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1 Reading and Content Analysis of African Poetry –

“Boy on a Swing” by Oswald Mtshali.

2 Reading and Textual Analysis of Non-African Prose –

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemmingway.

3 Reading and Content Analysis of Non-African Poetry –

“Upon a Honest Man’s Fortune” by John Fletcher.

4. Reading and Textual Analysis of African Play –

Women of Owu by Femi Osofisan.

5 Reading and Content Analysis of Non- African Poetry-

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes.

6 Reading and Textual Analysis of Non-African Play-

Arms and the Man by Bernard Shaw.

7 Reading and Content Analysis of African Poetry-

“Myopia” by Syl Cheney-Coker.

8 Reading and Textual Analysis of African Prose-

A Woman in Her Prime by Asare Konadu.

9 Reading and Content Analysis of Non-African Poetry-

“Daffodils” by William Wordsworth.

10 Reading and Content Analysis of African Poetry-

“Homeless Not Hopeless” by Sola Owonibi.




1.  The Mastery of Literature for 2011 to 2015 by Iwuchukwu Chinweikpe Esq.

2.  Essential Literature-in-English for SSS (second edition) 2011-2015 by Ibitola, A. O.

3.  The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemmingway.

4.  Women of Owu by Femi Osofisan.

5. Arms and the Man by Bernard Shaw.

6. A Woman in Her Prime by Asare Konadu.




Image From EcoleBooks.comTOPIC: READING AND CONTENT ANALYSIS OF AFRICAN POETRY – “Boy on a Swing” by Oswald Mtshali.


Biographical note on the poet

Analysis of the poem


Poetic Devices


Biographical note on the poet

Oswald Mtshali was born in 1940 in Vryheid, natal. After his education, he wanted to gain admission into the University of Witwatersrand but was caught up by the long arm of apartheid. However, he is one of the most talented black South Africa poets. His volume of poems entitled “Sound of Cowhide Drum” was published in 1871. His writings reflect his hostile society.


Analysis of the poem

A swing is a seat especially for children on whom one can ride backward and forward, fixed usually by ropes or chains from above. And so to swing means to cause to move backward and forward or round and round, from a fixed point once or regularly. The boy on the swing shows ordinarily the experience of the young boy on a swing, thus we are made to share the common experience at least mentally and graphically in our minds’ eyes.

“Slowly he moves/to and fro, to and fro, /then faster and faster/ he swishes up and down.”

The action of the boy is picturesque and so his blue shirt is flying and rising as the breeze carries it, as it could, to a tattered kite in the sky. The third stanza opens with the world revolving rapidly in each rapidity that the ‘east becomes west’, / north turns to south’, an aggravated scenario that sees ‘ the four cardinal points, meeting’ in the boy’s head.


Where did I come from?

When will I wear long trousers?

Why was my father jailed?

From the above probing questions, the boy is obviously, at present living with the mother, as the father has been clamped into jail, with the mother, as the bread winner, and so carters for the boy single-handedly. The boy envies those who wear long trousers; as he desires the day he would be like others to do same. Generally, we can see that the poet through the boy expresses his indignation and reservation over the apartheid laws in South Africa. The poem tells the story about the state of uncertainty of Black Africans in South Africa during the apartheid era. There is a deep anxiety in the mind of the boy, like any other young South Africa. Indeed, the state of hopeless, discrimination, insecurity and uncertainty, leaves the boy with no other question than to wonder on his nativity.

The important or significance of the boy’s question is to highlight the obvious fundamental injustices in the system. Their conditions are pitiable and cagey. The South Africans are not allowed in some quarters to dress like the whites. Long trousers in the system becomes an exclusive preserve of the white and so the boy is confused as to when the system will ever relax her inhibitory and wicked laws that led to imprisonment of his father.


