Poetry: 'Half-Caste' by John Agard.

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John Agard was born in Guyana, South America to parents of mixed nationalities.  He came to the UK in 1977.  This poem is a protest about the way he is treated because of his mixed parentage.  He believes that humour is an effective way of challenging people’s opinions.  He mocks the idea of mixed race people being ‘incomplete’; he is baffled and amused at the idea of being a half a person; he is angry that people are prejudiced and narrow-minded.

What happens?

  • Lines 1-30: The poet asks what the term ‘half-caste’ is supposed to mean.
  • The poet makes fun of the term ‘half-caste’.  He sees himself as being a mix of things – rather than half of something.   He compares it to great paintings and classical music emphasising the positive of the mix rather than the negative.
  • Lines 31-53  He challenges people to explain their way of thinking, but finds no logic in it.  He mocks the idea of talking about halves (line 34).  He suggests that people need to open their…


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