TET – Themes

TET Themes

While in Eastern cultures death is celebrated as a new beginning and life elsewhere, Krishna sees death as the end-a typically Western view indicating his ignorance and weakness of mind.


Education•The novel also compares Western and Eastern educational methods. The British education system as exhibited by the novel’s protagonist seems to be not so much about helping the boy’s to succeed (Krishna’s keeping boys occupied and not teaching).

  • Krishna blatantly exclaims on page 8 that were it not for the 100 rupees he would not be a teacher.
  • Knowledge arises in the mind of an individual when the person interacts with an idea or experience. There are two contrasting theories on knowledge. One dictates that knowledge exists with a person and needs to be unlocked. Accordingly, Socrates argued that education was about drawing out what was already in the student. This is the method of education undertaken by the schoolmaster Leela’s nursery. The Eastern method. The opposing perspective on knowledge argues that knowledge exists apart from the human thought process. Socrates’ opponents, the Sophists- a group of itinerant teachers- were thought to give their students knowledge.


Colonialism•The English Teacher is a social commentary on colonialism in India during the last few years of…


The setting of the place Malgudi was not new to me having read his Swami and Friends. Narayan‟s Malgudi is a great literary creation and is a microcosm of a small Indian town, which does not shed its basic character even with the influence of the west. In the novel Narayan does not venture much out of Malgudi like he did in The Guide or in the Bachelor of Arts. In my first reading I noticed with interest the description of the river, and its banks. Another description of the landscape which struck me was the description of the house of Krishnan‟s friend. The small wood, the lotus pond and the alcove in a corner are described so beautifully that they seem to dance before our eyes. Later I discovered that Narayan has given apt settings to the happenings in the novel. The setting of each scene acts as a catalyst in the presentation of the scene. For example, the filthy surroundings of the head master‟s house give us an indication of the harmony that might be expected in the house.


I have observed that most of Narayan‟s novels follow the pattern „Order-Disorder-Order‟ and this novel is no exception. The married life of Krishnan establishes the order in the novel. The visit to the infected lavatory and subsequent illness of Susila mark the disorder. Order is once again restored in the novel with the union of Krishnan and Susila. Later, having gathered an idea about the life of Narayan it came as no surprise to me that he had included the supernatural in the novel. Having witnessed the death of a near one, I could later connect with Krishnan‟s efforts to cope with the loss.



Krishna did not adjust easily to his new family-based life, his first related outburst occurred when Susila rid him of his predictable-unpredictable alarm clock that went off at random times in the day causing a nuisance to all. He used a literary tome to suppress its unpredictable nature and silence it, while he himself lived under the clock’s suppression, just like he used a literary approach towards life to prevent himself from accepting its unexpected truths.


The fact that Susila sold it is symbolic of her freeing Krishna of the views that supressed him, including the colonial views at his college, but also the things that he was attached to and prevented him from moving on in his life, starting from a material object such as the clock, symbolic of time and it’s reign over the lives of the people. This signifies the official transition in Krishna’s life, from predictability to the unpredictability that Susila brought into his life, something that again has no control over, but is eventually proven to be a source of inspiration and delight as soon as he realises that there is always a limit to what can be achieved through anything that is knowable and predictable.


In the timeless classic penned by R. K Narayan “The English Teacher”, it is entirely reasonable and sound to regard Susila’s death as a pivotal turning point in the novel. Susila’s passing on to the netherworld marks a radical change in Krishna’s life, and therefore it is valid to term the incident as one which is of “massive consequence and magnitude”. What is more befuddling and intriguing is the question of who actually caused her ultimate demise. A number of theories and characters come to mind when the question is posted. I, for one, hold Dr. Shankar responsible for Susila’s death. His demeanor, attitude and work ethics throughout her ordeal did not justify his supposed status as ‘the most successful practitioner in town [Malgudi]”, let alone “the greatest physician on earth”.

For starters, Dr. Shankar is way too sloppy in the way he works. When Krishna, the protagonist, first sought help from the physician, Dr. Shankar merely “asked a few questions, wrote down a prescription and put it away”. He confidently declared that “it is just malaria” and he has “fifty cases like this on hand, no need to see Susila”. This type of hit-and-miss and inaccurate assumption of a patient’s illness has to be the cardinal sin in the world of practitioners. He is far too confident and casual in his diagnosis that he is able to tell to tell what illness a patient is suffering from without even being present in front of the in front of the patient. Dr. Shankar is the perfect example of what all doctors in the world should not do. His quick dismissal of Krishna’s request for him to see Susila proves just how irresponsible a doctor he is. Dr. Shankar is not meticulous enough, and in his official capacity as a doctor, he is best described as “an automaton dispensing medicine and healthcare”. If only Dr. Shankar had been more elaborate in his proceedings, the outcome might not have proved to be so tragic.

