. “I never should have supposed you were sentimental, Alida.”……

                                                                                                      “Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton


    1. Who in Roman Fever are the main characters of this story? How does the writer create the characters to convey the message? 

    2. Where does the story take place? 

    3. Describe each character according to the writer. 

    4. From your point of view, explain the position of narrator in the story.

    Note: An omniscient narrator is a narrator who knows what thecharacter thinks and what is happening everywhere H/she is not restricted by time or space.  Such narrators can provide us with broader over views, can describe events involving various characters, and can dip into the minds of any number of characters to tell us their thoughts. The omniscient Narrator relates all the action of the work using a third-person pronoun such as “he, she or they it.” Omniscient narrators are like the super heroes of narrators, and that is because they know everything. They can jump from characters’ head to another, they know when you have been good and bad, they move from character to character, from scene to scene, from one place to another because they just know it all. Knowing it all means these narrators know the details of pretty much everything.

    Application activity 2.4.2   

    Read and answer the questions below.

    1.  Why are omniscient narrators like superheroes? Explain and support your answer with convincing ideas. 

    2.  Differentiate between objective narrators and omniscient ones. 

    3.  Compose your own short story using omniscient narrator.

    Application activity 2.4.3

    Read the story below, and answer the questions that follow.

    The War of the Ears.

    Beeda stood on the school veranda watched the last pupils disappear down the road. He thought of this as the road swallowed the pupils. The day’s climax, a question-and- answer session, came back to him and he heard this voice rise to fill the classroom:

    “What are twelve times five?” 

    “Sixty,” the pupils sang cheerfully. 

    “What is twelve times seven?” 


    “What are twelve times twelve?” 

    “One hundred and forty-four.” 

    He loved the interaction and the pupils’ rapt attention, which placed him at the center of their world, made him feel alive. The world outside school was full of questions he could not answer and things he could not control. But when he stood in front of his class, he knew everything there was nothing he could not do. Now his class was gone and he was back on the periphery of their lives, and the school, with its abandoned classrooms and silent playground, made him think of an empty shell. When he tried to imagine what would happen if the road did not regurgitate pupil’s tomorrow, a feeling of near panic crept over him. Night was falling. On the left side of the school, the trees in the forests were slowly sinking into darkness. On the right side, the details of on the hills were disappearing, the profiles hardening. This was loneliest time of the day and Beeda hated it.

    “The War of the Ears” by Moses Isegawa


    1. What feelings do you get as a narrator who describes the coming of darkness? Why does Beeda hate this time? 

    2. Analyse the passage above and indicate the type of narrator that has been used by the writer to deliver the message.

    End unit assessment activities 

    Read and analyse the novel, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, then answers the following questions.


    1.  Indicate its themes and motif. 

    2.  Which type of narrative does the author use to tell the the story? With examples, explain your answer. 

    3. Make a short plot summary of this novel.


    Key Unit Competence: 

    Be able to identify and analyse elegies and epitaphs and explore their tone and atmosphere created in them.

    Introductory activity    

    Answer the questions below.

    1. Identify and explain the types of poems you know. 

    2. Choose two of the poem types you have mentioned above and describe their distinct characteristics.

    3.1 Elegy

    Activity 3.1 

    Answer the questions below.

    1. Explain the term elegy in poetry. 

    2. Identify the characteristics of an elegy.

    Note: Etymologically the term elegy derived from the Greek word elegus which means a song of bereavement sung along with a flute. In literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, which typically mourns the loss of someone who has died or something that has been deteriorated. A notable example is the Elegy Written in a country Churchyard, by Thomas Gray (was completed in 1751 and first published in 1751. The poem is an elegy in name but not in form, it employs a style similar to that of contemporary poetry …) 

    Application activity 3.1 

    Read the poem below and then answer the questions that follow.

    The Widow’s Lament in Springtime 

    Sorrow is my own yard where the new grass flames as it has flamed  often before but not with the cold fire that closes round me this year. Thirty-five years I lived with my husband. The plum tree is white today with masses of flowers. Masses of flowers load the cherry branches and colour some bushes yellow and some red but the grief in my heart is stronger than they for though they were my joy formerly, today I notice them and turn away forgetting. Today my son told me that in the meadows, at the edge of the heavy woods in the distance, he saw trees of white flowers. I feel that I would like to go there and fall into those flowers and sink into the marsh near them.

                                                                                     William Carlos Williams sources


    1. What of poem is it? Substantiate your answer. 

    2. Identify the point of view used in this poem 

    3.  What is the main theme of this poem? 

    4. Create another example of an elegy.

    3.2. Epitaph


    Answer thequestions below.

    1. Observe the picture above and discuss what you think Epitaph is. 

    2. Identify the characteristics of Epitaph.

    Note: An epitaph is from Greek term epitaphios”which means “a funeral oration.” In literature is a short-written tribute in poetry or prose in memory of deceased person.  Strictly speaking, it refers to text that is inscribed on a tombstone or plaque, but it may also be used in a figurative sense.

    Application activity 3.2

    Read the poem below and then answer the questions that follow. 

    Someone special

    In your life you will meet SOMEONE SPECIAL sometime 

    Listen now as I tell you how death has took mine 

    Not a rock or a film star but a father so true 

    I lost SOMEONE SPECIAL when dad, 

    I lost you My heart it was aching when 

    I saw my mum Her crying, her shaking disbelief left me numb 

    I could not believe he was actually dead 

    Even after his name in the paper I read 

    At his funeral I carried his coffin with pride 

    Trying at all times my great hurt to hide 

    But my heart at last sank and the tears they did flow 

    But good memories stay with me where ever I go 

    His laughter, his smile, his quick cheeky wit 

    Were qualities that I admire, 

    I admit All children loved him with passion and fire 

    He showed love and kindness, which we all should admire 

    He left many people who cared a great deal 

    He touched their lives and their hearts he did steal 

    For to know him was pleasure and only brought joy 

    I was blessed to have loved him as both man and boy

                                                      By Owen Yeats


    1. Identify the differences between elegy and epitaph. 

    2. Who is the persona/speaker in this poem? 

    3. Describe the tone used in the poem.

    3.3. Tone

    Activity 3.3

    Examine the picture below and identify specific characteristics of tone.