1 Give a detailed content analysis of the poem, “Boy on the Swing”.

2  In relation to the poem, discuss the South African experience.



  1. The evils of apartheid.
  2. Fears and insecurity of lives and property in the apartheid era.



    DICTION: the language of the poem is simple and impressive. The poet uses familiar and everyday description to convince us of their common bitter experience in the hands of their white overlords. We do not need an interpreter or a dictionary to understand the words used herein and the fact that the situation calls for help and collective efforts to deal with the evil called apartheid. By using the word ‘Swing’, the poet tells us in a clear and loud manner that their plight is uncertain and unpredictable, in the same way that the object ‘Swing’, moves forward and backward. Swinging equally means gay and full of life or sex life, whichever way you look at it. Therefore such attitude and lifestyle is visited on the people by the white dictators. So the whites can appropriately be called swingers in the poem hence they distorted not only the political and religious lives of the people but invaded their social lives.

    SYMBOLISM/IMAGERY: ‘Blue’ as in ‘his blue shirt’ in stanza two of the poem denotatively means condition of a people, sad and without hope. So the blue used in the poem projects a life of hopelessness and melancholy. “Tattered kite” also symbolizes a rough and helpless condition of the South Africans.

    SIMILE: This is exemplified in the poem by ‘like a tattered kite’, which compares the blue shirt of the poor boy on the swing that billows in the breeze with a kite. As the tattered kite is, so is the boy’s blue shirt. The use of this figure of speech makes the subject matter clear hence the physical appearance of the boy is compared to a tattered kite. What further evidence do we need from a boy to buttress his living condition comparable to a rough, haggard and rapacious bird?

    REPITITION: The following words are repeated in the poem, demonstrating the cyclical swift of the swing. Such words as: ‘to and fro’, ‘to and fro’, and ‘faster and faster.’

    RHYME: The effect of the following words or phrases makes the poem musical and rhythmical. Examples- ‘to and fro’, ‘up and down’, ‘billows in the breeze’.

    ALLITERATION: To further enhance the musical feature of the poem, the following lines have contributed to the sound effect of the poem.

    1) ‘Billows……breeze’ (‘b’ alliterate)

    2) ‘World whirls’ (‘w’ alliterate)

    ONOMATOPOEIA: Also the sound effect of the poem is further enhanced by the use of the following words which suggest their meaning (e.g.) ‘billows’, ‘tattered’, ‘kite’ etc

    MOOD/TONE: As the poem dwells on the harsh, pitiable and helpless situation in the apartheid enclave, the dominant feelings in the poem are that of confusion and uncertainty while the poem is rendered in a general tone of indignation, anger and sadness. The poem ends on a tone of anxiety.

    IRONY: It is ironical in the poem to see a situation where ‘east becomes west’ and even the ‘north turns south’ and ‘the cardinal points meet in his head’, a very abnormal situation. One would think that the east (from where a greater light comes from) would rotate round the four cardinal points of the west, the north and the south, and then comes back to east from where it originates, and so would other cardinal points rotate and stop at the other point. But in the poem, the situation is an absurd one, where the east, instead of rotating and stopping at the east, is now west and north turns to south.

    RHETORICAL QUESTION: The boy is anxious to know his natal home and to know when he could dress in a long trouser which shows that it is banned attire. The boy would also like to know the very offence his father committed that led to his imprisonment.


    1  What are the details in the poem which portray the anger of the boy against the apartheid and oppression system?

    2  Discuss two major themes of the poem, “Boy on the Swing”.



    Study the poem below and answer the questions that follow

    ‘Waiting for the bus’

    Old men wait at the stop

    Hiding from rain

    Under a tree

    As I pass

    Running to catch up

    With my reflection

    In a puddle

    They laugh

    And talk to death.


  3. one of these is not the type of contrast portrayed in the poem: (a) black/white  (b)waiting/running   (c) rain/sun (d) old/young
  4. in ‘they laugh/And talk to death’ the poet uses the literary device called,  (a) pun  (b)metaphor (c) oxymoron (d)metonymy
  5. one of the following is the theme of the poem:  (a) old men are patient and careful (b)young men wait at the bus stop (c)even old men love (d)youth is the period of exuberance
  6. the ‘I’ in the poem refers to a (n) (a) bus conductor (b) bus

    driver (c) old man (d) young man

  7. the term ‘bus’ is a metaphor for (a) love (b) help (c) death (d) life


    1  Comment on the style developed in the poem, “Boy on the Swing”.

    2  Highlight the diction of the poem.



    1 The Mastery of Literature for 2011 to 2015 by Iwuchukwu Chinweikpe Esq., 35-38.



    Man and the Sea – by Ernest Hemingway.