Another key factor in Dr. Shankar’s contribution to Susila’s demise is…






  • Clarke says the poem was written in answer to the question, “Why did my beautiful baby have to become a teenager?”
  • In essence, this poem talks about the relationship between the speaker and her daughter. The speaker wants to emphasise how their relationship is changing as time progresses
  • Clarke tries to show that with time, the daughter becomes more defiant and tries to become more independent however, the mother, ie the speaker, is reluctant to see this change taking place
  • Structure- This is poem has a bipartite structure to it. In the first stanza, Clarke talks about the birth of her daughter. And in the second stanza, Clarke describes the skating incident, in which Catrin wanted to go against the wishes of her mother and skate in the during in the dark, against her mothers wishes. It deals with two separate confrontations between them – the actual birth, then one night about twelve or fourteen years later, when Catrin wants to go out roller skating after dark and her mother refuses.
  • The gentle, irregular rhythm of the poem expresses the love the mother feels for the child, and sounds like a natural, spontaneous train of thought. Gentle rhythm of the poem stresses the spontaneous nature of the poet’s recollections
  • Very simple language, indicating the simple, intense feelings the poem conveys.
  • MAIN IDEA- tries to highlight the complexity of human relationships. ï The poet is both glad of how her daughter is growing up, yet does not want to give her the independence she desires
  • The first stanza is the past tense and the second stanza is in the present tense. This may suggest that the struggle between them has been going on ever since Catrin’s birth, and has maybe intensified in recent times. However, their love towards each other is still strong
  • She uses very simple language. Perhaps this indicates the simple, intense feelings that the poem conveys.
  • No mention of the name of ‘Catrin’ apart from the title reflects the universality of the poem. Hence it could be about any mother-child relationship. Alternatively, since the poem is addressed to the child, you, it may be that the relationship is so close that names are unnecessary
  • By the end of the poem, the reader can clearly understand the rationale behind the mother’s side of the argument. Allowing the reader to see this rationale also allows him to enter into the feelings of the mother. Just like the mother, the reader is also unable to open the eyes of the child to the practical nature of the mother’s decision. Thus, the reader can enter into the mother’s feelings.
  • The gentle rhythm of the poem expresses the love the mother feels for the child. The rhythm is not regular, as if it were a natural, spontaneous train of thought.