    Note:  The tone in the poem is the attitude you feel in it. The writer’s attitude towards the subject or audience helps create a particular kind of atmosphere or mood in the poem. 

    Application activity 3.3

    Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow.

    The Road Not Taken

    Two roads diverged in yellow wood 

    And sorry I could not travel both 

    And be one traveller, long 

    I stood And looked down one s far as 

    I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair 

    And having perhaps the better claim 

    Because it was grassy and wanted wear 

    Though as for that the passing there 

    Had worn them really about the same

    And both that morning equally lay 

    In leaves no step had trodden black 

    Oh, I kept the first for another 

    Day! Yet knowing how ay leads on to way 

    I doubted if I should ever come back 

    I shall be telling this with a sigh 

    Somewhere ages and ages hence: 

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and 

    II took the less travelled by 

    And that has made all the difference.

                                  By Robert Frost


    1. Identify and explain the tone of the poem. 

    2. Why does Robert Frost use the word “sigh” in the poem, The Road Not Taken? 

    3. What does the phrase “ages and ages” mean in the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost? 

    4. In not more than 100 words, summarise the poem.

    3.4. Atmosphere

    Activity 3.4

    Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow.

    The lazy man 

    When the cock crows, 

    The lazy man smacks his lips and says: 

    So is it day light again, is it? 

    And before he turns over heavily, 

    Before he even stretches himself, 

    Before he even yawnsThe farmer has reached the farm, 

    The water carriers arrive at the river, 

    The spinners are spinning their cotton, 

    The weaver works on his cloth, 

    And the fire blazes in the blacksmith’s hut. 

    The lazy one knows where the soup is sweet 

    He gazes house to house. 

    If there is no sacrifice today, 

    His breast born will stick out! 

    But when he sees the free yarm, 

    He starts to unbutton his shirt, 

    He moves close to the celebrant. 

    Yet his troubles are not few. 

    When his wives reach puberty, 

    Rich men will help him to marry them. 

                                Yoruba (Nigeria) 


    1. Analyse critically the poem above and explain its atmosphere. 

    2. What is the lesson can you learn from this poem? 

    3. With clear references from the poem, show that the man does not work for food.

    Note:  In literature, atmosphere refers to the feeling, emotion, or mood a poet conveys to a reader through the description of setting and objects. It aims at creating an emotional tone for the piece. A writer can establish atmosphere, or the vehicle for mood, through several different facets of a work. One such mechanism is through the use of objects.

    Application activity 3.4

    Read the following poem If we must die by Claude  McKay and answer the questions.

    If We Must Die 

    If we must die, let it not be like hogs 

    Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot 

    While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs 

    Making their mocks at our accused lot 

    If we must die, o let nobody dies 

    So that our precious blood may not be shed 

    In vain; then the monsters we defy 

    Shall be constrained to honour us though dead 

    O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe 

    Though far outnumbered let us show us brave 

    And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow 

    What though before us lays the open grave? 

    Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack 

    Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back


    1. What was Claude McKay’s purpose of writing the poem If We Must Die? 

    2. What is the tone of the poem? 

    3. Who is the persona? How do you know? 

    4. Is the persona afraid of death? Support your answer. 

    5. Is the poem relevant today? Give reasons to justify your answer.

    3.5. Point of view

    Activity 3.5

    Read the excerpt from the poem My mistress‘s Eye is nothing like the sun and then answer the questions.

    I live to hear her speak, yet well 

    I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound 

    I grant I never saw a goddess go, 

    My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground. 

    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare 

    As any she belied with false compare.

                         William Shakespeare


    1. Identify and explain the point of view used in this poem. 

    2. When does the poet use this point of view?

    Note: The point of view of a story is defined as the perspective from which a story is told. Point of view is the angle of considering things, which shows us the opinion or feelings of the individuals involved in a situation. In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story, poem, or essay.

    The speaker of a poem is not identical to the poet. Often the poet creates a persona who speaks the poem in the first person (I, WE).

    A first-person narrative is a poem writing in which a narrator relays events from his or her own point of view using the first person i.e. “I” or “we”, etc. It may be narrated by a first person protagonist (or other focal character), first person re-teller, first person witness, or first person peripheral.

    Application activity 3.5

    Read this poem below and then answer the questions that follow.

    I Met a Thief

    On the beach, on the 

    Coast, Under the idle, whispering coconut towers, 

    Before the growling, foaming waves, 

    I met a thief, who guessed 

    I had An innocent heart for her to steal. 

    She took my hand and led me under 

    The intimate cashew boughs which shaded 

    The downy grass and peeping weeds. 

    She jumped and plucked the nuts for me to suck; 

    She sang and laughed and pressed close 

    I gazed: her hair was like the wool of a mountain sheep, 

    Her eyes, a pair of brown - black beans floating in milk. 

    Juicy and round as plantain shoots 

    Her legs, arms and neck, 

    And like wine - gourds her pillowy breasts; 

    Her throat uttered fresh banana juice  

    Matching her face - smooth and banana ripe 

    I touched - but long before 

    I even tasted My heart had flowed from me into her breast; 

    And then she went – High and South – 

    And left my carcase roasting in the fire she’d lit

                                              Austin Bukenya.


    1. How appropriate is the title to the poem? 

    2. Comment on the setting of the poem. 

    3. Who is the persona in this poem? 

    4. Explain the use of imagery in the poem. 

    5. In your own words, explain what this poem is talking about.

    3.6. Poetic devices

    Poetic devices that can be used to create rhythm, including repetition, syllable variation, and rhyming. In poetry, repetition is repeating words, phrases, or lines.  Like Dalai Lama, poetry’s prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. Mason Cooley instilled this statement by saying “Regret for wasted time is more wasted time”.      

