NECO LITERATURE 2022 ANSWERS
Literature in English (Drama & Poetry) – 3:00pm – 4:40pm
SECTION I: (Answer only ONE QUESTION from this section)
(Pick Any THREE)
(i) Comic relief:
Moments of comic relief also heighten the overall tragic nature of the play. The way Gbanya drag Yoko to bed stimulates some pleasurable interest. The encounter between the guards and Messenge also underscores some comic relief. The Messenger has been manhandled before the guards realize thatbhe is a member of the very powerful Poro Society.
In the play thunder rumbles. Jeneba, poison are key symbols deployed to advance its plot structure At some significant points in the play, thunder rumbles to arrest our attention to consciousness Jeneba in the play represents shattered hope and a new order denied from sprouting. Poison becomes a potent tool of ending the reign of each leader in the play. Gbanya died from poison by his trusted aids while Yoko’s death is by self-consumed poison. For Gbanya, poison took him out in a disgraceful manner but Yoko used poison to leave the scene with her royal esteem and integrity intact. Poison in this instance has a dual image of negative and positive ends. But why does Kargbo make the two chiefs to die by poison? Probably for dramatic convenience.
Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. Foreshadowing often appears at the beginning of a story, or a chapter, and helps the reader develop expectations about the coming events in a story. We have some instances of this literary device in Let Me Die Alone. When Jeneba is sent to call Lamboi and Musa for a meeting in the palace, Lamboi admires her and remarks that “Girls of her type stand to dje in the hands of the enemies of Senehun” This statement foreshadows Jeneba’s abduction and gruesome death in the hands of Lamboi and Musa who are indeed the enemies of Senehun. Similarly, Yoko has a premonition that “a great ill will befall this household today” the Governor later comes to flog her husband, Gbanya, and he is eventually poisoned to death. As royalty, Gbanya does not want a humiliating death but he ironically foreshadows an unpleasant end – “why should who sent so many to enemies non their quest for such peace be afraid to die? No, I am not. My fear rests in the manner of dying” Gbanya dies of poison with his skin turned black as charcoal.
(iv) Language and Style of Let me die alone:
Language Kargbo makes superb use of the English Language in Let Me Die Alone. The play is particularly well crafted and the language is embedded with cultural nuances that adequately contextualize the play, especially the rich use of proverbs.
This theme of a colonial imperialism is introduced at the beginning of the play when Gbanya narrates the dreams he had last night to Yoko on how the Governor humiliated him in the eyes of his people. Gbanya vows to receive and treat the Governor well in order not to incur his wrath. This shows that the setting of the play is connected to a pre-colonial era where Governors were appointed to oversee the activities of African communities. And some of these Governors, representatives of Imperial Majesty tend to overzealously exploit the people but also treat them as sub-humans or humiliate them when the people in the community err against them and that is exactly what Dr. Samuel Rowe, the Governor does to Gbanya when he finds out that the people have not stopped engaging in the war despite his stern warning to desist from such barbaric act. As a punitive measure or punishment, Gbanya the chief of Senehun is humiliated before his people. Rowe orders the soldiers to stretch Gbanya out on the ground. He also fires a shot from his pistol in the air to threaten Lavalie and Ndapi not to retaliate, Rowe takes the rice and cattle Gbanya entertained him with and zoom off.
Moreover, colonial domination also makes the chief and the people, not to have confidence in themselves because they feel and believe that the Governor, the white man is awash with superior and supreme power. That is why even when Rowe sends his Messengers to Moyamba, the people especially the chief treat him well like the Imperial Majesty herself.
Lastly, the people receive a dirty slaps on their faces when the Governor turns against them to gives out a portion of land that belongs to them to the chiefdom of Bo. He sends a message through his messenger.
The presence of the colonial governor, the messenger, the fighting white men and the denigrating treatment of local traditional rulers suggest the colonial atmosphere that surrounds the entire play. Dr Rowe’s treatment of Gbanya is highly suggestive of the aura of impudence and self-professed superiority colonial administrators exuded. By deciding to strip Yoko of her newly-acquired territories, Dr Rowe further demonstrates how these colonial administrators took Africans for granted. It will be recollected that Yoko painstakingly consults the governor before she embarks on her conquest of new territories. She does not go off limit but the governor strips her of the territories all the same.
Considerably, the powerlessness and puppetry of African traditional rulers is brought to notice.
Use of Irony in the Play:
The playwright makes use of some dramatic irony. Dramatic irony refers to the audience’s knowledge of something that the character who is speaking does not know. When the character makes an innocent remark action that refers to the “inside knowledge” that the audience has the character does not have, contains dramatic irony. For example, dramatic irony is seen when Sidi goes to the Bale’s palace to mock and taunt his impotence.
