Film: ‘The Whale Rider’ directed by Niki Caro
The plot is the story line of the film. Plots are broken down into sense and sequences. The opening sequence as the most important as it sets the tone and mood of what is to follow. In ‘The Whale Rider’, we are introduced to the theme of identity and the expectations that are placed on individuals based on their gender. Koro is annoyed at his son Porourgangi for not following his example: ‘I know who you were meant to be, who you were born to be’. Porourgangi explains his daughter Paikea that Koro is looking for a ‘prophet’ that will lead this Maori tribe ‘out of the darkness’.
The essential element in any genre of narrative and especially in a drama, is a complication. In general, terms this is a form of conflict. Writers use conflict to engage the audience and keep them reading.
Themes are the messages imparted in the film. Our theme is identity and role expectations.
Motif are any recurring element in a story that has symbolic significance.
Shots and angles
Directors tell the story by breaking the plot up into angles. Nicki Caro makes use of a variety of camera shots and angles.
Extreme long shot
This shot type provides a far distant view of a scene, focusing on landscape. Often used at the start of a film. Nicki Caro uses this when Paikea is leaving home to go to Germany and it highlights/underscores her sadness and her reluctance to leave her beloved village. It is also used when the whales are stranded on the beach and Koro rejects Paikea: ‘Leave it, you’ve done enough’.
This shot also includes some landscape but the characters are clearly recognisable and body language is evident. Used when the whales are stranded to highlight the Maori community’s despair and desperation.
Medium shot or mid shot
A medium shot frames more of your subject while still revealing some of the background. If your subject is a person, a medium shot would show them from the waist up.These are used when understanding dialogue is important and body language and hints at facial expression aid understanding. Medium shot/Mid-shot is used when Paikea delivers her speech dedicated to her grandfather at the school concert. This camera underscores Paikea’s disappointment.
Close ups shows the subject in more detail often showing little or no background. It is used to emphasise emotions and reactions to circumstances and conflict. An example of a close-up is used when Paikea is responding to Koro’s rejection of her: ‘Take her with you, she’s no use to me’. We clearly see her tears indicative of her upset and despair.
High angle shot
This camera directly looks down. The angle is often used to make the object or character below appear vulnerable or powerless; victim. This is used when the whales are stranded on the beach and are dying. It highlights Paikea’s concern; it also shows how she must fight against society’s prejudice against girls; and their view of authority and leadership.
Eye level shot
This is the most normal angle where the camera is on the same eye line as the person or object being shot. It is meant to give a feeling of inclusion, encouraging the view to feel that they are involved in the scene.
Low angle shot
In a low angle shot the camera is positioned so that it is looking up towards the action. This shot is used to make the subject appear more important, dominant or powerful.
Two angle shot
Two shots are good for establishing a relationship between subjects. A two shot could also involve movement or action. It is a good way to follow the interaction between two people without getting distracted by their surroundings. An effective two shot angle is employed to convey the close relationship between Nanny Flowers and Paikea after the implacable Koro has banished Paikea from the house.
The theme of identity and role expectations is a dominant theme of the film ‘Whale Rider’. The film narrates the story of a Maori tribe’s quest to establish a new chief for their village. Koro Apirana is distraught as his grandson dies at birth while his twin sister survives. The fact that Koro’s grandson dies and he has no male heir to succeed him is a huge dilemma for the very worried Koro. Koro knows that the survival of his tribe is dependent on a strong leader. As a result, Koro is resentful of the fact that Paikea survived at birth whilst her twin brother died.
Koro is completely disillusioned by the fact that his eldest son Porourangi does not want to follow in his footsteps. Koro feels very disgruntled with Porourgani’s reluctance to assume the role of chief as he tells him: ‘I know who you were born to be, who you were meant to be’. There is a constant tension between father and son as Porourgani feels that his father does not even know who he is: ‘You don’t even know who I am’
Paikea senses Koro’s disappointment and she questions her father: ‘why doesn’t he want me?’ Porourgania tells Paikea that Koro is looking for ‘something that doesn’t exist anymore’ and that what Koro needs is a ‘prophet’ in order ‘to lead his people out of darkness’. Paikea cannot fulfil her grandfather’s expectations because she is a girl, thus deepening Koro’s growing sense of frustration and despair. Porourgani explains to Paikea that people have their own identities, dreams and ambitions and that Koro is wrong in dictating his destiny: ‘You can’t just decide who those people are because you want them to be’.
