Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

SPM Literature in English (Notes: Poems II)

Posted by Snow

A. but education tells me I am halus, he kasar
for don’t you see I’m a Shakespeare-wallah
with this degree that clings to me like a vise
and a middle-class airconditioned nose?
In the lines above, why does the speaker refer to himself as “a shakespeare-wallah”? [5 marks]

The speaker refers to himself as a shakespeare-wallah as a means of equalizing his status with that of the midnight satay vendor. He does this by using the local slang term “wallah” that means “vendor”. This stanza reveals the guilt the speaker feels about his own higher status in society; a status afforded him by his education to which the satay vendor does or did not seem to have had equal access.

B. In the poem Dance by Fadzillah Amin, what does the speaker mean in the line “I am tired of these ronggeng motions”? [8 marks]

The speaker compares her relationship and her daily routines to the ronggeng*, an upbeat Malay social dance in which couples exchange poetic verses as they dance to the music of a violin or a gong. The dancers of the ronggeng perform very energetic movements that, however, never culminate in physical contact with one another. In the very first stanza of “Dance”, the speaker says:
“We are like partners in the ronggeng,
Approaching nearer, nearer and nearer;
But just when one would think we’d meet at last,
We turn away, reverse our steps, withdraw….”
The ronggeng can be read as both a simile and a metaphor for the speaker’s life of which she is tired. It appears that the social rules, symbolized by the dance’s fixed routine, of the speaker’s life does not allow for a greater intimacy between the dancers or those around her. As it were, the speaker is merely “going through the motions” because her life lacks greater meaning through richer expression which she feels can only be obtained through a forbidden intimacy.

*From the beginning, Ronggeng is a type of Malay social dance. Ronggeng, sampeng and sila are dances influenced by Western, Near Eastern and Malay traditions. The terms joget and ronggeng denote the most famous and popular Malaysian dance, often seen as an unofficial national social dance. The word joget has two meanings; “dance” and “dancing girl”. In its earlier usage, it probably denoted female courtly dances and dancers in the state of Pahang. The ensemble accompanying the dance was known as a joget gamelan which still exists in Pahang and Trengganu. The form of joget was influenced by Portuguese and Malaysian-Portuguese dancers and musicians at the time of the Portuguese occupation of Melaka, four hundred year ago. Until the early 20th century, it was known by the name ronggeng. With the creation of joget modern, the term joget generally replaced the term ronggeng as the name of the genre. [Folks, I got this off the Internet… for your information.]

C. “The future is a different planet, they do things differently there.”
Do you share this view in your reading of Tea in a Spaceship by James Kirkup? Support your answer with reasons and examples from the text. [12 marks]

In the poem “Tea in a Spaceship” [TIS] by James Kirkup, it would seem that the future is indeed a different planet where things are done differently. This is especially apparent in the central metaphor of having tea in a spaceship where the spaceship can be said to represent the “other-worldliness” of the future. Within this spaceship,
“... a tablecloth need not be laid
On any table, but is spread out anywhere
Upon the always equidistant and
Invisible legs of gravity’s wild air.”
From the very beginning of the poem, we are painted a picture of total formlessness where familiar and necessary objects or paraphernalia one associates with the social construct of having tea such as a tablecloth, cake-forks, spoons or knives are considered obsolete. This world of the spaceship / future where gravity, in both senses of the word -- that is, “the force that attracts objects to the centre of the earth and to each other” and “seriousness and solemnity” -- holds no sway seems to have a “wild air” about it.

The following three stanzas of the poem proceed then to reinforce this sense of wild disorderliness of the future, especially because cups -- the moulds which would otherwise hold and give form to liquid tea – can no longer contain the tea. Without gravity the surface tension of liquid will have the tea gather “itself into a wet and steaming ball” that “... hurls its liquid molecules at anybody’s head”.

As far as the tone of Tea in a Spaceship is concerned, the future where things are done differently is not looked upon kindly. Chaos and rudeness appear to reign supreme with tea assuming a life of its own and those that consume it are “chronically nervous jerks” who, despite their failings and “flailings” with “mouths agape for passing cake”, will not spill a drop of tea as there is no gravity or seriousness to cause such that would otherwise be regarded as a social faux pas.

The chronically nervous jerks who populate the future live in a world that is free of “gravity” or seriousness and concern thanks to technological advances (such as the microwave oven) that allow the tea to be perpetually hot. Aside from this, they also no longer need or want to have control over the condiments that go along with the having of tea such as sugar cubes that “[S]ling themselves out of their crystal bowl” and milk that “... describes a permanent parabola / Girdled with satellites of spinning tarts.”

The last stanza of the poem takes on an even heavier sense of irony when it concludes that:
“The future lives with graciousness,
The hostess finds her problems eased,
For there is honey still for tea
And butter keeps the ceiling greased...”
The future is a land of plenty where we will always have enough to eat and drink. However, social mores – represented by the ritual of “taking tea” – have changed dramatically. If in the past (or perhaps the speaker’s present) food shortages and manual labour are the main focus of concern or grave issues of the day, the lack of such cares in the future will make it a different planet where things will be done differently, and not to the approval of the speaker of Tea in a Spaceship, if his tone is anything to go by.

A. Grandchild we lived
before your age. Because
of our ignorance,
we did not know
pollution, stress, traffic jams
destruction of forests, streams and
we feared God and nature
now nature fears you and
money is your news God.

In the stanza above, what is the speaker saying to “Grandchild”? [5 marks]

The stanza above is the grandparent’s response to the question the grandchild had asked in the first stanza of M. Shanmughalingam’s poem “Heir Conditioning”. Here the grandparent answers the main question asked by the grandchild, that is, how did the latter live without modern technological advances such as air conditioning and telephones that make life so much easier. In the stanza above, the grandparent then explains that although he or she had lived in an age before their knowledge was “advanced” enough to invent such technological conveniences (“Because of our ignorance”), they lived without the stress, traffic jams and the destruction of nature that such progress brings with it. Also, the grandparent says, progress has made those living in the grandchild’s age worship money as it is only with money that such modern gadgetry can be bought. Ironically, however, such conveniences come with a spiritual price and stress.

B. In The Gardener by Louis MacNeice, what is the significance of the explanation “For he was not quite all there”? [8 marks]

The phrase “For he was not quite all there” and “He was not quite right in the head”, used in the poem, respectively in the first and last stanzas, are euphemisms that the speaker uses to say that the gardener is mad. These euphemisms are significant in that they underscore the speaker’s own fascination with the zany antics of the gardener to whom the former cannot or is not willing directly to apply the word “mad”.

Instead, the speaker gives us a very graphic description of the gardener’s actions that obviously hold the speaker of the poem in a grip of fascination that, in turn, can be seen in the painstaking detail the speaker uses to describe the gardener.

In the first stanza the reader is informed that the gardener is illiterate and that he (presumably) makes a living by tending to the gardens of richer folk. By the end of the first stanza, the speaker declares the gardener “not quite all there” because the latter cuts hedges and hoes drives with the “smile of a saint” and “the pride of a feudal chief”. It appears that the speaker looks down on the lowly gardener by saying that only a mad man could have the smile of a saint and the pride of feudal chief if all he does is cut hedges and hoe drives.

As the poem unfolds the details of the gardener’s ways, however, it becomes apparent to the reader – if not to the speaker – that despite making a big deal about the unstable mental health of the gardener, the speaker harbours a sad admiration and respect for this gardener who is “not quite all there”.

C. “Technology breaks down communication between people and erodes civility”
Do you share this view in your reading of Manners by Elizabeth Bishop? [12 marks]

In my reading of the Elizabeth Bishop’s poem Manners, a very strong case can be made of the statement “technology breaks down communication between people while eroding civility”. This is most apparent in the seventh stanza of this eight-stanza poem in which a grandfather instills the lessons of civility and respect at two levels: Civility and respect people should have for one another, and civility and respect people should have for nature.

From the first to the sixth stanza, the grandfather -- who is riding in a wagon with his grandchild -- gives the latter lessons on manners and civility with examples drawn during the course of their journey.

In the first stanza, the grandfather says “’Be sure to remember to always / speak to everyone you meet’”. In the following stanza, the grandfather enacts this instruction by greeting a stranger on foot whom their wagon passes. The lesson in stanza three “’Always offer everyone a ride; / don’t forget that when you get older,’” is then backed up in stanza four when the grandfather offers a boy they knew -- who had a pet crow on his shoulder -- a ride.

When Willy, the boy passenger, gets into the wagon, however, his crow flies away, much to the speaker’s dismay. Nevertheless, and this time much to the speaker’s awe, the crow follows Willy and the wagon “from fence post to fence post,… / and when Willy whistled he answered”. From this, the grandfather draws the conclusion:
“’and he’s well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when he’s spoken to.
Man or beast, that’s good manners.
Be sure that you both always do.”
It is at this point that the wagon is rudely passed by automobiles whose “dust hid people’s faces”. Although the passengers of the wagon are true to their principles of civility which they then exhibit by shouting “’Good day! Good day! / Fine day! At the top of (their) voices”, the din of the automobiles’ engines drowns them out. This, then, highlights the observation that “Technology breaks down communication between people and erodes civility”. Technology, this stanza can be interpreted to say, obscures human communication and contact, and, ultimately, civility and manners.

