CSEC English

Stabroek News Sunday - - CSEC ENGLISH -

Hello there! CSEC ex­ams are go­ing on right now, so we at Stabroek News are turn­ing our at­ten­tion to stu­dents who are get­ting ready for ex­ams in 2019 and 2020. We urge you not to wait un­til the last minute to do your study­ing; keep at it steadily through­out the year. We want to help you, so we in­vite you to join us ev­ery Sun­day to look at var­i­ous as­pects of the CSEC English A and B syl­labi. Read on now, and en­joy your CSEC English page.

LIT­ER­ARY TECH­NIQUES—Choice of speaker/nar­ra­tor Over the past few weeks we’ve been dis­cussing some po­etic de­vices with you. We’ve looked at sim­ile, metaphor, per­son­i­fi­ca­tion and al­lu­sion. All of th­ese come un­der the gen­eral heading of im­agery, be­cause all of them cre­ate an im­age or pic­ture in your mind.

To­day we’ll look at an­other tech­nique that writ­ers can use: for po­ets it’s their choice of speaker and for writ­ers of short sto­ries of nov­els, it’s their choice of nar­ra­tor. When the poet set­tles down to write the poem, a de­ci­sion to be made is: Who will be the speaker? Sim­i­larly, the short story writer has to de­cide if the hunter will re­late the tale, or if that can be done by the lion. You will agree that the same event will sound very dif­fer­ent ac­cord­ing to whether the lion or the hunter tells us about it!!

Let’s look at in­ter­est­ing choices of speaker in your po­ems.

A talk­ing mir­ror. “Mir­ror, Mir­ror on the wall…Who’s the fairest one of all?”

Sylvia Plath writes a poem about how women are so pre­oc­cu­pied with their ‘im­age’, and with what other peo­ple think and say about them. She wants to say some­thing about the su­per­fi­cial­ity of be­ing con­cerned only about your looks in­stead of be­ing con­cerned with the kind of per­son you are on the in­side. So who does she choose to be the speaker in her poem? A mir­ror!!! And that mir­ror is so ar­ro­gant and un­feel­ing. He boasts about the way the woman comes ev­ery day to get his opin­ion on her, and is un­moved by the dis­tress he causes her! He even thinks he’s some kind of god! Read the poem, Mir­ror, again, pay­ing at­ten­tion to the fact that it’s the mir­ror talk­ing, and you’ll find your­self re­ally hat­ing that mir­ror and feel­ing very sorry for the woman!

Par­ent or child? The po­ems Lit­tle Boy Cry­ing and Once Upon a Time both present a si­t­u­a­tion in which a fa­ther speaks to his son. In the first, the fa­ther has just slapped his son for play­ing in the rain. He is dis­mayed at the child’s tears, and imag­ines, sor­row­fully, that the boy hates him—would like to kill him like Jack the gi­ant-killer killed the great big gi­ant. By hav­ing the fa­ther re­late the in­ci­dent to us, Mor­ris lets us see how much the fa­ther loves the boy, how he loves play­ing with him and read­ing to him, and how it pains him to have to dis­ci­pline the child. The choice of speaker en­sures that the reader un­der­stands the fa­ther’s si­t­u­a­tion and sym­pa­thises with his predica­ment. Sim­i­larly, in Okara’s Once Upon a Time, it’s the fa­ther who speaks. Ob­serv­ing the sweet in­no­cence of his son, and the gen­uine­ness of his smile and his love, the fa­ther re­al­izes how much he him­self has been cor­rupted by the hypocrisy and self-in­ter­est of peo­ple in so­ci­ety. The reader is moved by the fa­ther’s yearn­ing to be in­no­cent and gen­uine again, and by his hu­mil­ity in ask­ing his son to teach him.

A won­der­ful ex­am­ple of a good choice of speaker is in Elma Mitchell’s poem, Stone’s Throw. Mitchell takes an in­ci­dent from the life of Je­sus recorded in the Bi­ble. Some Pharisees, de­vout Jews who in­sisted on the im­por­tance of keep­ing the Law of Moses, brought to Je­sus a woman whom they had caught in the act of adul­tery, and asked Him what should be done with her—re­mind­ing Him that the Law said she ought to be stoned to death.

What is re­ally clever about this poem is that Mitchell has de­cided to let one of the Pharisees be the speaker. As the man speaks, it be­comes clear that he ac­tu­ally lusts af­ter the woman him­self, and has en­joyed rough­ing her up a bit: ston­ing her will be quite a thrill for him. As we say in Guyana, “Mout open, story jump out!” Mitchell al­lows the re­li­gious leader to do the talk­ing, and his own words con­demn him, show­ing what a nasty piece of work he is—lust­ful, sadis­tic, and self-righteous into the bar­gain!

AFor you to do. Now that you have the idea of how im­por­tant a lit­er­ary de­vice the choice of speaker is, take a look at th­ese po­ems: ● Dream­ing Black Boy and My Par­ents this af­fect your re­sponse? ● Ol’ Higue has an ol’ higue as the speaker. How does that af­fect your re­sponse to the poem? both have a child as the speaker. How does ● The speaker in is a cit­i­zen of the Caribbean and a pas­sen­ger on a plane that stops briefly in tran­sit in San Juan. Do you think the poem would be dif­fer­ent if the speaker were, say, a Cana­dian tourist? Would that tourist re­act in the same ways as our speaker does?