Porourgani wants to live his own life in Germany pursuing his career as an artist. He does not want to be curtailed by societal or familial expectations.
Even though Koro loves his granddaughter, he resents her and blames her for the break in his familial line of chiefs that stretches back to the whale rider himself. He come to regard Paikea inauspiciously: ‘When she was born that’s when everything went wrong for us. That’s where we will find the answers’.Koro believes that it is his sacred duty to establish a new chief to succeed him: ‘I’m gonna need all the first born boys’ so he can teach them ‘the old ways’ of their ancestors. Koro believes that it is impossible for Paikea to succeed him as chief because she is a girl.
It almost appears that Paikea intuitively knows that it is her destiny to be the next chief. Even though she reveres her grandfather, she defies him several times by seeking to acquire the necessary skills to be the next chief. Koro admonishes her for learning taiaha, stick fighting: ‘I’ll deal with you later’.
She defies Koro once again at the religious school when she decides that she wants to sit with the boys: ‘Pai, you’re a girl, go to the back. What did I say? What did I say? Then leave. Go on’. Paikea tells Hemi the reason that she is not allowed to participate in the taiaha is because she is a girl: ‘girls aren’t allowed’.
Koro lists the qualities that a good chief should possess: strength, courage, intelligence and leadership. It is abundantly clear that throughout the film, Paikea embodies all of the necessary attributes needed to be chief. However, her gender precludes her from being, even considered.
Koro admonishes Paikea when the boys fail to retrieve the sacred rei puta. Koro sees this failure as foreboding doom to his community. He feels this impending doom is Paikea’s fault and he banishes her from the house: ‘Right from the beginning you knew this wasn’t for you but you kept coming back’. Paikea is very distraught by her grandfather’s rejection of her. Both her grandmother and Uncle Rawiri’s girlfriend try to reassure Paikea: ‘It’s just for a little while’.
Koro explains the sacred significance of the rei puta: ‘If you have the tooth of a whale then you must have the jaw of a whale to wield it’. Despite the fact that it is Paikea, who retrieves the rei puta, Koro is implacable. He refuses to recognise Paikea’s claim. For Koro, Paikea cannot be desired chief because she is a girl.
Paikea understands Koro’s sense of disappointment and disillusionment saying that ‘it’s not his fault that I’m a girl’. In her speech dedicated to Koro, Paikea proudly acknowledges her ethnic origins: ‘My name is Paikea Apirana and I come from a long line of chiefs, stretching all the way back to Huawei, where our ancestors are’, describing herself ‘as the most recent descendant’. Paikea’s sense of inadequacy is conveyed as Paikea alludes to her guilt and shame: ‘I broke the line of the ancient ones. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just happened’.
Paikea sagely states in her speech ‘if the knowledge is given to everyone, then we can be strong ………. And not just the chosen one’. Paikea is aware that her community must adapt to the demands and challenges of the modern era if their community is to survive.
When the cetacean stranding occurs, it symbolises the decimation of this Maori tribe. A distraught Koro believes that Paikea has defiled the sacred place by learning how to perform taiaha, and now the community is being punished.
However, it is clear that Paikea shares an affinity with the whales, as she is able to coax them back into the water. Paikea’s actions are altruistic (selfless) as she puts her own safety in jeopardy in order to save the whales. Paikea’s actions have religious connotations in that she is willing to sacrifice herself in order to bring salvation to the whales: ‘I wasn’t scared to die’. (Connotations of immolation)
When Paikea’s absence is noted, Nanna Flowers hands Koro the rei puta and Koro asks her ‘which one?’ Nanna Flowers anger towards Koro at this moment is clearly palpable as retorts: ‘What do you mean which one?’ She is infuriated at Koro’s obstinate refusal to acknowledge Paikea’s claim.
