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But you didn't have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No, you didn't have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don't need that though
Now you're just somebody that I used to know
Now you're just somebody that I used to know
Now you're just somebody that I used to know
Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I'd done
But I don't wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

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Read the poem through at least twice and then answer the questions that follow:
The Old Woman’s Message Kumalau Tawali (1946 - )
Stick these words in your hair
And take them to Polin and Manuai
my sons:
the ripe fruit falls and returns
5 to the trunk – its mother.
But my sons, forgetful of me,
are like fruit borne by birds.
I see the sons of other women
returning. What is in their minds?
10 Let them keep the price of their labour
but their eyes are mine.
I have little breath left
to wait for them.
I am returning to childhood.
15 My stomach goes to my back
my hands are like broom sticks,
my legs can fit in the sand crab’s hole.
I am dry like a carved image
only my head is God’s.
20 Already I sway like a dry falling leaf
I see with my hands –
oh tell Polin and Manuai to hurry
and come to my death feast.
i) In a sentence or two, say what this poem is about. 5
an old woman feels her age; her sons have left home; this is a message to persuade them to return; it outlines her suffering
ii) Comment on the central image used in the first seven lines. What does this tell us of the context of the poem?
some fruit fall near the tree – some women’s children stay near their home, do not travel far
but birds carrying fruit from parent tree drop them far away – her sons are far from their parent.
Context – implication that this is a rural area (fruit, bird falling leaf metaphors), sons so far away she has to send a message to them, with the person she is talking to, perhaps in an urban area.
iii) In line 9, to whom does the possessive adjective in ‘their minds’ refer? What is the tone of the lines 9 -11?
Their minds = her sons’ minds – the tone is one of indignation;
iv) Identify the similes used in lines 16-21. How do these images add to our understanding of the speaker’s state of mind?
legs like broom sticks – excessively thin; legs can fit into a crab’s hole – even the feet are not defined – as thin as the legs; dry like carved image – probably carved from dead wood; sway like a dry falling leaf – the brittleness and lifelessness of the leaf suggest her vulnerability
Withering of body; drying of life sap – her mind is similarly dry and without hope.
v) How does the speaker’s tone vary throughout the poem? You should show how she increases the emotional elements in her appeal to her sons and note the impact of the last two lines in particular.
initial poetic statement of situation; tone of jealousy of other women; then anger; then appeal to pity for her physical state - picture of diminished body; increasing blindness; almost a moral blackmail to hurry or they will be too late.
Last two lines:
dismay/anguish in the words ‘oh’ and ‘hurry’.
ironic reference to ‘death feast’ – loneliness at the end of life;
vi) Kumalua Tawali comes from Papua New Guinea. Do you think his poem is relevant only to the situation in his country or does the same situation apply in Africa? Discuss.
Own opinion – but a universal tendency for youth to leave rural communities – South African experience of depopulation of rural areas – probable abandonment of the older generation in villages.
In Selves and Others, we are reminded that many ‘bad’ literary characters function as opposites of the ‘good guys’. …Their unpleasant qualities strengthen the good qualities possessed by the heroes of the texts. .
With reference to ONE of the following characters, write an essay in which you demonstrate these ideas. You will need to consider what qualities make the character unpleasant, how his/her actions show an undesirable personality, how he/she highlights other ‘good’ characters; where we get information about him/her from; what role is played in the novel and how the character helps the author get his or her message across.
In Heart of Darkness; The Accountant or Mr Kurtz
In Nervous Conditions; Nhamo or Nyasha

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