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Compare How Agard Challenges Particular Values and Ways of Thinking in Listen Mr. Oxford Don and Half Caste

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Compare How Agard Challenges Particular Values and Ways of Thinking in 'Listen Mr. Oxford Don' and 'Half Caste' The poems, 'Listen Mr. Oxford Don' and 'Half Caste' were both written by John Agard, and in both of these poems, Agard challenges the status quo. In 'Listen Mr. Oxford Don', he challenges the use of language and in 'Half Caste', he challenges views of ethnicity. In the poem 'Listen Mr. Oxford Don', Agard characterizes Mr. Oxford Don as the 'Guardian of English', and the idea of a person who uses the 'correct' form of English. In this poem, Agard challenges the view that Standard English is the correct form of English, and other forms of English are of a lesser status. In the poem 'Half Caste', Agard challenges the reader prejudices towards people of mixed ethnicity. In 'Listen Mr. Oxford Don', Agard uses repetition of particular words and imagery to help him convey his ideas. He uses the phrase, "is a dangerous one" twice in the poem. He also uses sentence like, "I ent have no gun" to create the image of violence. Words such as, 'bashing' and 'slashing' are also used by Agard which suggest him being very threatening. ...read more.


Agard also uses colloquial language, "I'm not a violent man Mr. Oxford Don." This type of language is used to speak not to write so it's informal and non-standard. Agard uses non-standard English throughout the poem; this shows that he's unashamed to use it, and shows that he's challenging Standard English which is the accepted form of English. Alternatively, in 'Half Caste', non-standard English is used for different reasons. In this poem, Agard also uses words from the Caribbean dialect, for example, "dem", "yu", etc, but the effect of this is to show that he's not fully English and he's of a mixed race. Agard also uses the direct address; he refers to himself as 'I' and refers to the reader as 'you' as shown in this quotation, "but yu must come back tomorrow wid de whole of yu eye an I will tell yu de other half of my story." Agard makes the reader feel as though the point is being made directly to them, and makes them feel more challenged that if they want to hear another half of his story, they need to be more open minded. ...read more.


This is when he says that we need to give people full respect if we want to understand them completely as human beings. If we're categorizing them into groups, we're not giving them respect. In both of the poems, Agard uses clever humor to grab our attention, but at the same to provoke our preconceptions. Both of these poems are very political, and have a social impact. In 'Listen Mr. Oxford Don', Agard is challenging the traditional institutions to say that there's no such thing as the 'correct' form of English anymore. Society has moved on, and now we need to embrace other forms of English language as well because we all have different dialects, but each dialect is as valid as the other. The 'traditional' form of English doesn't mean it's more superior or more acceptable in society. In 'Half Caste', Agard not only wants to address the reader, he's challenging the reader into questioning their own preconceptions and prejudices. He's also getting them to think about the implications of the words they use, because most people do not know the full meaning of it, and do not realize the weight of what they're saying. For example, the word 'half caste' can seriously offend the people who are of mixed ethnicity. Word count = 1274 ________________________________ Pond Y.10 CT ...read more.

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Response to the question

The student has answered the question very well, but the response could have been made clearer to the reader. Various aspects of the two poems have been picked up by the writer to show comparisons between the two poems. By ...

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Response to the question

The student has answered the question very well, but the response could have been made clearer to the reader. Various aspects of the two poems have been picked up by the writer to show comparisons between the two poems. By talking about these and how the poet has used them to challenge particular values and ways of thinking, the writer is answering the question correctly. However, due to the way the writer has chosen to structure the essay, the comparisons may not have been as explicit as it could have been. It is crucial for students to get the format right, because a right format would make it a lot easier for readers to see that the question is being answered. It may have been better if the use of one poetic technique from the two poems is compared in each paragraph, rather than having each paragraph talking about one aspect of one poem. The writer has actually written in a clear and correct style in the first paragraph. However, the format seems to have got lost after that.
As for the conclusion, the writer has done a very good job in summarising what have been talked about. Even though some of the techniques discussed earlier have not been included, the conclusion does contain all the main points and the summary to what the writer thinks is the answer to the question.

Level of analysis

The writer has shown appropriate analytical skills, and has made evaluative judgements for most of the things written in the essay, but there is still a lack of evidence in some areas. The writer has picked out and analysed many different poetic devices that the poet uses in both poems, such as imageries, tone and repetitions, as well as other aspects of the poems, including the use of non-standard English, dialects, punctuations, double negatives, and the structure of the poems. Examples of these are given in the essay, as well as explanations to why they are used. This shows a level of analysis. However, it would be better if the writer tries to avoid using the same examples twice. All of the examples taken from the poems taken from the poems are relatively clear, but there are some in which better ones can be used to replace to send the message across to the readers better. It is a pity that the writer has not managed to find any example to back up the statement that humour is used in both poems in the paragraph before last. Quoting parts of the poems to show that this is true would have increased the quality of the essay.

Quality of writing

Overall, the spelling, grammar and punctuations are used accurately, but there are some changes which need to take place to improve the quality of the writing. The writer uses a range of technical terms in the essay. However, there are still places where more of these could be added in. For example, rather than saying that there is no clear structure to one of the poems, the writer could have said that the poem is a free verse instead. It would be better to change all the contractions present in the essay to their full forms as well. The writer should also make sure that no words are repeated too frequently. In one of the sentences in the introduction, the word ‘English’ is used three times, and this is far too many. Another minor point is that it would be better to type quotations in italic to make the work easier to read.

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Reviewed by SunSunHemnilrat 26/02/2012

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