Her grandfather finally accepts Paikea as the chief when he sees her riding on the whale and realises that it is Paikea, who saved the whales. This is a moment of epiphany for Koro. He is overjoyed when she finally regains consciousness
The whole Maoris community prays for Paikea’s recovery and wellbeing. The charismatic impact of Paikea on her community is evident when one woman says: ‘I’ve been praying to God that the little one wakes up; I’ll give up the smokes’.
The final scenes convey Paikea’s triumph over her society’s prejudice as she is accepted as the next chief of this Maori community. In a scene that is rich in symbolism, the final scene depicts Paikea on a fishing boat, accompanied by both men and women, symbolic of the inauguration of a new style of leadership, one that is inclusive and better equipped to meets the challenges of the modern era. Paikea’s triumph lies in her affirmation of her true identity and role: ‘My name is Paikea Apirana and I come from a long line of chiefs, stretching all the way back to the whale rider’.
Paikea Apirana a.k.a "Pai". Pai, is the main character and heroine of the film.
‘Whale Rider’ directed by Niki Caro
The film ‘Whale Rider’ is set in New Zealand in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. The film depicts a small Maori fishing village. This village’s economy is clearly underdeveloped, as it appears that fishing is the primary source of employment.
This community is traditional and conservative in its religious beliefs. As a result, it is a close-knit community and there is a great sense of community. The villagers uphold their Maori religion and there is a strict adherence to religious authority. Koro is revered in this village as tribal chief. It appears to be quite insular in that the influence of urbanisation and commercialism have not made a big impact on this small fishing village. The villagers seem to be somewhat resistant to change, especially the elders who respect custom and tradition.
The sense of depravation that characterises this community is adumbrated in the reference to criminality. Hami talks about when his father ‘gets out’ of prison. There seems to be a gang culture emerging, indicative of the lack of opportunities for people.
The film portrays a way of life that is very different to modern technological urbanity. Despite its strict adherence to tradition and custom, we see glimpses of modernity though the medium of pop music on the radio.
This is a patriarchal society. Traditionally, the men assume the leadership roles and positions of authority. It is in this cultural context that the protagonist, Paikea struggles against in order to assert her inalienable right to be the tribal chief.
The role of women in this village is quite traditional. The woman’s role is a domesticated one. The women assume the traditional role of women in caring for the children and the home. Even the feisty, independent Nanna Flowers who is a positive role model for Paikea, is obedient to her husband. She respects his decision to exile Paikea from their home because he thinks that she is unlucky.
A relationship that develops and changes over the course of the film:
Paikea and Koro
In the film Paikea and her grandfather have a very fraught relationship. Koro rejected his baby granddaughter at birth because her twin brother died and she lived. In a way Koro resents Paikea for this. Even though her grandfather does love her, Paikea must learn to transcend both his and her society’s prejudice. Paikea is marginalised because she is a girl. She is regarded as subservient because she is a girl. Paikea is a source of disappointment for her grandfather because she is not the male heir that he so desired to succeed him as chieftain of the Maori tribe.
Paikea works tirelessly throughout the film to acquire her grandfather’s acceptance and approbation. She must learn to rise above his belittling remarks and rebuffs. She shows immense resilience of character by remaining loyal and committed to her grandfather. She cares deeply for her grandfather. Her grandfather does love his granddaughter but because he is an implacable character, there is a lot of tension and disappointment in their relationship. He refuses to believe that Paikea finding the rei puta identifies her as the legitimate successor. He is irritated when she asks him questions.
However, he is proud that Paikea takes a keen interest in the Maori beliefs, customs and traditions and he enjoys sharing this information with his granddaughter.
This relationship changes when Koro finally accepts Paikea as the chieftain of the Maori tribe after she altruistically saves the whales. She proves that she is the leader by saving the whales even though she put her own safety in jeopardy. Koro begs forgiveness from Paikea and accepts her as the new chieftain of the Maori tribe. The relationship transitions from initial rejection, to a begrudging acceptance to finally a relationship based on loving acceptance and pride.
