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How Do The Two Poets HighlightThe Difficulties Of Living In A Different Culture In the two poems 'Unrelated Incidents' by Tom Leonard and 'Half-Caste' by John Agard?

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Rachael Elliott 11D. How Do The Two Poets Highlight The Difficulties Of Living In A Different Culture? In the two poems 'Unrelated Incidents' by Tom Leonard and 'Half-Caste' by John Agard the obvious connection is the language is written phonetically to emphasise the dialect and contrast in culture to the real English language. In order to convey their opinions on the prejudices they face they take an almost humorous approach to ridicule their opposers. Both the poets' use of punctuation means that when spoken aloud there is an aggressive tone as in 'Unrelated Incidents' there are no capital letters, this emphasises the 'wrongness' of his dialect. He pokes fun at the way people would presume that news given by someone who doesn't speak with a 'voice of authority' is lying, it is clearly wrong and he shuns this assumption: 'n thi reason I talk wia BBC accent iz coz yi widny wahnt mi ti talk aboot thi trooth wia voice lik wanna yoo scruff.' ...read more.


He is highlighting the stupidity of those who use the derogatory term as if the person is only half and therefore isn't a whole person. In the same way that Leonard uses humour Agard suggests that simple things such as a piano are half-caste because of the different coloured keys. Agard taunts his opposers challenging them to explain their use of the word and his words are pouring with contempt for the ignorance of others. What makes his point effective is that he refers to some geniuses such as Tchaikovsky suggesting that some well-known masterpieces are in fact 'half-caste'. Agard uses imagery of paint, light and music to describe the situation so that his poem can appeal to those who have no experience of racism. Agard also speaks about the mixing of colours to create a masterpiece, which is significant as he refers to Picasso who is an celebrated artist. ...read more.


However it is clear that behind the humour is a serious notion. They are both written in a colloquial manner with phonetic writing and incorrect grammar to highlight the difference between the English culture and their own. The poets highlight the stupidity and use aggressive sounding language to punch home the strength of their opinions. The use of phonetic language is successful because it is like a translation into the poet's own dialect. It shows that they are unique and different but that is no reason to discriminate against them whether it is by using derogatory terminology or distrust of an accent. Even though the poet has been victim of discrimination by the end of the poem there is a clear proud boldness as they both display their contempt for racism and that the people who are not to be trusted or are only half-minded are the racists. ...read more.

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Here's what a star student thought of this essay

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Response to the question

This is a fine example of an essay answer to a question focused on language. I wouldn't mind see a bit more range in the analysis, particularly on the imagery conjured in Agard's 'Half-Caste', but nonetheless what is written about ...

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Response to the question

This is a fine example of an essay answer to a question focused on language. I wouldn't mind see a bit more range in the analysis, particularly on the imagery conjured in Agard's 'Half-Caste', but nonetheless what is written about the language is illuminating and engaging throughout. I like the use of language the candidate has used, as it's higher register shows the examiner a candidate who is comfortable in using complex lexes when analysing poetry. The concluding paragraph could do with a little extension, but as before, what is written is still very good and this candidate could expect to receive a high B grade for GCSE.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis here is very good, although in many respects it only targets the language of both the poems, and I would like to see a broader range of analysis such as analysis of imagery and structure too. Where I like the candidate's analysis is when they consider the context of the poem and recognise the poet's intentions for the poem, particularly in Leonard's case. This astute analysis shows external research into the purpose behind the poem and this is something examiners love to see.

However, the comparison of this answer on the whole is weak, and feels quite often like a separate analysis of two different poems. By this I mean the candidate takes the Poem-by-Poem approach, rather than Point-by-Point. In the latter analytical structure, candidates identify one feature of either poem, comment on whether it's a similarity or difference and then go on to analyse it, naturally encouraging more comparison than commenting all they can on one poem and then the other, as this style limits explicit comparative points.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is fine. There is no cause for concern with regards to any of it, and grammar, spelling and punctuation are all kept nicely in check throughout the answer.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 08/09/2012

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