DRAMA AND POETRY
Dele Charley: The Blood of a Stranger
Question 1. What do you learn about the culture of Mando land in the play?
Answer; Mando land is portrayed as a simple community of peace- loving people, The play reveals much about the people”s culture.
This culture is one that is undergoing change and faces severe challenges from outside. With the arrival in the midst of the people of the white man, the peace and tranquility of the community is seriously threatened.
It is seen in the play that the people of Mando and respect their ancestral beliefs. They are very much alive to the threat posed by the coming into their midst of a stranger. Kindo embraces this firmly and he is proved right. The consequences of permitting Whitehead entry into Mando land show that the people’s fear of the threat is not mere superstition. Wara holds the priesthood in genuine childlike awe. She does not succumb to Kindo”s pressure to desecrate the shrine lest the spirits are offended Maligu exploits the cultural belief to enrich himself He, too, warns that it is dangerous to incur the displeasure of the spirits— but for his own ends. In Maligu “s admiration of Kindo not to challenge the virgin sacrifice, he finds a collaborator in King Santigi Mando V, who is ill- advised and obviously under the influence of gin and the strange tobacco. He , therefore , fails to listen to the alternate reasoning that Kindo presents
The people of Mando land are ordinarily hard- working and morally recent. With the coming of the white man , however , they neglect work, are idle and become debauched. Kindo is angry that the men are ” singing. dancing and drinking ” and “the women are giving themselves to men everywhere…. running about naked like children”. The culture of hard work and moral decency is thus undermined.
We also learn that the people have great respect for human life. Despite his agitation for the virgin sacrifice , Soko has actually never even carried out such a sacrifice. The people” s regard for human life is such that anyone who kills another in peace time must be banished. This is carried out to the extreme with the banishment of Kindo. It is greatly ironical that Whitehead should suggest the killing of a goat, for the killing of a virgin is not within the experience of Soko, the Chief Priest , as Soko confesses to Wara. Tagged on to the regard for human life is the culture of severe punishment for a serious crime , Santigi”s verdict that his only son must be banished is very firm, and he is passionate about it, Beside , sending Kindo away from the land , santigi disowns his warrior son and heir apparent.
Mando land, above all, is a male- dominated society Women are not seen much of Soko”s major worry is that the position of chief Priest will leave his line when he passes away, since women have no place in the priesthood
Points to note:
(1) Beliefs in ancestral wisdom
(2) Hard work and moral decency of the people
(3) Sanctity of human life/ severe punishment for bloodshed in the land.
(4) Male domination in the society
2. Examine Wara”s role in the development of the plot Frank Ogodo Ogbeche Harvest of Corruption.
Answer: Wara is the main female character in the play. She is portrayed as attractive and a seductive dancer. We meet her early in the play when Kindo attempts to drag her into the sacred cave for sex and the resists the attempt. But for her, Soko would have come upon them in the cave. Both could have been charged with sacrilege. That they were not found out at this point advances the plot.
As Kindo”s girlfriend , wara is naive about the intrigues of the King”s court . while Kindo jealously protects her, she is , at the same time , exposed to the machinations of Maligu and Soko in their attempt to get at Kindo.
The plot is further complicated when whitehead appears, lusts after her and attempts to rape her after Maligu, parker and Soko abduct her . she beats off Whitehead “s charge on her and runs away, Her escape from Whitehead , later helped by Soko , averts an early and inevitable confrontation between Whitehead and Kindo.
Wara also plays the role of the sacrificial lamb that never was. Though targeted for sacrifice by Soko and Maligu because she qualifies as a stranger and, presumably, a virgin , she lives.
The plot unravels when Kindo asserts that Wara is not a virgin and the body on the sacrificial stone is not Wara” s but Parker “s whom he has Killed. Kindo also kills Whitehead who has attempted to mar his relationship with Wara, as well as destroy Mando land” s customary practice s .
Wara, in the end, proves that people can manipulate custom for their own interests by revealing to kindo that she is not a stranger in Mando land.