    Poetic devices that can be used to create rhythm, including repetition, syllable variation, and rhyming. In poetry, repetition is repeating words, phrases, or lines.  Like Dalai Lama, poetry’s prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. Mason Cooley instilled this statement by saying “Regret for wasted time is more wasted time”.    

    Some of the poetic devices are either used in prose others in poetry. It sometimes happen that one poetic device may appear in both genres. This is depends upon how it has been used. The poet has right to use a diction that fits his objectives. That is the reason why different poets write on different topics but one of them has forgotten motif and theme when writing. 

    3.6.1. Metonymy 

    Activity 3.6.1

    1. What do you understand by metonymy? 

    2. List any four examples of metonymy.

    Note:  Metonymy is a poetic device or figurative language in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in the meaning with that thing or concept. It takes its root from Greek term metonymia which means “change of name.”

    Application activity 3.6.1

    Read the following poem “I Speak for the Bush” by Everett Standa and answer the questions.

    I Speak for the Bush..! 

    When my friend sees me he swells and pants like a frog because I talk the wisdom of the bush He says we from the bush  don’t understand civilized ways for we tell our women to keep the hem of their dresses below the knee we from the bush, my friend insists, do not know how to ‘enjoy’: when we come to the civilized city, like nuns we stay away from the nightclubs where women belong to no man and men belong to no women and these civilized people  quarrel and fight like hungry lions 

    But my friend, why do men with crippled legs, lifeless eyes, wooden legs, empty stomachs wander about the streets of the civilized world...? 

    Teach me, my friend, the trick, so that my eyes may not see those whose houses have no walls but emptiness all around; show me the wax you use  to seal your ear to stop hearing the cry of the hungry  

    Teach me the new wisdom which tells men to talk about money and not love when they meet women; 

    Tell your God to convert  me to the faith of the indifferent the faith of those who will never listen until they are shaken with blows 

     I speak for the bush: you speak for the civilized- will you hear me...? 


    1. What is the subject matter of the poem? 

    2. Identify and explain metonymy found in the poem. 

    3. What is the poet’s message in the poem?

    End unit assessment activities

    Read the following poems and then answer the questions that follow.

    Building the Nation 

    Today I did my share 

    In building the nation. 

    I drove the permanent secretary 

    To an important urgent function

    In fact to a luncheon at the Vic.

    The menu reflected its importance 

    Cold Bell beer with small talk, 

    Then fried chicken with niceties 

    Wine to fill the hollowness of the laughs 

    Ice-ream to cover the stereotype jokes 

    Coffee to keep the PS awake on return journey.

    I drove the permanent secretary back. 

    He yawned many times in the back of the car 

    Then to keep awake, he suddenly asked, 

    Did you have any lunch friend? 

    I replied looking straight ahead 

    And secretly smiling at his belated concern 

    That I had not, but was sliming!

    Upon which he said with seriousness 

    That amused more than annoyed me, 

    Mwananchi, I too had none! 

    I attended to matters of state. 

    Highly delicate diplomatic duties you know, 

    And friend, it goes against my grain, 

    Causes me stomach ulcers and wind. 

    Ah, he continued, yawning again, 

    The pains we suffer in building the nation! 

    So the PS had ulcers too! 

    My ulcers I think are equally painful 

    Only they are caused by hunger, 

    No sumptuous lunches! So two nation builders 

    Arrived home this evening With terrible stomach pains 

    The result of building the nation –      

    Different ways.

                                           By Christopher H. M. Barlow (Uganda)


    1. What is the poem talking about? 

    2. Who is speaking in the poem? How do you know? 

    3. What is the tone of the poem? 

    4. Identify some poetic devices used in the poem. 

    5. The poet says in the last stanza ‘so two nation builders arrived home this evening’ were the   

    6.  two people building the nation? Explain your answer.

    A freedom song

    Atieno washes dishes, 

    Atieno plucks the chicken, 

    Atieno gets up early, 

    Beds her sucks down in the kitchen, 

    Atieno eight years old Atienoyo.

    Since she’s my sister’s child 

    Atieno needs no pay 

    While she works my wife can sit 

    Sewing each sunny day, 

    With her earning I support 

    Atienoyo. Atieno’s sly and jealous 

    Bad example to the kids 

    Since she minds them, like a school girl 

    Wants their dresses, shoes and beads. 

    Atieno ten years old, Atienoyo.

    Now my wife has gone to study 

    Atieno’s less free, 

    Don’t I feed her, school my own ones, 

    Pay the party, union fee

    All for progress? 

    Aren’t you grateful, Atienoyo?

    Visitors need much attention, 

    Specially when I work nights. 

    That girl stays too long at market 

    Who will teach her what is right? 

    Atieno rising fourteen, Atienoyo.

    Atieno’s had a baby 

    So we know that she is bad 

    Fifty-fifty it may live 

    To repeat the life she had, 

    Ending in post partum bleeding Atienoyo

    Atieno’s soon replaced 

    Meat and sugar more than all 

    She ate in such a narrow life 

    Were lavished in her funeral 

    Atieno’s gone to glory Atienoyo. 

                   By Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye


    1. What is the poem about? 

    2. What is the tone of the poem? 

    3. Who is the persona? How do you know? 

    4. How does Atieno change over the years? 

    5. What is the main theme of the poem?


    Key Unit Competence: 

    To be able to identify and analyse limericks referring to their rhythm, rhyme and other poetic devices used.


    1. What is the poem about? 

    2. Describe the unique features that you notice in this poem. 

    3. Identify and explain the poetic devices used in the poem. 

    4. What kind of poem is this? Why?

    Note: A limerick is a humorous, nonsensical poem that contains five-lines with a specific rhyme scheme. Limerick poetry is also often referred  to as nonsense poetryand it is typically used for fun and entertaining events. It is said to have started in Ireland. Limericks are often characterised by use of humour, exaggeration/ hyperbole and a strict rhyme scheme of AA BB A. A standard limerick has the following features.

    A stanza with five lines, no more, no less. 

    Made up ofthirty nine syllables in total. 