  • ‘I’ and ‘you’, may refer to universality of the poem as well as the affection felt by the speaker towards her daughter ‘Catrin’
  • ‘child’ at the end of the first line seems somewhat disconnected from the warmth of the name in the title
  • ‘hot, white room’- the intensity and passion of the sensory details makes the reader feel as if the foundation of the confrontation is already being laid down
  • ‘people and … traffic lights’- in contrast to the big day that Gillian Clarke is having as her babu is being born, the other people of the world carry on with their simple and daily routines
  • This line may also imply that the memory of ‘you’ is difficult to confront, hence there is a momentary distraction.
  • Traffic lights could also suggests the progress in life. Mention of them turning at the traffic lights could symbolise how her life will now be controlled by another force.
  • ‘watching’ and ‘taking’- enjambments used by Clarke in order to elongate the sense of time in the poem. It created a momentary as pause as the reader stops in order to ‘watch’ along with Clarke as the cars slowly ‘turn’
  • Clarke looks out of the window, rather than at her daughter, almost avoiding her gaze as she knows this make weaken her resolve and allow her daughter to do what she wants.
  • The full stop after this line (traffic lights.) May suggest that a new chapter is about to begin in the live of the narrator. It prepares the reader for the upcoming birth as well.
  • Repetition of the phrase ‘i can remember you’, perhaps leads to the speaker confronting the main issue ‘first fierce confrontation’
  • alliterative phrase ‘first fierce’. The alliterative ‘f’ reflects maybe the heavy breathing during childbirth or the struggle between the two individuals.
  • Moreover, the word ‘first’ suggests that this is just the battle in their relationship i.e. birth, similar patterns will be seen throughout the poem.
  • ‘tight red rope of love’- maybe the most important symbol of the poem. Literally, the poet is referring to the umbilical cord that joins the child and the mother during birth. Metaphorically, this may refer to the bond between the mother and the daughter.
  • Moreover, the different connotations of the word ‘red’ such as- love, hate, passion, anger show the complexity of human relationships
  • ‘red’ also highlights the fact that the poet and the child share a biological connect. Alternatively, it could be the blood that flowed during child birth. Red contrasts with the stark, white hospital surroundings. It also shows the emotional connection with her child and also the physical attraction as she remembers the birth. Making her seemed tied to her daughter by an invisible rope of love, which is red to express the colour of the heart, or the sense of anger which love can cause
  • The speaker uses the game of tug of war to provide an analogy for the conflict between herself and the child. Though they both pulled on each end of the rope as tightly as they could, they were still inevitably connected by this rope of love which could not be severed. The love and devotion between a mother and her child is one as strong as a rope
  • ‘fought over’- The verb fought suggests the brutality and pain of childbirth. Perhaps Clarke is marvelling at how love is created through violence.
  • ‘It was a square Environmental blank’, it is interesting for the readers to notice how Catrin’s birth has made everything in the surroundings pale and listless in comparison.
  • The speaker used the word “disinfected” to reveal the reality of this confrontation. She remembers all the things she has disinfected over the years in order to keep the child healthy.
  • **She then describes the way she coloured all over the walls with her words. This parallels the way in which a child can colour on the walls when he is young. Now, the mother has coloured the walls with her words. Just as a child’s colouring on the wall would frustrate a parent, the mother’s words seem to be equally frustrating to the child.**
  • The words “wild” and ”tender” (line 14) emphasise the mixture of experiences as a mother gives birth. Clarke fights with her daughter but loves her at the same time.
  • This oxymoron perfectly describes the tempestuous relationship while also shows that a struggle to control the red rope of love is loving and passionate
  • ‘The wild tender circles’ perhaps refer to the waves of contractions in the lead-up to the birth. Contractions get closer and closer together as moment of birth nears, as the circles of ripples on a pond are closest to the point where a stone is dropped in. The mother and child shouted (line 16). Was this in pain or joy? perhaps both
  • She says, “We want, we shouted, to be two, to be ourselves.” This reveals that the speaker understands that her child is a separate being with different feelings and ideas. However, it is still clear that whatever the mother and child are fighting over, it is worth the fight to the mother. Even though she is able to recognise her child’s desire to be his own person, she still continues to hold on to her end of the rope, fighting this fight that has led to such frustration and anger between the two of them.
  • The “I” and “you” that characterises the presentation of the relationship up to this point modulates into “our”, “we” and “ourselves”. However, mother and child are united in their “struggle to become / Separate.” The word “separate” that begins line 16 is followed by a full stop, leaving the next sentence as a concerted statement of individuality. The neat choice of the plural reflexive pronoun that concludes the first part of the poem paves the way for Clarke to explore the paradoxical nature of the mother-daughter relationship that is characterised by mixture of affinity and conflict.
  • The inclusive pronouns may suggest that the two beings struggle as they love each other
  • ‘We want, we shouted, To be two ’Both want are violently fighting for the right to be individuals. There is a sense of claustrophobia, or too close bonds, goes both ways here.


