Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Papers are being invited by members of Mangalore Sociology Association, Sociologists and the public on the main theme or any of the sub-themes. The sub-themes are: Religion and Social Mobility, Conversion and Social Mobility, Constitution and Conversion, Dysfunctions of Communal Violence, Hinduism as a way of life, Islam and Peace and Christian Humanism.
Those who wish to present the papers are requested to send an abstract of 300 to 400 words to the Organizing secretary so as to reach him before January 20. Selected papers will be published in a book.
To send the abstract and for further queries one is expected to contact the Organizing Secretary, St. Aloysius College, Mangalore- 575003, Mobile: 9945413289, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
2. Readers Feedback
3. Does 'The Second Coming' Realy Talk About The Iraq War?
7. Authority In 'Ozymandias' And 'The Second Coming'
8. 'The Second Coming' Compared To Things Fall Apart
Thirteenth National Workshop
Perspectives on Caste and Gender in Early
2 – 5 February 2009
Thursday, December 18, 2008
is organising a UGC Sponsored National Seminar on
Subaltern Encounters in
Indian English Literature and Translation
9&10 January 2009
For details of the Seminar click here
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
2. The Literature Network
4. Study Guide
7. Some Important Questions
8. Some Quotes
10. Novel Guide
11. Background Essays-Good Read
12. Animal Farm-The Fable ,The Satire , The Allegory
13. Spark Notes
14. More Notes
17. An Amazing Test To See If You Have Really Understood
PS :As usual id say concentrate on the themes and interpretations provided. look for more background information and do post the links.
A: A Motif is a recurring structure, contrast, or literary device that can help to develop and inform about the text's major themes.
2. What are the motifs in the novel 'Animal Farm'?
A: Songs-Animal Farm is filled with songs, poems, and slogans, including Major's stirring “Beasts of England,” Minimus's ode to Napoleon, the sheep's chants, and Minimus's revised anthem, “Animal Farm, Animal Farm.” All of these songs serve as propaganda, one of the major conduits of social control. By making the working-class animals speak the same words at the same time, the pigs evoke an atmosphere of grandeur and nobility associated with the recited text's subject matter. The songs also erode the animals' sense of individuality and keep them focused on the tasks by which they will purportedly achieve freedom.
State Ritual-As Animal Farm shifts gears from its early revolutionary fervor to a phase of consolidation of power in the hands of the few, national rituals become an ever more common part of the farm's social life. Military awards, large parades, and new songs all proliferate as the state attempts to reinforce the loyalty of the animals. The increasing frequency of the rituals bespeaks the extent to which the working class in the novella becomes ever more reliant on the ruling class to define their group identity and values.
3. Difference between motive and motif-
A: Motive is the reason for doing something. Motif is a reoccurring theme within a novel.
Pinto,Anil. Class Lecture.Animal Farm.Owell,George.Xhrist University,Bangalore,India 14 Dec 2008
1. Definition of Allegory
2.Why is George Orwell's novel 'Animal Farm' an allegory?
3.What is it an allegory of?
A: It is an allegory of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
1. Siddharth Venkatasubramaniam spoke about how Squealer is an allegory of Stalin.
- Squealer was the propaganda chief for Napolean
- He tries to change the negative attitude of people towards Napolean
- His role in the novel is similar to that of the KGB in the revolution.
2. Joshi spoke about how Moses the raven is an allegory of the Russian Orthodox Church
- Moses the raven represents the Russian Orthodox church
- It is an analogy of how Stalin was against the Russian Orthodox Church
- The Soviet Government suppressed religion
Discussion that followed the presentation-
1. Possible significance of the name-
- The name is criticizing a particular class of the society. It satirizes the orthodox church and the religious group who had false consciousness
- It criticizes the niche of Christianity which potrays two types of Christ
3. Hima Mammen spoke about Mollie the horse which is a representation of the class of aristocrats to whom the political situation makes no difference
- Mollie is the pet of the human beings
- She is very feminine in her characteristics
- She is dependent and materialistic
- She gives away her freedom for small things that make a huge difference to her (ribbon)
- She is indifferent to the troubles of the farm and represents the class of society whch remained unaffected by the revolution and the political situation prevelant at that time.
- She represents the class of society that have found another world (the old order and the new order) that they cannot give up.
- Extra information discussed- 'The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian' by Nirad C. Chaudhuri talks about an Indian who cannot get over the fact that India is no more ruled by the British. A man who believes that during the British rule, there was a class, order, sophistication, discipline etc.Finally, not being able to handle it anymore, the man goes and settles down in England which is similar to the situation Mollie undergoes in Animal Farm. She runs away!
- The character of Mollie is similar to that of Marie Antoinnette in the French Revolution.
4. Abhishek Chaudhari spoke about how Snowball is an allegory of Trotsky-
- Trotsky formed the South Russian Labur Party
- Ideas of Stalin and Trotsky were always in conflict and similarly in the novel, the ideas of Napolean and Snowball are always contradicting.
- Trotsky was sent into exile and in the novel Snowball escapes
- Extra information- In the actual revolution, Stalin sent the KGB to murder Trotsky but this detail is not mentioned in the novel. This shows that no writing can be a perfect representation of reality. It has the style, creativity, angle and ideas of the writer who moulds the characters and incidents.In writing, a real life character is moulded in such a way that it has some relation with the other characters.
- Question raised after this discussion-(a)Is there anything in the revolution that is a representation of the windmill incident?(b) Is there anything in the novel that is a representation of the South Russian Labour Party?
5. Titto spoke about Boxer and Clover-
- Represent the working class of society.
- In Animal Farm, Snowball and Benjamin can be said to represent the Intelligensia while Bozer and Clover represent the ignorant and unaware working class.