‘You got the privilege but you forget the obligations’ –Koro
‘Take her with you’- Koro
‘She’s no use to me’- Koro
‘You don’t even know who I am’- Porourangi
‘I know who you were meant to be, who you were born to be’ –Koro to Porourgani
‘He didn’t’ mean it about me’- Paikea
‘Why doesn’t he want me’? –Paikea
‘Koro is looking for something that doesn’t exist anymore’ –Porourgangi to Koro
‘He needs a prophet’ –Porourgani about Koro
‘lead our people out of the darkness’- Porourgani about Koro
‘You can’t just decide who those people are because you want them to be’- Porourangi
‘I’m gonna need all the first born boys’- Koro
‘When she was born that’s when everything went wrong for us. That’s where we will find the answers’- Koro
‘Ive to go home………Just have to’- Paikea
‘Not now Pai’- Koro
‘I’m back…….but I’m back’- Paikea
‘I’m waiting for Kor. I said I’m waiting’- Paikea
‘You pick her up for years and she’s just suppose to guess’- Mother Flowers
‘Pai, you’re a girl go to the back. What did I say? What did I say? Then leave. Go on.’-Koro – underscores Paikea’s defiant and tenacious disposition
‘old ways’- Koro wants to teach the first born boys the Maori traditions
Koro lists the following qualities that a good chieftain should have:
Paikea embodies all of these qualities
‘girls aren’t allowed’- Paikea about the stick fighting
‘I’ll deal with you later’ –Koro to Paikea
‘Your might be the boss out there but I’m the boss of this kitchen’- Mother Flowers
‘He has a lot of rules he has to live by’- Mother Flowers
‘Right from the beginning you knew this wasn’t for you but you kept coming back’- Koro to Paikea
Paikea claims that it’s not Koro’s fault ‘that I’m a girl’
‘It’s just for a little while’-Both Nanna Flowers and Uncle Rawiri’s girlfriend tells Paikea regarding her grandfather’s banishment of her.
‘If you have the tooth of the whale then you must have the jaw of a whale to wield it’- Koro speaking about the significance of the rei puta
‘He was calling to the ancient ones but they weren’t listening. So I tried. And they heard me’- Paikea
‘He didn’t want to talk anymore, that’s what nanna said. He just wanted to go down and down’- Paikea
Finds the lobster and the tooth whale-‘for papa’s tea and I found this’- Paikea
‘He’s not ready yet’- Nanny Flowers states that Koro is not ready to accept Paikea as the new chief
‘You’re my guest of honour so I will see you there puka’- Paikea to Koro
‘Save this one for Puka’-Paikea
‘He might be held up’-Nanna Flowers
‘No, he’s coming’- Paikea to Nanny Flowers
‘She said she had a surprise for him’- Uncle Rawiri to Nanna Flowers
‘This speech is a token of my deep love and respect for Koro Apirana, my grandfather’ –underscores Paikea’s admiration of her grandfather. She reveres/idolises him.
‘My name is Paikea Apirana and I come from a long line of chiefs, stretching all the way back to Huawei, where our ancestors are’ – underscores Paikea’s sense of belonging and identity. She is proud of her ethnic origins.
‘most recent decendent’- how Paikea describes herself
‘I broke the line of the ancient ones. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just happened’- underscores Paikea’s sense of shame; she attempts to rationalise Koro’s disappointment.
‘If the knowledge is given to everyone then we can have lots of leaders and everyone can be strong………. And not just the chosen one’- underscores Paikea’s belief that the Maori tribe must adapt to the modern world.
Koro shares an affinity with the whales as does Paikea as they hear the whales’ song
‘I called to them and they came but it wasn’t right. They were dying’. – Paikea
‘It was a test but for Koro this time’- Paikea – underscores Koro’s difficulty in accepting Paikea as the predestined leader of the Maori tribe.
‘Leave it you’ve done enough’- Koro- indicative of Koro’s resentment of Paikea. He feels that she is responsible for his tribe’s despair. He regards her as being inauspicious (unlucky/bad omen)
Paikea’s affinity with the whales is clear in that she can coax the whales to go back into the water-she gets on the back of whales and rides it back into the sea. Her affinity is manifested in her ability to communicate with the whales: ‘Come on’- Paikea
‘It’s ok Puka’- Paikea reassures Koro as she rides out into the sea.