    Its structure is 9-9-6-6-9. The first, the second and the fifth lines are long and rhyme. 

    Those three lines have three feet of three syllables each. 

    The third and fourth lines are shorter and they rhyme too. 

    The two lines have only two feet of three syllables. 

    Have rhyme which creates a rhythmic pattern. 

    Are often humorous/ funny and sometimes obscene.

    4.1 Rhyme

    Activity 4.1 

    Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow.

    In the future, the worst kind of crime, 

    Will be working the streets as a mime, 

    If you paint your face white, 

    They’ll arrest you on sight, 

    An example of justice sublime.


    1. What is the speaker talking about in the poem? 

    2. Who is being addressed in the poem? 

    3. What do you notice about the endings of the lines in this limerick? 

    4. Describe the rhyme scheme of the poem.

    Note: Rhyme is a repetition of similar sounding words (or the same sounds) in two or more words, most often in the final syllables or lines in poems and songs. A rhyme is a tool that uses repeating patterns to create rhythm or musicality in poems. This differentiates poems from prose, which is plain. A rhyme is used for a specific purpose of giving a pleasing effect to a poem, which makes its recital an enjoyable experience. This makes memorization of the poem easy. All limericks have the same end rhyme scheme which is AABBA. 

    Application Activity 

    Activity 4.1

    Read the poem below and answer the questions.

    Death, be Not Proud

    Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 

    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 

    For those whom you think’st thou dost overthrow 

    Die not, poor death, nor canst thou kill me 

    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, 

    Much pleasure-then from thee much more must flow; 

    And soonest our best men with thee do go, 

    Rest of their bones and soul‘s delivery. 

    You art slave to fate, chance, king and desperate men, 

    And dost your poison and sickness dwell; 

    And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well 

    And better than thy stroke. Why swell’st thou then? 

    One short sleep past, we make eternally, 

    And death shall be no more. Death, thou shalt die

                                                    John Donne ( England)


    1. What is the subject matter of this poem? 

    2. Who is the poet addressing in this poem? 

    3. Describe the rhyme scheme used in the poem. 

    4. Compare and contrast the poem above with limerick poems. 

    5. Discuss the effects of rhyme in this poem.

    4.2 Rhythm

    Activity 4.2

    Read the poem below and answer the questions.

    There was an Old Person whose habits, 

    Induced him to feed upon rabbits; 

    When he’d eaten eighteen, 

    He turned perfectly green, 

    Upon which he relinquished those habits.


    1. What is the poem about? 

    2. According to you, what does the phrase “Upon which he relinquished those habbits” mean? 

    3. Narrate a situation when you had to stop a certain habit. What habit was it? How did you manage to stop it? 

    4. How many feet and syllables are there in each line of the poem above? 

    5. Describe the effect of rhythm in the poem.

    Note: The word rhythm is derived from the Greek word, rythmos which means, “Measured motion.” Rhythm can also be referred to as a literally device that demonstrates the long and short patterns through stressed and unstressed syllables, particularly in verse poems. For example, if you read any limerick poem out loud, you will hear that it has a musical kind of beat. That is rhythm. That rhythm is also called meter.

    Rhythm is an important part of the structure of a poem. In writing poetry, rhythm acts as a beat in music. Every poem that is not free verse has a type of rhythm. The use of rhythm in poetry arises from the need to express some words more strongly than others. They might be stressed for a longer period of time. Hence, the repeated use of rhythmical patterns produces rhythmical effect, which sounds pleasant to the mind as well as to the soul. Rhythm is used to captivate the readers by giving musical effect to a literary piece. Below is an example of the rhythm structure in a limerick.

    Application Activity 4.2 

    Read the poem below and answer the questions.


    Heat, all-pervading, crinkles up the soil; 

    A deathly silence numbs the molten air; 

    On beds of rives, island scorched and bare, 

    Warm scavengers of wind heap up the soil; 

    And wide eyed oxen, gaunt and spent with toil, 

    Huddled together near some shrunken pool… 

    Pant for the shade of trees and pastures cool. 

    Lashing their tails at flies they cannot foil. 

    Whilst overhead, the sun-god drives his way 

    Through halting hours of blinding, blazing light,

    Until his shining steeds a moment stays 

    And disappear behind the gates of night. 

    And still, no rain. A cloudless, starlit sky 

    Watches the veldt and all thinks droop and die.

                                                  Denys Lefebvre 

    Source: Growing up with Poetry, an anthology for Secondary Schools, Edited by David Rubadiri.


    1. What is the subject matter of this poem? 

    2. What kind of poem is this? Why? 

    3. Discuss the effect of rhythm in poetry. 

    4. Write a short poem about the environmental disaster that you have ever experienced or heard about.

    4.3 Poetic Devices

    4.3.1 Hyperbole

    Activity 4.3.1

    Read the poem below and answer questions about it.

    There once was a young lady named bright 

    Whose speed was much faster than light 

    She set out one day In a relative way 

    And returned on the previous night.



    1.  What is the poem about? 

    2. a) What does the poet mean by “Whose speed was much faster than light”?   

        b) Why do you think the poet has used this statement? 

    3. 3.Assess the effect of hyperbole in limericks.

    Note:  Hyperbole refers to the use of overstatement or exaggeration for the purpose of creating emphasis or humor, but it is not intended to be taken literally. In our daily conversation, we use hyperbole to create an amusing effect, or to emphasize our meaning. For example, when you meet a friend after a long time, you say, ’It’s been ages since I last saw you.’ You may not have met him for three or four hours, or a day, but the use of the word “ages” exaggerates this statement to add emphasis to your waiting. However, in literature, a writer or a poet uses hyperbole to make common human feelings remarkable and intense to such an extent that they do not remain ordinary. The usage of hyperbole develops contrasts. When one thing is described with an over-statement, and the other thing is presented normally, a contrast is developed. This poetic device is employed to catch the reader’s attention.

    Application Activity 4.3.1

    Read the poem below and answer questions that follow.