- Question raised by Alan Polson- Why was education necessary? A:- To raise awareness and to unite them for revolution.
- Mr. Pinto's question- Is working class equal to the peasants? A:- Anybody who works for a wage is part of the 'working class'.
- Generally the working class is aware of the political situation but in the novel, though Boxer and Clover are part of the working class, they are oblivious to the conditions.
6. Shalini Chandy spoke about Benjamin the donkey-
- Benjamin represents the older population of Russia.
- There is a possibility that Benjamin represents the Jewish people as he has the same intelligence as the pigs but is not a leader as one would expect a charactr of equal calibre to be.
- Benjamin neither adviced nor criticized. He represents those people who had no expectations from the revolution.
- Question raised by Alan Polson- Could Benjami be some sort of an advisor to the Czar? A:- He couldn't be because as mentioned earlier, the characterof Benjamin neither advised nor criticised.
- Point discussed with regard to the above question- Mr.Jones represents the Czar, so if Mr. Jones was dependent on Benjamin in any way, he could be considered an advisor to the Czar.
- Discussion/ Point to be verified- Why is Benjamin compared to a donkey and not any other animal? The doubt arises because a donkey is generally an animal of slavery, so why the donkey?
Pinto,Anil.Class discussions and presentations.Animal Farm.Owell,George.Christ University,Bangalore,India.13 Dec 2009
Sunday, December 07, 2008
What is a story?
-Sanyogeeta Chavan (1st FEP)
What's a story? A story in its broadest sense is anything told or recounted, more narrowly and more usually something told or recounted in the form of a casually linked set of events; account, tale, the telling of a happening or connected series of happenings, whether true or fictitious really good story has a sense of truth and resonates with some basic universal aspects of being human. It does not have to be profound, a good story should move the readers, make him/her laugh, think, and ponder over it afterwards. A story should have substance. its the skeleton of the story. A good story needs conflict and resolution. Stories are made up of people, places, and happenings. Strong stories usually have a well defined main character a he, a she, an animal, a machine or whatever that encounters some kind of conflict or trouble. It is the believable action moving the story from beginning to middle to end that keeps the audience entertained. They want to know what is going to happen. A story creates vivid images. This is the part that makes interaction so important. Stories help the reader/listener to think of his/her own stories.
Writer Edgar Allan Poe's definition of a short story-
Writer Edgar Allan Poe's definition of a short story-
A short story is a brief tale that can be read in one sitting. He believed that such a story could have a more powerful impact and give greater pleasure than a longer tale read at different sittings.
A short story is a brief tale that can be read in one sitting. He believed that such a story could have a more powerful impact and give greater pleasure than a longer tale read at different sittings.
Chavan,Sanyogeetha.Classroom presentation.Defintion of a story. Christ University, Bangalore,India. 2 Dec 2008
Novel being discussed- Animal Farm by George Orwell
Points discussed :-
- Republic- Ideal state that Plato wants to construct
- 15th century-Thomas More's book Utopia- contains notions of an ideal state
- Utopias are the flipside of society.Utopias are constructed and the reverse happens.
- 20th century- Animal Farm- an example of Dystopia.
- Dystopias do not engage in poetic justice.
- The concept of Poetic Justice
Pinto,Anil.Class Lecture.Animal Farm.Owell,George.Christ University,Bangalore,India. 11 Dec 2008
Vani Subramaniam of II Sem FEP is joining this blog as a co-author. She will be posting the classroom discussion on British Literature paper that I facilitate in that class.
A warm welcome to her. I request you to extend your cooperation and encouragement to her.
The email had seven photographs of a six or seven year old-looking boy being punished, perhaps for 'stealing', by making a jeep run over his hands. The images were brutal. But the fact that the script on the pictures which was in Arabic and photos indicated that there was an obvious reference made to Islam. This made me to look at other details in the forward. The forward showed that the mail had originated on 21 July 2006 , almost a year before, and had been forwarded to 213 people before it reached me. The mail created a series of thoughts in me and I decided to give a response and emailed the response to all the 213 email addresses on the very day I received the email. There was only one reply with two words "Thank You"
The recent violence in Mumbai and the subsequent demand for retaliation reminded me of the email and the response I had written and thought I must reproduce it here.
It has been a little difficult to make this post here, because, for the last three years that I have been experimenting with blogs in education, I have kept this blog strictly for 'academic' purposes and have tried to refrain from my 'personal views on contemporary issues' creeping in here. Hence, it is with a lot of hesitation, that I am making this post.
If you are a person who completely supports violence in the name of nation, religion, better society, better future, 'enough is enough rhetoric', then in your own interest and that of mine you may avoid reading further.
Following is the response I emailed on 10 June 2007 to the 213 emails I had found in the forward.
I received this following email forward asking me/us to condemn 'violence in the name of religion'. If we are to condemn only Islam and Islamic countries for it, I think we are victimizing Islam, thereby perpetuating our own hidden agenda of becoming self-proclaimed promoters of our religion at the cost of other religions.
We also need to condemn violence in the name of religion that happens in the case of Bush who attacked Iraq in the name of God (by which he obviously meant a Christian god) and by extension all self-declared American wars, and victimization of Islamic counties by the US. Closer home we need to condemn violence that happened in south canara in the name of cow protection/slaughter, Vadodara incident where Hindutva forces ransacked university campus, even when there are constitutional provisions to address ones grievances.
Instead of condemning violence in other religions it is important that we condemn violence carried by the religious and community leaders of our own religions and communities- Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jains. If we do not condemn violence by our own religions, then, let us accept that we too are communal deep within us.
Violence has different expressions. When it happens in the name of religion we call it religious-sponsored or communal. But what about domestic violence against women and children, what about the violence in the name of dresscode, better grades, Indian culture, linguistic identity, beyond-the-reach-of the-poor education that we see in our institutions and society, displacement in the name of industrialization, dams, IT that we keep tolerating? Shall we also condemn that?