‘I wasn’t scared to die’- Paikea- saviour/redemptive connotations of altruism/selflessly.
‘Which one?’- Koro to Nanna Flowers when she presents him with the rei puta
‘What do you mean which one?’ –Nanna Flowers to Koro; underscores her anger at Koro’s continuing denial/acceptance that Paikea is the predestined chief
‘I’ve been praying to God that the little one wakes up; I’ll give up the smokes’- a member of the community- this quote highlights the charismatic impact that Paikea has on her community.
‘My name is Paikea Apirana and I come from a long line of chiefs stretching all the way back to the whale rider’- affirmation of her identity as the tribal chief. Koro embraces her and smiles with pride; indicative of his final acceptance of Paikea.
January Juicy opening lines competition: first, second and third year students are being invited to take part in the January juicy opening lines competition. All you have to do is select the first line from any book you've read and write a short paragraph on why you think this line is an effective way to start a story. Submit your entry on the online library. A winner will be selected from each year group. Good luck.
Section A Interpretation and Responding to Poetry
‘Not’ by Erin Hanson
(a) In your opinion, what is the message of this poem? In explaining the poet’s message, please refer to and quote from the poem.
In my opinion the message of this poem is about self-acceptance. The first stanza lists all the things that we are not define by, like our age, clothes, size and hair. However, it would appear that the person to whom the poet is speaking to, has allowed themselves to be defined by those things. The poet is speaking about the harmful effects of commercialism and advertising and how easily they exploit people’s insecurities and leave them feeling vulnerable and diffident: ‘But it seems that you forgot/When you decided you were defined/By all the things you’re not’. The poet urges the reader to focus on what is really important i.e. your soul ‘you’re the sweetness in your laughter’ and forget the superficial stuff.
(b) The speaker in the poem offers a lot of advice. Who might need this advice and why would they need such guidance?
Yes I agree there is a lot of advice given in this poem. The poet employs a didactic tone throughout as she encourages young people to focus on what’s really important. The poet is trying to communicate the idea that people ae not and should not be defined by their appearance as we are ‘made of so much beauty’. I think Hanson’s poem is very apt for teenagers who are bombarded with advertisements and social media on a daily basis. Teenagers are easily manipulated and exploited by big companies to look a certain way because they want teenagers to buy their product or brand. However, this can leave a young person feeling very vulnerable and insecure about how they look and feel about themselves. Social media sites like Instagram and Facebook can have the same harmful effect wherein a person’s ‘so-called’ imperfections are scrutinised. This can damage a teenager’s self-esteem. Reading this poem can counteract that.
© Choose an image from the poem that appeals to you most of all. Is this image a positive one? Explain why you find this image appealing.
The author makes adroit use of the following aural image: ‘You’re the songs you sing so loudly/When you know youre all alone’. This is a very positive image. This image really appealed to me as I think everyone is guilty of doing this at some time or another. It is a image that resonates with me. This image is really appealing to me because it shows how confident and creative with can be when we know that we are not being judged or scrutinised by others. The young person’s pursuit to conform to what’s cool so they can ‘fit in’ actually inhibits them from being themselves and accepting themselves for who they are.
Five Steps to Positive Body Image
Step 1: Be grateful- be happy and thankful for the body that you have and all that you can do with that body i.e. talk, walk, dance, run etc.
Step 2: Be your own best friend- you have the ultimate power to accept or reject negative comments that other people may say about you. Also you are ultimately responsible for what you tell yourself. Think only good things about yourself.
Step 3: Self-care- look after your body. Don’t abuse it or neglect it by eating unhealthy foods, consuming alcohol & smoking cigarettes. Take pride in your appearance. Get plenty of exercise. Provide your body with the important nutrients it needs to function properly. Relax. Do the things that make you happy.
Step 4: Don’t compare yourself to others- as the adage goes ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. You will never have someone else’s body or you will never be that person. Love yourself and your body. Focus on what you love about yourself.