Points to note:
(1) Wara”s attractive personality, her skill as a seductive dancer and her relationship with Kindo
(2) The cave scene and her presence of mind which enables her to extricate herself from the charge of committing sacrilege.
(3) Whitehead “s lechery and her escape from being raped. Which ddlays and complicates the play’s denouement.
(4) Her being offered as a sacrificial lamb that never was, being viewed as a stranger , a virgin and Kindo” s woman.
(5) Her proof that she”s an indigence of Mando land , which shows how people attempt to exploit custom for selfish interests.
3. Justify the title of the play?
Answer; The play is about the corrupt acts of public servants and their collaborators, in the play we see how people thrive on corruption and suffer the consequence of their acts.
Chief Haladu Ade- Amaka is corruption personified, He collaborates with others to carry out the corrupt activities in the play. Chambers, like Madam Hoha, Ochuole and Aloho are willing tools in his hands, he also as the Commissioner of Police and justice Odili. There are also a string of boys who are paid to work for Chief Ade- Amaka from time to time.
His exalted position as the Minister of External Relations notwithstanding , chief Ade- Amaka engages in criminal acts, such as the falsification of Financial figures, authorisation for payment of capital items not purchased and the exploitation of girls. Worse, still.is his involvement in drug trafficking, an illicit business for which he recruits young , understanding girls like Aloho to carry it out.
4. Ogeyi is a very bold and honest girl. She demonstrates this when she stands out as a crusader for social justice. She exposes Chief Ade- Amaka”s anti- social behaviours. She reports him to the police regarding his affair with Aloho which leads to Aloho”s death. She seeks redress in court as a prosecution witness against Chief Ade- Amaka who is finally jailed. When Aloho gets pregnant and Contemplates aborting the pregnancy, Ogeyi dissuades her, advising her to deliver the baby, she stands by Aloho in all her travails, supporting her to return to her family and have her baby..
It is due to Ogeyi “s persistence that Aloho escapes being tagged a murderer. It is also the information she gives to the police that brings Chief Ade- Amaka to book.
Points to note
(1) Ogeyi as a university graduate and a born- again Christian..
(2) Her employment as a receptionist at ABC company and her humility and modest habits.
(3)Her friendship with Aloho and her kindheartedness in accommodating her jobless friend, Aloho and tolerating the latter” s rebellous spirit.
(4)Her securing justice for Aloho and ensuring the arrest and successful prosecution of the criminals in the book.
5. Examine the Youngers as a close- knit family
Answer; The home setting of the youngers throws upon them as a close- knit family. Though they share family with neighbours and are cramped in, mama .their pillar of unity believes in the importance of family and this drives her to ensure that all the members toe the line, one way or the other. As individuals , they have dreams but in the background is a well- bonded family and no one is left out of the fold.
Ruth does her bit by maki ng sure the family wakes up early to use the shared bathroom on time before others encumber it. Travis’s hope is restored when his father ( Walter) satisfies him with the fifty cents for school. Travis also gets an extra fifty cents for fruits from his father. This shows that there is always someone who cares for the rest, even Travis , in times of need.
The Youngers,” closeness as a family is expressed in the way Mama uses her discretion and goodwill in putting the ten thousand dollar- insurance money to use to make everyone happy.
Beneatha “s dream of attending medical school as well as Walter” s longing to own a store are all catered for by the cheque. Buying a bigger house at Clybourne Park is also a dream come true as it keeps the family time. Mama is happy that she gets a gift of gardening tool s and a hat even though it isn”t Christmas time. But the unity of the Younger family is brought under severe stress and strain as the family is brought under rejects Mr. Karl Lindner”s offer to buy them off their this act they prove that together , they can fight the racial bigotry and prejudices of their white counterparts.
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Points to note:
(1) The Younger”s background and setting.
(2) Mama as the pillar/ anchor/ fulcrum on/ around which the family rest/ revolve.