Violence in any form, in all places, and in all times should be condemned- most importantly in our immediate places- house, schools and colleges, neighborhood, city in our own little ways.
As we become conscious of physical violence we also need to become aware of psychological violence. While it is easy to represent physical violence through photographs like the ones sent to me, it is extremely difficult to represent as well as understand invisible violence in the form of psychological violence. The immediate examples that come to my mind are one of parent imposed violence on children and the other management-teacher-imposed violence in schools, through assignments, exams, nicknames, passing remarks which create wounds that are difficult to heal.
The psychological violence we inflict on other communities, people by stereotyping or calling names is also a issue to be worried about. By visual violence i refer to the huge banners, buntings that 'decorate' all our public places put up by political parties, religious groups in the name of morhcas, conferences, rallies. They also need to be paid attention to and condemned.
May I now request you to spread this nuanced understanding of violence with the same enthusiasm with which you forward some unknown landscapes of the US or Canada or the morphed faces of our cricket players post-world cup?
Friday, December 05, 2008
The short story “TOBA TEK SINGH” written by Saadat Hasan Manto has its deep foundation on the tragic event which India and Pakistan faced before, during and after independence in the form of ‘Partition’. Since the story has its root in partition and its aftermath, let me brief you first with; reason, causes and consequences of Partition.
In 1937 at the 19th session of the Hindu Mahasabha (one of the existing parties during independence) held at Ahamedabad, Veer Sawarkar in his presidential address made a statement before the public, “ India cannot be assumed today to be the Unitarian and homogeneous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main- the Hindus and the Muslims.
The statement reflects the prevailing tension and estrangement between so called the two major religions; Hindu and Muslim.
• Before Independence:
The partition was not a sudden division of the country and its leaders, which found its strong expression at the time of independence.
The tension and social turmoil had already spread long before it came into surface.
In 1906, a group of Muslims formed All India Muslim League (AIML) in Dhaka. They were suspicious of the Hindu majority Indian National Congress (INC) the ruling party at that time. Their complain was that they were not given same rights as a Muslim member compared to Hindu members. The whole reason behind this, seemed to be ‘ power politics’
Anyway, among the first to make the demand for a separate state was the writer and philosopher Allama Iqbal. Later on in 1935 when Sindh Assembly passed a resolution making it a demand, Iqbal, Jouhar and many others then worked hard to draft Mohammad Ali Jinnah who had till then worked for Hindu- Muslim unity and was an active member in INC.
So under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah the AIML went ahead and consequently ended up in partition of India – an event known for its massive migration and displacement in the world history.
However not all supported the division. On hearing this Gandhiji said, “ my whole soul rebels against the idea that Hinduism and Islam represent two antagonistic cultures and doctrines. To assent to such a doctrine is for me a denial of God”.
Therefore leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Allama Mashriqi etc. struggled to keep Hindu Muslim unity which finally ended with assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by one of the Hindu Nationalists.
• 1942- 1947
As we all know that the British colonial administration did not directly rule all of India. There were several political arrangements and also parties in existence.
Among them were;
ALML (All India Muslim League)
CPI (Communist Party Of India)
HM (Hindu Mahasabha)
INC (Indian National Congress)
UML (Unionist Muslim League)
And Mohammad Jinnah was the main figure along with Sikh leader Tara Singh who were involved directly in the Partition- in the lesson we come across these two names considered to be ‘dangerous.’
• Partition- 1947
The actual division between the two new dominions was done according to what has come to be known as the 3rd June Plan or Mountbatten Plan.
The border between India and Pakistan was determined by a British Government- commission report usually referred to as the Radcliff Line.
Pakistan came into being with two enclaves, East Pakistan (today Bangladesh) and West Pakistan, separated geographically by India. The rest belonged to India.
• Independence and population exchange
With the agreement on partition both the governments of the new countries decided to transfer the people based on the religion, therefore massive population exchange occurred between tow newly formed states in the months immediately following partition. Once the lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed the borders to what they hoped was a relative safety of religious majority.
Based on 1951 census of displaced persons 72 lakh 26 thousand Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 72 lakh 49 thousand Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan. About 78% of the population transfer took place in the west itself. Therefore it was the greatest ever heard massive migration in the world history.
• Refugees settled in India and Pakistan
Many Sikhs and Hindu Punjabis settled in Indian parts of Punjab and Delhi. Hindus migrating from east Pakistan ( now Bangladesh) settled across Eastern India and North Eastern India like West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. Some were sent to Andaman islands.
Refugees in Pakistan came from various parts of India. East Punjabis found there way out and had no much problems in adjusting themselves. However Muslims there were many Muslims migrated to Pakistan from other Indian parts. These refugees came from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and even Hyderabad.
Marred with death and violence
Increase of homeless people
Because independence was declared prior to the actual Partition, it was up to the new government of India and Pakistan to keep public order. No large population movements were contemplated; the plan called for safeguards for minorities on both sides of the new state line.
It was an impossible task, at which both states failed. There was a complete breakdown of law and order;Many died in riots, massacre or just from the hardships of their flight to safety.
The partition was tragically marred with death and violence. The estimates of how many people died vary immensely, generally estimating somewhere 1.5 million.
In what is termed as the greatest human migration, some 15 million people were displaced over night from their homes as a result of partition. Not only that the displacement did not assure them safety and house on the other side. People lay on the road, camps and public places for days and months till they found their way out, ‘Without any fault of theirs’!
According to Richard Symonds, “ at the lowest estimate, half a million people perished and 12 million out of 15 became homeless.”