In the sen­tences here, the writer has made some faulty com­par­isons. Your job is to cor­rect them. Step 1: Iden­tify the two items you want to com­pare. Step 2: Write the first of the two items (up to the comma just be­fore the main

clause). Step 3: Put the sec­ond item in the com­par­i­son im­me­di­ately af­ter that comma. Step 4: Change what­ever else you need to change so that the new sen­tence will

make sense. Step 5: See the bot­tom of the page for our an­swers, and make sure you un­der­stand

this les­son.

1. Like Belize, Guyana’s rain­forests have po­ten­tial for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. 2. Un­like a fe­male doc­tor, a nurse must be present when a male doc­tor ex­am­ines a

woman. 3. Un­like Dozy tablets and Sleepy-top cap­sules, you are as­sured of a good night’s

rest with Snooze-easy at bed­time. 4. Un­like a bi­cy­cle or scooter, run­ning ex­penses are high with a car or minibus. 5. Like Cuffy, fight­ing for free­dom and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion was Da­mon’s goal. 6. Com­pared to the se­ri­ous prob­lems Sara en­coun­tered at the of­fice, Cathy had had

mi­nor ones. 7. In com­par­i­son with fresh cher­ries, you get lit­tle or no vi­ta­min C in stewed cu­cum

ber. 8. Un­like minibuses, which are noisy, crowded and quite dan­ger­ous, com­fort and

safety on your jour­ney are guar­an­teed at Ren­tum Taxi Ser­vice. 9. Com­pared to boys, who of­ten are un­em­ployed for sev­eral months af­ter leav­ing

school, jobs are usu­ally found im­me­di­ately by girls. 10. In much the same was as par­rots crack seeds in their beaks, the hard­est nuts can

be cracked by th­ese stain­less steel nut­crack­ers. 11. Un­like a univer­sity, which has an aca­demic ori­en­ta­tion, of­fer­ing prac­ti­cal train

ing is our aim here at West­side Polytech­nic. 12. In com­par­i­son to cats—surely the most un­do­mes­ti­cated of do­mes­tic an­i­mals—

any­one can train a dog to be­have in the house.


● A pro­noun takes the place of a noun, so if the noun is sin­gu­lar, then the pro­noun must be sin­gu­lar, but if the noun is plu­ral, then the pro­noun must be plu­ral. For ex­am­ple, we would ask: Where did you put the scis­sors? (scis­sors are plu­ral) The an­swer SHOULD be: “I put THEM back in the drawer.” (As you know, we tend to say, “I put IT back in the drawer”—and that is an ex­am­ple of faulty agree ment of the pro­noun. ● Make sure that you use the ob­ject form of a per­sonal pro­noun af­ter a prepo­si­tion. For ex­am­ple, it would be wrong to say, “Be­tween you and I.” Af­ter the prepo­si­tion “be­tween” we need to say, “Be­tween you and me.”

Work through this ex­er­cise, cor­rect­ing any pro­nouns that are in­cor­rect. The cor­rect an­swers are at the bot­tom of the page.

1. Marva cut she­self when she was open­ing the tin. 2. Is your pants still damp? Then hang it up on the ve­ran­dah overnight. 3. The chil­dren helped their­self to bread and peanut but­ter that they found in the

cup­board. 4. One day, my­self and mother were go­ing to mar­ket when we wit­nessed an acci

dent. 5. It is not easy to trans­late ideas into English and then write it down cor­rectly. 6. We were told to share the sweets among we­self. 7. The tweez­ers were here in this drawer. Have you taken it? 8. Look af­ter your­self, boys, while you are at camp. 9. The news was all about money this evening; we found them most de­press­ing. 10.The fire dam­aged equip­ment in the store, but the build­ing self was not badly

af­fected. 11. In the photo, Colin is stand­ing be­tween her and me, so we have proof that he

came to the wed­ding. 12. We saw two lovely dresses with se­quins on it.

AN­SWERS Let’s prac­tise 1 Like Belize, Guyana has rain­forests that…; 2 Un­like a fe­male doc­tor, a male doc­tor must have a nurse present…; 3 Un­like Dozy tablets and Sleepy-top cap­sules, Snooze-easy guar­an­tees you a…; 4 Un­like a bi­cy­cle or scooter, a car or minibus in­curs high…; 5 Like Cuffy, Da­mon set him­self the goal of…; 6 Com­pared to the se­ri­ous prob­lems Sara en­coun­tered at the of­fice, Cathy’s were mi­nor. 7 In com­par­i­son with fresh cher­ries, stewed cu­cum­ber pro­vides you… 8 Un­like minibuses, which are….dan­ger­ous, Ren­tum taxi ser­vice of­fers you…. 9 Com­pared to boys, who… school, girls usu­ally find… 10 In much the same way as par­rots crack seeds, th­ese stain­less steel nut­crack­ers can crack… 11 Un­like a univer­sity, which…ori­en­ta­tion, West­side Polytech­nic aims to of­fer… 12 In com­par­i­son to cats, dogs can be trained…

Mak­ing pro­nouns agree 1 Marva cut her­self, 2 Are your pants…then hang them up, 3 Chil­dren helped them­selves, 4 One day, my mother and I, 5 …and then write them down, 6 among our­selves, 7 Have you taken them? 8 Look af­ter your­selves, boys… 9 We found it (news is sin­gu­lar) de­press­ing, 10 the build­ing it­self, 11 This sen­tence is COR­RECT! 12 dresses with se­quins on them.

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