A. So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamor
of childhood days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.
Why does the speaker of the Piano by D.H. Lawrence say that “… it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor”? [5 marks]

The speaker says that “… it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor” because the singer cannot change the mood of the speaker in which her first song, sung softly, had placed him. The first soft song reminded the speaker of his childhood, specifically of a poignant moment he had sitting under the piano “(a)nd pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.” For the speaker, this memory is more glamourous than that of his adult life so even the more upbeat tune cannot drown out his yearning for his childhood.

B. What role does the imagery of flowers play in the poem Parents by e.e. cummings? [8 marks]

Flower imagery is the heart of the poem Parents by e.e. Cummings. The different types of flowers – pansies, lilies-of-the-valley, and blackred roses – used in the poem respectively convey concepts such as effeminateness, purity or chastity, and sexual passion.

In the first stanza, the speaker declares his mother so unique and special that if there were heavens, she would have one all by herself. Then, to describe the character of her heaven, the speaker then draws on flower imagery to delineate it. We are told:
“…. It will not be a pansy heaven or
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses”
In other words, the speaker’s mother’s heaven will neither be a common heaven nor -- because it houses a woman – an effeminate one. On the other hand, his mother’s heaven is also not a heaven that’s pure or divine, as symbolized by lilies-of-the-valley, but a heaven of heady passion, as suggested by “blackred roses”.

This interpretation is further reinforced when the speaker says that his “father will be (deep like a rose / tall like a rose / standing near my / swaying over her / (silent)”. So, although his father is in heaven with his mother, she is still the only occupant of her heaven given that his father is not there in human form but only as one of the blackred roses that constitute it. As this tall and deep blackred rose, the speaker’s father represents the passion of love, and this is especially apparent in the almost breathless lines “my father…. is a flower and not a face with / hands / which whisper / This is my beloved my”.

C. “You only totally understand, love and miss your mother when you need her help.”
Can this statement be applied to A Figure Forgotten in Hours Not-of-Need by Kee Thuan Chye? Support your answer with reasons and examples drawn from the poem. [12 marks]

The very title of this poem supports the phrase “you only totally understand, love and miss your mother when you need her help”. For the speaker, his mother, up until the point that the poem is written, was no more than a figure.

However, the poem itself is an expression of the speaker’s desperation “in helpless moments” when he most understands the figure who had sacrificed so much for him, but whom he had remonstrated in the good times.

Spurred on by a poignant sense of helplessness, the speaker ponders his relationship with his mother. He now understands her actions that he once condemned. He says:
You are not the purest of women
but you toiled for your children,
throwing morals coyly to the wind.
How else could we have grown up
with cushioned settees to sit on
and hot cuisine to nourish our hungry souls?
These lines strongly suggest that the speaker’s mother had compromised her morals – engaging in prostitution, perhaps? – to fund her children’s upbringing, the standards of which seemed to be quite high as the words “settees” and “cuisine” insinuate.

It is now clear to the speaker that his mother did what she had to do to protect her children from the harsh realities of life. The speaker says:
“Now, in helpless moments,
I think of you,
a figure forgotten
in hours not-of-need,
but a comforter of the past
who caught cockroaches with bare hands.”
The speaker’s mother caught cockroaches with bare hands, a brave action which the speaker, even as an adult, is still afraid of doing. From a symbolic angle, one can argue that, in the poem, cockroaches represent the filthy realities of life – such as the compromising of one’s morals in order to protect others – which the speaker, unlike his mother, is still unwilling to face as an adult. He says:
And though it’s a sin to grow old
And to lost your dearest treasures,
You stoutly go your humdrum ways
While I curse the drudgery of life.
I am still afraid of cockroaches.
So, it would seem, from this poem, that one’s mother is especially loved, missed and finally understood only when the child is faced by life’s dilemma’s and challenges that the parent had so willingly faced up to all in the name of love for her children. In the last three lines of the poem the speaker laments:
But when I think
how little live I’ve shown you in return,
I sometimes cry.

A. Your body is black
your face is black soot
the sky is black.
despite your shame
you are a river of frangipani blossoms
a burning flower
a firefly.

A Father’s Word for a Lost Child, Suhaimi Haji Muhammad
In the stanza above what is the speaker saying to the child? [5 marks]

The speaker is telling his child that despite her exposure to evil, she is still pure. Although the child is now “black”, which represents evil and shame, on the outside, she is still innocent and pure inside, symbolized by the river of frangipani blossom, a burning flower and a firefly, all of which symbolize bright beacons of hope in the face of darkness.

B. What is the attitude of the speaker towards the little Maid in the poem We are Seven by William Wordsworth? [8 marks]

The speaker of We are Seven is, on the whole, exasperated with the little Maid who refuses to accept the finality of death. At a deeper level, it can be said that the speaker also feels very sorry for her as she is obviously a very lonely child now that most of her brothers and sisters have either left home or have died.

On the surface, the poem is hinged on the clash between the difference in the adult and child’s perception of death. The first stanza reads:
“A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?”
This stanza of the poem sets the framework for the dialogue between adult and child that follows. The next fifteen stanzas are then filled with the details of her family and siblings who are no longer around. She tells the speaker that two of her siblings are now living in Conway, two are at sea, two are dead and buried in a churchyard nearby while she lives with her mother not twelve steps from the graves of her deceased siblings Jane and John.

Despite going into great detail about Jane and John’s death and their graves, the little Maid insists that there are still seven – as opposed to five – children in the family. The adult tries to reason with her, that if two are dead, there must only be five. Ultimately, the poem ends with the child refusing to accept the adult’s calculations.

At a less obvious level, one can argue that the speaker of the poem is very touched by the child’s loneliness that leads to her denial of death. The painstaking detail of her interaction with the graves of her siblings, told over six stanzas, underline this. The speaker is intrigued that the little Maid knits, sings and eats by the gravestones of her brother and sister. She performs all these workaday activities by their graves as a way of keeping them alive in her mind and the speaker is careful to relate this to his audience or readers.

C. “Symbolism in poetry provides one a way of saying one thing and meaning another simultaneously”
Do you agree with this statement in your reading of Grandmother, by Kemala? Support your answers with reasons and examples drawn from the poem. [12 marks]

The symbolic qualities of the mengkuang mats form the backbone of the poem Grandmother, allowing the poet a way of saying one thing while meaning another. On the surface, the poem is about the mengkuang mats that Grandmother makes. However, the mengkuang mats and Grandmother’s attitude towards them can just as well be applied to her relationship with her children. We are told:
She is very old. And apart from God,
She most loves the mats she weaves.
She takes the thorny menkuang from the deep
She knows the cruel sting of its thorns and the pain
Of torn flesh as the thorns strike deep.
She has boldly drunk from the ancient waters of this
A parallel can be drawn between the weaving of Grandmother’s mengkuang mats and her bearing and raising of children. The thorns of the mengkuang that tear at her flesh are strongly reminiscent of the tearing of flesh during the birthing process. Yet, she is able to clear away the thorns to weave and order the mengkuang into beautiful and unique mats the way she was able to endure the difficulties of raising children into beautiful adults that then went on the set up homes and lives with others.

From “the criss-sross of flowers”, just as through the raising of children, Grandmother “learns answers to the riddles of life”. From them, she “knows the meaning of love and ordered devotion”. And just as she has to part with her mats when she sells them to her customers, she has to endure the “high price of parting” with her own children when they have grown.

A. i hope they become what they want to become
as long as they are not thieves, robbers and philistines
as long as their coming manhood and womanhood
do not become the fuel for the technological fire
burning us, making us useless and spent kayu bakau

My Clever Pupils, Omar Mohd. Noor
In the stanza above, what are the teacher’s hopes for his pupils? [5 marks]

The teacher does not seem to have very high hopes for his clever pupils. Although he hopes that they will achieve their own goals he fears that their ambitions are not very high, the repetition of “as long as” indicating this. Most of all, he hopes that they will not be made obsolete by technology (“do not become the fuel for the technological fire / burning us, making us useless and spent kayu bakau”), especially if they were to end up being manual labourers of factory workers – due to their apparent lack of ambition to be more -- whose tasks will eventually be replaced by automated machines and robots.

B. What is the speaker’s attitude towards the future in the poem Nocturne by Muhammad Haji Salleh? [8 marks]

The poem Nocturne harbours – both literally and metaphorically – much hope for the future and this is communicated through its central metaphor of a ship being urged on through the darkness of night by a comforting concert of natural forces – the sea, sky and winds – into a dawn that represents the future. Despite the onset of technological advances that threaten the natural rhythm of humanity, the spirit of Nocturne insists that nature will be able to adapt to the brave new world of “machines”. The second stanza of the poem reads:
“late tonight we borrow the music of nature
to mend the rhythm of our souls
newly broken by the pace of machines
i hold your hand
to marry my body to your lucidity”
It is ultimately the “music of nature” that will assist souls adjust to the “pace of machines”. The rift in humanity caused by the new pace of machines is surmountable if we allow the music of nature to bring us together. Once this is done, humanity will be able to sail into a new dawn of mutual understanding and harmony. This is evident in the last stanza that reads:
“in this dawn
we find a world
that understands us.
we string our experiences
as proof of our humanness.”