Step 5: Use your body to do things that bring you joy and happiness. Learn a new hobby, read a book, take up yoga. Live your life to the full and stop focusing on what other people think of you. Other people’s opinions are theirs and are none of your business. Focus on pleasing yourself. Don’t get caught up in following the latest trends or what other people think is cool. Be your own person, your own boss. Remember you define you. Your thoughts become your reality.
(d) You have been asked to devise a list entitled ‘Five Steps to Positive Body Image’. In writing your list you may adapt some of the advice offered in this poem.
‘Many poems enable us to understand other people’s feelings and experiences’
Think of the poems that you have studied and choose one that helped you understand the situation of a particular person or group.
Title: ‘The Road not Taken’
Poet: Robert Frost
(a). What sort of person is described in the poem?
The person in this poem is a very introspective thoughtful person: ‘And be one traveller, long I stood’. The person in the poem is faced the decision of which path to take. The person is not an impulsive person as he takes his time to come to a decision. He also strikes me as a reflective person who reflects backs on the decisions he has made in his life: ‘I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence’. He comes across as being a very wise and mature person as he reflects back on his decisions and evaluates his decisions as he is keen to learn from his life experiences. Finally I think the speaker strikes me as someone who is a non-conformist as he chose the path ‘less travelled by’.
(b) What central message does the poet convey?
The central message of this poem is about the importance of taking time to make important decisions: ‘long I stood’. The poem highlights that in accepting one path, we are rejecting other paths: ‘Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back’. The poet highlights that each path has its own opportunities and difficulties: ‘And both that morning equally lay’. The poem also draws our attention to the fact that the decisions we make shape the course of our lives: ‘I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’.
How does the poet succeed in introducing the situation of this person/group of people?
How does the poet develop a sense of understanding, acceptance or empathy among readers?
You should consider how the various poetic devices used by the poet enhanced your understanding of the person or group of people.
The poet succeeds in introducing to us his fear and anxiety with regards to the decision that he faced in the past by employing an allegory. An allegory is a poem that has two levels of meaning: literal and metaphorical. The poet makes it easy for readers to relate to his dilemma by conjuring up a simple scenario, that we can readily empathise with- which direction should we take. A literal reading of this poem focuses around a man who is taking a walk in a ‘yellow wood’ and comes to a junction. The language is simple and accessible and we come to the realisation that this junction or juncture is indicative of a liminal experience in his life, a decision that will ultimately shape his life’s direction. We can readily visualise the two roads that ‘diverged’ in the yellow wood and the scenario of the traveller, standing there a long time, keen to make a good decision: ‘And be one traveller long I stood and look down one as far as I could to wear it bent in the undergrowth’. This simple language allows us to grasp the deeper metaphorical meaning behind this poem. The agonising poet describes how difficult it was to make this decision: ‘Though as for that, the passing there had worn them about the same and both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black’. The poet’s anxiety is clearly conveyed. This decision was not an easy decision for the poet and we can all relate to a time when we were faced with a difficult decision where it wasn’t clear to us what we should do. The poet’s nostalgic tone suggests his sense of regret: ‘Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back’. However, his sense of acceptance with his decision is conveyed in the final lines: ‘I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference’. Frost sagely implies that we must learn to accept the decisions that we have made in the past.
Section C Exploring Studied Texts- Character
Think about a character in one of your texts who showed bravery and complete the following task.
Write down the details of your chosen text and character below.
Title: ‘The White Dress’- short film
Author: Irish Film Board
Character who showed bravery: The little girl
(a) Describe the situation your character that forced them to be brave.
In this short film the little girl clearly comes from a disadvantaged area, living in a high-rise apartment block in a city. She is clearly neglected by her father who appears to be in an alcoholic stupor. There is little food in the house as the little girl is forced to eat a tine of cold tuna for her breakfast. There appears to be no mother-figure on the scene. The little girl suffers all kinds of deprivations-no warm running water to take a shower; no parent/guardian to make her breakfast; nobody to help get her ready for Communion day; nobody to shower her with love and affection on what is a special day of significance for many little girls. She is brave in that she learns to rely on herself. She is self-reliant and therefore she doesn’t miss out.
(b) In what way did the character show bravery? Refer to the text throughout your answer.