Uncertainty was another reality faced by those people grated from their homes only because they were either Hindus or Muslims, nothing more than that.
Many of them never received any compensation or support form the government who took up their responsibility.
Therefore the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947, following World War 2nd is perhaps the most tragic of all political event in the Indian history.
The partition divided Hindus and Muslims who had lived together for hundred of years. It led to endless boundary disputes, three wars between the two neighbors, a nuclear powered arms race and a state sponsored terrorism.
The consequences of partition are continued to be seen in the form of terrorist attacks, bomb blasts; tension on the LoC and Kashmir still remains a point of hatred between two nations.
• TOBA TEK SINGH
Saadat Hasan Manto (1912- 55)
We read in the first paragraph of the chapter about the author. I will add some more facts and point to that.
Saadat began his writing in a period that was marked with:
Struggle for independence
• He is most widely read and controversial Urdu short story writer of the 20th century
• Born in a Muslim Kashmiri family in 1912 in Punjab.
• Lived in Bombay, but was forced to immigrate to Pakistan during partition.
• Published 22 collections of short stories, 7 collections of radio plays, 3 collections of essays and 1 novel.
• Wrote about social taboos in South Asian societies, such as; socio- economic, injustice, love, sex, prostitution, hypocrisy etc.
• Manto’s writings
• His subject and themes are marked by originality and simplicity.
• Focused on story’s structure and finely thought out details.
• Have shocking and surprising endings.
• Toba tek singh is the masterpiece about tragic theme of horrors of separation
• Exposes hollowness of middle class morality.
• Characters usually from fallen and rejected sections of the society.
• About the story
Satire – On partition?
Narration – A reliable but not omniscient narrator
Time – Two or three years after partition
Structure – First two Para- earlier time- back to first two Para
Language – Simple and deliberately repetitive language.
Ending – No-man’s land between two new nations
“Toba Tek Singh” is surely the most famous story about Partition, and very possibly the best one. This story was one of manto’s last one; it was published in Maktabah-e-jadid, Lahore) in 1955.
Some of the underlying aspects of the story are:
• As a satire-
Every reader at one realizes that it’s a powerful satire, and also a bitter indictment of the political process and behavior patterns that produced Partition. But the author’s brilliant mind lies in the fact that there is not a single word in the story that tells us so.
The story in fact presents itself a non- judgmental chronicle of the behaviors of certain lunatics in an insane asylum in Lahore.
It thus share a very subtle yet simple form of presentation
A reliable but not omniscient narrator who speaks as a Pakistani, and seems to be a Lahori tells narration- the story. The narrator reports to us with apparent matter-of-factness a series of event s that are not quite as straightforward as they appear.
In the first sight everything seems very casual of daily conversations or say behavior of mad people. But then through the conversations of these lunatics that the author wants to put forward his message.
• Structure and Time-
We are told in the first sentence that it takes place’ two or three years after Partition. Then the first two paragraphs takes us to the Wagah border itself, were the lunatics are described as having already arrived. Then we drop abruptly into a very long flashback. We return to an earlier time, when the inmates in Lahore asylum first learned of the proposed exchange. We follow their reactions and behavior until at the very end of the story we once again arrive at the time and place of the first two paragraphs.
• Characters –
The whole aspect of the idea of the nationality is beautifully brought about through the conversation of those lunatics.
Manto penetrates into human psychology
The characters are presented without names; they are neither Hindus nor Muslims but are human beings belonging to nowhere yet existing.
Therefore whole aspect of identity is being questioned here which I will talk a little later.
Because of its simple and deliberately repetitive use of language the original form of the story provides excellent reading practice for those learning Urdu. Otherwise the whole structure is simple and direct translation form the vernacular language
The narrator at the end locates Bashan Singh( Toba Tek Sigh) in a no man’s land between the two nations barbed-wire borders. Again affirms Manto’s style of writing with a surprising or shocking ending.
• Origin of the name: Toba Tek Singh
The title of the story itself has its own historical significance
Toba is a word in Punjabi that means ‘Pond’
It is a district in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
The town and district is named after a Sikh religious figure Tek Singh. Legend has it that Mr. Singh a kind hearted man served water and provided shelter to the worn out and thirsty travelers irrespective of any cast or creed who passed by a small pond (called TOBA in Punjabi), which eventually was called Toba Tek Singh and surrounding settlement acquired the same name.
Toba Tek Singh was developed by British toward the end of the 18th century when a canal system was built. People from all over Punjab moved there as farmlands were allotted to them.
Bishan Singh apparently might have been one of those migrated to this place
Therefore Toba Tek Singh as a place has its own history. Because the story takes place after two three years of Partition, it seems highly unbelievable that not only the lunatics, but the people around as well can’t figure out where the place is now. That’s the irony of the partition where things got so mixed up that no one in fact knew well that where India ends and where Pakistan begins.
And as a person reflect the same attitude of the people towards the name
Here in the story the name Toba Tek Singh is being given to the main character
Whose real name appears to be Bishan Singh.
We do not meet this main character until we have gone into detail over other lunatics of the asylum. Eventually with a small description the narrator introduces us with Bishan Singh whom every one calls as Toba Tek Singh. Rest, we come to know about him and his early life form the story itself, which very briefly yet clearly speaks about him.
What really makes a difference or say provides a climax for the story is Bishan’s death on a piece of land that ahs no name. He prefers to die on a place, which do not belong to anyone than struggle to decide where he really belongs.
That’s what exactly happened to all those who were forced to leave their land., home and dear ones in the process of partition. The hurts and the loss still remains in the hearts of all those who have passed through this agony.