C. “Sometimes the social gestures we make in the name of civility hide rather than communicate our true intentions and feelings”
Discuss this statement in relation to the poem Once Upon a Time by Gabriel Okara. Support your answer with reasons and examples drawn from the poem. [12 marks]

Once Upon A Time is a poem that is based on this view that social gestures often hide rather than communicate our true intentions and feelings. The speaker of the poem tells his son about a past where people were genuine where “they used to laugh with their hearts / and laugh with their eyes.” In the speaker’s present, however “they only laugh with their teeth” even as their eyes “search behind” the speaker’s “shadow”. In other words, the people of the speaker’s present harbour sinister hidden intentions which social gestures such as smiling, greeting, and the shaking of hands are used to hide.

Accordingly, the speaker has had to adapt by himself becoming insincere in the form of wearing many faces “like dresses” such as his “homeface, officeface, streetface, hostface /… with all their conforming smiles”. He has “… also learned to say, ‘Goodbye’ / when (he means) ‘Good-riddance’”. Nevertheless, the speaker is not proud of this. On the contrary, he wants to re-learn how to be sincere. He says:
“But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
When I was like you, I want
To unlearn all these muting things
So show me, son,
How to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
Once upon a time when I was like you.”
Ultimately, the speaker is asking to be returned to a state of innocence where communication and human interaction has yet to be “muted” or disguised by learnt social gestures of politeness which adults use to gloss over their true intentions.

A. Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all…
… I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Hope is a thing with Feathers, Emily Dickinson
In the stanzas above, how is hope represented? [5 marks]

Although never directly expressed, hope is presented as a bird. In other words, the metaphor of a bird is used to embody, as it were, the concept of hope. As such, the bird of hope that lives in the soul is simultaneously slight and strong; it sings the tune of hope incessantly through the most difficult times, yet it is free and costs us nothing.

B. What is the main image used in At the Door by Wong Phui Nam, and how effective is it in communicating the subject of the poem? [8 marks]

The central image or metaphor on which the poem At the Door hinges is that of plant, or sapling for a feotus that has been poisoned in order to be aborted. The voice of the poem is that of the aborted feotus who begs to know:
“Mother, why did you let
the poison seep down,
blacken leaf and stem
from overhead course down the roots
to pinch and disarrange
the bulging knob that was to find its shape
to be my head?”
In these lines, the speaker of the poem likens itself to a plant whose leaf and stem (body), roots (blood vessels) and bulging knob (head) is poisoned “from overhead”, presumably after Mother has ingested abortifacient (swallowed drugs that induce abortion). I find this metaphor highly effective in its graphic immediacy; the images of its bulging knob, or head being “pinched and disarranged” at once focuses the attention on the cruelty of the poisoning and subsequent abortion. This is especially so in the third stanza when the speaker says:
“… before I melted back
into the glistening bunched gel,
red grapes shot thick with ash,
as I, expelled,
made my way out in my sac
filming over so soon with death?”
Once again, the plant (red grapes) metaphor is used to great graphic effect to illustrate the actual process of the abortion. Red grapes which would have otherwise been sweet fruit, are “shot thick with ash”, or burnt and killed.

C. “Life is a tedious routine with very little to look forward to”
Can this statement be applied to the poem Miracles by Walt Whitman. Support your argument with reasons and examples drawn from the text. [12 marks]

The main message of the poem Miracles is the antithesis (opposite argument) of the claim that “life is a tedious routine with very little to look forward to”. One can only imagine the speaker of the poem balking at this phrase.

As far as the poem is concerned, life in itself is cause for celebration as everything around us is a miracle in its own right. Just by its title alone, one would expect the poem to be about awesome phenomena, however, the content and message of the poem debunks this expectation.

Everything in life that one would consider humdrum and mundane, the speaker insists, is a miracle to which he looks forward. From the very first line he declares: “Why, who makes much of a miracle? / As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles” and goes on to give us a seemingly inexhaustible list of “miracles” that range from roofs, to streets to sunsets and to every spear of grass.

Above all, “… the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, / All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.” In other words, humanity itself and its surroundings is miraculous and therefore there should be much in life to look forward to.

► Read more on SPM Literature in English (Notes: Poems II)

SPM Literature in English (Notes: Random questions)

Posted by Snow

  1. (a) Why did Alfred Doolittle go to Higgins’ house?
    (b) How you think the change in Eliza has affected her in the end?
    (c) “We are told that Pickering treats a flower girl as if she were a Duchess, while Higgins treats a Duchess as if she were a flower girl.” Show how far this is a true description of their behaviours.

  2. (a) What bet did Professor Higgins make with Colonel Pickering?
    (b) What was Eliza’s first test and in what way did she pass or fail it?
    (c) What is your opinion of the play after reading it? Did you find it amusing or otherwise? Comment, with reference to specific scenes or events in the play.
1. Choose any one of the following poems [titles of poems from a given theme will be listed] and answer questions (a), (b) and (c) below:
(a) What is the main concern of the poem you have chosen?
(b) Using specific references, give two examples of imagery used in the poem.
(c) Choose any two poems that you have enjoyed reading under the above theme, and with close reference to the poems say why you like them.

Section A : Novel

The River Between by Ngugi Wa Thiong ‘O
Demi Na Mathathi were giants of the tribe. They had lived a long way back, at the beginning of time. They cut down trees and cleared the dense forests for cultivation. They owned many cattle, sheep and goats and they often sacrifice to Murungu and held communion with the ancestral spirits. Waiyaki had heard about these two generations of the tribe and he was proud of them. Only he wished he knew what they had looked like. They must have been great and strong to have braved the hazards of the forest.

In the above extract, state how Waiyaki perceives Demi Na Mathathi? (5 marks)

Explain the importance of the following ceremonies: (8 marks)
  • Ritual of Being Born Again
  • Circumcision
“Literature teaches us to understand relationship among family members.”

Discuss the above statement with close reference to Chege and Waiyaki. Do include their trip to the sacred grove in your answer. (12 marks)

Section B : Short Stories

Compassion Circuit by John Wyndham
Janet went on talking, more to herself than to the patient Hester standing by. She talked herself into tears. Then, presently, she looked up.

“Oh, Hester, if you were human I could not bear it. I think I’d hate you for being so strong and so well – but I don’t, Hester. You’re so kind and patient when I’m silly, like this. I believe you’d cry with me to keep me company if you could.”

“I wish if I could,” the robot agreed. “My compassion-circuit…”

In the above extract, why is Janet envious of Hester? (5 marks)

“Compared to robots we must seem so, I suppose. You are so strong and untiring, Hester. If you knew how I envy you that…”

What happens to Janet at the end of the story and what do the above lines tell us about Janet and her opinion on robots? (8 marks)

“Robots will be able to handle life better then human beings.”

Discuss the above with close reference to the story “Compassion Circuit” (12 marks)

Bequest of Love by Marie Gerrine Louis
After the incident, Karim got steadily worse. He stopped moving about around the house like he used to, getting in everyone’s way on purpose.

He now pulled himself about slowly with his long arms, his legs dragging behind uselessly. Growing more melancholy, he spent hours just staring out the window at the boys playing soccer of the neighbor’s children playing hide and seek. I tried to see if it was resentment he felt towards them but all his face ever showed was a deep sadness for what was never to be for him.

Sometimes, just sometimes, my gay Karim would come back to me for a while but these instances were few and very precious to me.

Based on the extract above, describe the kind of person Karim has become. (5 marks)

Briefly explain the relationship between Karim and his parents. (8 marks)

“Family unity is an important component when one faces tragedy.”

Discuss the above with close reference to the text. (12 marks)

Section C : Poetry

Theme: Family
Lost in thought, she is happy. And grateful.
Then her customers come. Their sting
is worse than that of the mengkuang.
How deep the meaning of love.
How high the price of parting.

Why is grandmother upset with her customers? (5 marks)

A Father’s Word for a Lost Child
Explain in detail three reasons given by the persona as to why his daughter should return home. (8 marks)

A Figure Forgotten in Hours-Not-Of-Need
“In literature it is shown that people influence one another”.

