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'Hurricane Hits England' & Presents From...'

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Choose two poems that explore the idea of discomfort in a new environment. Both "Hurricane Hits England" and "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan" deal with the idea of discomfort in a new environment: "Hurricane Hits England" is about feeling better in the new environment by being reminded about the old one. "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan" is about how contact with the old environment can make it difficult to feel at home in the new one. "Hurricane Hits England" shows how a woman is brought closer to the English landscape. The hurricane is something familiar from her Caribbean past and she feels its growing force "like some dark ancestral spectre". At first she is confused by its presence in England and speaks to the spirits of the wind to find out why they have come: Tell me why you visit An English coast? ...read more.


She is both embarrassed and conscious of her position of being neither English nor Pakistani. My costume clung to me and I was aflame, I couldn't rise up out of its fire, half-English, unlike Aunt Jamila. The presents don't impress her friends either, but she values them and sees them as a link with her own past. This is also shown through the speaker's fascination with the camel-skin lamp and the "fifties photographs". As the speaker grows older she tries to imagine herself in Lahore where her Aunts live and describes herself as of no fixed nationality. She shows that does not feel fully at home in England but does not feel that she would fit into modern Pakistan. Both poems are easy to understand, though Grace Nichols uses more figurative language than Moniza Ali. ...read more.


The woman in the poem talks to the hurricane as if it were a West African god (Shango, Oya) or a Caribbean storm from the past (Hattie). This shows us where she is from and explains why she is confused that a hurricane should come to England. She asks the storm questions but the last question is to herself: O why is my heart unchained?" This final question shows the change of feeling caused by a familiar event in an unfamiliar environment, as the woman understands the message of the hurricane, "That the earth is the earth is the earth". Both poems explore the issue of lack of comfort in a new environment. Moniza Ali's poem is easy to understand and deals in an interesting way with a problem that many children in cross-cultural families must face. Grace Nichols' poem is more fun to read but hers is not as serious a problem as the one faced by the speaker in "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan". ...read more.

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Response to the question

The question here concentrate on the idea of discomfort in a new environment and the extent to which this theme is shown in Grace Nichols' 'Hurricane Hits England' and Moniza Alvi's 'Presents from My Aunts in Pakistan'. The focus on ...

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Response to the question

The question here concentrate on the idea of discomfort in a new environment and the extent to which this theme is shown in Grace Nichols' 'Hurricane Hits England' and Moniza Alvi's 'Presents from My Aunts in Pakistan'. The focus on the question is unbroken but what analysis there is appears fairly basic. As a thematic analytical question, it is expected of the candidate to comment on the use of language as well as imagery and effect on the reader. There is some evidence of appreciating how the poems affects the reader but there is limited evidence of focusing the imagery. All points are covered however, it's just that some are covered in greater detail than others.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is a case of Quantity over Quality. All the necessary elements of both poems are included (albeit resulting in a fairly unbalanced analysis), but the depth evident is not wholly sufficient nor satisfying considering the candidate is working towards a GCSE.
Candidates must be aware of what they're writing at all times. It sounds like a silly comment to make about GCSE answers but when you read sentences like ""Hurricane Hits England" shows how a woman is brought closer to the English landscape (sic)", you often think that the candidates have gone into autopilot and are merely writing for the sake of writing, without making much effective analysis. The poem in question ('Hurricane Hits England' is not about "how a woman is brought closer to the English landscape", although the image conjured in my head is rather amusing - the poem is actually about finding comfort in the company of the Great Storm of 1987 which came to the UK from Grace Nichols' homeland; she is comforted by it. Most bewilderingly though, the candidate shows evidence of understanding this elsewhere in their answer, so the quote above is well and truly irrelevant.
To improve, the language analysis needs to be more specific. Quoting whole lines/parts of a stanza is simply too vague and few marks can be earned because of the lack of attention to detail. The candidate quotes the line ""like some dark ancestral spectre" (sic)" but makes absolutely no attempt to analyse it. A higher ability candidate might consider how the use of the word "ancestral" carries connotations of heritage and family history, which links back to her homeland and that her roots are planted firmly where in the Caribbean - where the hurricane originated and thus it could be said that the arrival of the storm not only reminds her of her homeland but also her family. This is the attention to detail that is required of candidate hoping to achieve top band answers - a more specific analysis of certain words and/or phrases is far more effective than wasting time quoting large blocks of text.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is fine. There are no obvious moments where spelling, punctuation or grammar becomes and issue to the point that the clarity of written expression is compromised.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 21/03/2012

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