The ending of the story or say Bishan’s fate resonates with at least one event in modern European history, the philosopher Walter Benjamin’s 1940 suicide on the border between France and Spain. He was a German Jew who had lived in France. In Sep. 1940 he fled to Paris ahead of Nazi advance. At the Spanish border one official claimed that the refugees would be forced to return to France. Hearing that Benjamin took an overdose of morphine and died during the night. Next morning everyone was allowed to proceed through Spanish territory.
The concept of Binorism can be seen in this short story. It is the distinction between the two extremes; either here or there, no in between. It is a choice between two politics, religion, race and creed. Legally speaking, one can’t be in two states at once, just as, in other modes of social distinction, one can’t have two religions or two color skins. Like Benjamin, Bishan achieves ultimate marginality by dying on the border between two states, thus opting for neither.
Manto might well have chosen the same fate, given the opportunity. Both as a man and the writer, he was constantly in revolt against the binary choices that religion and politics impose on human beings. But unfortunately he died in Lahore itself.
• Individual identity crisis.
• Set in a madhouse it uses madness as a metaphor for sanity, that if you were sane enough you would have not gone ahead for such division that has lasting effects.
• The ambiguity of the nationhood is expressed when we are told that one madman got caught up in this whole confusion of Pakistan and Hindustan and Hindustan and Pakistan that he ended up considerably madder than before.
• The madmen in the Lahore asylum are a microcosm of the society. Through them all sections of the society and targeted and satirized and amidst them is Bihsan Singh who successfully resists all such identities thrust upon them by choosing something that belongs to no one.
Manto therefore is not just questioning just two-nation theory but also the very idea of nationhood as the basis of one’s identity.
Therefore Bishan would rather die in no man’s land than make a choice between Hindustan and Pakistan
Questions on ‘Toba Tek Singh’
i. Explain how the story ‘Toba Tek Singh is used as a metaphor for sanity.
ii. Discuss the question of Identity expressed in Toba Tek Singh.
iii. “But I know the language of the Hindustanis,” the first one interjected with a smile adding,” Hindustanis are devilish, they strut about haughtily…”how does this sentence work as a mouthpiece of Saadat Hasan Manto’s own experience and struggles?
iv. Explain the title of the short story and its significance. Why did author choose ‘ Toba Tek Singh, as the center of his story?
v. Why does the author choose an asylum as the locus for the story?
vi. What do we learn about Partition from this narrative?
vii. Why did Manto choose a Sikh as protagonist for his tale?
viii. What is the significance of the title, both as a place and as a name?
ix. Discuss some of the underlying aspects of the story.
x. Explain the concept of ‘Binarism’ in the story.
xi. What are some of the consequences reflected in the story as a result of partition?
xii. “ In the middle, on the stretch land which has no name, lay Toba Tek singh.” Discuss the whole issue of nationhood and identity struggle expressed through the ending of the story. Relate it to the experience of those who passed through the agony of partition.
Dear III Year FEPians/ites,
- You may post on any term or concept related to theatre or drama.
- Please avoid posts on terms or concepts already posted on unless you can justify that previous post is wrong or inadequate
- In case you are taking the material from websites or books, please provide the reference.
- If you need a format for reference click here
- Please make your posts before 10 December.
- Please leave your register no, if not name with your posts.
- If you need any clarification please approach Shruti P or contact me via blog or email.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
2. Good Old Wiki As Sir says
3. Novel Guide
4. Pink Monkey
5. Grade Saver
6. Background Information
8. More Background Information
9. Information From Answers.Com
10. Implication Of Christian Names And Surnames
12. Social Criticism In Hard Times
13. Utilitarianism In Hard Times
14. Romantic Trajedy Or Proletariat Propaganda
PS: in my opinion it helps a lot to concentrate on the themes provided in each site.
Dear readers, visitors, and followers of this blog,
From now on Aishwarya Rao of II Sem JPEng will be assisting me as the coauthor of this blog. She will mainly concentrate on the I year Optional English syllabus. While I welcome her to this experiment, I request you to extend your cooperation to her too.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Once Upon A Time
Gabriel Okara(Click here for the text of the poem)
Once Upon A Time highlights the guilt and resentment an African man feels for himself to accepting the culture of the westerners. He notices a marked change in the attitudes of his people—those whom were once so genuine, warm and sincere have now suddenly turned cold and hostile towards him.
He realizes that the early values, which always existed in the African society (like sincerity, good-natured ness, simplicity, wholeheartedness, hospitality, friendliness, originality, identity, uniqueness and overall satisfaction), have now faced a drastic, dramatic change. Post-colonized
He resentfully admits that he, too, makes hollow greetings and started behaving in the same way that people behaved with him. He confesses to his son that he does not like the person he has become and wants to change, and go back to the way he was before, in his childhood. He beseeches his son, the only person he knows who has not been affected by the new culture, to teach him how to be enthusiastic and happy and live life again. He asks his son to help him go back to who he was, and get back his lost identity. He expresses a desire to unlearn whatever he has forced himself to learn, in order for him to gain his sense of self back. He asks his son to help him be happy once again and acquire the childlike innocence he once possessed as a child.
Structure of the Poem
The poem moves in a slow pace. The poem uses repetition and quotations to maintain a sense of deliberateness through out the poem.
Personal monologue explaining personal experiences
The entire poem has the man talking to his son. There are no other voices in the poem, and the son remains mute throughout the entire poem. The man explains to his son about the change that has taken place in African society and asks him to help him changing himself.
First Person Narrative
The poem is in first person narrative and the poet uses the word ‘I’ to depict an autobiographical narration of the man.