  • There is a switch from the past tense to the present tense, makes the reader wonder as to what happened between this time period.
  • ‘nether won nor lost’ the speaker reveals that she does not feel as though either of them won the argument. Yet, they were both changed from it. And perhaps growth was the important aspect of these fights. There may be real fights, and feelings may run very high on either side – but at the end of the day the struggle between parent and child is not about winning or losing, but about change and growth on both sides.
  • “In the glass tank clouded with feelings” – Represents Clarke’s and Catrin’s relationship; it’s clouded by their mixed feelings for one another. It also suggests that they are trapped and need space to become their own person.
  • The tank may metaphorically refer to a fish tank. and it was so clouded with feelings that they couldn’t see each other, and they were drowning in these feelings
  • ‘heart’s pool that old rope’- old rope may mean that there still exists an invisible umbilical cord that joins the 2 beings, Alternatively, there seems to be a continuation of the metaphor in the first stanza. Over here, perhaps, Clarke wants to conjure up an image of a boat at a dock. Even though the rope which attaches the boat to the dock cannot be seen it exists. and as the boat tries to move away from the shore, it becomes tighter, eventually stopping it after a point. Similarly, the boat represents the daughter, who is trying to gain her independence from her mother, but the mother is reluctant to let go.
  • Moreover, ‘tightening’ could suggest how Clarke was in a fix. She wants her child to grow and develop but at the same time, doesn’t want them to distance from each other. The mother never forgets her attachment to the child: “that old rope” is actually ageless; it is both real and metaphorical.
  • Rope is surrounding the mother, or she is holding onto it, She is bound by the fact she is a mother.
  • The metaphor of “the heart’s pool” and the idea of the umbilicus being that which signals attachment, inescapable responsibility, and the reality that the story of a mother and daughter’s life is patterned by “love and conflict”. and now she is unable to let go of the rope, no matter how much it hurts.
  • It comes up dripping from the water – suggesting the way that every struggle between mother and daughter comes trailing deep-felt feelings ‘From the heart’s pool’. The rope tightens about the mother’s life, constricting it – but also holding it safe, like the boat securely tied to the quay side bollard.
  • The “long brown hair” and “rosy defiant glare”  suggest feminine features. The image of Catrin, the daughter, is one of strength, so much so that Clarke has to fight her off. She looks powerful, ‘with your straight, strong, long brown hair and your rosy, defiant glare’, making her seem the one in control.
  • ‘…your straight, strong, long, brown hair and your rosy, / Defiant glare’ where the st sound and rhyming -ong and -air sounds emphasise Catrin’s strident strength.
  • ‘skate/ in the dark’ is a common activity that kids may ask there parents to do during childhood. Hence Clarke has chosen this incident
  • The word “Your” suggests that Catrin is always fighting with her mother as she has a recognisable glare.
  • This illustrates Catrin’s growing independence, yet perhaps contains other layers of meaning. One student quoted on Gillian Clarke’s website points out that In the dark may mean that there are still things that the mother and child have yet to find out about each other; another interpretation suggests it refers to the darkness of the womb.
  • It is interesting that this stanza begins with the speaker claiming that neither of them won the argument. It would appear that the daughter was not allowed to skate in the dark. Thus, it seems the speaker won the argument. However, she does not feel like a victor. Rather, she feels that both of them have changed, and she has lost something in the process. For this reason, it seems as though they both lost.
  • This poem allows readers to understand the intense dynamics in parent-child relationships. Some readers have experienced both sides, while others will have only experienced the child’s side of the argument. However, the poem reveals the importance of the mother’s wisdom and the significance of her role in the child’s life not only as friend, but as an authority figure.
  • Earlier in the poem, the speaker revealed her own acknowledgement that her daughter was attempting to be a separate person. She clearly had her own will, her own ideas, and her own desires. Those ideas and desires did not always comply with those of her mother. The speaker, her mother, understands this fully, and yet chooses in this instance not to let go of her end of the argument. The readers can feel the intensity of the love that the mother has. Though she is frustrated, and perhaps even angry, she will not let go of the rope because the rope comes from her very heart and is red with the blood of her heart. Her concern for her daughter’s safety combined with her daughter’s separate will has led to this conflict which forever changed them both.

Baby Sitting




  • This poem explores the relationship between a baby sitter and the child.
  • In this poem, Clarke recounts her baby sitting experience where she baby-sat for a baby who is asleep but will wake up to find the baby-sitter, a stranger, and feel that it has been abandoned by the mother.
  • She shows how the bond between the infant and babysitter is of loneliness and by shedding light on this, Clarke explores the feeling of abandonment experienced by the narrator and the baby at the same time
  • The poem looks at a babysitter’s feelings baby-sitting somebody else’s baby and **wishing it was hers**
  • Main Ideas —Tells of when she was babysitting and how as the baby is not her own she cannot love her, and how she cannot replace her mother, as the baby will still feel abandoned. The powerful tie between a mother and child which cannot be replaced
  • Emotions—Fear for this child with whom she cannot bond with, and the feelings of abandonment which the babysitter cannot prevent. Sympathy with a baby who will not be able to understand her suffering, making it worse
  • Structure—two stanzas, first tells of babysitters feelings, second of baby’s. Relaxed rhythm, some iambic pentameter e.g. lines 17-18 gives thoughtful sound, adds to emotions in the poem.
  • The poem consists of two ten-line stanzas with lines of slightly varying length. There is no rhyming, and in fact many of the lines run straight into the following one, so that breaks occur frequently in the middle of the line, particularly in the first stanza.
  • Gillian Clarke has painted a sensitive picture here, seeing the situation from the point of view of the baby, imagining exactly how it must feel on awakening to find a stranger instead of its mother. She also understands how the baby-sitter will react, actually feeling fear because the baby will not welcome her presence. It is a convincing picture, giving an unusual slant on what to us is probably a commonplace situation.
  • The poem has short lines – there is no set metrical form, but most lines have four stresses, and many naturally fall into two halves.