    Psalm 23, Part II

    The State is my shepherd, 

    I shall not want; it makes me 

    to lie down in a subsidised house. 

    It leads me into political tranquillity; 

    it restores my faith in a lucrative future. 

    It leads me into paths of loans and pensions, 

    for its international reputation’s sake. 

    Yea , even though I walk through 

    the valley of the shadow Of kivvulu 

    I will fear no kondos; For   the State is with me , 

    its tanks and guns comfort me . 

    If it preserves for me a bank account, 

    in the presence of devaluation;

    It fills my pocket with allowances, 

    my salary overflows. Surely increments 

    and promotion shall follow me all the days 

    of my life;  And I shall dwell in senior staff quarters for ever.

    Timothy Wangusa 

    Source: Growing up with poetry, Page 64


    1. What is the subject matter of this poem? 

    2. Compare and contrast the use of hyperbole in poem above with hyperbole used in limericks. 

    3. Compare and contrast this poem with the Psalm 23 in the Bible.

    4.3.2 Euphemism

    Activity 4.3.2 

    Read the poem below and answer questions.

    There once was a farmer from Leeds, 

    Who swallowed a packet of seeds. 

    It soon came to pass, 

    He was covered with grass, 

    But has all the tomatoes he needs



    1. What is the subject matter of the poem? 

    2. What do you think the writer means by this?“It soon came to pass…He was covered with grass” 

    3. What poetic devices has the poet used to put across the message?

    Note: Euphemism refers to a use of polite language with the purpose of not offending or appearing unpleasant. It is used to mislead the readers/listeners’ understanding trying to spare their feelings about reality. Euphemism depends largely on the social context of the speakers and writers, where they feel the need to replace certain words that may prove embarrassing for particular listeners or readers in a particular situation. 

    Euphemism helps writers convey those ideas that have become a social taboo, and are too embarrassing to mention directly. Writers skillfully choose appropriate words to refer to and discuss a subject indirectly that otherwise might not be published due to strict social censorship, such as for reasons of religious fanaticism, political theories, sexuality, and death. Euphemism is therefore a useful tool that allows writers to write figuratively about difficult issues.

    Application activity 4.3.2 

    Read the poem below and answer questions that follow.

    The guns of Gaborone 

    June the month of shivering 

    by the fire side we were clustered 

    like winter chicken dried saliva 

    had trickled  to our ears and our knees 

    were pressed to our chins enemy fell 

    on us like locust at sun set

    Gaborone Shook with 

    amazed surprise Man and home 

    crumbled into nothingness 

    Ten and more died for no provocation 

    June, Wrapt us with a riddled blanket 

    You, Unfortunate, 

    You are cursed, 



    Who refuses to acknowledge life 

    Has set like the sun 

    Do you know that 

    I have Stronger-armed brothers, 

    my defenders, your age mates 

    Who will ask you questions 

    with the whisky of the whip?

    I was there 

    You were 

    I listened You were dumb 

    The country was bathed in blood 

    Gatwe It is said That 

    The bottle is informed 

    By integrity But you lacked ears 

    Tell me – 

    Does your book have the story of 

    David and Goliath? You who died 

    Sleep in peace Banabathari e ntsho 

    A luta continua Lo e lole 

    You have fought

    Grace Setlalekgosi (Botswana)

    Source: Growing up with poetry Page 73-74


    1. What is the poet talking about? 

    2. Discuss how the poet has used euphemism. 

    3. Why do you think the poet has opted for using euphemism? 

    4. Analyse other poetic devices used in the poem.

    4.3.3 Juxtaposition

    Activity 4.3.3

    Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow.

    Do not go gentle into that good night

    Do not go gentle into that good night, 

    Old age should burn and rave at close of day; 

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right, 

    Because their words had forked no lightning they 

    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright 

    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, 

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, 

    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, 

    Do not go gentle into that good night. 

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight 

    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height, 

    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

    Do not go gentle into that good night, 

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

                                             Dylan Thomas


    1. Analyse the subject matter of the poem 

    2. Dylan Thomas uses words like crying and dancing.... sad and grieved... together in the poem. What is this poetic device? What do you think he is trying to achieve by using this poetic devices? 

    3. Describe other poetic devices that the poet has used to express his idea.

    Note: Juxtaposition is a literary technique in which two or more ideas, places, characters, and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem, for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts. In literature, juxtaposition is a useful device for writers to portray their characters in great detail, to create suspense, and to achieve a rhetorical effect. It is a human quality to comprehend one thing easily by comparing it to another. Poets use juxtaposition to highlight differences between two words or idea. For example, a writer can make readers sense “goodness” in a particular character by placing him or her side-by-side with a character that is predominantly “evil.” Consequently, goodness in one character is highlighted by evil in the other character. Juxtaposition in this case is useful in the development of characters.

    Application Activity 4.3.3

    Read the following poem and answer questions about it.

    Some Days 

    Some days I put the people in 

    their places at the table, 

    bend their legs at the knees, 

    if they come with that feature, 

    and fix them into the tiny wooden chairs. 

    All afternoon they face one another, 

    the man in the brown suit, 

    the woman in the blue dress,

    perfectly motionless, 

    perfectly behaved. But other days, 

    I am the one who is lifted up by the ribs, 

    then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouse 

    to sit with the others at the long table. 

    Very funny, 

    but how would you like it if you never knew 

    from one day to the next if you were going 

    to spend it striding around like a vivid god, 

    your shoulders in the clouds, 

    or sitting down there amidst the wallpaper, 

    staring straight ahead with your little plastic face?

                                                     Billy Collins


    1. What is the poet talking about? 

    2. Discuss how the poet has used juxtaposition in the poem. 

    3. Why do you think the poet has opted for use of juxtaposition? 

    4. Compare and contrast this poem and with limericks.

    4.3.4. Litotes

    Activity 4.3.4 

    Read the poem below Fire and Ice by Robert Frost” and answer the questions that follow.

    Fire and Ice 

    “Some say the world will end in fire, 

    Some say in ice. 

    From what I’ve tasted of desire

    I hold with those who favor fire. 