    The eldest of six children of his parents, Hemingway was born in 1899 at Oak Park, Illinois. His father was a keen sportsman and the family spent many holidays at a lakeside hunting lodge in Michigan.


    In 1917, he became a club reporter on the Kansas City Star, but he was eager to extend his experience of the world, and the following year, he volunteered as an ambulance driver on the Italian front. He was severely wounded in Italy and nearly died.


    After a brief return to America, he went to Europe as a roving correspondent. In Paris, he was a close friend of Ezra Pound, Getrude Stein and F. Scott, Fitzgerald. He was a reporter in Europe during the last stage of World War I. He committed suicide in 1961. His other works are: Death in the Afternoon (1932), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), The Oldman and the Sea (1952). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. A typical Hemingway hero always suffers intense anguish.



    The general setting of the novel is in Havana, Cuba. The specific settings include the harbour, the skiff, the boat and the sea. This reveals that the actions in the novel take place at the riverine part of Havana, Cuba.



    The plot of this novel centres on an old man named Santiago. He is an old man who fishes alone without the support of others, since the boy that learnt from him has been taken away by his parent. The parent of the boy complains that the old man is a man with bad luck, since in a skiff of the Gulf Stream, he has toiled for eighty four days without catching a single fish. He is tagged a Salao, which is the worse form of ill-luck. When the boy leaves the man by the orders of his parents into another boat, the crew has caught three good fish, the first week as against the forty days he has spent with Santiago with nothing to show for their efforts. Hence, the boy feels sad to see him coming in each day with his skiff empty. Despite the warning of his parent to stay away from him, the boy always goes down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon which belong to the old man. Santiago always tells stories to make himself happy and covers his loneliness since he has lost all including his wife and children. He is a keen lover of baseball. He talks baseball and also dreams about the game. He is always very happy whenever he is discussing this game. Santiago says a man is not made for defeat or failure. Hence, he decides not to be a failure and uses all his experiences to buttress this.


    After various disappointments, he leaves the harbour and the boy wishes him good luck. He then fits the rope lashings of the oars onto the whole pins, puts the trust of the blades in the water and begins to row out of the harbour in the dark night. He continues his voyage until he appears lonely and row over to the part of the ocean called the great well. In the great well, all types of fish congregate because of the swirl of the current made against the steep walls of the floor of the ocean. As he continues and after series of unsuccessful efforts and pains, he eventually catches a big fish which himself only cannot handle. The birds and other flying fish assist him in getting this big fish. For many days, he has made series of attempt to kill the big fish. But after killing the fish, his problems start afresh. He prays, counsels himself and feels sad that he did not allow the boy to accompany him even when the boy was ready to do so. Because of the fear of his parents, he allows the boy to stay behind. The fish takes him to the eastward part of Havana and he regrets not having radio to listen to. He has several cramps and injures himself in the process of attacking the already caged big fish. Night turns to day, and day turns to the morning yet he is still battling with the fish. He starts having a nostalgic feeling of the people he has left behind and thinks they might be looking for him. He is also afraid of what may finally befall him since he is alone. Although he has seen many great fish but this one caught by him seems to be the biggest. After killing the big fish, he looks at the merits and demerits of taking the fish to the harbour. He also realizes the fish are also intelligent but theirs cannot be equated with that of a man. In an attempt to take the fish, he has felt faint and dizzy twice.