The audience is very much aware that Baroka’s much-publicized impotence is just a ploy to have Sidi to himself and woo her for marriage. It is also ironic that Sadiku, the head wife has also dragged into the trick and manipulation also. When Sidi makes up her mind to honor Baroka’s visit which she earlier turns down, the audience and the Bale himself are pretty aware that she will become the object of Baroka’s expensive joke when he eventually wins.
Another instance of dramatic irony is evident in the scene when Lakunle expects Sidi to be back from Bale’s palace. He is very much tensed and anxious to have her back. The audience is aware that Sidi has fallen victim to Baroka’s fake impotence. Also, the women are busy making sarcastic and sneering comments about the Bale’s supposed impotence while Baroka is busy exercising his manliness on Sidi in the palace.
There is also an instance of situational irony in the play. Situation irony is a situation in which actions that are opposite occurring that are not intended and the outcome is contrary to what is expected. For instance, it is ironic that the old Baroka, a man who does not want the railway to be built through llunjunle and consequently bribes the surveyor to stop the project, decides he must embrace modernity by having a stamp machine that would print Sidi’s images, given that his images are poorly treated as they are placed next to the latrine in the magazines.
(Pick ANY THREE)
(i) Tradition versus Modernity:
The play explores the theme of tradition and modernity in the wake of early
colonialism which is the primary conflict in the play. The tradition in question is the Yoruba customs against a western conception of progress and modernity as represented by the conflict between Baroka and Lakunle for Sidi’s hand in marriage. Lakunle who represents the modern Nigerian man, wears Western clothing, speaks and behaves like an English man, and has been educated in a presumably British school. His supreme desire is to turn llunjunle into a modern paradise like the city of Lagos. He actively despises the traditional customs of his village and the people who pledge support to them. This is best exemplified when Lakunle refuses to pay Sidi’s bride price.
He goes further to call the tradition that demands the payment of bride price “an ignoble customs, infamous, ignominy / sharing our heritage before the world” This means that Lakunle attributes such act to a mere process of buying and selling of goods and commodities which is contrary to his western idea about marriage. Lakunle’s refusal means that it is much more important to convert Sidi to his way of thinking, views, and ideas into a “modern wife”, than it is to marry her. “In a year or two / You will have machines which will do / without it getting in your eyes” Lakunle intends to transform and change the tradition and roles ascribed to African women which are contrary to his western beliefs and that is why he says, “I seek a life-companion”
However, Baroka on the other hand is an ant-modernist and his extreme desire is to preserve the village’s traditional way of life. Lakunle who finds Baroka’s lifestyle and views archaic, also describes how Baroka paid off a surveyor not to construct train tracks through the outskirts of llunjunle, thereby preventing the village from experiencing the modern world. Also, Baroka clearly demonstrates that he does not hate modernity or progress, and he does not want it imposed on him or bend the village’s way of life all in the name of civilization and modernity. Baroka wishes to add Sidi to his many wives which are fully accepted by the custom of the land, while Lakunle dreams of one wife according to the dictate of western culture. According to the tradition, when Baroka dies, Sidi will become the head wife of the new Bale, a position that would make her one of the most powerful women in llunjunle. As soon as she realizes that the idea of modern marriage may make her less powerful with the fewer rights she opts for traditional marriage. In the end, Baroka triumphs in the fight for Sidi’s hand in marriage. This shows African ways of life are still a lot more supreme than the western culture that appears more complex, complicated, and incomprehensible.
(ii) Culture Conflict or clash of culture:
The play examines the clash of two distinct cultures that is the conflict between African and European customs or ways of life. Baroka who is the proponent of traditional culture tries hard to prevent the advent of western civilization and foreign values into llunjunle as the selfish Baroka bribes the surveyor to divert the railway track away from llunjunle, thereby foiling the intending progress in the village. This clash is also seen when the stranger from Lagos, the seat of western civilization, makes the indigenous culture less attractive as he causes a stir during his visit to llunjunle. The people describe his camera as a “one-eyed box” and his motor car as “the devil’s own horse”. The photographs on the cover page and inside of Lagos Man’s Magazine boosts Sidi’s ego and this almost makes her overlook her union with Baroka, for she begins to attract more importance to her growing fame.
Also, the main conflict in the play shifts away from tradition versus modernity to individuality to personal worldview. For instance, Baroka’s proposed non-functioning stamp-making machine”, a strange machine is a symbol of modernity which he brainwashes Sidi with initially to final seduction scene in order to woo her. He also assures Sidi that the stamp will soon start producing Sidi’s image “for I dreamt it / And here it stand / child of my thoughts. Baroka sincerely hopes to also transform and improve the image of llunjunle and save it from the mockery of town-dwellers when he says, “I do not have progress, only its nature/which make all roofs and faces look the same” In the end, African value is enthroned especially when Baroka employs his trick to woo and marry Sidi, the jewel of llunjunle.