Do you think the mother has a long lasting influence on her child? Discuss with close reference to the text. (12 marks)

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SPM Literature in English (Notes: Plays and Novels)

Posted by Snow

George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born in Dublin, the son of a civil servant. His education was irregular, due to his dislike of any organized training. After working in an estate agent's office for a while he moved to London as a young man (1876), where he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic in the eighties and nineties and became a prominent member of the Fabian Society, for which he composed many pamphlets. He began his literary career as a novelist; as a fervent advocate of the new theatre of Ibsen (The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891) he decided to write plays in order to illustrate his criticism of the English stage. His earliest dramas were called appropriately Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Among these, Widower's Houses and Mrs. Warren's Profession savagely attack social hypocrisy, while in plays such as Arms and the Man and The Man of Destiny the criticism is less fierce. Shaw's radical rationalism, his utter disregard of conventions, his keen dialectic interest and verbal wit often turn the stage into a forum of ideas, and nowhere more openly than in the famous discourses on the Life Force, «Don Juan in Hell», the third act of the dramatization of woman's love chase of man, Man and Superman (1903).

In the plays of his later period discussion sometimes drowns the drama, in Back to Methuselah (1921), although in the same period he worked on his masterpiece Saint Joan (1923), in which he rewrites the well-known story of the French maiden and extends it from the Middle Ages to the present.

Other important plays by Shaw are Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), a historical play filled with allusions to modern times, and Androcles and the Lion (1912), in which he exercised a kind of retrospective history and from modern movements drew deductions for the Christian era. In Major Barbara (1905), one of Shaw's most successful «discussion» plays, the audience's attention is held by the power of the witty argumentation that man can achieve aesthetic salvation only through political activity, not as an individual. The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), facetiously classified as a tragedy by Shaw, is really a comedy the humour of which is directed at the medical profession. Candida (1898), with social attitudes toward sex relations as objects of his satire, and Pygmalion (1912), a witty study of phonetics as well as a clever treatment of middle-class morality and class distinction, proved some of Shaw's greatest successes on the stage. It is a combination of the dramatic, the comic, and the social corrective that gives Shaw's comedies their special flavour.

Shaw's complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death.

PYGMALION: Who was He?
In Roman mythology, Pygmalion was the King of Cyprus who had vowed never to marry because he could not find an ideal woman. Being a sculptor, he sculpted a perfect woman out of marble and eventually fell in love with the cold marble statue. He pleaded with Venus, the Goddess of Love to make her into a real person and she granted his wish.

In Shaw's Pygmalion, Professor Higgins tried to turn Eliza Doolitle into what he pictured to be the ideal woman.
  1. Comparison between Prof. Higgins and Colonel Pickering.
  2. How Shaw presents Eliza in the play.
  3. What does the character of Alfred Doolittle contribute to Pygmalion?
Some ideas to consider in this question.
  • Doolitle adds colour and personality to the play.
  • He makes no pretence to be virtuous but is completely honest about his nature.
  • He presents his own philosophy on the idea of 'Undeserving Poor'.
  • The higher he rises in the world, the less happy he becomes.
(Any statement made must be supported by evidence directly from the text through paraphrasing and quoting from the play.)

It has been said that Pygmalion is not a play about turning a flower girl into a duchess, but one about turning a woman into a human. Do you agree?

On a literal and simple level, the audience would view Pygmalion as a play about a flower girl, yet the deeper, cum more accurate point of view would be as the transformation of a young lady into a real, living human. The play Pygmalion is about a street urchin, Eliza Doolittle, who was brought into the bright glare of the high-class society, the world that she was not born to live in, but by a strange twist of destiny was transported into. The bringing of these two worlds together, that of the poverty-stricken society and the superior civilization had thrown a spanner into the works, for in the Victorian society, a person born into the working class remained there and never had the chance to decide their fate. In other words, their birth selected their future for them. However, defying this unspoken law audaciously, this young damsel has showed courage and learnt rapidly, not only about the art of proper speech and etiquette, but also about the underlying reality that she has to face, life. Eliza had a hard lesson to learn, but she learnt it well. She stood up for herself, for her rights, and showed Professor Higgins that she was not an “insect” or “squashed cabbage leaf”, but a human with feelings just like him and everyone else. This courageous maiden had managed to grasp the true meaning of life, that everyone has a right to live, that the gift of life in itself is pride enough to lift the head of the lowliest beggar and shame enough to bow the head of the most powerful king. To be precise, she learnt to be a human, the meaning of life. Eliza Doolittle had found herself at last.

  1. Look for scenes in the play when Romeo rushes into things without thinking. Identify at least five.
  2. What are the results of each of his actions?
(Please post your comments on the above if you'd like to share it with others.)

Essay question
With close reference to the text, discuss Romeo's impulsive nature and how it leads to his tragic end. (Your essay should not be less than 500 words.)

An Example of How You Can Start This Essay:
In Romeo and Juliet, there are several instances when the audience sees Romeo displaying his impulsive nature. Romeo proposed to Juliet the same night that they met. Juliet would have preferred that their wedding be arranged the right way which would have been through their respective family members. Romeo was hasty in not wanting to wait. He wanted them to be married immediately. So when they parted at daybreak, he went to see Friar Lawrence to make arrangements. The outcome? The marriage had to be kept a secret and Juliet had to fake her death to get out of marrying Paris. This resulted in the tragic ending to this play.

Religious imagery in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
There are different types of imagery used in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. One of them is the use of religious imagery.

Christianity was the religion that everyone was expected to follow during Shakespeare’s time and this explains why the imagery used is related to Christianity.

In the play, Romeo expresses his desire to kiss Juliet’s hand which he refers to as a ‘holy shrine’ and his own lips as ‘two blushing pilgrims’. The audience, being familiar with the religious connotation is made to feel that Juliet is linked with a divine existence, that is, God. This scene which takes place in Act 1 scene 5 (95-96) is the young lovers’ first meeting when Romeo turns up uninvited at Capulet’s masquerade party. Juliet plays along, responds to Romeo by referring to him as ‘good pilgrim’ and comparing him with ‘holy palmers’, the pilgrims who have returned from Jerusalem with a palm leaf as a token.

Romeo wants their lips to ‘do what hands do: They pray ...’ The touching of their lips in a kiss is likened to hands which are pressed together in prayer. The use of religious imagery elevates the relationship to a higher plane beyond that of ordinary mortals. The language used is very romantic, poetic and written in the form of a sonnet which sets this scene and the lovers apart from the ordinary characters in the rest of the play.

In Act 2 scene 2, Romeo speaks of her sacredness, recalling the holy motif of their first conversation together. She is his ‘bright angel’; she is like a winged messenger of heaven‘, a ‘dear saint’, and he vows to be ‘new baptiz’d’ for her. The balcony scene expresses the feelings of youth and passion. It makes anyone watching the play realise that young love does not have its feet on the ground. This explains Romeo and Juliet’s perception of love as a heavenly and religious experience.

As God’s intermediary, Friar Lawrence plays a very important role in propagating this perception as he is the one who gives official recognition of their love by marrying them. This implies divine recognition of their union.

The use of religious imagery is crucial to the audience’s acceptance of the events that take place in the play as destiny lies in the hands of God. Romeo and Juliet are not meant to be together on earth. It is only in death that they will be together as husband and wife.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Golding's Lord of the Flies is about struggle for survival and the conflict between good and evil. The characters in the novel are children who are stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes, killing the pilot. In an untamed environment, the children are left to fend for themselves and in the process, form a society with a hierarchy not much different from that in the civilised world.

Readers should consider the following question:
What is the message concerning human nature in Golding's Lord of the Flies?

The Dark Side of Human Nature in 'Lord of the Flies'.
Golding wanted to illustrate in this novel the dark side of human nature and to make the point that each member of humankind has this dark side. The boys blame the source of all the evil and savagery as a beast, some sort of animal or supernatural creature that inhabits the island. In actual fact there is no external beast. When they act on their animal impulses, the boys themselves take on the persona of the beast.
(At this point, SPM students writing their examination essays should display knowledge of text by referring to specific events in the novel.)

Golding places supposedly innocent schoolboys in the protected environment of an uninhabited tropical island to illustrate a point: that savagery is not confined to certain people in particular environments but exists in everyone. Even the smallest boys act out, in innocence, the same cruel desire for mastery shown by Jack and his tribe while hunting pigs and, later, Ralph. The former schoolboys discovered within themselves the urge to inflict pain and enjoyed the accompanying rush of power.
(Refer closely to an event in the novel to support this.)

When confronted with a choice between reason's civilising influence and animalistic savagery, the boys choose to abandon the values of civilisation that Ralph represents.
(Again, support this statement with close reference to the chain of events in the novel. Paraphrasing - that is, putting appropriate quotes into your sentences, is an effective way of showing knowledge and understanding of the novel.)

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

SPM 2005-2007 Literature in English (Notes: Poems)

Posted by Snow

Theme: HOPE

Walt Whitman

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of the houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under the trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with anyone I love - or sleep in bed at night with anyone I love,
Or sit at a table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds - or the wonderfulness of the sun-down - or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best - mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans - or to the soiree - or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in the hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring - yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and the dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the eath is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
Every spear of grass - the frames, limbs, organs of men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim - the rocks - the motion of the waves - the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Theme: Hope

Muhammad Haji Salleh

tonight we have the sea
and sky to help us live.
the winds that blow from behind us
persuade us to go into the future,
tell us not to fear
tranquillity or no difference.
late tonight we borrow the music of nature
to mend the rhythm of our souls
newly broken by the pace of machines
i hold your hand
to marry my body to your lucidity.
in this dawn
we find a world
that understands us.
we string our experiences
as proof of our humanness.