  • Stanza one focuses on the mother’s feeling of being in a house with someone else’s baby.
  • The repetition of the word ‘wrong’ shows that Clarke is babysitting an unknown child in a house that is not hers. Moreover, this repetition suggests that there exists a ‘right’ baby, the biological child of the narrator.
  • The word ‘wrong’ also suggests that their is no emotional connect between these two beings
  • The baby no being hers is reinforced in the line ‘i don’t love/ this baby’. This enjambment first tells the readers that Clarke doesn’t love at all, but the next line shows that she isn’t affectionate towards this baby only.
  • ‘Roseate, bubbling sleep;’ Transferred epithet is used by Clarke to describe the child and the sleep simultaneously. This allows the poet to convey a more vivid description of the child to the readers. **This may have been used to convey her thoughts quickly as she is afraid that the baby would wake up. **
  • ‘She is sleeping a snuffly’ Her ‘mother’s eye’ allows her to appreciate the baby as it sleeps.
  • the use of alliteration ‘sleeping a snuffly’ express the breathing sounds of the baby, as does the onomatopoeic ‘bubbling’ sound.  Alliteration of “s” sounds soft and loving, showing a knowledge of babies and general acceptance of them
  • the ‘s’ in the first line, like breathing: ‘sitting in a strange room listening’. The baby ‘is sleeping a snuffly, roseate, bubbling sleep.These are snuffly sound.
  • the baby is described as ‘fair’, but rather that over glorifying this child, as one may do with their own, the narrator calls her ‘perfectly acceptable child’ , showing that this child isn’t special, and just an ordinary kid in her mind
  • ‘I am afraid of her.’ Caesura (pause because of the full stop) forces the reader to ponder this odd statement. In contrast to the gentle descriptions given in the first few lines. Also, this line again shows that there is no maternal bond between these beings
  • Negative diction has been used. words like ‘hate’ ‘rage’ ‘disgustingly’ cast a negative cloud around the baby.
  • She fears that if the child wakes ‘she will hate me’ as she will make lots of noise and ‘shout her hot midnight rage’ the ‘h’ alliteration emphasising the harshness of the sounds she may make if she wakes up.
  • Long sentence (enjambment) over lines 7-10 gives a panicked sound, like the poet trying to deal with the screaming baby she does not love. Long sentences in contrast to earlier short sentences
  • Clarke says, “[this] implies that I understand the experience of being enchanted by a baby’s breath. I use the word ‘perfume’ – as this is something joyfully experienced as a mother.


  • The enjambment shows that the abandonment comes as a shock to the reader as it would to the child. The caesura forces the reader to dwell on this feeling. The ‘abandonment’ comes as a shock to the readers.
  • Alliteration of “absolute / Abandonment” shows a complete feeling of loss
  • Subsequently, she compares the loneliness of the child to that of a ‘lover cold in lonely sheets’. This bleak image represents that like a wife’s life revolves around her husband, an infants life revolves around her parents. And loss of the loved one would be be unacceptable to both. This arouses sympathy for the child. She will be like a lover who wakes to find her loved one gone and replaced by an impostor.
  • This line also shows Clarke would never be equivalent to the child’s real mother. This adds tension and stress to the situation.
  • Comparison to adult experiences of loss, perhaps suggesting that the confused pain of the baby is worse than the knowing pain she may experience as an adult.
  • The loss for the baby is both practical (loss of food) and emotional (the stranger can give no comfort).
  • this hint at the future loss and hardships to come.
  • the confused pain of the child and the knowing pain of the adult are considered to be the same
  • ‘monstrous land’ — nightmare, only a mother would be able to provide comfort to a child in such circumstances.
  • Repetition stresses that neither the milk, nor the comfort, will come because this child is not hers
  • The baby awakes from a bad dream. This is exactly the time when a child needs comforting most and makes the absence of maternal comfort all the more pitiful
  • ‘Beside the bleached bone’ combines alliteration and metaphor to create a harrowing image of a person dying in hospital.
  • ‘it will not come’— cannot help the child physically as well as emotionally. Shows how the baby will find neither milk nor comfort as Clarke is not her mother
  • The fact that this is not what she wants is emphasised at the end by the repetition of ‘it will not come’ at the end which really emphasises the sense of emptiness and loneliness felt by both the baby and the baby sitter.

My box

How does Clarke make growing old seem so moving?