(iii) The theme of Love and Marriage:
The play examines the idea of love and marriage from two perspectives. African tradition and European ideas of marriage. The former is basically practical which involves the payment of bride price. Sidi at first confesses to Lakunle that she is willing to marry him any day, any time, but the full bride price must be paid in full because there is a thin line between bride price and virginity. Sidi further reveals. “They will say I was no virgin / that I was forced to sell my shame / and marry you without a price” Lakunle who does not welcome the idea of payment of bride price describes such custom as outdated, savage, and barbaric.
Sidi’s two eligible suitors (Lakunle and Baroka) are driven by different ideas. Lakunle wants to woo Sidi with empty, unrealistic, imaginary, and vague western ideas; for he promises her sophisticated life of western cultures which involves eating with cutleries (knives and forks), walking side by side in the street, kiss her as all educated men do but Sidi dislikes such practices.
Baroka on his part is devising a special plan to woo and win her. Firstly, he sends Sadiku to woo her on his behalf but Sidi turns down the offer of marriage. Baroka then deceives Sadiku that he is impotent in order to lure Sidi into his shady plan. Sid visits Baroka to mock him for his impotence but ends up in his seduction trap. In the end, Sidi rejects Lakunle’s western ideas and chooses the traditional lifestyle championed by Baroka.
(iv) African Tradition and Change:
In the play, the theme of tradition and change pervades the play as seen in the conflict between Lakunle and Baroka who stand for modernity and traditionalism respectively. Lakunle who is in the camp of change to modernity, (European lifestyle) wants to imbibe or subscribe to the culture of one man one wife (monogamy) and change the position and thoughts about women in African society. I seek a life companion. I seek a friend in need / an equal partner in my race of life” Lakunle seeks a change in women’s status
Baroka, the Bale of llunjunle village is the custodian of the traditional values and customs of his people. His actions and authority are unquestionable. He practices polygamy, drinks palm wine, and engages in wrestling contests and he also inherits Sadiku from his late father, Okiki. He is an adherent of traditionalism as he foils the construction of the railway by bribing the surveyor to abandon the project. The traditional setup is strongly opposed to change.
This is why Sidi refuses Lakunle’s offer of marriage without the payment of the bride price. Lakunle continues to hammer home his point. He intends to change the world “within a year or two, I swear / This town shall see a transformation / Bride-price will be a thing forgotten/and wives shall take their place by men. No man shall take more wives than one / that’s why they’re impotent too soon/the ruler shall ride cars, not horses” Sadiku also plays the customary role of go-between in wooing Sidi for Baroka is opposed to change.
Also, in spite of the dominance of traditional values in society, there are still instances of change which include the influence of the photographer on Sidi, Sadiku’s hope of a society where women will triumph over their male counterparts and bring to an end male chauvinism. Though Lakunle is portrayed as a mock-satirical character, he represents an instrument of change. He opposes Baroka’s prevention of the railway being built through the village and Baroka’s chance to marry Sidi but traditionalism triumphs in the end.
(v) Significance of Bride Price in the Play
In African society, bride price is considered to be the most important part of a marriage rite such that any married woman without it is branded as illegal and unrecognized. In some African communities, children raised or given birth to in such marriage are taken away from their father.
In the play, Bride price is an integral aspect of African culture and tradition because Sidi could have married Lakunle before she is seduced by Baroka whom she believes is ready to pay her bride price unlike Lakunle who describes such traditional rite as “savage custom, barbaric, outdated, retrogressive and unpalatable… to pay the bride price would be / to buy a heifer off the market stall / You’d be my chattel, my main property” To further demonstrate the importance of bride price in the play, Sidi promises to marry Lakunle only if he agrees to settle her bride price
“I shall marry you today, next week or any day you name / But my bride price must first be paid… will you make me / A laughing stock? But Sidi will not make herself / A Cheap bowl for the village spit/They will say, I was no virgin/That I was forced to sell my shame/And marry you without a price” Sidi bellows. Ideally, bride price is a sign of respect and regard for the bride and her family who otherwise would become “a cheap bowl for the village spit” It also portrays bride’s purity (virginity) and undefiled status. Lakunle sees it as “buying a heifer of the stall, while Sidi sees it as a mark of honor and respect identity and dignity to womanhood in Africa.
Lakunle opposes this idea because of his influence on the western concept of gender equality. He thinks that bride price is uncivilized and outrageous custom.
