Hello there! For those of you writing English B, we’re now working on Walcott’s TiJean and His Brothers. And to help all of you with those English A skills, we have an assortment of exercises to challenge you. Read on now, and enjoy your CSEC page.
ENGLISH B—Ti-Jean and His Brothers.
We’ve looked at the plot or story line of this play, and we’ve seen that it follows the pattern we associate with folk tale—the challenge delivered to three brothers to complete a task in order to gain a grand prize. We’ve seen that in this case, the three brothers represent three types of individuals who are oppressed by colonisation: Gros-Jean—all brawn and no brain; Mi-Jean—proud of his education, but unable even to catch fish to feed the family; and, finally Ti-Jean—humble, respectful, and able to outwit the Enemy because he cunningly plays by a different set of rules.
Today we look at the other characters in the play. The Mother. The mother of the three boys is a wise, godly woman. She shows compassion to the Bolom when she learns that he was aborted by his mother. She urges her sons to respect the creatures of the forest, and warns them that the Devil wears many disguises and can easily deceive us. It is her prayer for Ti-Jean that saves him from the Devil’s clutches. Her death represents all who have taken a stand for truth and justice, and made the ultimate sacrifice. It is her example and advice that enable Ti-Jean to overcome the cruelty and injustice that the Planter represents.
The Bolom. This supernatural creature is now a servant of the Devil, but he tells us that his mother killed him in the womb, so he never experienced human life. He brings the Devil’s challenge to the home of the little family. When Ti-Jean is successful in the challenge, the Devil tries to wriggle out of the agreement, but the Bolom joins forces with Ti-Jean to demand fair play. As part of his reward, Ti-Jean claims life for the Bolom, and the two of them (now brothers) move into new life together. The Bolom represents the unborn generations who are set free because of the courage and sacrifice of revolutionaries like Ti-Jean, who fight against oppression and injustice.
The Devil. Another supernatural creature, the Devil appears in his true person, but also in disguise as Papa Bois and as the Planter. In his own person he is accompanied by lesser devils (following the folk-lore traditions of St. Lucia), his presence made very dramatic by crashing thunder, lightning and smoke. As the Planter, he is the owner of the Great White House, and overworks his field-slaves to gain profit for himself. As the old man of the woods—Papa Bois—he is the folk figure known for his cow-foot and his forked tail. The audience sees him changing costume and putting on or removing his mask: this makes us aware of how deceitful and cunning he is. His ability to act and use different registers of language also warns the audience that the Devil is very, very clever indeed. He is cruel to his workers, he lies, he fails to keep his word, he is full of self-pity, and he “eats” the two foolish brothers. (We are left to wonder how many men and women were “eaten” by the unjust system of slavery and colonialism.)
The Forest Creatures. The Frog, the Cricket and the Firefly form a Chorus (just as in plays from Ancient Greece), so they serve as narrators. But we recall that while the two older brothers were disrespectful to and dismissive of these forest creatures, Ti-Jean (following his mother’s advice) shows love and respect, so winning their loyal support. The suggestion here is that a revolutionary like Ti-Jean needs the loyal support of ordinary men and women. Like the bundle of twigs that Ti-Jean carries, the people are strong when they are united—and as their leader, Ti-Jean must acknowledge their role in the struggle against evil and injustice.
GETTING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD!
Here is an exercise in using the passive infinitive form. Look at these two sen tences: A. Someone has to buy the drinks. B. The drinks have to be bought.
Please help our party planners! Rewrite this list, following the pattern of Example B. 1. Someone has to send out invitations. 2. Someone has to blow up the balloons. 3. Someone has to order the band. 4. Someone has to design the menu cards. 5. Someone has to draw up the menu. 6. Someone has to decide on seating arrangements. 7. Someone has to throw out all the old chairs. 8. Someone has to bring in new furniture. 9. Someone has to lay a new carpet. 10. Someone has to repair the broken windows. 11. Someone has to freeze the dessert.
Ask someone to test you to see if you can spell these twenty words correctly; they are words that frequently trip students up.
Refrigerator, separate, violence, portrayed, heroic, embarrassed, harassment, surgeon, equipment, maintenance, prejudice, tragedy, argument, truly, divine, dissatisfied, grateful, squalid, rhythm, occasion.
Look at these two sentences:
A. The specialist haven’t seen me for three days. B. It’s three days since the specialist saw me.
All of the following sentences are like example A. Change them to read like example B.
1. I haven’t beaten Jack at chess for six months. 2. We haven’t forgotten the front door keys for a long time.\ 3. You haven’t done a painting for ages. 4. We haven’t gone to Bartica for several years. 5. The choir haven’t sung in assembly for quite some time. 6. You haven’t written to your aunt for several weeks. 7. Gail haven’t worn that red dress for three successive Sundays. 8. My brother haven’t laid the table for three days. 9. Nobody have rung the alarm bell for ten months. 10. I haven’t ridden a motor bike for a long time.