The aforementioned poem is written by the much-fêted poet, Gillian Clark. The poem talks about the gift that Gillian Clark was given by her lover, and how their bond strengthened as they grew older. Thus, growing older is made to seem much more moving with the usage of repetitions, Polysyndetons, imageries metaphors.


The poem is started of with the repetition of the person pronoun, “My” and “Me” as the poet cherishes the gift of the box that is given by her lover. The repetition also suggests that the Clarks claims the box to be her personal possession, and makes it clear to the readers about her closeness with the box. It can be believed that, even though the gift is as simple a box, it is treated with a much higher value. The poet treasures it and probably gives the golden ’brass’ box as much importance as a box made simply of gold. It suggest that this bond is now cemented and ‘engraved’ strongly. Moreover, the vivid colour imagery speaks of the youthfulness in the relation. And, probably as the love is yet shy and introvert, it is kept under ‘lock’ and ‘key’ as it fastens a ‘heavy’ number of memories from their ‘bright’ and ‘black’ ‘nights’ and ‘days.’ This is suggestive of the fact that the bond grew with time. It was made stronger as an ‘oak’ facing the harsh ‘winter nights,’ and ultimately similar to something as firm as a ‘tree.’ This means, though the bond existed with differences, it had grown into permanency. Thus, as we see developments with time, the ideas of growing up seems stirring and moving.


The poet has also used polysyndetons, metaphors and also passage of time which makes the notion of growing old seeming moving more moving. From the Polysyndeton in the expression, “He…sanded and oiled and planed” it is made clear that the poet wants to appreciates every aspect of the gift, and stresses on the hard work put in by the lover in not only making the box but also making their bond strong. It suggests that the Lover was willing to face any difficulties and troubles for the poet. However, later another expression is captured which depicts the passage of time. “We…sanded, oiled and planed.” The following is almost a replica of the other phrase , but with few a changes. Now, it suggests that both the lover and Clark were a collective team worked in the relationship, and faced all difficulties as a cohesive unit. Ahead, the readers witness the well nurtured love of the relationship, that is expressed using another array of imageries. They ‘built a wall’ ‘planted a garden’ and ‘harvested apples’ and ‘planted’ other trees. All of these depict the liveliness of the relation and words like ‘planted’ ‘harvested’ meticulously throw light on the growth of the things, and here it is off their growing relation. The expression may symbolise their literal meanings of actually building a house with a garden. Or, on the other hand, it may also mean that their duo had now grown into a family with children. And the relation that once was shy was now independent as birds such as ‘jays’ that progressed in their life, with a positive bond of ‘red’ love. This suggests that the bond was now more vast and had cherished so many ‘rare’ memories that they had to be ‘written down’ on ‘books.’ Thus, as we see a new and a more flamboyant phase in their lives, it becomes obvious to deem the escalation of time and age immensely moving.


As we examine the text more we see that all stanza are divided on the bases of different phases of time in their relation. However, these scheme is also coupled with a technique in which all the stanzas are concluded with the same line, “ a golden tree.” Now the readers are able to correlate with this technique as it may envisage that this romantic narrative will always culminate on a joyous and ‘golden’ note. This adds to the point that the relationship will be as strong as it is, always. This notion is also accentuated when we see that Clark discusses about time ‘when we[they] are dead.’ The fact that Clark casually expresses feeling of ‘their’ demise with no grief, one can conclude that the poet has an ever-lasting bond with the Lover that will also prolong till heaven or hell. It suggests that she is willing to ‘leave’ all her ‘lock’[ed] possession( i.e. the houses, children and memories) to be seen in the ‘open’ if it were to always be with the Lover. Thus, the emphasis on ‘we’ makes the point straight that Gillian Clark and her Lover had an deep affections that had grown over the period. Lastly, another theme that the readers can notice is that of development. First, it is of the ‘box’ then of the relationship, then of their family and houses, and finally of ‘everything’ around and lastly of ‘me[herself].’ It suggests that the relationship that grew had made Clark learn numerous things and had changed her personality. Also, that as time ‘slowly’ progresses, their are alterations and changes in life, that all affect the surrounding, but have a major impact on one’s own personal growth and development.


Thus, with repetitions, polysyndetons, imageries and metaphors, the readers are able to peep into the different phases of the life of Gillian Clark relation, as she tries to make growing old seem moving.

My Box




ANSWER: The renowned Gillian Clarke has written the aforementioned poem, ‘MY BOX’. In essence, this poem talks about a gift given from a man to a woman. However, it also symbolically talks about how people and their relationships evolve over time. With the help of various literary devices such as metaphors, asyndeton, polysyndeton, harsh and soft sounds, and vibrant imagery, Clarke has successfully made the idea of growing old moving.