The playwright portrays the customs and traditions in his Yoruba community which is quite polygamous and it allows a man (Bale) to marry as many girls as possible. He uses them for his pleasure and after the arrival of the new favorite, he sends the last favorite to an outhouse. llunjunle or entire African society does not accord respect to women as Lakunle says “They are used to pound the yam or bends all the day to plant the millet. to fetch and carry, to cook and scrub, to bring forth children by the gross”
The characters are divided into two groups Baroka, Sadiku, and Sidi representing the traditional African values, whereas Lakunle stands for modern European especially British values of life. Lakunle who is infatuated with Sidi wishes to change the position or status of women especially Sidi when he sees her carrying a pot of water on her head “It shortens your neck so that very soon you will have no neck at all”
Lakunle envisages a society that will respect and not see women as a beast of burden or use and dumped commodity, but one which will see women as companions and their rights are equally protected by men, unlike Baroka who feels that women have no say in the affair of marriage and the home front.
Moral Wars – Trick and Manipulation:
The moral class dominates this play. Lakunle sees himself as a representative of the modern revolution against men like Bale. He aims at civilizing Sidi as he wants to make revolutionary changes in the villages. He appears in suits and imposes his ideas on Sidi and orders to marry her, as she demands the bride price to marry him. Lakunle wants to marry Sidi as a westerner and he will not pay the bride price. He also offers her a western monogamous marriage. The main conflict around her is Lakunle’s refusal to pay Sidi’s bride price and Baroka’s desperation to woo Sidi by resorting to pretense.
In the same vein, some characters in the play decide to trick and manipulate others in order to achieve their selfish end. Sidi and Sadiku for instance, try to fool the Bale by proclaiming supposed impotence to the entire village and also mock at him in order to have a sense of triumph, while Baroka also fools Sadiku and Sidi, so he can subdue or woo Sidi and marry her as one of his numerous wives. Trick and manipulation are also seen when Baroka bribes the surveyor to put an end to railway track construction. However, trick and manipulation are seen as a dramatic device employed by the playwright to develop the central conflict in the text.
SECTION II: (Answer only ONE QUESTION from this section)
(i) Church bells:
The church bells symbolize middle class morality that Jimmy finds oppressive and unacceptable. Helena likes this version of morality which specifies that something is clearly right, while others are wrong and “sinful”. The chiming of the church bell makes Jimmy sick and gets him more resentful. He curses and yells when he hears them, thereby reflecting his anger at this system of morality.
(ii) Bear and squirrel game:
This game of bear and squirrel is simply meant to escape the harsh and cruel realities of life in the tension and the failure of marriage between Alison and Jimmy for a short time. It also helps in reconciling the couple of the end of play. The bear is associated with Jimmy, and the squirrel with Alison. The fact that they keep stuffed animal versions of the bear and squirrel in the apartment reflects a childlike innocence that these characters find it difficult to maintain their marriage. The bear and squirrel games is explained by Alison to mean “an unholy Priest hole of being animals to one another”. It shows that only way that both can truly love each other is to completely detach themselves from the world-go separate ways. It also represents the conditions of their real life and an expression and makes us of a lost childhood.
(Pick Any THREE)
(i) Theme of Anger, Hatred and Loss of Childhood:
The expression of anger is known as aggression and people feel angry in order to reduce feelings mainly aroused by frustration. Jimmy porter is an aggressive young man angry at almost every British institution such as the church, the monarchy, the government and he rants against “posh” Sunday papers. Although he buys them every weekend, he is against any form of upper class manners, but he married a girl from the class which he hates. As a result of his class hatred, Jimmy attacks Alison both verbally and physically throughout the play since his wife reminds him of everything he despises from the beginning. Jimmy verbally attacks Alison because he wants her to answer a question about an article in the newspaper but Alison defends that she has not read it yet. He humiliates and attacks Alison and her brother, Nigel.
Contrary to Jimmy, Alison does not give any direct reaction against Jimmy’s aggressive behavior. She prefers to maintain silence. She knows that if she gives any reaction to his attack, he will be triumphant. Alison’s silence and seeming ignorance can also be considered as a weapon in order to save her from Jimmy’s assaults. Jimmy not only attack Alison but also other members of her family and her friends. He calls her parents “Militant, arrogant and full of malice”. He labels her friends “sycophantic phlegmatic and of course, top of the bill pusillanimous.
Jimmy also hates Alison’s mother because she is dedicated to her middle classrooms and her concern about her daughter marrying a man beneath her social status that she even hire a detective to watch Jimmy because he does not trust him. This makes him angry at middle-class value. He therefore calls Alison’s mum “old bitch” and she should be dead.
Jimmy also attacks Helena verbally because she also represents the class he detests. When Helena and Alison are about to go out, Jimmy accuses Alison of letting Helena influence her to go to church as he yells “you Judas! You phlegm” He describes Helena as a “Saint in Dior’s Clothing”. Throughout the play, Jimmy expresses physical aggression towards Alison, that is when he pushed Cliff on the ironing board and Cliff falls against Alison and she burns her arm on the Iron.