Tea In a Spaceship
James Kirkup looks at a future world which in some ways is like ours but is also attractively unlike it. It seems disordered and ungoverned, but it is also free, liberating, and quite beautiful.

The poet seems to be simply describing what would happen in a world without gravitational force. There is, however, a hidden meaning: he is imagining how liberating life would be if it were not tied down by rules and seriousness.

This technique of using an apparently simple story to deliver a more profound, hidden meaning is called allegory.

The first four lines suggest a world which overturns our familiar rules. For example, the tablecloth does not need to be on a table, it can be “spread out anywhere”.

However, this does not mean that there are no rules at all. In fact, the cloth seems to be able to sit neatly on “the always equidistant and/ Invisible legs of gravity’s wild air”.

There seems to be a series of contradictions here. We think of gravity literally as the force which keeps us anchored to the ground. Gravity also suggests seriousness – we might, for example, speak of “the gravity of the situation”, referring to how serious or worrying the situation is. The poet seems to reflect this idea of seriousness when he says that the legs are “always equidistant” – the legs follow the rules, they do not dance about unpredictably.

However, he contradicts this by talking about “gravity’s wild air”. “Wild air” is something that Kirkup seems to have invented; it suggests unrestrained, ungoverned, free movement – the opposite, it would seem, of gravity.

The next two stanzas describe scenes which could collapse into mess and chaos: tea does not stay in cups, cakes float past, sugar leaps out of the sugar bowl. However, things do not turn into a mess, because everything is in fact following the rules: this is what happens when there is no gravity to keep the tea in the cups and the cakes on the plates.

The poet describes the scene as something simultaneously messy and beautiful. Although it “hurls its liquid molecules” at people, the tea does not hit anyone; instead, it gracefully “dances” in and out of the cups. In this world, even shaky “nervous” hands do not spill anything. The sugar floating out of the sugar bowl is compared to a fountain which does not work properly, but is still “ornamental”. The milk remains suspended in “a permanent parabola”. A parabola is a smooth, streamlined curve, so the description focuses on grace, not on chaos.

The lack of gravity creates an easy, problem-free environment, as suggested in the final stanza. The butter has hit the ceiling, but this seems to be a good thing – the hostess’s problems are eased because the butter “keeps the ceiling greased”.

Kirkup’s allegory shows us how attractive it would be to live in a world where even “chronically nervous jerks” do not spill the tea because their “weightless hands” are not tied down by rules.

Manners are the most important component of live where ever humanity is existed. The very nice picture drawn in the poem reflects high principles and priceless advices which is depicted in a modern style though written many years ago; this shows capability of certain moral values once considered as one of the society main basic that is needed to be inculcated in youth minds to form well new generation. It gives what an old man can pass the best of both his own experience and his generation down to the younger one in a very simple language.

The Midnight Satay Vendor
This poem looks at the difference in lifestyle between two Malaysians – a privileged, university-educated man and a hard-working, uneducated satay vendor. Although the poet describes the satay vendor’s life as being tough and exhausting, he also seems to envy it.

He contrasts the “sorry figure” of the satay vendor with the “stubborn/ aristocratic slopes” of Jesselton Heights. The word “stubborn” suggests the difficulty that the vendor has in cycling up the hills; it is as if the slopes do not want him to get to the top.

The poet reinforces this idea by putting “stubborn” and “aristocratic” on separate lines. We automatically pause after reading “stubborn”, and then go on to the next line. That slight pause mimics the way the vendor might stop to catch his breath as he pedals uphill.

The arrangement of the lines “satay/ satay/ satay” is interesting; visually, it gives us an impression of the vendor moving along the hill, his voice receding further into the distance as he pedals on.

The poet describes the great physical efforts the satay vendor has to make; apart from struggling uphill on his bicycle, he also has to sweat over the coal fire as he cooks (“i can see him wiping his sweaty brow”).

Later, the poet echoes this line with a slight difference, as he pictures the man “wiping his migraines off his forehead”. This suggests that he is suffering physically; now, instead of just getting rid of sweat, he has to try to get rid of a painful headache while he keeps working.

For all his suffering and hard work, however, he receives little money. Here, the poet indulges in a little bit of political commentary; he refers to empty election promises which leave the vendor exactly where he is. He is unable to buy much with the money he makes because of inflation, which does not have as big an impact on those living in Jesselton Heights.

Despite the vendor’s obvious suffering, the poet wishes he could, for a while, take his place. He seems to be deeply dissatisfied with his privileged lifestyle. He sees the difference between the two of them as being a matter of education; education has made him halus while the uneducated satay vendor remains kasar.

However, the poet does not seem to be convinced by this difference, or by the comfortable life he leads. He describes his life as “so-called elegance”, suggesting that there is something unreal about it.

This sense of falseness is emphasised by the reference to the poet’s “airconditioned nose”; his home may be cool and comfortable, but he is not breathing fresh air. The privilege of his education “clings” to him “like a vice”. By using this word, the poet suggests that his education in some way causes him pain, or at least discomfort.

Although this poem describes the daily toil of a satay vendor, it is actually about the poet’s unhappiness with what he perceives as the falseness of his life.

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SPM 2005-2007 Literature in English (Notes: Short Stories)

Posted by Snow

I shall post the random notes I have on SPM Literature in English here. Sincere apologies, it's a little unorganised. Please contact me if anyone requires the assistance of an English Literature teacher for I can refer you to a couple of good teachers.

Short Story
  • A road to discovery, it exposes us to humanity, the human emotions and elements one experiences. (Anger, jealousy, death, etc.)
  • Narrative
  • Short
  • Emotional
  • 1 / 2 main characters.
  • Centres around one theme supported by other themes.
  • One dramatic moment.

Dissecting a short story
  • Focus on TITLE
  • Does the main character change / control the story?
  • Does the author make any human relations? (Murder, love, etc.)

Narrative Techniques
  • What style does the author use, employ?
  • Who is the author’s spokesperson?
  • “I”: Narrator is involved to a great degree. A dramatized character.
  • “He / She”: Narrator may be observer.

Theme: General idea, insight into story.

  • Flat - Unchanging, remains the same.
  • Round - Dynamic, change, blossom, grow, and gives movement + soul to stories. (Can deteriorate)

Random Notes on A White Heron
Looking at it at a deeper level, could the story reflect the search for one's identity in a world that is myriad of harmless beings (the animals)? Within the cacophony of animal sounds, there is harmony, innocence, life. Consequently, one identifies comfortably with nature. And the only "enemy" that one has to contend with is another fellow human being (the ornithologist who intends to preserve those harmless beings).

But then, as one who tends to read "feminism" in literary texts, I also see it as a resistance by a girl, a female being against the dominance of men (the ornithologist is holding a gun, a rather phallic object. He artificially preserves animals and that mirrors his control of nature)

The story does make us look at nature and what we are doing to it! Should we "preserve" nature??? The idea that nature is either terrifying or idyllic is also ironic because what's terrifying is what we do to nature...

It is how we respond to nature. So we have a contrast between the girl and the ornithologist. They each have their own perspective/way of how nature should be "preserved", protected, kept...

One reason the story is interesting is because it opens up several world to us. Primary amongst these seems to be the distinction between the world of the child and the world of adults. By this I mean the different viewing positions provided us of the world. Interesting also is the distinction subtlety made between the urban (man-made and owned?) world and the natural (God created and given?) one. These viewing positions of child and adult allow us to identify the priorities and joys of members of this world.

The fact that the child, however she fond she became of the ornithologist, resists (is able to make this conscious decision) telling the hunter/collector of the whereabouts of the heron.

Essentially one thing seems clear, while the adult seems intent on possession (of the world?) by any means, the child finds joy in immersing and giving herself totally to the world.

What then is the heron? What is it symbolic of? Why does the author insist on describing its colour - white? Has this anything to do with the child?

Obviously there are the binaural existences that are intertwined in the story. (man vs nature, girl vs man, child vs adult, man-made vs owned etc) which probably provides the literary touch to the story.

I think the white heron, like the dove, symbolises peace and freedom. Jewett uses the heron, perhaps because it's local to New England, so it represents the land...

And also... yes, there are lots of association to the colour white... something else to think about.

There are a number of references to white apart from the white heron: white oak tree, white villages, white sails of ships.

There are also references to other colours for example the red-faced boy, red squirrel, rose-colored (red?); purple and yellow (referring to the clouds), yellow sunshine; black mud; blue sky.

The colours of nature? Do the references allude to the richness that is in nature, to its vitality?

I think Jewett uses colour for various purposes and it is worth looking into. I think she does use them in a traditional way, for example, white = good, etc.

However, what I found interesting is the way the male character is described - just look at all the adjectives. Shows how the little girl deals with his presence in her world and the various conflicts he causes.

Suggested reading: Sylvia as Hero in Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron" by Kelley Griffith, Jr.