Lots of Punctuation and Rythming
Begins on a negative tone and ends with a positive one
The man is constantly complaining and lamenting on the change he sees in his culture as well as himself. But in the end of the poem, we still see that the man still sees the ‘ray of light’ in his son, who has not been affected by this negative change and asks him to help him unlearn what he has learnt and regain his child-like innocence once again
The child in the poem is a symbol of innocence, purity, enthusiasm, happiness and genuineness lacking in society. The child represents the group of people who have not been affected or ‘spoilt’ by Western Culture and abode by there own culture. The poet, struck by a sense of self-loathing and regret, turns to his son in his time of need and asks him to help him unlearn whatever he has learnt and help him regain his child-like innocence.
Innocence is a fading aspect in the man’s society. People always appear deceitful and cunning. The child, however, is a picture of innocence and acts without any malice or ulterior motive. The man wishes to gain this innocence from his son, though he fails to realize that innocence is not learnt, but a state of mind. Once it is lost, it is gone forever.
The western culture, language, and way of life made a huge impact on the people of
The man is forced to adapt to the society he is living in and becomes fake, formal, and everything he despises. He feels a deep sense of regret and self loathing, and when he looks into the mirror, he sees his ‘teeth like snake’s bared fangs’ , indicating that he is frightened of himself and all that he has become. This forces him to confide these worries to his son, and asks for his assistance in bringing about a positive change in him.
Gabriel Okara shows very well in the poem how, when people change, and adapt, it is not always positive. The once enthusiastic and friendly society of
An indication of being fake and insincere is spread throughout the poem. Lines like ‘but now they only laugh with their teeth’, ‘ice-block-cold eyes’, ‘now they shake hands without hearts’ indicate the insincere attitude of the people. The empty, meaningless, hollow greeting that are said only as a formality, the many ‘faces’ the man puts on according to the occasion are other indicators of this fact.
Greetings and pleasantries make up a vital part of communication in western culture. When the Africans adopted their style of greeting, they were merely words, with no meaning. These simple mutterings replaced the African’s original way of greeting, which contained more genuineness and affection. .
Analysis of the title
The title of the poem, 'Once Upon A Time', has special relevance to
the beginning of every fairy tale, like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella,
Snow White, Rapunzel, and others. It was probably chosen by Okara, as
the man in the poem expresses his desire to go, 'back in time', and
regain his child-like innocence.
Reference to 'I' in the poem
The reference to 'I' in the poem has been interpreted by me, as a man
speaking to his young son. However, in no point in the poem is it
mentioned that the speaker is male, which you very well mean that
the 'I', is a reference to Gabriel Okara herself, talking to her son.
However, due to the lines 'Once upon a time, when I was like you',
have made me conclude, that it is a man who is speaking.
Institutionalising the Individual
An analysis of
‘You Will Be Hearing From Us Shortly’
A little bit about the author…
Ursula Aksham Fanthorpe was born in
Her poems seem to question authority and show compassion to people at the same time. Her most successful poems have been in monologue while others have a great deal of humour and dialogue in them unlike the usual structure of poetry we are used to. Most of her poems are of two voices. Other dominant themes in her writings are war and it’s effects on children, the nature of Englishness and the British character and history.
It was in 1989 that she became a full-time writer who gives readings of her work mostly in the
The underlying theme used to analyse the text is the concept of ‘modern’ or rather the factors that complete or contribute to a modern lifestyle. This particular theme has especially been chosen because personally I have been very fascinated with the word ‘modern’ as it has been something that quite frankly has not found an universally appeal. Ask a layman what it means to be ‘modern’ the answer can vary enough to drive a human being mad (unless that is what modernity intends to do), in a general sense perhaps one can classify being modern in terms of a time-span or choose to take another harder stance and explore. And it is in this intention that I hope to explore the text.
Keeping that in mind, we will first look at the poem and try to summarize in relation to the world today with the underlying presumption that we are all evolved human beings living in a modern world. The summary will also lay the foundation to help better understand the different concepts and theories to be discussed.
Having once given a common understanding of the text, it becomes necessary to find different means of being able to engage with the text and this is precisely what we shall be doing in different modes of reading. Of course, the different means provided here are not given as ultimatums rather hope to reveal scope for further models of interpreting the piece. With three different modes of reading established, our focus moves onto the dominant themes that revolve around the poem which will help appreciate the text in various forms.
One of the major revelations of poetry-reading can be achieved by evaluating the title given to it from a generic sense, therefore we shall try and decipher what You Will Be Hearing From Us Shortly refers to with emphasis on the word ‘shortly’ as it seems to stick to the original codes of understanding concepts of being modern in terms of time-relevance. It becomes inevitable but to look at the structuring of the text to find hidden meanings (atleast conceivable hidden meanings) once analysed focussing on the word ‘shortly’.
Our concluding part of the analysis throws light on the different layers that exist within the piece aiming to break the traditional moulds of analysing a text. It seeks to prove that a particular writing can be highlighted in more ways than just one especially given the freedom in the Modern World.
A Summarised Perspective:
The poem showcases the concept of an interview, giving prominence to perhaps the negative aspects. The poet challenges fundamental concepts of interviewing and reveals it in a dialogic form. An interesting theory would be to understand that though it is presented in a dialogue form nowhere in the entire poem do we hear the interviewee’s voice although both their mind-sets and personalities are revealed to some extent.
The interviewer focuses on several aspects of the interviewee that makes one wonder if this is the standard norms for how an interview is held. The interviewer somehow seems distracted as he goes about the interview in a manner that can be debated. Once we hear all the questions the interviewer asks we are left with a question ourselves – what is really important? And what does it take for a successful interview? Where is the emphasis given upon in this competitive world?
When analysing these factors we come across the basis: that each one of them are very vulnerable to time. Every aspect that the interviewer focuses on the candidate could differ greatly at different time periods. Someone who graduated first in his class in 1996 could relatively prove “unintelligent” when compared to someone who graduated in 2006. When dealing with such a volatile situation it makes you wonder if Fanthorpe is really trying to project that these constitute the essence that makes what the modern world is and this very necessity to erase the lines drawn between one’s personal and professional life exposes domination of the modern world.
