Exploring the theme of identity in three poems from different cultures by Agard, Bhatt, and Nichols.

Authors Avatar by kevinli7377gmailcom (student)

It is inevitable that a person questions their identity throughout their life as our identity reflects who we are, tells others our background, our ethnicity, and our culture.

The three poems explored in this essay each different explore ideas and views towards identity. In ‘Half Caste,’ John Agard writes as a representative for biracial people and addresses the problem of racism. In ‘Search for My Tongue,’ Sujata Bhatt explores who she has become after moving countries and questions her ethnicity while Grace Nichols’ ‘Hurricane Hits England’ expresses her feelings as an immigrant in a foreign country where she reconnects with her cultural background. Each of the three poets show hard search for their sense of belonging in society.

The motives of the three poems differ, where Agard addresses the problem of racial prejudice and discrimination, while the other poems express the power of ethnicity. In ‘Caste’ Agard writes as a representative for all biracial people and connotes his wishes to stop racism: ‘yu mean Picasso mix red an green is a half-caste canvas?’ In this rhetorical question, he compares himself to a piece of art, questioning why people look up to Picasso's ‘distinct coloured’ artworks and yet accuse him of being ‘mixed.’ In the end, Agard addresses the reader directly: ‘an I will tell yu de other half of my story.’ He tells the reader that there is more to him and how people need to open their minds to accepting people of different ethnic origins. In contrast to ‘Caste,’ we see how ‘Search for My Tongue’ and ‘Hurricane’ address the power of ethnicity. Bhatt’s poem is formatted into one column, her mother language, Gujarati, is placed in the middle of the poem. This suggests interruptions, showing how her mother tongue comes back effortlessly and is always present in her subconsciousness thus showing us how powerful ethnicity is. Similarly, Nichols demonstrates the power of her Caribbean heritage. The fifth stanza is reminiscent of an action of worship where she tries to connect with the spirits in questioning the meaning of the hurricane. ‘What is the meaning of trees … Their cratered graves?’ The constant references made with the Caribbean shows us her influenced thinking thus showing us the power of ethnicity.
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One of the biggest differences between ‘Caste’ and the other two poems is in the use of tone. Agard holds a strong sarcastic tone, shown straight from the beginning: ‘Excuse me standing on one leg I'm half-caste.’ Agard interrogates the prejudice people confidently with no sense of doubt. Unlike Agard, Bhatt’s ‘Search For my Tongue' has a light-hearted tone shown from the beginning: ‘You ask me what I mean by saying I have lose my tongue.’ The line is rather conversational but does convey a sense of vulnerability, where the pronoun portrays ‘you’ as someone who doesn’t understand ...

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