The little girl showed bravery in her self-reliance. She organises herself extremely well for a child of her age. She takes complete responsibility for herself and this strikes me as very brave on her behalf. She sets the alarm clock the night before so she doesn’t sleep in. She has managed to procure a communion dress from somewhere and has it proudly hanging up in her wardrobe(the only thing that is hanging up in her wardrobe).
She shows bravery and wisdom by making sure she eats something even though her options are very limited because it will be a long day. She evades the suspicions of the shop attendant in the pharmacy and procures two ribbons to accessorise her hair with. She bravely walks into the church on her own, with no parents, family or friends to witness, care or support her on her ‘big day’. She shows bravery because this most of been an incredibly lonely experience for the little girl.
© Write the text of the most interesting question you have asked your chosen character, along with their answer.
Interviewer: Why don’t you tell somebody about your situation, a teacher, a neighbour, someone who can help?
The little girl: Well, you see its always been just been me and my dad, since my mam died three years ago from cancer. My dad lost his job as a taxi driver when my ma got sick. He wanted to take care of her but then she died. Then my dad started to drink and he couldn’t stop drinking. He stopped looking for work. He’d just drink himself into oblivion. It’s like part of him died when ma died. I lost both my parents when my ma died. I’m all he’s got. I’m afraid if I tell someone, I’ll get taken into care and we’ll be split up. I take care of my dad. I’m afraid of what would happen to him. If I tell someone, I’d feel like I’m betraying him. He needs me. He’s my dad, the only one I’ve got and it’s not his fault. Everything started to go wrong when my got sick. I miss her every single day and it’s only getting worse. Time isn’t a healer as they say. I miss all those times that she’s suppose to be here for, like my Holy Communion day. I miss her so much, I don’t know if I could handle it if I lost my dad too. Things are hard but we get by. I like to think that ma is watching over me from above.
You have written your article about your chosen character’s act of bravery. What headline would you use? Write it in the space below:
Any assistance for angel?
John Donne uses witty and playful language to address serious subjects. I agree with this statement as Donne’s poetry is primarily concerned with his relationship with his wife and his relationship with God. Through his adroit use of witty and playful language Donne is able to delineate the all-consuming passionate intensity of his relationship with his wife. Similarly through his use of witty and playful language in the Holy Sonnets, Donne is able to delineate how he is enfeebled by sin. By using language that is witty and playful Donne emphatically highlights the ennobling power of love and the enfeebling effect of sin.
We see Donne’s playful use of witty and playful language in the poem ‘The Sun Rising’ wherein he delineates the all-consuming, self-sufficient of the couple’s love. He begins the poem wittingly personifying the sun whom he admonishes for the beginning of a new day: ‘Busy old fool, unruly sun’. Donne is annoyed because he would rather stay in bed with his lover rather than get up and begin his daily grind. He petulantly asks the sun: ‘Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?’ Donne believes that his all-consuming passion transcends all other daily concerns. He believes in the power of love to transcend time and place: ‘Love, all alike, no season knows, no clime, nor hours, days, months which are the rags of time’. His love for his partner is empowering and emboldens him to state: ‘I could eclipse and cloud them [the sun’s rays] with a wink’. However, he feels that he cannot do this: ‘but I would not lose sight of her so long’. His love for his wife is everything and completely consumes him: ‘She is all states, and all princes, I, nothing else is’.
The all-encompassing nature of this love consumes Donne. He wittingly remarks that the sun is only half as happy as they are because he is singe: ‘Thou sun art half as happy as we in that world’s contracted thus’. He urges the sun to shine into their room because they are the world and all that matters: ‘Since thy duties be to warm the world, that’s done in warming us’. Donne’s witty use of hyperbole ‘All in one bed’ underscores the essentiality of the couple.
Another poem wherein we see Donne’s playful and witty use of language is ‘The Flea’. In this poem Donne takes a rather unusual approach to seduction. He addresses his lover: ‘Mark but this flea and mark in this how little thou doth denyst me is me it sucked first and now it sucks thee, and in this flea, our two bloods mingled be’. Donne argues that physical intimacy between himself and his lover is not immoral: ‘this cannot be said this to be a sin or a shame or loss of maidenhead’. Donne believes that he and his lover are already married: ‘This flea is you and me and this our marriage bed and this our marriage temple. Their relationship, Donne argues their union has been consecrated by the flea.