    But if I had to perish twice, 

    I think I know enough of hate 

    To say that for destruction ice 

    Is also great And would suffice.”

                                       Robert Frost


    1. What is the subject matter of the poem? 

    2. Describe the unique features you notice about this poem. 

    3. Explain the poetic device has the poet used to put across the message. 

    4. What do you think the writer intends to mean in the last line of the poem?

    Note: Litotes is a poetic device which is a form of understatement in which sentiment is expressed ironically by negating its contrary. Poets opt to use litotes to invocate the absence of thing or quality to soften harsh phrases, and sometimes for a bitingly ironic touch. For example, “He’s not bad looking” could express that someone is gorgeous—or could convey that he’s neither particularly ugly nor attractive. The degree of emphasis depends on context. For instance, the commonly used phrase “not bad” can indicate that something is either average or excellent. 

    Along the same lines, litotes can be used to diminish the harshness of an observation; “He isn’t the cleanest person I know” could be used as a means of indicating that someone is a messy person.

    Application activity 4.3.4

    Read the poem below and answer questions that follow.

    This limerick goes in verse 

    Unless I’m remiss 

    The neat thing is this: 

    If you start from the bottom- most verse 

    This limerick’s not any worse.

                                             Zach Weiner


    1. What is the poet talking about? 

    2. Why do you think the poet has opted for use of litotes to convey the message? 

    3. In the poem, extract the line that highlights litotes.

    End Unit Assessment


    1 Answer the following questions. 

    1. Define the following terms: 

    a. Limerick 

    b. Rhyme 

    c. Rhythm 

    2. Describe characteristics of limericks. 

    3. Compare and contrast limericks and elegy. 

    4. Explain the functions of Limericks 

    Activity 2 

    Read the following poem and answer questions that follow.

    A fellow jumped off a high wall, 

    And had a most terrible fall. 

    He went back to bed, 

    With a bump on his head, 

    That’s why you don’t jump off a wall.


    1. What is the main idea in the poem? 

    2. Identify the rhyme scheme in the poem and its effect. 

    3. Describe other poetic devices used in the poem

    Activity 3 

    Choose a topic and write a limerick with all its features. 


    Key Unit Competence: 

    To be able to identify and analyse free verse in poetry. 


    activity Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow.  

    Bus stop

    I saw a nice boy 

    with long sideburns 

    and short hair and blue suit 

    he stood in front of me in the bus queue 

    when the bus came 

    he stood back 

    to let me climb into the bus in front of him

    i turned to thank him 

    he gave me a radiant smile 

    it warmed my heart and made my day beautiful 

    and then (Wrapped in a haze of rosy dreams) 

    i tripped and fell into the bus flat on my stupid face

    Michelle Friend 

    Source:  English in Use –Student’s book 2/p: 42


    1. What is the main idea in the poem?   

    2. Discuss the structure of the poem. 

    3. Identify some poetic devices the poet has used to convey the message. 

    Note: Free verse is poetry that does not have regular patterns of rhyme and meter. The lines in free verse often flow more naturally than do rhymed, metrical lines and thus achieve a rhythm more like that of everyday human speech.

    The following are free verse poetry features:

    • Free verse poems have no regular meter or rhythm. 

    • They do not follow a proper rhyme scheme; these poems do not have any set rules.

    • This type of poem is based on normal pauses and natural rhythmical, as compared to the artificial constraints of traditional or normal poetry.  That is why it is called “Free verse”.

    Free verse is commonly used in contemporary poetry. Some poets have taken this technique as a freedom from rhythm and rhyme, because it gives a greater freedom for choosing words, and conveying their meanings to the listener or the readers through intonation instead of meter/rhythm. Since it depends upon patterned elements like sounds, phrases, sentences, and words, it is free of artificiality of a typical poetic expression.

    5.1. Poetic Devices 

    5.1.1. Poetic line

    Activity .5.1.1 

    Read the poem below and answer questions about it.

    Mother to Son 

    Well, son, I’ll tell you: 

    Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. 

    It’s had tacks in it, And splinters, 

    And boards torn up, And places 

    with no carpet on the floor— Bare. 

    But all the time I’se been a-climbin’ on, 

    And reachin’ landin’s,

    And turnin’ corners, 

    And sometimes goin’ in the dark 

    Where there ain’t been no light. 

    So boy, don’t you turn back. 

    Don’t you set down on the steps ’

    Cause you finds it’s kinder hard. 

    Don’t you fall now— For I’se still goin’, 

    honey, I’se still climbin’, 

    And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.  

                                        Langston Hughes


    1. What is mother to son all about? 

    2. Comment on poetic lines in the poem. 

    3. Does this poem have rhyme scheme? Justify your answer. 

    4. What literary devices are used in mother to son?

    Note: A poetic line is a subdivision of a poem, specifically a group of words arranged into a row that ends for a reason other than the right-hand margin. This reason could be that the lines are arranged to have a certain number of syllables, a certain number of stresses, or of metrical feet; it could be that they are arranged so that they rhyme, whether theyare  of equal length or not. But it is important to remember that the poet has chosen to make the line a certain length, or to make the line-break at a certain point. This line-break is where a reader has to turn back to the start of the next line. Lines are the text that takes up one line, or row, in a poem. Poems can have any number of lines.Some poets use short lines, some use long, some set all the lines on the left side of the page, and some indent lines differently all over the page. The relationship between the poetic line (including its length and positioning and how it fits into other lines) and the content of a poem is a major aspect of poetry. Free verse poem lines do not follow the rules, and have no rhyme or rhythm; but they are still an artistic expression. They are sometimes thought to be a modern form of poetry.

    Application activity 5.1.1 

    Read the poem and answer questions that follow.