Clarke establishes the theme of love and togetherness in this poem by introducing the box as ‘my lover’s gift to me’. The repeated reference to the box as ‘my’ depicts how Clarke cherished this ordinary box. The description of the box as ‘golden’ suggests how an ‘oak’ box is as precious as gold for her. Clarke is deeply attached to this box because it had been made out of love for her. This may also imply how Clarke and her lover have a strong bond even in their youthful days. The youth in Clarke can also be observed when in the line ‘of brass and a bright key’. A reader can recognize the deliberate omission of a word between ‘bright’ and ‘key’, which may have been used to elaborate upon the youthfulness of the poet at this point in time. The fact that a ‘lock’ has been put on the box reveals how it was something to be treasured. Moreover, it could also mean that only Clarke had the ‘key’ to unlock her lover’s heart. The usage of the heavy metal of ‘brass’ and the adjective ‘bright’ depicts the depth of emotions even in the immature stages of relationship. Furthermore, the usage of words such as ‘engraved’ and ‘heavy’ imply how their bond had cemented in its initial stages, maybe because of the love expressed though the gifting of this box. Moreover, the usage of polysyndeton, repetition of the word ‘and’ suggest how one must continually toil and work hard towards establishing the roots of one’s relationship. Alternatively, there must exist mutual respect and appreciation from the very beginning till the end. This lays foundation for Clarke and her lover’s relationship in their early days.


The idea of growing old and storing memories can be seen as the poem progresses. Despite the box being ‘golden’, it contains ‘black books’. This contrast between bright and dull colours highlights how not everything was merry. Their relationship had its crests and troughs however; it had withstood the barrier of time and flourished. Harsh sounds and the color ‘black’ in the may also indicate that there existed secrets in this relationship, something that must be hid from the outside world. The ‘twelve’ books mentioned are presumably her journals. This shows how life was short and all her accounts could be logged into just twelve books. Concurrently, the pronoun ‘we’ implies how, as they aged, they acquired a state of togetherness.


As time progressed this couple grew older, they started taking their relationship a step further. Their perpetual efforts made each step they took together a memorable one. In each ordinary step of life, such as ‘planted[ing] a garden’, they found bliss. Birds have been mentioned, as they are a symbol of positivity, allowing Clarke wants to re-enforce, how her relationship grew and never deteriorated. The tasks taken on by the partners may symbolize how their bond strengthened and was ever-growing. The depiction of everyday tasks using vibrant imagery shows how they couple themselves matured in their relationship. The phrase ‘planted a golden tree’ could signify life, and how they had kids. Throughout the poem, Clarke has shown herself aging, and how her life became happier in this process, thus, successfully making the idea of growing old so moving.


In the last stanza, it is pretty evident that Clarke has reached the final stages of her life. The change in tone and pace of the poem suggests how Clarke has now grown old. She now keeps her box ‘open’ for people to read. They pronoun ‘you’ is directed towards her husband, which is very unconventional as one considers the male to die before the female, and Clarke is quoting the opposite. A reference to ‘them’ could mean her offspring, and how Clarke wants her children to remember their parents with fond memories. Moreover, she wants ‘them’ to learn from her past experiences. The bond between Clarke and her lover is further amplified, as Clarke wants them to be together even in afterlife. In addition, the asyndeton technique suggests hurriedness in her writings and rushed or incomplete expressions; maybe suggesting that time is against her now. Subsequently, the line ‘how everything is slowly made, how slowly things made me’ talks about their relationship and how they achieved its pinnacle after a lot of hard work. This strong, emotional statement indicates how life is made of both the yin and the yang, and how it’s incomplete without both happy and sand memories. Lastly, She wants the reader to know how her relationship was as strong and deep-rooted as ‘a tree’ however, as time progressed, she managed to turn in this into a special ‘golden tree’. It also shows how her life started and ended with the same notion and at the same junction. Alternatively, ‘a tree’ could refer to Clarke’s family tree and the ‘golden tree’ could be a metaphor of love. How a seed has cheerful and miserable experiences, before flourishing into something strong and beautiful. Thus, despite nearing death and being so old, Clarke has successfully managed to make this thought joyful.


Throughout the poem, I believe that Clarke wants the wants the woman to grow old. Each stanza shows a progress in her life. And with each small step, her relationship grows slowly. The last stanza talks about how Clarke may leave the world physically however, her experiences will live in her books. I think that Clarke wants the reader to know how life is short, the happy and the sad moments pass quickly, but its their memories outlive them.