A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett
Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron” includes Sylvia, a young girl who is in touch with all of nature. She lives with her grandmother, and she often entertains herself by exploring nature and observing the animals. When a man came to their house in search of a white heron, he asks Sylvia for her help in locating the bird. Sylvia knows where the white heron lives, yet she struggles with ever telling the hunter this secret. Nature had become a part of Sylvia. She would feel a great loss if she revealed the location of the white heron. Sylvia decides to protect the white heron, and nature, itself, seems to be defined as an important character in Sylvia’s life.

There is a sexual undercurrent running through “A White Heron”. A young man, dripping with masculinity, appears in a girl’s life. The way in which the man is described is consistently sexual and masculine. Sylvia’s initial impression of him, hearing his whistle even before seeing him, is “determined, and somewhat aggressive” (Jewett 725). When talking after dinner, the stranger is distracted by “his eager interest in something else”, which happens to be Sylvia and her connection with birds, as she sits “very demure[…]in the moonlight” (Jewett 726). To show her love for this young man she “mount[s]” a tree that “seem[s] to lengthen itself out as she [goes] up” (Jewett 728). The language in the description of this climb sends warnings to one’s inner prude. “Sylvia began with utmost bravery to mount to the top of it, with tingling, eager blood coursing the channels of her whole frame[…] First she must mount the white oak tree that grew alongside[…]green leaves heavy and wet with dew[…]” (Jewett 728). After climbing the tree, she seems broken and more withdrawn that ever. “Here she comes now, paler than ever, and her worn old frock is torn and tattered, and smeared with pine pitch. […] But Sylvia does not speak at all, though the old grandmother fretfully rebukes her[…]” (Jewett 729, 730). Jewett speaks in the last sentences about Sylvia losing something from the visit with the woodsman, something important and irreplaceable. “Whatever treasures were lost to her, woodlands and summer-time, remember! Bring your gifts and graces and tell your secrets to this lonely country child!” (Jewett 730). Sylvia’s short relationship with the young man left her shattered and unsteady, causing her to fold into herself in order to protect herself.

The extract below was taken from Sarah Orne Jewett 1849 - 1909.
Jewett's A White Heron (1886) has such a simple plot that it might suggest a children's story. A quiet young girl, raised in the country and happy alone in nature, declines to tell a hunter how to find the nest of a white heron. The way the story is told, however, makes it a remarkable and even experimental work of American regionalism and realism.

1. The pine tree, heron, and other living things in A White Heron seem to have symbolic or even mystical importance. How can such elements be understood and valued in the context of a "realistic" tale? Who attributes symbolic power to these natural presences? What do those values tell us about Sylvia's consciousness?

2. Sylvia is interested in the "young sportsman": he appeals to "the woman's heart, asleep in the child." How does this attraction complicate and enrich the story?

3. Following Sylvia's lead as an interpreter of worldly experience, can we speculate about symbolic or even allegorical echoes in Jewett's tale? Does it make sense to read this story as "about" innocence, awakening sexuality, or the joys and sacrifices that come with interacting with the human world?

Random Notes on Bequest of Love
Find words or phrases that describe the setting.

  • “Encyclopedia in my room…”
  • He stopped moving about the house like he used to, getting in everyone’s way on purpose.
  • He spent hours just staring out the window…
  • “Yesterday, it was that cockroach, reposing on my pillow…” (Indicates that Karim is determined and his willpower will not let his handicap get in the way of him doing everyday things like playing pranks on siblings.)
  • One night in June, Karim collapsed in his bedroom.
  • Thumping up the stairs…
  • “Maybe what?” asked my husband, entering the kitchen…
  • …while I prepared lunch.
  • He leaned against the stove and started pinching onions out of the dish I had just made… (Indicates that Karim appreciates his mother’s cooking.)
  • Rotten potato.
  • One morning, Faroq came into the kitchen. ( Indicates that the kitchen is the place Faroq expects Karim to be in, because it leads to the back garden, where Karim normally spends his time. )
  • I shouted back from the kitchen where the cake I was trying to bake…
  • We often sat on wicker chairs in the verandah of our house in the evenings…
  • Karim would say that he could smell and feel nature there. (Indicates that Karim was in tune with nature, he could fully appreciate the beauty of it all.)
  • “I can feel the roses blooming…”
  • “I’m trying to hear my tomato plants grow…”
  • “I can feel the roses blooming…”
  • “I’m trying to hear my tomato plants grow…”
  • “Run around the garden three times…”
  • He came into the kitchen from the back garden where he normally spent his mornings before it became too hot. (Indicates that Karim loves and appreciates nature. It is his way of reaching out to the outside world.)
  • “…I leave a little of my much loved earth – my garden…”
  • …took him to the doctor who had been treating him since he was a baby…
  • “Please, doctor, can’t you do something?”
  • The doctor shrugged.
  • …that afternoon in the doctor’s office…
  • …met by Dr. Tan, who was luckily on the night shift…
  • …and a beautiful lady doctor by the name of Dr. Manogari.
  • “Wheel him into Observation.”
  • …to put Karim on the IV tube and specified the medication to be used.
  • …the hospital staff running about in all directions…
  • Dr. Tan peered into Karim’s eyes and checked his heartbeat.
  • …they were so impersonal and unaffected by impending death. Nothing penetrated their wall of professional detachment. (Indicates coldness.)
  • I walked about the hospital corridors…
  • They were preparing move him into the children’s ward…

Build up a picture of Karim, his twin brothers Fariq and Faroq, Mak and Pak. Make notes about how they feel, see life and react to situations as the story unfolds.

  • Inquisitive and curious
    “That was one of his many unanswerable questions.”
  • Emotionally strong
    No whining at the extra medication given by Dr. Tan to reduce the pain nor where there any grumbles at having to take extra rest.
  • Sporting
    …the sporting way in which he accepted his disability and coped with it…
    No whining at the extra medication given by Dr. Tan to reduce the pain nor where there any grumbles at having to take extra rest.
  • Intelligent and spirited
    But no one in the house had expected Karim to outrun us in spirit or in intelligence.
  • Happy and cheerful
    Looking at him laugh was like looking at a well of happiness – you fervently hoped it would never dry up.
  • Realizes he will die soon
    “Am I going to die soon…”
  • Hopeful
    Still, his hopeful dreams…
  • Sad
    …all his face ever showed was a deep sadness for what was never to be for him.
  • Determined
    “Yesterday, it was that cockroach, reposing on my pillow…” (Karim is determined and his willpower will not let his handicap get in the way of him doing everyday things like playing pranks on siblings.)
  • Mischievous
    “…I thought it would be fun to watch him jump…”
  • Loved Karim
    …but his father and I loved him intensely…
  • Dense
    …the stupid mother in me…
  • Emotional
    The anger that flooded through me stopped the tears that threatened to fall with the frustration of…
    I broke down then…
  • Sense of humour
    …his father and I teased each other this way.
  • Helpless
    …feeling helpless and defeated...
  • Nervous, jumps to conclusions
    …I anticipated anything from dead rats to fallen roofs.
  • Still feels a link with her deceased son.
    If I ever feel in need of loving now, all I have to do is look at the creased paper on which my son left us his bequests of love and I feel all right again.
  • Self-controllable
    …holding back tears with great effort…
  • Reasonable
    “…I think you should learn to accept the fact…”
  • Sense of humour
    …his father and I teased each other this way.
  • Loved Karim
    …but his father and I loved him intensely…
    “…to my father, who loved me best…”
  • Observant
    It was Fariq who first noticed Karim’s preoccupation with death…
  • Indifferent
    …their previous indifference…
  • Active in sports
    …and the two of them left for their football game.
  • Intelligent and good-looking
    They are good-looking and intelligent…
  • Loved Karim
    …played football less often and spent a lot of time talking and goofing around with Karim…
  • Close to other twin
    They had always been very close to each other…
  • Emotional
    Fariq and Faroq broke down…
  • Guilty and Regretful
    …each wallowing in his own separate world of guilt and regret
  • Caring and wants Karim to be happy
    …getting his girlfriend’s father to publish the cartoons in his children’s magazine as nothing could have made Karim more proud then to see his name…
  • Self-controllable
    …then checking himself…
  • Indifferent
    …their previous indifference…
  • Active in sports
    …and the two of them left for their football game.
  • Intelligent and good-looking
    They are good-looking and intelligent…
  • Loved Karim
    …played football less often and spent a lot of time talking and goofing around with Karim…
    …beginning to make allowances for Karim.
  • Close to other twin
    They had always been very close to each other…
  • Emotional
    Fariq and Faroq broke down…
  • Guilty and Regretful
    …each wallowing in his own separate world of guilt and regret.

Write a short note of about fifty words on death based on your personal understanding.