    Africa my Africa

    Africa of proud warriors in the ancestral savannahs 

    Africa of whom my grandmother sings 

    On the banks of the distant river 

    I have never known you 

    But your blood flows in my veins 

    Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields 

    The blood of your sweat 

    The sweat of your work 

    The work of your slavery 

    The slavery of your children 

    Africa tell me Africa Is this you this back that is bent 

    This back that breaks under the weight of humiliation 

    This back trembling with red scars 

    And saying yes to the whip under the midday sun 

    But a grave voice answers me Impetuous son that tree young and strong 

    That tree there In splendid loneliness amidst white and faded flowers 

    That is Africa your Africa That grows again patiently obstinately 

    And its fruit gradually acquires The bitter taste of liberty.

    David Diop, 

    Source:  Growing up with poetry an anthology for secondary schools  p.17-18


    1. What is the poem about? 

    2. According to the speaker, how have the past effects of colonialism shaped the Africa’s present? 

    3. Compare and contrast the lines of this poem and those of Mother to son. 

    4. Comment on poetic devices used in the poem.  

    5.1. 2. Punctuation

    Activity 5.1.2 

    Read the poem below and answer questions.


    I have crossed an ocean 

    I have lost my tongue 

    From the root of the old 


    A new one has sprung

    Grace Nichols (Guyana)

    Source: Growing up with poetry, an anthology for Secondary schools, page 50.


    1. What is the poem about? 

    2. Comment on the use of punctuation in the poem. 

    3. How do we call such a poem?

    Note: Free verse is just as the title says. It’s FREE. It may or may not have punctuation. It depends on the style of writing. Some poets that argue that poetry has to abide by normal grammatical rules, but free verse can be portrayed as the poet intends. Free verse has no set pattern and no rules that bind it as other forms of poetry do. 

    It depends on what feels more comfortable to the poet whether or not punctuation is used.  Some free verse poems are just meant to flow freely, but if you want to add some spice you can add punctuation.

    Application activity 5.1.2 

    Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow.

    My island is in need of a poem   

    My island is in need of a poem 

    Yes! Another poem for a poet to recite 

    But now in everyone’s sight … 

    While we’re peacefully seated at home

    My island is in need of a poem 

    Not to make children scatter again … 

    But to let them feel at home 

    And recognize our island’s vision 

    To get ready for their own mission 

    My island is in need of a poem 

    A long narrative but different poem 

    Telling a story on our peace tunnel   

    Evoking the hard-works of their hands

    A good way to get it strongly secured 

    My island is in need of a poem 

    A poem to relocate our broken hope

    Out of a gloomy valley, where rested 

    That wounding streaming tears

    This takes roots from our downfalls. 

                    Jean de Dieu BAVUGEMPORE


    1. What does the speaker mean by “another poem”? 

    2. Compare and contrast this poem with Grace Nichols’Epilogue. 

    3. As Rwandan child, what do you learn from this poem?

    5.3. Oxymoron

    Activity 5.3 

    Read the poem and answer the questions that follow.

    The end begins: Words

    Words WordsWords words

     without wind words without end 

    without care what action 

    we stand and watch on fireless fireplaces.

    heads of clans stand 

    and stare they come and go 

    some die by beheading. 

    clans have no heads they 

    wait in pain for peace 

    but peace for scattered 

    skeletons reeks of bloody emptiness.

    down the countryside 

    I know elephant fight daily 

    but the common grasses 

    I know under their feet bleeds, 

    starves and dies under the 

    strain of gunpowder excreted.

    we are maimed daily 

    and the mime continues 

    this time again without words. 

                       Kalungi Kabuye.


    1. What is the subject matter of the poem? 

    2. What sort of atmosphere does the poem have? How is this atmosphere created? 

    3. Explain the poetic device that appears in stanza 1, line 6. 

    4. What effect does the repetition of “Words, words, words” have upon the poem?

    Note: Oxymoron is a poetic device in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. The common oxymoron phrase is a combination of an adjective proceeded by a noun with contrasting meanings, such as “cruel kindness,” or “living dead”. However, the contrasting words/phrases are not always glued together. Authors/ Poets use oxymoron in literature for many reasons. At times an oxymoron may call attention to the dual nature of an object or concept, etc. For example, something can be both sweet and sorrowful at the same time. For instance, Shakespeare wrote that “parting is such sweet sorrow”. This makes the reader think more deeply about the multiple meanings of the experience. Oxymoron may also just present a concept in a new light to emphasize the author’s creativity.

    Application Action 5.1.3 

    Read the poem below and answer the questions.

     Life is Tremulous 

    Life is tremulous like a water-drop on a mophane tree 

    My body is wrinkled, my hair grey 

    The talk is Bushmen everywhere

    I am called a ‘no body’ 

    A race of ragged filthy people 

    Who cannot clean their floors 

    Whose blanket in the firewood 

    Who spit and sneeze freely everywhere 

    Whose bodies smell of root-ointment 

    Or like a cowhide soaked in the river water 

    My countrymen call me names 

    I am torn between life and death 

    Propped between freedom and slavery 

    My tears glide in pairs down my cheeks 

    My hands shake because of old age 

    I am no more than a refugee A loafer they say 

    Yet others loaf too whilst other men work It is true 

    I do not worry for lunch As birds do not worry theirs too. 

    To me the delights of knowledge And the pomp of power are anathema 

    Life is tremulous like drops Of water on a mophane leaf 

    My countrymen eat, drink and laugh

    I and my fellow men and women sleep under trees 

    In caves or open ground We starve, we can no longer hunt freely 

    Life is a scourge, a curse It is tremulous like a drop of water on a mophane leaf.

    Albert Malikongwa

    Source: Growing up with poetry.An anthology for secondary schools, page 51-52


    1. What is the poem about? 

    2. Explain the fourth line of the poem “…I am called a ‘no body…’” and   how has the poet used it to convey his message? 

    3. Describe the poetic devices used in this poem 

    4. What feelings does the speaker’s tone evoke?

    5.4. Paradox

    Activity 5.1.4 

    Read the poem below and answer the questions.

    And when you balance on your head

    And when you balance on your head 

    A beautiful water pot Or a new basket 

    Or a long-necked jar Full of Honey, 

    Your long neck Resembles the alwiri spear

    And as you walk along the pathway 

    On both sides

    The abiya grasses are flowering 

    And the pollok blossoms 

    And the wild white lilies 

    Are shouting silently 

    To the bees and butterflies!