Thus, with the help of various literary devices such as metaphors, asyndeton, polysyndeton, harsh and soft sounds, and vibrant imagery, Clarke has successfully made the idea of growing old moving.



Trial: serious & entertaining



ANSWER: The play ‘Inherit the Wind’ written by ‘Jerome Lawrence’ and ‘Robert E Lee’ has been touted as one of the most controversial dramas of the 20th Century. The play contains myriad of characters, right from the ‘most agile mind in the 20th century’ Henry to Drummond, the charismatic ‘prophet’ Matthew Harrison Brady and the ‘newspaperman’ EK Hornbeck. By developing these characters, and by using wit, sarcasm and stage directions, have made the proceedings of the trial serious as well as entertaining.

Throughout the play, the playwrights have alternated between serious and entertaining moments to balance out this play. Majority of the light-hearted jokes come from the ‘sophisticated city dweller’, EK Hornbeck. EK Hornbeck acts as a chorus character in the play, becoming a vehicle for comic relief throughout the play. In Greek literature, a chorus group sang their lines as part of comments on the action of the play and prediction about the future. In this context Hornbeck functioned as a commentator relaying views about everyone. His attempts at mockery can be seen following his introduction as he calls a monkey ‘Grandpa’, challenging the rigid ideas of creationism. He continuously mocks the town of ‘Heavenly Hillsboro’, claiming that no ‘tree of knowledge’ grew over here. Moreover, upon invitation to the gathering of fundamentalist, he mockingly calls the whole trial a ‘show’. This witty reply to Brady adds humor to this trial and helps in making this trial amusing. Furthermore, his constant attempts at outwitting Brady and acting haughty in his presence highlights an entertaining aspect of this drama. His sarcastic comments on the jury ‘Swatting flies and wrestling with justice’ draws the audience’s attention away from the verdict of the jury, and therefore lightening the mood. Throughout the play, Hornbeck’s poetic dialogues and sarcastic comments on Brady and fundamentalism thaw the seriousness in the play and the trial.

The ‘devil’, Henry Drummond’s constant jibes at Matthew Harrison Brady make the trial enjoyable for the audience. Brady’s remark at Drummond’s apparel is followed by a quick reply, wherein Drummond claims that his style of dressing was from Brady’s hometown ‘weeping water, Nebraska’. In addition, Drummond objects to the honorary tile given to Brady as he considers this to give the prosecution an unfair symbolic advantage. However, this comments of his as laced with irony and humour. While Brady basks in the importance of the title, for Drummond, it is completely meaningless. Drummond’s ironic appropriation of Brady’s title is the second step in his humiliation of his opponent. The continuous humiliation of Brady makes the scene entertaining, as it is unusual for the protagonist to undergo continuous humiliation.

However, amidst all this mockery, there still persists the seriousness of the trial. Brady’s character throughout appears as a foil to Drummond’s code of conduct. The diversity in their characters adds tension as they clash on every small aspect of the trial. The myopic approach of the judge and makes life difficult for Drummond during the course of this task. The judge doesn’t permit a Drummond to allow an evolutionist to take the stand. To the modern audience, this adds to drama and tension as Drummond looses his chance to strengthen Cates’ stance in the trial. Moreover, when Brady was called onto the stand and falls into the trap set by Drummond, the audience is unable to comprehend the outcome of this event. Will the narrow-minded Jury actually consider Brady’s statements and hence proclaim Cates not guilty or vice versa? The playwrights continually add tension to the trial. When Brady invites Rachel to the witness stands, he manipulates her into revealing the private conversation between herself and Cates. This turns the table against the defense, who, in essence are fighting for freedom of speech. Drummond’s argument emphasizes the distinction between “truth,” which he believes every man has a right to seek for himself, and absolute values of right and wrong as determined by religious authorities. These small actions add gravity to the trial.

The radio was a relatively new machine during those days. For a radio to be used while the final verdict was being announced meant that this trial had gained nation-wide media attention. This ‘fire’, which had had been started by Cates’ had now ‘Light [lit] up the whole sky’. ‘People’s shoes were getting hot’. The usage of the radio depicts how the verdict would have a nationwide reaction. Moreover, since this was the first time a radio was being used for such a purpose, highlights the importance of the outcome. The radio and its usage add significance to the trial and embodies the effect of the verdict.

All in all, by developing these characters, and by incorporating wit, sarcasm and stage directions, have made the proceedings of the trial serious as well as entertaining.