• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

An Unknown Girl, by Moniza Alvi - the experience of being female & seeking identity

Extracts from this document...


"An Unknown Girl" An Unknown Girl, by Moniza Alvi, is another poem, which explores the experience of being female, but is more specific to seeking identity. From her name and the poem, I think she is from an Indian family, but now lives in England. It sounds like she has gone to India to visit and see if she truly is Indian or will live a better life in England. The poem generally, describes a young girl at a night market stall, who is hennaing people's body. Moniza Alvi is having her hand hennaed, with the picture of a peacock. As she sits patiently, she looks around and describes everything in her sight, using many poetic techniques, especially metaphors, which lead you into thinking about other meanings of what she has written. The poem, after the first couple of lines, begins with the phrase, "An unknown girl is hennaing my hand." ...read more.


Her use of Indian language adds to the atmosphere; as she describes the night market, as an 'evening bazaar', the currency called 'rupees' and her tunic, being a 'shadow-stitched kameez'. There are also some rare, internal rhymes, that go unnoticed. Here are just two, "On her satin-peach knee" "For a few rupees." And, "Banners for Miss India 1993" "Canopy me" She gives great descriptions of what she sees, one of my favourites being, "Dummies in shop-fronts tilt and stare with their Western perms." They seem to be incongruous to her. One line that is especially well written is towards the end, where she explains, how she will take off the henna before she sleeps, "Reveal soft as a snail trail the amber bird beneath." A simile, a metaphor and sibilance are used, as she describes a sleepy time, and the intimitants of the henna. She doesn't use punctuation often, dis-obeying the rules, as she misses capital letters after full stops, but enjambment is used a lot instead. ...read more.


"I am clinging to these firm peacock lines like people who cling to the sides of a train." This explains how she feels stuck between two cultures. She feels precarious and scared, like people clinging to the sides of a train. They hold on very tightly, just as she does to the tattoo on her hand, because she is unsure of her identity. She doesn't mean, that she literally holds on to the painted pattern, but she does not know whether she is Indian or English. This brings in a great deal of her emotional feelings into the poem and makes you change your mind about the meaning of the title. When I had finished reading the poem over, several times, I began to think differently about the title. I think she is exploring her identity, and may mean the title as a metaphor for herself. She is insecure, and proof of this is in the phrase; "I am clinging to these firm peacock lines like people who cling to the sides of a train." Moniza Alvi, in my opinion, is 'an unknown girl'. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Moniza Alvi: Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Moniza Alvi: Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    .Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi

    4 star(s)

    they are attacking her and it is in a struggle to get them off as if she is drowning inside.

  2. Comparing and contrasting 'Presents from my aunts in Pakistan' by Moniza Alvi, and 'Search ...

    I found that, in some cases Moniza Alvi was showing a sense of sadness, in the atmosphere, but tried to make herself feel happy, by changing the subject slightly. Where as in some cases she showed a lot of happiness and pleasure in the atmosphere.

  1. 'Presents from my aunts in Pakistan' by Moniza Alvi, and 'Search for my tongue' ...

    Most of these presents are things that are only, mostly worn in Pakistan. After receiving these gifts, she feels that she is very different from everyone else surrounding her, like friends from school. This is cause she dresses differently to others.

  2. Through my essay I attempt to explore three poems about nostalgia by three different ...

    As the dummies are described "with their western perms" we have an alliteration adding eerie music to the poem. (2 / 10) The poet felt nostalgic for the whole scene. The sheets are graphically described with all the posters covering the walls such as "banners for Miss India 1993".

  1. Problems faced by the personas in the poems

    For example, "grows longer, grows moist, grows strong veins," puts emphasis on the word 'grow', reassuring herself that it's growing stronger and more powerful. The two personas from the poems have similar problems for they both feel they are, albeit in different ways, torn between two cultures - the persona

  2. From Moniza Alvi's poetry, how do we learn about the challenges of living between ...

    And the once again switches back to metaphorical "a cloud rises towards the use of the swung dash", (the cloud represents a cloud of dust). It is not until the second stanza that we discover the dictionary once belonged to her father and is actually an English dictionary, which is his second language; "My father's signature is centre page....

  1. How do Moniza Alvi and Grace Nichols convey their thoughts and feelings about living ...

    The persona of both the poets reminds the reader the poems are related to their culture in some way making it different from other poems. The use of emotive language and voice helps to set the mood of the poems.

  2. Moniza Alvi Poem meaning

    Whereas in contrast the relatives in Pakistan would like the conventional English "cardigans /from Marks and Spencer." The poem is a sequence of personal memories. "Half Caste" is a poem, that had has 5 verses each of different lengths, the poem as no rhyme sc, because the poem sounds like an argument.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work