    And as the fragrance 

    Of the ripe wild berries 

    Hooks the insects and little birds, 

    As the fishermen hook the fish 

    And pull them up mercilessly, 

    The young men come 

    From the surrounding villages, 

    And from across many streams, 

    They come from beyond the hills 

    And the wide plains. 

    And bite off their ears Like jackals.

    And when you go 

    To the well Or into the freshly burnt woodlands 

    To collect the red oceyu 

    Or to cut oddugushrubs , 

    You find them, 

    Lurking on the shades 

    Like the leopardess with cubs. 


    Source: Growing up with poetry, an anthology for secondary schools, edited by David Rubadiri, page  6.


    1. What is the poem about? 

    2. Who is the speaker in the poem? 

    3. Identify lines in the poem which contains paradox. 

    4. Describe how the poet has portrayed the African cultural values in the poem. 

    5. The poet is comparing a woman with different things. List those things. 

    6. Why do you think the poet has chosen these images?

    Note: Paradox is a wise saying that on the surface appears contradictory, but when examined in deep, reveals a fundamental truth. For example we say “the son is the father of the man” on the surface it is quite illogical but when analysed further it is true because a son today, is a father tomorrow. Poets use paradox to give pleasure to the reader. Readers enjoy more when they extract the hidden meanings out of the writing rather than something presented to them in an uncomplicated manner. In some poems, paradox is meant to communicate a tone of irony to its readers as well as lead their thoughts to the immediate subject. Paradox in most poems normally strives to create feelings of intrigue and interest in readers’ minds, to make them think deeper and harder to enjoy the real message of the poem.

    Application activity 5.4 

    Read the poem below and answer questions.

    What is he? 

    What is he? A man, of course. 

    Yes, but what does he do? 

    he lives and is man. 

    Oh quite! But he must work. 

    He must have a job of some sort. why? 

    Because obviously he is not one of the leisured classes. 

    I don’t know. 

    He has lot of leisure.  

    And he makes quite Beautiful chairs. 

    There they are then! 

    He’s a cabinet maker. no no! 

    Anyhow a carpenter and joiner. 

    Not at all But you said so. what did I say? 

    That he made chairs and was a joiner and carpenter. 

    I said he made chairs, but I did not say he was a carpenter. 

    All right then, he’s just an amateur.

    perhaps! Would you say a thrush was a professional flautist, 

    Or just an amateur? 

    I’d say he was just bird. -and I say he is just man. 

    All right! You always did quibble.

    D.H. Lawrence

    Source: Growing up with Poetry, an anthology of secondary schools.


    1. What does the title of the poem, What is he mean? 

    2. Look at the poem and discuss what you think makes it a poem and not prose. 

    3. Does the poem have a rhyme scheme?  Justify your answer. 

    4. This poem sounds like a conversation but it is not. Why do you think it is not? 

    5. Compare and contrast the use of poetic devices in both What is he? and  ‘And when you balance on your head’. 

    Activity 1

    1. State at least 3 important features of free verse poems 

    2. Compare and contrast free verse poems with other types of poems. 

    3. Discuss the contribution of form to the message in free verse poems. 

    Activity 2 

    Read the poem below and answer questions about it.

    The graceful giraffe cannot become a monkey

    My husband tells me 

    I have no ideas 

    Of modern beauty. 

    He says

    I have stuck 

    To old-fashioned hair styles.

    He says 

    I am stupid and very backward, 

    That my hair style 

    Makes him sick 

    Because I am dirty.



    My father comes from 


    My mother is a woman of Koc! 

    I am a true Acoli 

    I am not a half-caste 

    I am not a slave girl; 

    My father was not brought home 

    By the spear 

    My mother was not exchanged 

    For a basket of millet.

    Ask me what beauty is 

    To the Acoli 

    And I will tell you; 

    I will show it to you 

    If you give me a chance!

    You once saw me, 

    You saw my hair style 

    And you admired it, 

    And the boys loved it 

    At the arena 

    Boys surrounded me 

    And fought for me.

    My mother taught me 

    Acoli hair fashions; 

    Which fits the kind 

    Of hair of the Acoli, 

    And the occasion.


    Ostrich plumes differ 

    From chicken feathers, 

    A monkey’s tail Is different from that of a giraffe, 

    The crocodile’s skin Is not like the guinea fowl’s, 

    And the hippo is naked, and hairless.

    The hair of the 

    Acoli Is different from that of the 

    Arabs; The Indians’ hair 

    Resembles the tail of a horse; 

    It is like sisal strings 

    And needs to be cut With scissors. 

    It is black, 

    And is different from that of a white woman.

    A white woman’s hair 

    Is soft like silk; It is light 

    And brownish like 

    That of a brown monkey, 

    And is very different from mine. 

    A black woman’s hair Is thick and curly; 

    It is true Ring-worm sometimes eat up 

    A little girl’s hair And this is terrible;

    But when hot porridge 

    Is put on the head 

    And the dance is held 

    Under the sausage-fruit tree 

    And the youths have sung

    You, Ring worm 

    Who is eating 

    Duka’s hair 

    Here is your porridge,

    Then the girl’s hair 

    Begins to grow again 

    And the girl is pleased.

    Okot p’ Bitek 

    Source: Growing up with poetry p.15


    1. What does the title of the poem The graceful giraffe cannot become a monkey mean? 

    2. Comment on the figures of speech used in the poem. 

    3. Who is the persona in this poem? How do you know? 

    4. How does Lawino see her identity? 

    5. Who is surer of his/her identity? Lawino or her husband? Why do you think so? 

    6. Who is Lawino speaking to in the poem? 

    7. How does Lawino react to the complaint of her husband? 

    8. Basing on subject matter, justify Lawino’s attitudes towards African identity.

    Activity 3

    1. Basing on the features of free verse poems, compose a two stanza poem on a topic of your choice.