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Compare and Contrast "Presents From My Aunts In Pakistan" by Moniza Alvi and "Search for my Tongue" by Sujata Bhatt

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the ways in which two poets present the themes of cultural displacement and being torn between two cultures in "Presents From My Aunts In Pakistan" by Moniza Alvi and "Search For My Tongue" by Sujata Bhatt. In this essay I will be comparing two poems about cultural displacement and being torn between two cultures and how it has affected its writers. These two poems, Sujata Bhatt's "Search For My Tongue" and Moniza Alvi's "Presents From My Aunts In Pakistan", are both about the feelings the poet experiences living in one culture whilst originally from another. Sujata Bhatt includes Gujarati in her poem along English for greater effect, as this shows her entrapment between the two cultures. Similarly, in "Presents from My Aunt in Pakistan", Moniza Alvi shows her entrapment by giving vivid descriptions of traditional clothing against English clothes. These techniques help to give the reader a more in depth feeling of what each poet was feeling while living away from their original culture and also they show the difficulties involved in doing so. Moniza Alvi's first stanza of the poem describes the clothes sent to her by her aunts; she lists and describes in great detail these clothes to her readers. The first things she lists are two "salwar kameez" outfits. This particular piece of clothing is specific to her Pakistani culture, however it may be unfamiliar to her English readers and this is where the effect is made, because she is showing what it is like not understanding things. On the other hand, by using these terms, she may be trying to get used to them, perhaps because she feels she is not yet familiar with them as she probably should be. This goes to say that, perhaps Moniza Alvi knows little about her Pakistani culture and feels she must know more; this may be due to self curiosity or pressure from her aunts who are always sending her Pakistani items. ...read more.

Middle

For example, "filigree" means very fragile which could mean that is how her cultures are as well, they could easily be taken from her as the jewellery were taken away from her mother. Also, the fact that they belong to her mother and not to her could also symbolise that, like the jewellery, she has no control over it because it does not fully belong to her. It was stolen from her when she was taken away from Pakistan just like her mother's jewellery. Furthermore, the fact that it was stolen from Britain could suggest that British culture has stolen her original identity as a Pakistani. Again, she skips from one thought to another now to say that her aunts "requested cardigans from Marks and Spencers." This confuses the poet further because she does not understand why they could possibly want English clothing when they had such beautiful things in Pakistan. It was almost as though they want something different from what they already own and should cherish, which is exactly what Moniza Alvi wanted. Perhaps she does not yet understand that having both cultures within her is not all that bad. She does not have to choose between the two cultures, she could make the most out of both of them equally. Her aunts in Pakistan's want for the M&S cardigans could be interpreted as a reflection of her own wants, perhaps her want of something other than the confusion she had live through. She wants something different, just like her aunts in Pakistan wished for the English cardigans. Alvi showed her school friend the clothes she received from her aunts and she tells us that they "didn't impress my school friend // who sat on my bed, asked to see // my weekend clothes." This could be the source of confusion about which culture she should belong more fully to. Reason being, her English friends are more interested in her English clothes making her want to push her Pakistani culture aside. ...read more.

Conclusion

However the last reference about cultures she made at the end of the poem is about the Pakistani culture which perhaps shows that she would love to be much more attracted to it, and she misses being a part of it. In conclusion, both these poems show their cultural displacement through various techniques such as the language used for effect, the structure to express feelings better and even the tone of the poems. The change in tone in both poems was very significant, where on one hand Bhatt went from a mournful mood to a triumphant and glorious feeling, on the other hand, Moniza Alvi showed her confusion through her constant change of tone and atmosphere. Both poems have a unique way of showing their pain living away from one of their culture. They both however, sent the same message out, that you can never be entirely happy without your original culture, or without both your cultures involved in your life. Bhatt's poem shows her triumph in recovering her culture which assured her that no matter what, it will always stay with her. Alvi on the other hand, is still confused as to what nationality she belongs to best, although she should recognize that she belongs to both equally, she is still torn between the two and her pain is reflected in the lines of her poem. In addition, the pressure to belong more to one culture than the other gets higher as her aunts are somewhat pushing her to belong more to the Pakistani culture. However, the structure shows that her confusion is more due to the Pakistani culture, as her random thoughts are mostly about her life in Pakistan. The imagery is also very powerful in both poems as they both show what is more vivid and what stands out more to them through various techniques. ?? ?? ?? ?? English - Poems from other cultures coursework Laura Luca Page 1 ...read more.

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