Consequently, Jimmy’s anger against every member of the play can be attributed to his rough and thorny background and his loss of childhood. Jimmy is frail and insecure because he says he was exposed to death, loneliness and pain at a very early age. He watched his father dying when he was ten, and he claims that he knows what it is to lose someone. He thinks that Alison does not know anything about loss or the feeling of helplessness. Jimmy therefore is also insecure because he married a woman that is above his status. Jimmy therefore was forced to deal with suffering from an early age. Alison’s loss of childhood also is best seen in the way that she was forced to grow up too fast by marrying Jimmy. His youth is wasted in the anger and abuse that her husband levels on her.
(ii) Class Struggle and Education
The play centers on class struggle and the status of education in our society. Jimmy comes from a working class background, but has been highly educated. He went to a university but not gainfully employed. He is still stuck running to sweet stall, and he does not feel fully comfortable and hasn’t been accepted into the upper classes. He speaks and uses Jaw breaking words, read newspapers, but he sometimes has to look these words up in a dictionary.
Alison and Jimmy’s relationship is the main meeting point where class struggle unfolds. Alison is from an upper class background very different from Jimmy’s. Both portray the struggle between the two classes in military terms as the two just can’t blend. Jimmy is full of pride because of his education and this makes him alienate, separate and look down on others who are not so educated like himself, Cliff is such a character in the text.
(iii) Theme of Love and Instability:
The nature of love in the play is quite controversial; Jimmy and Alison’s marriage is consummated in the ground of revenge. Their relationship is seen as master and servant relationship and they barely enjoy peace and harmony at home as Jimmy is always at the control of everything, while Alison’s business is to remain silent. Jimmy believes that love is pain and suffering. He therefore scorns Cliff and Alison’s love for each other, which is gentle fondness that does not correspond to his own brand of passionate, angry feeling. Jimmy’s definition of love has to do with the class tensions between Jimmy and Alison, and she tells her father, colonel Redfern that Jimmy married her out of sense of revenge against the upper classes. It was born out of sense of competition between classes.
It is clear that Jimmy and Alison’s love for each other is not characterized by much tenderness though they do manage to exhibit one when they play their animal game. Jimmy and Alison as the beer and squirrel are able to express more simple affection for each other, but only in a dehumanized manner. In the first scene, Jimmy describes the game as a retreat from organized society. Their relationship is marred by class struggle anger and suffering.
Jimmy and Alison’s relationship lack feeling and stability, because Jimmy especially, does not nurse any aorta of feeling for Alison, as he feels undaunted or not worry at all when she lost her first baby, Alison who is ever ready to be with Jimmy walks away and returns quickly to him and they both renew their vows and opts for peace.
(iv) Theme of Feminism and Gender Inequality:
Jimmy is seen as a misogynist in the play, that is, one who hates women. He treats the two women in the play with disdain and utter rejection. Alison seems to be doing the household work and otherwise be ignorant of any social development. On the contrary, Jimmy treats her badly and has no regard for her as a wife by also verbally abusing her because in his eyes she is lazy and does not know how to lead a real life. Real life to Jimmy means that you have to suffer and have experienced real emotions.
While Cliff and Alison’s father are very caring towards Alison, Jimmy disrespects and humiliates her because is a mere woman. Cliff helps bandages her wound and her father rescues her from the cruelty of her domestic life with Jimmy. Jimmy also accuses Alison’s mother when he called her “old bitch and also wishes she was dead”. He resents her because she represents an upper class, educated ones who object to his marriage with Alison. Jimmy also despises Helena’s being too churchy. He feels nothing when Helena intends to leave his house before Alison resurfaces for the second time towards the end of the play.
Also, Alison and her father, colonel Redfern want too fight against gender inequality, silently without any bridge of peace by leaving Jimmy’s house. The colonel plans to take Alison away in order to restore peace and balance to her existence. Everything is resolved and Jimmy comes back to his senses and sues for peace in his household.
Troy is the central characters or protagonist of August Wilson’s Fences. He is a years old father of Lyons and Cory and Rose’s husband, a garbage collector by profession. The story revolves around him as an African American man who works for the sanitation department, lifting garbage into trucks. He is also a former baseball player in the Negro leagues, and he is unable to play for major leagues, not until the major league started to accept blacks.
Troy is hardworking, strong, disciplined and fond of telling imaginative and compelling stories about death and always full of doing things alone as he wishes . Troy’s year of hard work which only yields meager and fruitless progress demoralizes him. He often fails to provide the needed love, care and support that could mean the whole world for his family as the family’s breadwinner. Troy is also narrow minded and his parochial views about life create conflicts with every character in the play. This results to his inability to accept others choices in life when they differ from Troy’s philosophy.