(3) Their togetherness in spite of their individual differences and aspirations.
(4) The family ‘s ability to resist offer to keep them out of Clybourne Park.
Question 6. How are Mama, Ruth and Beneatha portrayed in the play?
Oliver Goldsmith;She Stoops to Conquer
Answer: Mrs. Younger, Mama, is portrayed as a traditional woman. Mama belongs to the class of woman that believe that men should always be in charge. Thus, she never fails to tell who her husband was and how she submitted to him.
After her husband”s death, she is the matriarch of the family , the one that the rest of the family looks up to. She is initially disappointed that Walter Jr.is unable to take up his role as the family head. Thus, when the cheque arrives she decides first what to do with it— buy a house at Clybourne Park and move the family into a more decent accommodation and environment, Walter”s disagreement notwithstanding. With the cheque, she is able to satisfy her children’s dreams , including Ruth’s and even Travis’s By allowing Walter her faith in her son: ” it ain’t much but it’s all i got in you to be the head of the family from now on like you supposed to be.”
Ruth represents a different class of women who will stand up to men they are wrong. Thus It is not all that Walter, her husband , says that she takes . for instance, when walter responds to her question, ” what kind of eggs you want?” With’ not scrambled “. She immediately begins scrambling the eggs . Another example is her defying her husband’s opposition to her intended abortion. Thanks to Mama. Ruth changes her mind.
Beneatha alone stands for Change. Her desire is to pursue education and become a doctor. This challenges the conventional role of the African American woman who is not expected to aspire to professions reserved for men. Even when men try to exert power on Beneatha and belittle her, she remains resolute. The hair incident is an example , when George tells her to ‘drop the Garbo routine ‘ because he does.not want to hear all about (her) thoughts; she refuses to be belittled and asks him ‘ Then why read books? Why go to school?
She is aghast at his answer”…you need books….to get grades—- to pass the course—- to get , a degree.
That” s all—- It has nothing to do with thoughts”.
Beneatha mulls over this and decides that George is a fool and will not wastw her time on a fool.
Beneatha, like her mother and Ruth, cannot believe that Walter has staked the rest of the insurance money on a deal that goes wrong . unlike them, however, she pours contempt on him —- i look at you and I see the final triumph of stupidity in the World, ” adding that Walter is not a man ;’ he is nothing but a toothless rat”. But when her mother admonishes her, saying that ” the time to love somebody the most… is when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe it hisself . .
Beneatha readily takes that to heart. Later, after Walter tells Mr. Lindner through much fumbling on his part, that the family has refused Lindner’s offer and will move into their house, Beneatha is the first to support Walter . when a stupefied Lindner says to the family “I take it then that you have decided to occupy ” it is beneatha who quickly responds ‘ That”s what the man said . Walter , whom she earlier said was not a man is the very ‘Man’ she confidentely refers to, because she sees him rise to his duty ‘” like a rainbow after the rain’.
Points to note;
(1) The characterisation of Mama as matriarch of the family. Her taking over responsibility as head after her husband”s death ; her offer of love even when there are cracks in the family fold; her use of the insurance money to buy a house at Clybourne Park; her ceding control over the family to Walter after he has come into his own.
(2) Ruth”s portrayal as a not so conventional woman in her relationship with Walter ; her ability to express her feeling openly to Mama , her acting Mama’s confidant ; her pleasure in moving out of misery to Clybourne Park.
(3) Beneatha “s portrayal as the unconventional black American woman, educated and aspiring to become a doctor. Her intolerance of mediocrity in men who would put her down and her emotional and psychological affinity to men like Asagai. She too is happy to move to Clybourne Park..
Question 7. Compare the relationship between Tony and Constance with that between Young Marlow and Kate
Answer; Tony Lumpkin is Mrs, Hardcastle”s son from her first marriage. Constance Neville Tony’s cousin who lives with her aunt—-Mrs. Hardcastle.