We find this domination becoming crystal clear as the interviewer is able to convince the interviewee that his existence is a pity by the end of the poem. We shall understand this power-play better when we deal with the different themes within the poem but underlying modern concepts of functioning can be seen by psychological manipulation of many sorts.
It often occurs to me that any text is usually dealt in one particular fashion ignoring all the other possibilities. So, starting with the basics I’m hoping to introduce ways of reading the same text in distinctive patterns. Attempting this, here are three patterns my mind was able to lay out.
- A Monologue
Having established very confidently that this is a dialogic poem it would be rather hard to treat it as a monologue but not unimaginable. If one chooses to treat it in this manner we are again provided with two more options; to understand it as a monologue of the interviewer or the interviewee himself.
If we are considering it as a monologue of the interviewer one can assume that social restrictions do not give him the liberty of saying the things out loud and thus it can be concluded as manifestations of his own mind. What we can focus around here are the social implications that could provoke an interviewer to wonder about.
Another monologue perspective could be to analyse it from the point of view of an amateur and his apprehensions about the interview. This can simply be put off as nervousness or understand it by reflecting on the causes for such apprehensions.
Both of these to some level show us an unrealistic perspective and irrational fears one might have. What is crucial here is that what one might consider unrealistic can turn out to be not so and perhaps we are moving towards a rather unrealistic future.
2. The Silenced Interviewee
This mode has been especially chosen due to the lack of representation of the interviewee. We find that there is no voice given to the interviewee, we are left to believe the notions made by the interviewer as the ultimate truth.
What does this signify? Giving absolute power to the interviewer who represents a major part of the organization whose words we blindly believe. This casual scenario exposes personal invasion made by the modern world, where individuals are given fewer opportunities to showcase themselves from their point of view rather forced to accept it in relation to societal norms.
This of course leads to what I like to call “virtual representations” of each of us. Projection of ourselves in a corporate world changes from what we are to what we are suppose to be and this hopeful process of changing reflects the virtual representations that we make of ourselves every single day. And during this struggle to meet the ideal virtual representation we encounter a loss, loss of our personal identity that seems trivial in comparison to the large organization that exists.
3. From A Young Interviewee
In a rather simplistic sense one can read it as nothing but apprehensions that a young interviewee has, a reflection of general concerns that one might have before his first interview. When analysing it from this mode we are forced to consider the social pressures that lead one to dwell under such tension.
I have chosen to treat it in this specific manner mainly because the idea of the poem being apprehensions of an amateur does not seem absurd but what contradicts this simple explanation is the interviewee being –married, children- in the poem. This is the intriguing aspect of which I wish to explore where perhaps it is meant to show that everyone is treated as an amateur and it does not change much for an older experienced applicant or a new-comer and how both are treated in the same manner. Either that or it could simply be seen in terms of time-relevance as mentioned in the summarized perspective.
Three themes have been chosen keeping in mind the most irrelevant concepts or rather the most ignored aspects of this poem. Not claiming that no one has understood this piece of text in this manner but attempting to bring together seemingly irrelevant pieces of information to form what can be called one important perspective.
1. Power Relations
“Power is everywhere…becomes it comes from everywhere” – Michele Focault
The above quote shall serve as the foundation for the rest of my argument. It seems only obvious to pick power relations as one of the dominant themes in the poem after having mentioned everything above. The entire concept of power requires no historical background or knowledge to analyse as in every sphere of human act there have been power; of course some more preferable than the others. And power can be understood in many ways, all of which can be applied to the text.
In relation to the poem, power relations needs to be understood in terms of the corporate world where hierarchy and monitored functioning are in their zenith. It would seem rather stupid to ignore such a concept in the corporate world. Power relations become interesting especially while trying to relate to the corporate or modern world from the past, as we have evolved we have evolved within ourselves the very ideals of how we use or abuse power. One such understanding can be achieved by Alvin Toffler’s theory of power in historical sense; the beginning of power can be recognized as barbaric, where man could portray his domination only in primitive expressions or in other words through violence. This of course went through many changes although even today we find this dominates our impulse and history stands as the book of truth to reveal to us how exhibition of being powerful transformed from violence to wealth. Although one can argue very confidently that for quite a long period of time they both worked closely with one another to great lengths. As time passed by, we now arrive to our present state where power is displayed through a fluid concept termed as “intelligence” otherwise known as knowledge or information.
The transformation that has taken place over the years makes power relations especially a delicate topic to engage with as it has now moved from a plain one dimensional model to a three dimensional functioning aspect of a society. Where at times all the three previously mentioned tools of power are used but in greatly differing indirect means. Another mode of looking at it comes from the Classic Study by French and Raven (1959) where they introduced five bases of power; positional (where power is issued based on the position you hold), referent (power understood as how influential or how convincing one is able to build loyalty around him), expert (power based on the expertise one holds over a subject), coercive (in terms of primitive means, violence) and reward (if one is able to give or withheld rewards of any kind). An additional base was added a little later rightly termed as the Informational base that reflects a society in the face of an aftermath of information explosion.
Thus, information becomes power and power is very generously available to anyone who chooses to find it. Understanding power relations in this mode becomes increasingly difficult to define in precise terms. We can perhaps say Foucault’s quote finally establishes itself in modern society. When everyone has equal opportunities to find the power that they want, it becomes a universal characteristic of man. Now, it becomes dangerous as trends in power change drastically leaving man completely vulnerable to the dictates of the modern world.
2. Abstract Nature
It seems absurd to look at this poem as abstract in nature by any means but there are much vital information withheld by the writer that makes one wonder, if it is meant to be read from a metaphorical stance?