Donne’s lover remains unconvinced by Donne’s unusual and witty argument: ‘Though you apt to kill me, let not to this self-murder added be, and sacrilege, three sins in killing three’. Donne ultimately fails to convince his lover as she kills the flea: ‘Purpled thy nail in the blood of innocence’. Donne’s witty reference to the ‘blood of innocence’ is tantamount to emotional blackmail as he tries to make his lover feel guilty for what she has done and what she has not done. However, Donne is consummate in the art of seduction as he wittingly declares that his lover was right about killing the flea: ‘Thou findst not thyself, nor me the weaker now tis true, then learn, how false, fears be’.
Another poem that is demonstrative of Donne’s playful and witty use of language to convey the self-sufficiency of his relationship with his partner is ‘The Anniversary’. He describes how everything in the world is subject to the ravages of time, the sun, stars and moon: ‘Even the sun itself, which makes time as they pass, is elder by a year’. Everything is subject to death and decay. He declares that there is only one exception to the rule, their love: ‘Only our love doth know no decay’. He wittingly employs personification to describe the intensity of their passion: ‘Running it never runs from us away’. He feels completely empowered by love: ‘who is as safe as we? When none can do harm to us except one of us two?’ He feels that their transformative love is empowering and ennobling both of them on earth unlike the vast majority of people who must wait to be transformed like them after death: ‘Love increased there above when bodies to their graves’.
The holy sonnets are quite different to his uplifting and empowering love poems in that they address his relationship with God and how he is enfeebled by sin. Donne uses playful and witty language to underscore the enervating effects of sin. In ‘Batter my Heart’, Donne solemnly asks God to be made a better person: ‘Batter my heart, three personed God for you as yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend that I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, bend your force to break, blow, burn and make me new’. Donne feels extremely self-conscious about his sinful state and wants to be redeemed by God.
However, we see in this rather serious prayer, evidence of Donne’s witticism in his use of the following simile: ‘I, like an usurped town to another due’. He self-deprecatorily remarks how he struggles with sin: ‘labour to admit you’.
His longing and desire to be reconciled with God is wittingly palpable: ‘I am betrothed unto your enemy’. He begs God to help him in his moral adversity: ‘Divorce me, untie or break that knot again’. Donne feels that unless God takes over him completely, he cannot helped succumbing to sin: ‘Take me to you, imprison me, for I, except you enthral me, never shall be free nor chaste except you ravish me’.
Another poem that we see Donne’s playful and witty use of language manifested is in ‘Thou hast made me Lord’ which is concerned with the theme of sin and redemption. Despite the poet’s anxious preoccupation with sin, this poem emanates a ghoulish playfulness. He employs personification to underscore his sense of despair with regards to his advancing years and encroaching death: ‘Repair me now for mine end doth make haste I run to death and death meets me fast’. Donne’s personification here symbolises the inexorable march of time and effectively delineate his anxiety. He employs language that is ghoulishly playful to depict his fear: ‘Despair behind and death before doth cast such terror and my feeble flesh doth waste by sin in it which it towards hell doth weigh’. Like ‘Batter my heart’, the reoccurring image of how Donne is seduced by sin finds expression in this poem also: ‘But our old subtle foe so tempth me that not one hour I can myself sustain’. Donne’s clever and witty use of hyperbole here ‘not one hour I can myself sustain’ illustrates his vulnerability and need for God’s grace.
In conclusion, John Donne uses language that is playful and witty in his discussion of issues of import. Whether discussing the passionate intensity of his relationship with his wife, or describing how encumbered by guilt, shame and fear he feels because of sin, Donne deftly injects his signature witticism. His language and imagery is startling and abounds in witticism. Donne’s themes have a universal significance, and the personal, direct manner in which he addresses both his lover and God is both appealing and engaging to modern readers. He adroitly explores the physical and spiritual aspects of life with logic and wit.