Tony and Constance are being manipulated into marriage by Mrs. Hardcastle whose interest is in retaining Constance”s jewels in the family. However, both Tony and Constance have other ideas. Tony wishes to marry his girlfriend ” big Betty Bouncer” while Constance refuses to be separated from Hastings.her admirer.
Mrs. Hardcastle courts Constance for Tony and therefore dotes on him.However, upon the arrival of Hastings in the company of Young Marlow , Constance resolves to let Mrs Hardcastle ” suppose that i am in love with her son, and she never once dreams that my affections are fixed on another.
So, one can infer that no intentions- to-marry relationship exists between Constance and Tony, except that which Mrs. Hardcastle imposes on them and which they both resist.
Constance herself capture this in…. ‘ i’m sure(Tony) would wish to see me married to anybody but himself.”
On the other hand, Kate and Young Marlow are brought together by ties of friendship. Mr. Hardcastle assures Kate thus…”I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day “. Kate” s interest in Marlow aroused following her father”s description of Marlow as a man of excellent understanding ….very generous …young and brave …a bred scholar and very handsome”.
Interestingly, Kate becomes undeterred even after learning that Marlow is bashful and reserved. Her resolve to ” cure him of his timidity ” leads her to act as a maid bringing herself down to the level that Marlow is comfortable with.
Thus, Mrs. Hardcastle”s attempt to force Tony on Constance fails woefully because the motive is selfish and materialistic. Kate and Marlow”s relationship endures because it is borne out of attraction. This is shown in the way she “stoops to conquer” Marlow.
It is interesting that both relationships are based on pretense—- Tony pretending to be in love with Constance and Young Marlow pretending not to be in love, until their circumstances change.
Points to note;
(1)The relationship between Tony and Constance being one of cousins in a contrived courtship bound to fail because of their separate interests and which do not match Mrs. Hardcastle “s material interests.
(2) The relationship between Young Marlow and Kate being one based on ties of friendship in an equally contrived courtship which blossoms into love.
(3) Both relationship are based on pretense until the curtain is removed and the parties realize their objectives.
Question 8. How does Mr Hardcastle feel towards his step-son?
Answer; Mr Hardcastle is a typical upper class gentleman, He is indulgent and has a keen sense of tolerate his wife’s extravagances and pretentions, as well as bear with his mischievous; wayward stepson.
Tony Lumpkin is a pampered young man who unequivous, rejects the authority exerted by his mother and the restrictions she tries to place on him Mrs. Hardcastle thinks she is doing the best for her son, but Tony thinks otherwise. Such doting on her son, which he resents, is a source of amusement rather than annoyance for Mr. Hardcastle , who obviously does not harbour any ill towards the young man, Being clear in his mind that any misconduct on the part of the young man stems from his mother’s spoiling him, Mr. Hardcastle ‘s feeling towards his stepson is benign enough , indeed , through the sardonic commënts that he passes about Tony. It can be seen that he holds no ill- will against Tony
When the play opens , Mr. Hardcastle is seen trying to show his wife how much she is mistaken about her own son and her attitude towards him. His comment that Tony”s learning comprises ” a mere composition of trickd and mischief ” is quite harmless , he is not made angry by his wife”s defence of Tony”s pranks as “humour” Rather , he on his part, catalogies Tony’s mischiefs.” burning the footmen”s shoes, frightening the maid. and worrying the kittens.” These he thinks are not funny .” it was but yesterday he fastened my wig to the back of my chair” and when Mr. Hardcastle tries to bow to Mrs Frizzle, his baldness is uncovered as the wig comes off hanging on the chair.
Mr. Hardcastle good- naturadly mocks his wife’s assertion that Tony is sickly and explaind that the young man simply drinks too much. When Mrs Hardcastle says that Tony is consumptive Mr. Hardcastle disagrees, saying that Tony is only ‘growing too fat”.
Tony enters while this discussion goes on but will not stay to ” give Papa and I a little of your company” because he simply must be at ‘ the ate – house , the old place ‘ l thought so”. Mr Hardcastle is not opposed to ” a pair that only spoil each other”.