As we explored earlier, one can question if this poem is actually a depiction of reality or just manifestations of someone’s mind? As we continue ahead with the text, we find that there are several additional information that aren’t revealed although the conclusion is noticeably established as far as character revelation is concerned. It would be intriguing to ask – how can one’s personality be drawn without analysing other necessary factors?
In order to realize this better I would like to draw from a mathematical concept of hypostatic abstraction which is famously used even in literary expressions where the essence of a certain subject or object is believed to be within a particular word although objectively the word might mirror no such real meaning of it’s own. Keeping that in mind, we can look at certain words Fanthorpe employs to differentiate between the layers of the text. The conception of application form, qualifications, position etc are all products of a strict structure we call home or society today. All of which are highly relative to particular social setting; a degree obtained in an underdeveloped country could be conveniently disregarded in a developed nation or a certain position held within a particular community might be regarded at a higher level while might prove otherwise simply by a change of location. When we try to scrutnize it from this angle we find Fanthorpe could actually be mocking the highly complex structures of society. It’’s irrelativeness is proven again in the text by being a middle aged man who is still is struggling and being subjected to the mockery of another.
This struggle is further emphasized as no voice is given to the interviewee implying the lost nature of man in the modern world. And his inability to defend falls prey to anyone’s manipulations.
Under this theme we shall try to appreciate words that stand contrary to one another rather than complimenting each other. I have chosen to treat these concrete words as metaphors purely to plough deeper into the text.
Let’s divide all the words used by using two parameters; one where they hold primary relationship with society, as in they become dysfunctional if not for society nurturing them and two where they are not completely influenced by any strict structure. Qualifications, education, application form etc can be decoded using the first method as their existence denotes a structured society and it’s contributions to it. The latter would consists words such as age, looks, accent, personal preference for social status such as being married are not entirely influenced by a restricted manipulation rather flows through natural process of conditioning. As we distinguish them from one another, it makes you wonder why the writer has chosen to deal with both these abstract concepts in the same manner, treating them both alike almost as synonyms.
This unusual pairing brings to light the distinction that is lost in the present times. The preparation for corporate world that disables our ability to understand both these aspects of the self different from one another but makes it not even complimenting each other rather making them represent each other in as many different ways as possible.
It is commonly assumed your accent speaks more about your education than your degree or your looks give away more about your personality than your application form etc. It would be hasty to completely deny it’s significance but keeping in tone of the poem it is possibly for one to interpret it among these lines where these lines drawn between your personal and professional space are erased. Thus we can conclude by saying that the poem brings to light the other face of “modernization” and the intense pressure on one’s professional life that overlooks personal development; nothing can speak better than allowing one to call your very existence a pity, the sole reason being you are not adequate to fit into a fluid social position.
It is my personal belief that most often the direct clues to any text are given in their titles which of course is based on the assumption that a title is given once the entire text has been penned down. In order to apply the same theory here, it struck me to focus on the word ‘shortly’ rather than just the whole title as it applies to what we are currently examining – modern structuring that is very subjective to time.
Of course it is easy to simply conclude that the title hopes to draw attention to the whole poem being dialogic in nature. In an attempt to complicate it a little bit let us try to twist the word into the effects it would have on a layman. The word shortly also seems to express the fundamental characteristic of the modern corporate world where it is often used to ignite certain hopes into you otherwise simply to politely state an indefinite period of time. Let us inspect the effects of both these possibilities; in the first case a hope is created even though your subconscious might speak otherwise and the latter demonstrates something everyone is very familiar with – waiting for immeasurable amount of time only to realize much later that it was all in for vain. These negative attitudes have been incorporated into the analysis considering the unpleasant way an interview is dealt with in the text.
Both of the above mentioned options requires one to be extremely adaptive to whatever they might encounter. It’s seriously disturbing to believe even for a second that Fanthorpe’s poem maybe even in an indirect way suggesting that we are looking at ‘survival of the fittest’ in a whole new arena where the idea of adaptation takes a new turn – for worse or for the better.
Indulging a little more on the new idea of adaptation let’s look at the structure of the poem. You will find that –existence- and –personal status- are found right at the bottom with all the manifestations of a social living status comfortably seated above them. We find Fanthorpe very brutally showcasing what modern life does to you, your very existence is not only piled up beneath everything else but if we study it closely we find that Fanthorpe has also provided us with a pinch of optimism as existence is of course laid right at the bottom, it evidently points at the entire social structures and its manifestations having their heavy ground on the existence of man.
It is a very annoying habit that educational institutes have rubbed off on most of us; a rule of reading a text keeping in mind certain rules that are predetermined without considering the nature of every piece that is typical.
- Critique on the Modern World
This is exactly what we have done all through. The modern world, a capitalist world under attack by information explosion is one format of understanding. And the distance the modern world creates between one’s personal and professional life.
2. Constrains of the Society
There are many limitations expressed in the poem; lack of representation to the interviewee, universality created to disclose constrains of the society such as inability of the interviewee to voice out his opinions and etc.
3. Power Play at different levels
We find power play functioning at several different levels such as psychological, societal in terms of positional power, power play also within an individual who’s personality is hidden within the interviewing process, etc.
4. Questioning Authoritarian Systems
The very structure of an authoritarian system can be challenged by reading the text and understand it as a part of power play and how authorities function.
5. Survival Guide for the Corporate World
This can plainly be read as a stress-buster for those who wish to share a good laugh before entering the corporate world or how and what to expect in it.
The Modern World:
There can be no definite conclusion to understanding either modern structures or the functioning of a corporate world but of course what can be said for sure is that interviews are or what hopefully this text silently proclaims is the process of institutionalising the individual where both the I’s are made synonyms with one another and begin to replicate each other therefore loosing the essential human feature of being ‘unique’.