Troy rules his household with iron hand; for he aggressively disagrees with Lyons’ decision to be a musician and Cory’s decision to play football in college as well as Rose’s habit of playing the numbers. Troy lives in dual existence; with two opposing ideas. His life’s history is half of hope and half filled with disappointment. He once lived at the top of his career opportunity as a baseball player and later ended up as a garbage collector. He does the opposite of what he preaches and that is why he could hide his extramarital affairs with Alberta who died during childbirth.
There is a serious case of one who is building an enduring family reputation and unity and there is another who is destroying it and bringing it to disrepute.
Rose who is positive minded does everything possible to reposition the Maxson’s family by giving moral and financial support to the members in her household, while Troy whose income cannot even settle his family’s need is busying dragging the family name on the mire.
So, Troy struggles to fulfill his role as a father to his son and husband to his wife. He does not do much before his demise. The family he ruled with Iron hand or hard-handedness is torn apart, as his son; Cory turns against him and also becomes a rebel. After leveling serious criticism on how Troy tormented his life and dreams for a better future, he vows not to attend his funeral. “I’m not going to papa’s funeral… the whole time I was growing up… living in his house… papa was like a shadow that followed you everywhere. It weighted on you and sunk into your flesh” Cory laments bitterly, Troy’s adulterous act with Alberta also contributes to Troy’s backwardness and family disintegration. The nature of trust between Rose and Troy is broken here, because Rose has vowed never to have anything to do with Troy, especially when the news about Alberta’s pregnancy for “Troy filters in.
To further demonstrate that Rose is an embodiment of unity and family’s rebirth, she tries to convince Cory not to speak despicably against his dead father and to assure him that Troy means well for the family, “Your daddy wanted you to be everything he wasn’t… and at the same time he tried to make you everything he was… he meant to do more good than he meant to do harm” Rose cautions Cory. Troy also sees Rose as a good woman capable of uniting the family when he says… “I know she’s a good woman I have been married to her for eighteen years” Bono also confirms this in his words. “Some people build fences to keep people out… and other people build fence to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all She loves you”.
Also, Rose forgives Troy and accepts to bring up Raynell, that is, the illegitimate daughter of Troy and Alberta who died shortly after child birth in order to promote peace harmony and family integration in Maxsons.
To Rose, Troy breaks their marital vow which spells out one man, one wife, and also kicks against adulterous act he committed with Alberta which result to the birth of Raynell. Rose being a kind-hearted woman ostensibly refuses to return evil for evil, and she forgives Troy and opts to bring up Raynell. “She’s innocent… and you can’t visit the sins of the father upon the child. A motherless child has got a hard time… Rose assures Troy of her commitment to keep supporting the family.
Also, Troy betrays Gabriel, his own brother when he offer him to be taken to psychiatric hospital in order for him to have part of the money that was paid to Gabe as compensation he got from the army, Troy uses the money to buy a house and push Gabe out. Cory is not also left out of the long list of persons betrayed by Troy without realizing it. Troy betrays Gabriel when he signs him into mental hospital also. Cory feels betrayed by Troy because of high-handedness with which he handles his life and his future career. Troy uses his past failures to Judge Cory’s future by his (Troy) refusal to allow him choose football as his career. The thought of how the white failed to allow him play baseball professionally makes Troy place a stop to Cory’s football career without realizing the implications. This causes enmity between Troy and his son.
SECTION III: (Answer only ONE QUESTION from this section)
(i) Leadership Crisis and Distrust of Africa:
The poem addresses the problem of leadership crisis in Nigeria and the lingering problem of endless search for credible and transparent leader who is brave, courageous, fearless and compassionate and our inability to find any because of lack of trust. In the poem, the animals in the forest don’t trust one another to take up the leadership role of the animal kingdom. “When the zebra says it’s his right to lead/the pack points to the duplicity of his stripes”. “The elephant trudges into power tussle/but its colleagues dread his trampling feet”… Zebra and elephant therefore are not fit enough to rule because they lack good leadership quality despite the fact that facially, they are qualified.
However, it is the same with the Nigerian masses who do not trust one another to take over the leadership role of the country. This lack of trust is caused by religious and ethnic diversity wherein an Hausa man prefers to vote or bequeath power to his fellow brother irrespective of the leadership quality possessed by the person, while the Ibo man thinks that it is only his brother who is a Christian and Ibo by tribe, is the only person that is able and capable to lead.
Also, the lion who is the king of the jungle feels that he is competent enough to lead, but the antelope who is a faithful follower remembers his ferocious (violent) nature and how he unleashes it on the weaker animals, he changes his mind towards him. Even hyena and giraffe cannot lead because they are not only visionless but also lack trust.
