English Paper 2: Section A

These cards summarise the poems from different cultures in the aqa specification A gcse paper 2 English exam.

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Limbo by Edward Kamau Brathwaite

Methods and Ideas in Limbo:

  • Repition of 'limbo' symbolises the repetitive rowing action creating a monotanous pace and presenting the idea that the rowing is boring and tedious.
  • The monotaneous idea also makes the poem very similar throughout - "limbo like me" is the same through the poem to suggest the fear of the unknown that the black people may feel about leaving their home.
  • Rhythm in the poem creates empathy for slaves because the rhythm of the waves and of the oars on the water is shown putting the reader in the scene and makes you feel what the slaves did.
  • Passiveness e.g. "Silence is over me", "silence in front of me" - everything happens to the speaker creates a tone of giving up or helplessness.
  • Negative imagery is contrasted with the positive outlook of the slaves.
  • The simple language infers that the slaves have no energy, will or time to have soul and be creative.
  • The monosilabic sentences, e.g. "stick is the whip", makes the poem awkward to read and so puts the distress and awkwardness of the situation accross.
  • Connotations of 'up' and 'down' and the idea that limbo is between heaven and hell portrays the confusion of goodness and evil - the slaves are being punished for not doing anything wrong.


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Nothings Changed by Tatamkhulu Afrika

Methods and ideas in Nothing's Changed

  • The idea of nostalgia makes the district six feel forgotten but still friendly, e.g. "amiable plants"
  • Crisp plosives are used to make the memory seem fresh as if it's all flooding back to the narrator e.g. "small round hard stones click".
  • The writer puts forward the idea that 'its whats inside that counts' not whats on the outside i.e. skin colour by often refering to the inside of the body e.g. "the soft labouring of my lungs". This also creates the idea that this segregation is passed on through generations and that nothing has changed.
  • Metaphores are often used to explain the situation and feelings in the poem e.g. "name flaring like a flag" which suggests that although both blacks and whites know that the segregation exists that it is an 'unspoken truth' - no one will ever directly mention it. Another metapohore is the glass barrier which symbolises the physical barrier of segregation.
  • Repetition is also so used to emphysise the point that the whites are natives to this land "no sign says it is" and "no board says it is".
  • Colour is used to make the whites seem hard "crushed ice white glass" refering both to the restaurant and their skin colour.
  • The black community seems nice due to the descriptions of them being accepting and not judgemental e.g. "wipe your fingers on your jeans".
  • A concept of revenge is infered by the "small mean O" which is the narrators way of leaving a mark on their property just as they have on his district.
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Island Man by Grace Nichols

Methods and Ideas in Island Man:

  • Emotive language is used to explain the connection and feelings the island man has for his homeland e.g. "breaking and wombing" which refers to the waves.
  • The poem uses positive imagery to describe a negative situation, for example "the sun surfacing defiantly".
  • Colours are used to symbolise the narrators feelings towards different places or the different situations, for example grey - London and emerald - island.
  • The gaps in the sentences, e.g. "he always comes back      groggily groggily", represent the confusion and merge that the island man has between his dream land and reality. The gaps become smaller towards the end to show the inevitability that the man has to come back and face reality.
  • Nostalgia is presented through the pace of the poem. The steady gentle pace of the island's descriptions show the fond feelings the Island man has for this and the harsh pace of the London descriptions represent his hatred for this place in comparison.
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Blessing by Imitiaz Dharker

Ideas and Methods in Blessing:

  • Metaphores are used in the poem to put into context the value of the water in the poem, e.g. "silver crashes to the ground", the silver is as precious a substance to us as the water is to the people in the poem.
  • Comparisons are used so that the reader questions his/her life compared with the lives of those in the poem. E.g. in the poem "the liquid sun" is not scarce as it is in the Uk whereas the water is scarce there as it is a simple comoodity in the Uk - "there is never enough water".
  • The structure of the poem portrays the progression and build up of the feelings in the poem. The first stanza is very short, the second is longer and the third (when the water comes) is longest. The increasing length of the stanzas shows the increasing hope of the people and the final stanza which is shorter than the previous ones represents the relief of the people that water has finally come.
  • Pace in the poem is also used to convey the feelings of the people. When the pace increases the desperation is apparent and exagerated, e.g. "pots, brass, copper, aluminium, plastic buckets, frantic hands" compared with the last stanza which has a calm steady pace to symbolise that this desperation has been fulfilled.
  • Oxymorons are also used to portray the desperate situation of these people and how basic there lives are. E.g. "in a tin mug, the voice of a kindly god" juxtaposes the basic simple mug with the glory of God, showing that the people rely on the basic neccesities and complex religion i.e. they are desperate.
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What Were They Like? by Denise Levertov

Ideas and methods in What Were They Like?:

  • The question and answer structure in the poem portrays the poet's frustration that so little is known about the Viet Nam situation and her anger at the misconceptions that people may have about the situation.
  • The use of 'sir' in the responses suggests that the ideas about the Viet Nam people have just been dictated to children in school and are not truthful, e.g. "Sir, their light hearts turned to stone" doesnt sound like something that someone would say off the top of the head but a quote that they have objectively been told.
  • The blunt tone is the poem shows how unsensitively these people were attacked, e.g. "delight in blossom, but after the children were killed there were no more buds". It also suggests that these people may now see what they did was wrong; glimpses of recognition are seen but no remorse,
  • Imagery is used to make the reader vision the situation but also as a similie to reveal somethings that are not obvious in the responses. For example, "their singing resembles the flight of moths in the moonlight" suggests that these people were from a time long ago but may also encourage the reader to visualise the image of them fleeing, like moths or flies, from the bombs that were dropped.
  • The language used to describe the ways of the Viet Namese people is archeic and informative as if they were from history long ago, e.g. "their life was in rice and bamboo", which shows the reader that these people are ignorant to the fact that had Viet Nam not been bombed then these people would be very present in history.
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Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel

Ideas and methods used in Night of the Scorpion:

  • The structure of the poem isn't seperated into stanzas and the pace is constant giving the feel that the poem is very much narrative. It presents the story as a fable or something that has great meaning as little need for pauses are present, e,g. "they said" is often mentioned.
  • Repition is used to overly emphysise and exagerate a feeling in the poem thus revealing how little sense there is behind it, e.g. "May he sit still.", "May your suffering decrease" etc, shows that this belief is hopeful and depends on willing something so much that it is true - therefore being illogical.
  • The only clear pause that is in the poem is "After twenty hours (enjambment) it lost its sting" which allows for tension in the poem to build up. The reveal of the outcome comes as a relief to the reader.
  • Irony is often used to reveal how the situatiuon and beliefs of the people were very warped. The irony that "the flame feeds" on the mother rather than the scorpion itself shows the irony that the scorpion was in fact not to blame.
  • Oxymorons are also used to portray irony. For example, "My father, sceptic, rationalist, trying every curse and blessing" shows that even the rational father has been caught up in the irrational ideas of hope reliant on religion.
  • The neighbours in the poem are described using language related to insects and the scorpion using language more suited to describing humans. For example, "they clicked their tongues" refering to the neighbours to show that they really are the ones to blame for suffering in the situation. And "his poison moved in Mother's blood" refering to the scorpion shows how ridiculous the idea that an insect could objectively cause the "sum of evil".
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