CSEC English

Stabroek News Sunday - - WEEKEND MAGAZINE -

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.


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.

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