A common perspective, or rather, misconception of Death is that Death is terrifying. However, we do not know what awaits us after we leave this world. The first reaction when a person hears about a Death is that of a horrible feeling that makes your insides go cold. When a Death occurs, it freezes one’s mind and deadens one’s reaction, the numb shock of disbelieve and denial solidifies all emotion temporarily. It gives relief to the deceased, but brings sorrow to those who are still living. Death helps one to see things in a different light, you never really treasure every moment you spend with your loved ones until they are gone – into that eternal slumber, beyond the point of no return. People hope, because they do not see Death standing behind them. Death is rude – he does not ask before taking, he just claims what is rightfully his when the time is ripe. It is sudden, abrupt and can happen anywhere, anytime. Death helps a person to treasure their lives. Without Death, live is meaningless.

It was Fariq who first noticed Karim’s preoccupation with death. “He reads books on death and horrible things like that, Mak,” said Fariq, for the first time looking troubled about his brother. “I think he’s getting morbid.”

Write a short note of about fifty words on death based on the extract taken from the text.

Karim’s death was not exactly unexpected, but rather an anticipated incident.
Deep within the hearts of his family, they knew that Karim’s death was inevitable, yet false hope surfaced as they passed day after day happily, just as any normal family would. They were in self-denial that Death was standing behind Karim, waiting to take what was rightfully his when the time was ripe. Perhaps some part of them did not remember that Death was rude – that he does not ask before claiming his goods. Karim was the centre of the wheel, he was holding the family together. When he passed away, the family members were struck deeply, and they grew to realize the invaluable role Karim played in their lives, and how he would always remain a part of them. His bequest of love had reached out beyond the usually impenetrable wall of Death and touched them. For our loved ones never truly leave us – their memories and imprints are always stored in a place at the back of our minds.

Patol Babu, Film Star
Some priceless words of advice given in a deep, mellow voice: ‘Remember one thing, Patol; however small a part you’re offered, never consider it beneath your dignity to accept t. As an artist your aim should be to make the most of your opportunity, and squeeze the last drop of meaning out of lines. A play involves the work of many and it is the combined effort of many that makes a success of the play.

It was Mr. Pakrashi who gave the advice. Gogon Pakrashi, Patol Babu’s mentor. A wonderful actor, without a trace of vanity in him; a saintly person, and an actor in a million

There was something else which Mr. Pakrashi used to say, ‘Each word spoken in a play is like a fruit in a tree. Not everyone in the audience had access to it. But you, the actor, must know how to pluck it, get at its essence, and serve it up to the audience for their edification.’

  • Patol Babu valued his mentor’s words and characterizes his mentor as:
    • Wise
    • Fatherly
    • Soothing
    • Reassuring
    • Consoling
  • His mentor taught him to be humble.
  • Patol Babu idolizes him as a saint, not vain yet wonderful man.
  • His mentor’s teachings:
    • Do not let dignity get in the way of achieving excellence.
    • The combined efforts of many make the success of the performance.
    • Try your very best.

  • Satyajit Ray
  • 1921-1992
  • Indian film-maker.
  • Great master of the cinema world.
  • His movies involve very realistic situations, human interaction and simple themes.
  • He is a keen observer of situations and tiny details.
  • Besides being a writer, he is also a composer and a graphic designer.

Main Character in Story
  • Real name: Sitalakanto Ray
  • Stage name: Patol Babu
  • Male
  • Short
  • Old
  • Dark-complexioned / Asian
  • Baldish
  • Ordinary
  • Fictional Character
  • Has passion for acting
  • Poor
  • Married
  • Lives in India
  • Indian
  • Local stage actor
  • Acted in stage plays and a film
  • Average looks
  • Hindu
  • Four syllable stage name
  • Not up-to-date
  • Plays role of extras
  • Ambitious
  • Creative
  • Positive
  • Chubby
  • Not respected
  • Dreamer
  • Dedicated

Reason author choose to write about Patol Babu
  • Writing about a normal person
  • Different point of view
  • Portrays the essence of human contact / relationships.


What are your feelings for Patol Babu at the end of the story?

I felt happy and satisfied that Patul Babu managed to find happiness and joy in simple things – the completion of a job. Patul Babu is also very dedicated and wishes to achieve perfection in everything, thus inspiring me as a reader. It never was about the money; it was doing what he loved doing best. Patul Babu took his job seriously and was a very self- disciplined man for he did not choose to take off is brown jacket while he was waiting under the shade even though he was feeling very hot. This also proves that he is patient. I felt pity for Patul Babu and I was angry as well as annoyed with the film crew when they treated him badly. In addition to that, I respect his creativeness and far-mindedness because he made suggestions to improve his job. Finally, I appreciate and value his choice satisfaction over money. I was also very proud of his decision not to take the money. He had achieved what he could and that was pride enough to raise the head of the lowliest beggar, the satisfaction of a job well done.

► Read more on SPM 2005-2007 Literature in English (Notes: Short Stories)

Celebrating Malaysia's National Day (Hari Merdeka)

Posted by Chong

Let us celebrate Malaysia's 50 years of independence by reading some good articles and watching my handpicked videos on Malaysia's National Day (Hari Kebangsaan or Hari Kemerdekaan) and history of Malaysia (Sejarah Malaysia)!

Articles on Hari Kebangsaan and History of Malaysia

August 31 marks the nation's national day which is celebrated in Kuala Lumpur at the Dataran Merdeka or Merdeka Square situated in front of the Royal Selangor Club. Thousands of spectators converge on the city to watch the colourful parade along the streets of the city and performances held at the Merdeka Square. However, the celebrations are also rotated among other states.

Jalur Gemilang Malaysia FlagIn 1956, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj led a delegation to London to hold talks with the British Government concerning independence for Malaya. The Malayan delegation, comprising of four representatives of the Malay Rulers and four Alliance representatives, convinced the British Government to set a date for independence: 31st August 1957. Read more at Tourism Penang.

The earliest of the present-day inhabitants of Malaysia are the Orang Asli of the Peninsula and people such as the Penan of Sarawak and the Rungus of Sabah, many of whom still pursue a largely nomadic way of life. Their presence in the country probably dates back to over 5,000 years. These early settlers were probably the pioneers of the movement of people southwards from China and Tibet through Mainland Southest Asia and the Malay Peninsula to the Indonesian Archipelago and beyond. The next arrivals to the country, the Malays, represented the second and third wave of this movement. Read More at Virtual Malaysia.

Hari Merdeka Malaysia 1957In effect this meant that Malaya would be run by the Malays, particularly since they continued to dominate the civil service, the army and the police, but that the Chinese and Indians would have proportionate representation in the Cabinet and the parliament, would run those states where they were the majority, and would have their economic position protected. The difficult issue of who would control the education system was deferred until after independence. This came on August 31, 1957, when Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first Prime Minister of independent Malaya. Read more at Wikipedia.

National Day Theme (Tema Hari Kebangsaan)

Learn about National Day themes from 1970 to 2006. Images and descriptions in Malay (Bahasa Malaysia) are included. The latest theme for 2007 is Malaysiaku Gemilang (My Glorious Malaysia). Here is the logo.

Patriotic Songs (Lagu Patriotik)

Download Keranamu Malaysia and Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang in mp3 format.

12 Videos on Hari Merdeka Malaysia

I collected these videos from Youtube and most of them are actually Petronas Merdeka commercial ads. Hence you might be familiar with them since there were shown in television before. Thumbs up to Petronas!

I personally find these videos or television commercials to be specific very educational and inspirational. I hope all Malaysian students would learn something from these videos. What messages or values do you get from these videos? Let us discuss in the comment section.

What does Merdeka mean to you?

► Read more on Celebrating Malaysia's National Day (Hari Merdeka)

Friday, August 24, 2007

PMR, SPM and STPM Exam Tips 2007

Posted by Chong

Last update: STPM and SPM 2011 exam tips and trial papers are available at this blog.

Note: This post will be regularly updated with trial papers and exam tips. Last updated in November, 2007. Broken links fixed. Please report any broken links via comment. Thanks =)

Searching for 2007 UPSR, PMR, SPM or STPM examination tips or forecasted question papers (kertas soalan ramalan) can sometimes be burdensome to exam candidates especially those who are non-tech-savvy users. Even some computer or Internet literate students find it to be a frustrating experience. So I try my best searching through the Internet to list down all tips and trial papers available on the Internet in this post. This post will be regularly updated with latest PMR, SPM and STPM 2007 tips so make sure that you have bookmarked this website (or add this site as a favourite) in your Internet browser to not miss any tips. Besides that, you are encouraged to enter you email address at this form to subscribe to this blog for free so that you will receive all latest posts and tips directly via your email inbox.

Skip to SPM 2007 Tips or STPM 2007 Tips.