(ii) Theme of Disunity:
This theme is quite evident in this poem and it is responsible for underdevelopment not only in Africa but also in Nigeria. In the poem, the animals are not united enough to challenge the lion who “…stakes his claim to leadership of the pack”. His dominance and ability to lord it over and subdue other animals cannot be properly put to check because the led, that is, the followers, don’t have one voice and cannot also alter their situation. Hyena says he is qualified and credible enough to take the animal kingdom to the next level, but impalas say, he cannot, because of his deadly appetite for dead animal meats. The animals are at one another’s neck as they just can’t agree on whom to choose to lead them. This lack of unity and spirit of oneness among the animals can be likening to the disunity among the Nigerian leaders and the masses. This is largely because of the religious and ethnic diversity of the masses, which is responsible for their inability to pick any qualified person among them to rule and team up against the ruling class and wrestle power from them.
Towards the ending of the poem, the persona tries to suggest the likely solution to the problem of disunity among our leaders. “A good leader should be “tough like a tiger, compassionate like a doe / transparent like a river, mysterious like a lake”. With the above-mentioned attribute, a leader can cause a change and unity to strive among the people.
(iii) Politics and Attitude of our Leaders and the followers:
The poem portrays and unveils the nature of politics and attitude of our leaders and followers towards public offices Our society is indeed, in rigorous search for a trustworthy and transparent leaders who can serve the people and be ready to give account of their stewardship to the masses who voted them into power. We are in the era of every man for himself, where everyone is fighting to occupy the public office in order to turn around the fortune in their family and enrich their pockets while the masses are left to wallow in abject and wanton poverty. The question that demands urgent attention is that where the exemplary and reliable leaders who have are clean record and right attitude to work and serve meritoriously”.
In the poem, “The lion stakes his claim / to the leadership of the pack / but the antelopes remember the ferocious pounce of his paws”. Here the antelopes recognize the ability of the lion and his capability to alter things using his innate ability, but the antelopes are sharp enough to figure out the lion’s violent nature; for if given the mandate to lead he might end up becoming a dictator. Also, hyena’s gluttonous appetite also betrays him and he’s declared and labeled as a shining example of politicians whose motive is to loot the treasury dry as soon as they assume office. Even the zebra who says it is his right to lead is unworthy in character, for he can’t be trusted. The elephant is also doubtful because “its colleagues dread his trampling feet”, as he might use his intimidating figure to lord it over his followers.
However, the persona sues for better representation and good leadership quality when he says “our need calls for a hybrid of habits… A little bit of a lion / a little bit of a lamb”… A leader who is purpose-driven, rugged, peaceful and humble is the way out of the wood.
The poem which addresses the problem of leadership tussle in Nigeria using animal kingdom is an allegory and can be adjudged to be a clarion call for our leaders to possess the spirit of accountability, transparency and humility and that is the only way the political puzzle can be solved. The persona is of the opinion that the only way to proffer solution to the leadership challenge in Nigeria is to correct the attitude of our leaders and the followers.
The poet uses imagery of sailors on a voyage to depict human lives on earth. He uses words like ‘sail’, ‘flag’, ‘upstream’, ‘watch’, ‘berth’, ‘rage’, ‘storm’ and ‘course’.
Watch means a person or group of sailors aboard a ship on duty for a period of time to guard and monitor the vessel or ship. The poet uses this to warn readers to guard their minds of what they allow into it. It can turn to ‘rage’ which is destructive and can wreck their lives.
Sail: A trip on a boat or a piece of fabric attached to a boat and arranged such that it causes the wind to drive the boat along. Our lives are propelled by the sail we attach to it. Hence, the poet warns the reader to be sensitive of ‘unseen arrows’ which will breach their sails because it will be disastrous. When the sail is intact it ensures smooth movement upstream to the desired destination (Course). Course in this context implies the path humans take to achieve their life goals.
Rage: Rage is violent uncontrolled anger humans exhibit occasionally which matches the fiery nature of sea storms. Just like storms affects the sail of ships and boats, rage affects the behaviour of humans whenever it possesses humans. This leads to harsh decisions and regrettable inhuman actions.
SYMBOLISM: Closely linked to metaphor is the use of symbolism. Some of the instances of metaphorical representations in the poem are also symbolically relevant. It is observation that the poem makes use of some words that are associated with sea travel and they are symbolic such words include: “Sail” “storms”, “berth” – these words are euphonious (sound pleasant) and they help to depict human virtues that enhance our existence. There are also criminally related terms such as “thief” raider, calamity, ‘rage’, arrow, deviants, breaking, are symbolic of the effect of anger.
SECTION IV: (Answer only ONE QUESTION from this section)
At the beginning of the poem, the poet’s persona sits somewhere in Florence and admires the dying sun’s beauty. He watches the sun go down. However, his description seems to be the opposite as the sunrises in the East and sets in the West. The poet’s persona claims the sun comes from the West, passing through Pisa and the Mountains of Carrara.
Birds in the sky
In the second stanza, he describes how the light reflects on the stream to create a vivid picture of the sun setting on a city or river. As he admires this beautiful scenery, his attention is called to something flying through the arches of Ponte Vecchio. This happens between the close of the day and night; that is the point of the day before it becomes completely dark.