Throughout the play, Mr, Hardcastle “s attitude towards Tony Lumpkin is light- hearted. In the penultimate scene where the prankster takes his mother round and round the house to lease her, Tony notes that his mother has been spoiling him and so she must ” take the fruits on ” t” . Mr. Hardcastle’s comment is in character :” There “s morality, however , in his reply”. This is an unusual approval of Tony” s weird reaction to his mother’s love and doting. Even the question of Tony”s real age , as far as Mr.Hardcastle is concerned, Has been a settled matter all along.
Points to note:
(1)Mr. Hardcastle ‘s view of Tony as a pampered child and blaming it all on Mrs. Hardcastle . tony”s mother
(2)Mr. Hardcastle ‘s good humored tolerance of Tony’s pranks .some of which affect him directly.
(3)His disposition that Tony has already come of age and needs to be on his own.
(4) His approval of Tony teasing his own mother.
Question 9. Relate the title of the poem Ambush to the theme of frustrated dreams.
Answer; The word ” Ambush” suggests a situation of being trapped and unable to escape. Throughout the poem, this feeling of entrapment or siege is strong. This entrapment is symbolically for oppression.
The land is likened to ” a giant whale” that thwarts fisherman”s endeavours. To ensure not only the hook, line and sinker, but also the bait. This is a poignant expression of the total hopelessness of the fisherman”s situation. In the end , the ” fishers turn home” in ” empty ships” with their desires or dreams unfulfilled. Their quest has been futile, made so by the destructive act of the ” giant whale”.
The metaphor does not end there. From this marine image the poet moves to one of land. The land , as metaphor for a crushing society is compared to ” a sabre- toothed tiger”. The man- eating animal frightens all without exception. All are eager to free from the roaring tiger to the security of self- preservation however, no one dare step out of doors , particularly when it is dark. The fear imposed by the tiger cripples the people”s desire to pursue their separate ambitions in the unfortunate circumstances, the remaining escape route is by air. Yet, even there, there is the threat of the ” giant hawk”. As it circles the land , the hawk, with its panoramic view, is said to court ” unceasing disaster “. hooting as it hovers.
Thus, the title of the poem, together with the treatment of the theme of frustration , appropriately underscore s the plight of a people whose own land denies and escape for them.
Points to note;
(a) An explanation and interpretation of the term ambush.
(b)The land as metaphor for an oppressive society
(c) The agents of the oppression —- giant whale, the hawk and the tiger.
(i) The sealed off avenues of escape— sea, land and air.
(d) The culminating effect of all these as they frustrate all dreams of escape/success..
10. Discuss the use of symbolism in Okara”s piano and Drums
Answer; The poem is about the clash of cutlass and the major symbolise are the drums , on the other hand, and the piano on the other, Each represents the African and the western culture respectively. The minor symbols are drawn from flora and fauna.
The persona recalls the jungle drums telegraphing the mystic rhythm” to symbolise the simplicity , not only of rural life, but also of authentic African culture. It is the sound of these drums that excites in hint nostalgic feelings of the good old days in the ” Mother”s laps a suckling “. The sound also evokes memories of the rustic village life of that time and age as captured by the pastoral image of the hunters crouching ” with’ spears poised”. The animal image of ‘ the leopard snaring about to leap” and the flora image of “green leaves and wild flowers”. evokes fear and beauty. The sound of the drums also enables the persona to recall the simplicity of that are when ” paths with no innovations ” were ‘ fashioned” with the ” naked/ warmth of hurrying feet”. The language associated with the drum symbol has warmth , vivacity and vitality , which reveals the persona’s bias towards African culture.
The other major symbol is the piano—— the wailing piano—– which stands for the new complex and allen culture and its mechanical sophistication phrases used to describe this are ” tear- furrowed concerto “. Coaxing diminuedo, counterpoint and crescendo “. The language associated with this symbol of the piano is doeful e.g wailing piano, and one the persona is unable to identity with.