Please be reminded that while these tips and trial exam papers (kertas soalan peperiksaan percubaan) might be helpful to you for your final preparation or revision before stepping into the examination hall, do not rely on these tips completely! There are no such things as 100% real or actual exam tips (tip mesti tepat) or leaked exam papers (kertas soalan bocor)! Use these tips and trial papers as guides or trend indicators to analyze the current exam hot topics and examine yourselves to check how well-prepared you are. Remember to enjoy our examinations! ;-)

How can you contribute to this post?
  1. Share your tips or trial exam papers by submitting them through email using the email student link at the top of this post. Mention clearly in your email, the title and the source of the tip or trial paper. E.g. Mara trial papers that I get from official website; Jawab Untuk Jaya (JUJ) and Learning to Score (Perak) collected through trial paper exchange with online friends. Please include optional details like your real name, age, name of your school, the public exam that you are going to sit for and a link to your blog. Do not submit past years' question papers (kertas soalan sebenar tahun-tahun lepas) as they are available at major bookstores.
  2. Promote this blog among your classmates and friends by sending emails to inform them of the existence of this blog.
  3. Add this blog to your blogroll. Create a link in your personal blog to this blog (www.Malaysia-Students.com) and a link to this particular post.
    <a href="http://www.malaysia-students.com/2007/08/upsr-pmr-spm-and-stpm-tips-2007.html">PMR, SPM and STPM Tips</a>
  4. Print the trial papers and tips out and share them with your friends.

Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) Exam Tips

PMR Trial Exam Papers
Melaka: BI Paper 2 and BM Paper 2
Johor: BM Paper 2

*P: Paper and A:Answer
BC - Johor (P1, A1, P2, A2), Pulau Pinang (P1, P2, A), Perak (P1, P2, A), Negeri Sembilan (P1, P2, A), Pahang (P1, A1, P2, A2), Kedah (P1), Perlis (P1, A1, P2), Sarawak (P1, A1, P2, A2a, A2b), Selangor (P1, P2, A), Melaka (P1, P2, A), Sabah (Set 1 - P1, A1, P2, A2; Set 2 - P1, A1, P2, A2)

Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) Exam Tips

SPM Timetable
Download PDF of Jadual Waktu Peperiksaaan SPM 2007 available at Ministry of Education Malaysia's (Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia) official portal.

SPM Exam Trial Papers (Kertas Soalan Peperiksaan Percubaan SPM)
Sekolah Berasrama Penuh (SBP) SPM 2007:
Download SBP trial papers [zip-format file, 28.85MB] (from here or here) with full marking schemas (peraturan pemarkahan) for 18 subjects: Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Inggeris, Sejarah, Matematik, Matematik Tambahan, EST, Fizik, Kimia, Biologi, Science, Prinsip Perakaunan, Ekonomi Asas, Pendidkan Islam, Pendidikan Quran dan Sunnah, Pendidkan Syariah Islamiya, Bahasa Arad Tinggi, Teknologi Kejuruteraan and Lukisan Kejuruteraan. [Source: Lowyat.NET]

Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) SPM 2007:
MRSM trial papers are available at its official website with no answer schema provided. Do share the marking schemata with us if you can get them from your teachers.
Bahasa Melayu - 1, 2
English 1119 - 1, 2
Mathematics - 1, 2
Sejarah - 1, 2
Pendidikan Islam - 1, 2
Additional Mathematics - 1, 2
Chemistry - 1, 2, 3
Physics - 1, 2, 3
Biology - 1, 2, 3
Prinsip Perakaunan - 1, 2
EST - 1, 2
Rekacipta - 1
Pendidikan Seni Visual (PSV) - 1, 2
Pendidikan Moral - 1

Download Pahang trial papers [zip-format file, 30.03MB] with full answer schemata (skema jawapan) for 23 subjects: Additional Mathematics, Higher Arabic Language, Chinese Language, GCSE O Level English 1119, Biology, Malay Language, Tamil Language, Tamil Literature, Chemistry, Basic Economics, English for Science and Technology, Geography, Information and Communications Technology, Mathematics, Principles of Accounting, Business Studies, Physics, Islamic Studies, Moral Studies, Arts, Science, History and Islamic Tasawwur [Shared by See Meng Lee, 17, a MS blog reader from SMK Kemayan, Pahang]

Add Maths Paper 2
Chemistry Paper 1
Sejarah Kertas 1
English Paper 1
Physics Paper 1 (Answer)
Bahasa Melayu Kertas 1 and Kertas 2

Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor, JPS:
BM Paper 1 and 2
Kimia Paper 1 and Paper 3
Fizik Paper 3
Daerah Hulu Langat:
English for Science and Technology Paper 2
Sejarah Paper 1 and 2
BM Paper 1 and 2
Kuala Selangor:
Chinese Language Paper 1 and 2 (Schema)
Petaling Jaya:
Chinese Language Paper 1, 2 and Schema
Principles of Accounting Paper 1 and 2

Physics Paper 1, 2 and 3 (Link)
Chemistry Paper 1, 2 and 3 (Link)
Download BI Paper 1 and BM Paper 1 and 2
Download Biology Paper 1, Sejarah Paper 2, Add Maths Paper 2 and Physics Paper 3
Chinese Language Paper 1 and 2 (Schema)

Negeri Sembilan:
Chinese Language Paper 1 and 2 (Schema)
Principles of Accounting Paper 1 and 2
BM Paper 1 and 2
Mathematics Paper 2
English Paper 1
EST Paper 1
Biology Paper 3
Additional Mathematics Paper 2

Ujian Excel Bahasa Cina Kertas 1 [Shared by MS blog reader, Patrick]

Chinese Language Paper 1 (Schema) and 2 (Schema)

Chinese Language Paper 1 and 2 (Schema)
Gerak Gempur by Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri Johor:
Malay Language Paper 1 and 2

Pulau Pinang:
BM Paper 1 and 2

Pretrial: Biology Paper 1 (answer), 2 (answer) and 3 (answer)
SPM trial: Biology Paper 2 and 3 (Note: This may be Perak)

Wilayah Persekutuan:
Principles of Accounting Paper 1 and 2

Physics Paper 1, 2 and 3 (Schema) [Shared by MS blog reader, purrfect s2ry]
Chinese Language Paper 1 (Schema) and 2 (Schema)
Additional Mathematics Paper 2
Biology Paper 1 (Answer), Paper 2 (answer) and 3

SPM Hot Topics / Trend Analysis
Perbandingan Jenis Soalan Bahasa Melayu Peperiksaan Percubaan Kertas 1 dan Kertas 2

SPM Model Papers for Revision (Soalan Ulangkaji SPM)
Times Soalan Ulangkaji SPM 2007 in PDF version: (read this post to download 2008 version)
Bahasa Melayu - Question - Answer
Bahasa Inggeris - Question - Answer
Sejarah - Question - Answer
Mathematics - Question - Answer
Additional Mathematics - Question - Answer
Physics - Question - Answer
Chemistry - Question - Answer
Biology - Question - Answer
Science - Question - Answer
Prinsip Akaun - Question - Answer

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) Exam Tips

STPM Timetable
Download Jadual Waktu Peperiksaaan STPM 2007 available at Malaysian Examinations Council's (Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia) website. You can also view STPM 2007 timetable here:
Jadual STPM 2007 | Jadual STPM 2007

STPM Exam Trial Papers (Kertas Soalan Peperiksaan Percubaan STPM)
Johor Bahru (Pejabat Pelajaran Daerah, PPD):
PA (Paper 1 and 2 with schema, answer for PA 1)
Economics (Macroeconomics and Microeconomics)
Business Studies (Pengajian Perniagaan Paper 1 and 2)
Mathematics S/T Paper 1 and Maths T Paper 2 (with marking schema)
Chemistry (Paper 1 and 2 with schema, answer for Paper 1)
Biology (Paper 1 and 2 with schema)
Physics (Paper 1 and 2 with schema)
Batu Bahat:
STPM trial papers with marking schemas (PA, Chemistry, Maths T and Biology)

Negeri Sembilan:
Chemistry Paper 2 with answer [Shared by Ngoo Cheng Han, a MS blog reader]
Chemistry Paper 1 and 2
PA 1 and 2
Mathematics S/T Paper 1 (Page 1 and 2)
Mathematics T Paper 2 (Page 1, 2, 3 and 4)

Mathematics S/T Paper 1 (Page 1, 2 and 3)
PA Paper 2 [Shared by MS blog reader, Ruby]
Chemistry Paper 1 and 2 [Shared by MS blog reader, Ruby]

Pulau Pinang:
STPM trial papers (PA, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Physics) of Penang Chung Ling High School [Update: Download link removed as it is no longer working]

STPM trial papers [zip-format file, 31.73MB] (General Studies, Mathematics T, Chemistry and Physics) [Thanks to XiaoGui, a MS blog reader]
Alternate link to download Manjung trial papers
PA Paper 1 and 2 with answers

STPM trial papers (PA, Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Mathematics T, all with answers except Physics 2) of SMK Green Road [Shared by MS blog reader, Lynn Ko]
Download Economics (with answer for objective questions) and Business Studies trial papers of SMK Green Road [Shared by MS blog reader, Lynn Ko]
STPM trial papers [zip-format file, 63.52MB] from Rosli Dhoby
PA 1 and 2 (with answer for PA 1) of SMK Methodist Sibu
PA 2 of SMK Miri Baru

Pengajian Am (General Studies) Paper 1 (Answer) and Paper 2 (Schema)

► Read more on PMR, SPM and STPM Exam Tips 2007

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