The poet’s persona admires the spools of dark thread sewing formed by the birds’ flight, which he assumes are Swallows because of how they fly together. At this point, the poet’s persona observes the picture created by the birds as they fly. The birds fly in ‘circle swoop’ and semi-circle, which reveals the birds’ freedom and ecstasy. A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air. /A dip of the water.’ He goes further to reveal his confusion and doubt about birds’ nature. He knows swallow hardly fly late, and they are famous for flocking together in hundreds or thousands. he asks himself an intuitive question. ‘Swallows?’ The romantic era cherishes and preserves nature, which the poet grew up to experience, whereas his current modernist era is filled with the destruction of natural habitat by industrialization. In this stanza, the speaker could not hide his distaste for bats as he describes them as uneasy creeping creatures that fly madly. By this description, he presents them as wild creatures in contrast to the orderly nature of the swallows’ swoop flight.’
(Pick Any THREE)
(i) Repetition: Some words are deliberately repeated to drive home the point and for emphasis. the persona repeats the word “felled” three times to emphasis the enormity of evil unleashed on aspens. Also, three short lines are repeated with rhymes to underline the damage done to the countryside-the spoiling of the scene, the loss of beauty. It is as if the poet is trying to compensate for the felled, felled, the felled by reinstating it over and over.
(iii) Alliteration: One of the poetic device used to create a lyrical effect in the poem is alliteration. By alliteration, one refers to the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of different words on the same line. A golden example of this in the poem can be found in line 4, where the poetic persona says, ‘of a fresh, following and folded rank’. In these lines, there is the repetition of the sound /f7. Another example can be found in line 8, where the poetic persona says, ‘wind-wandering weed-winding bank’. Other examples within the poem include: ‘…swam or sank’ (line 7),’quelled…quenched’ (line 2), ‘all felled, felled, are all felled’ (line 3), ‘fresh…following folded’ (line 4),’quelled or quenched in leaves* (line 2), ‘growing green’ (line 11), ‘sleek.. .seeing’ (line 14) and’beauty been’ (line 19)
(iii) Metaphor: In line four: “Of a fresh and following folded rank”, the poet likens the lines of aspens to a rank of soldiers. The military image implies that the industrial development of the countryside equals a land of warfare. “Growing green” is a metaphor for zest for life. There is also an analogy with the removal of eyeball and destruction of nature and it suggests that those who thoughtlessly destroy, nature lack vision, and that action might bring irreversible damage.
(iv) Imagery: The imagery which is prominent in the poem is that of mourning, anguish and destruction. Aspens or nature is seen as a slender and tender woman. The persona hates to see her life being cut short by overzealous human beings. “O if we but knew what we do/when delve or hew to mend her we end her”, the persona lament endlessly. The visual images incurred by the reading of this poem are rich in vibrancy and power. In line 1, the poetic persona describes the tree branches as ‘airy cages’. This expression cages can mean that the cages contain much space. However, within the context of this poem, what is brought to the readers’ imagination is the idea of a cage that can retain air. This is impossible because most of the time, a cage is made up of iron bars with spaces and thus, cannot hold in air. Here, one is made to imagine a tree’s branches and how although it has spaces like a cage, it can cage air is to cool anyone that comes under its shade. In line 3, the poetic persona says, ‘all felled, felled, are all felled’. This creates in the mind of the reader the visual image of the trees falling and landing on the ground. Even the sound of ‘felled’ in continuous repetition sounds like the thud of falling trees.
(v) Cacophony/Consonance: The persona makes excessive use of harsh language that is, consonant clusters and strong consonants. His tone turns to one of anger in the harshs consonance of “Hack and rack”/the growing green” stand out sharply from the consonant /k/. Other examples of consonant clusters include: ‘sleek’ ‘slender’, ‘prick’, ‘strokes’, and ‘twelve’.
(vi) Rhythm: This poem is written in “sprung rhythm”, an original metric developed by Hopkins which is meant to reflect the rhythms of normal speech. It is one of the earliest attempt of free verse. It is like a free verse with no consistent meter and rhyme. Example: My asp/ens dear,/ whose air/y cat/quelled (iambic pentameter) Quelled or/ quenched in/leaves the / leaping/ sun, (trochees + outride)
All felled/felled/ are all felled (spondee + stressed + anapaest
(vii) Language/style: The language is ultimately complex and somewhat simple because of some esoteric (words that are difficult to explain) words.
The poem is full of unusual word coinages and conversion, internal rhymes and sprung rhythm. Here the poet uses “dandle” (instead of a more familiar word such as “dangled” to create a rhyme and “sandal led” with a view to creating sonority. There is also influx of consonant cluster known as cacophonous sound.