Nevertheless, the two symbols — the ” jungle drums and the ” wailing piano”—- forge a new consciousness that the persona is unable to deal with. That is his labyrinth.
Points to note:
(1)Symbolism is representation of an abstract idea or thing by concrete objects.piano and drums are the key symbols.
(2) The images associated with the drums are evoking , idyllic/pastoral setting.
(3) The Images associated with the piano invoking artifically , sophistication and even sorrow.
(4) The poet “s complex attitude towards both symbols.
NON- AFRICAN POETRY
11. Comment on the use of pun in Herbert’s The Pulley.
Answer: “The Pulley ” is a poem about God”s love for mankind and His concern that man is never separated from Him.
According to Herbert”s narrative , which is interspersed with God”s own direct speech , God, at the beginning of creation , blessed man with the ” World”s riches” poured from his ” glass of blessings”.in that order, expect one , ” rest whose several meanings constitute the literary device called “Pun” , loosely defined as ” a play on words”. Indeed the first pun on “rest” gives it the meaning of contentment. From God’s Own perspective. If he should bestow “rest on His creature. Man, the latter ” s contentment alone will separate him from God and he will ” rest in mature, not the God of nature”, and thus “adore my gifts instead of me “, Here a related meaning of ” rest” is being played on, which is ” abide in”, alongside being ” content with”
The second pun on “rest invests the word with the meaning ” others(s) referring to the ” worldly riches” God has already bestowed on man. By withholding the gift of “rest God, nevertheless intends that man should enjoy ” the rest”—— His other gifts , yet ” rest” withheld generates restlesness in man its exact opposite. This time, the pun on ” rest” includes its opoosite —– restlessness. The latter is reinforced by God”s choice of Modifier,——– ” repining ” to produce ” repining restlessness “. The implication or suggestion is that God goes to great length to draw man back to Himself (as a pulley does) by creating in the latter an ennui that is never satisfied. This is the result of the ” rest” that God withholds from man among the rest of the gifts bestowed . God”s arrangement then ensures that if man”s inclination to do good does not bring him close enough to God, ” weariness ” induced by ” repining restlessness ” will ” toss him to my breast “. It can be concluded then that pun plays a crucial role in unravelling the meaning of the poem.
Points to note;
(1) The interpretation of pun and its relevance to the theme
(2) Pun on ” rest” as contentment
(3) Pun on ” rest as remainder / other
(4) Relationship of “rest” to the thematic concerns of the poem
12. Examine the theme of endurance in Birches..
Answer; The Poem is about birches , trees that grow in temperate regions and are noted for their resilience , The poet describes a situation in which the trees are bent either by a boy swinging them, or by nature through the effect of snow and ice- storms , Details of the ravages brought upon the trees are provided as they click ‘ crash ‘ under the snow until summer when the warmth of the sun melts the snow and enables them to rise again. Even so, they are cut and loaded off as timber.
The emphasis throughout the poem is on the resilience of the trees , whether they are bent by humans or by nature itself And in spite of the fact that they never fall never to rise ‘ years afterwards”, as their trunks arch in the woods attractively, like girls hair tossed ” before them over their heads to dry”.
The poet even recalls a memorable incident of some boy that had taken to swinging birches , and taken care not to swing too low to lose hold as the trees swing back.” He remembers his own childhood experience too.
The very fact of the experience is not lost upon the poet. Indeed the resilience of the provides a lesson for his own determination to endure life the way birches do. Their supple frame enables them to endure what both man and nature do to them. And that is the lesson of endurance with swinging the trees.
Points to note;
(a) The havoc wreaked on the birch trees by snow and ice storms which bend them
(b)The resilience of the birch trees as they lie or bend
(c) The swinging of birch trees for sport by ” some boy” and the speaker , illustrating their ability to withstand abuse.
(d) The lesson the speaker learns about the birch trees through observation and experience.
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