    Santiago, through the feet of the trade wind and the drawing of the sail, knows that he was sailing towards the South-West part of Havana, and he has only two drinks of water in the bottle. As a tested fisherman, he knows that sharks will soon attack the big fish caught by him. The first to attack is a mako shark. He prepares the harpoon, makes the rope fast, attacks and kills the shark as soon as its jaw feeds on the fish. The second shark comes to take the tail of the fish and he jams the harpoon down on to its head and lost the harpoon in the process. At that time the fish has been seriously mutilated. When the fish was hit, it is just as if he is the one being hit. The third one comes, the old man sees it makes the sheet fast and jams the tiller. He then takes up the oar with the knife and lashes it at the shark. The others also come and hit the fish where it has already been bitten and he drives the knife on the oar into the shark and kills it.


    The next shark that comes is a single shovel-nose, he let him hit the fish and then drives the knife on the oar down into his brain because of the impact of the attack, the knife blade snapped. The only instrument of attack he has is the gaff but the two oars, the filler and short club could do little or nothing, since he is too old to club sharks to death. The sharks do not hit the big fish until just before the sunset, and when they come, he jams the tiller, takes the club to attack them and hurt them both badly but not without eating part of the big fish. Due to the voracious attacks, the big fish has turned into half fish. At this stage, Santiago remains stiff, sore and wounds and strains parts of his body, hurt with the cold of the night. He prays and hopes that he would not need to fight with any fish again. But he was wrong. By midnight they came calling, and during the process of checking and warding them off, the tiller breaks and he has no weapon to fight them and hence leaves the fish at the mercy of the sharks.


    When he sails into the little harbour, the lights of the Terrace are out and everybody is in bed, hence there is no man to help him. He pulls the boat, tired and wounded. Santiago goes to sleep. The boy comes in the morning to see him sleeping, sees his injured hands and starts crying. The boy assists him to look for food and coffee while the other fishermen take a look at what remains of the big fish in awesome manners and sympathize with the man for the loss of the fish. They thank God for his mercy over him during his fruitless expedition.



    The peculiarity and uniqueness of Hemingway’s novel is the language used. The language used in the novel is simple and straightforward. It clearly reveals the narrative skill of the writer. Although many local words are used such as: Salao, bodega, guano, jota, Queva, la mar, el mar, Ague mala, Calambre, dorado, Dentuso, Ay, Galanos and Brisa. The context and content used make their meaning to be well appreciated and grasped by the reader.


    1 Give a detailed plot account of the book.

    2 Discuss the narrative techniques of the book.



    SANTIAGO: He is also called the oldman. Santiago is slender and giant with deep wrinkles at the back of his neck. The skin cancer can be clearly seen on his cheeks due to the sunshine. Furthermore, his face and his hands have the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords, which show that he is a veteran fisherman. Everything about him was old apart from his eyes, which have the colour of the sea. He is always very cheerful and undefeated. When the boy tries to work with him against the order of his parents, he counsels him to obey his parents by working with the crew in his lucky boat. He does not bother that he was the man who initially trained the boy on various methods of fishing. Despite the age differences between him and the boy, he always shows keen interest in the boy. He also plays and speaks with him as if they were mates. Santiago is very accommodating, in spite of his being called a failure by other fishermen. He knows the right periods and time for fishing and when not to go for fishing. He is also a lover of beer, particularly Hatvey beer and coffee. He eats various species of fish. Santiago is also a man full of resolution. Although, he is a Christian of Catholic denomination, he only prays when in trouble and sometimes he could not recite many of the Catholic doctrines. He is also very good at using all the weapons at his disposal against various sharks that attacked the big fish he has caught. He kills five of them and inflicts injury on others. His full name is Santiago El Campeon. When he was a young man, he was a hand game champion. He defeated a man in the tavern at Casablanca after a match which started on a Sunday morning and ended on a Monday morning. Santiago is a symbol of will power, resoluteness and resilient in the midst of insurmountable difficulties. He regrets that the boy cannot stay with him to assist during his last unsuccessful voyage to the sea.


    MARTIN: Martin happens to be one of the characters in the novel that assists the old man and the boy whenever they are in need. In page 13, he gives them black beans and rice, fried banana and some stew and Hatvey beer. The old man informs the boy that he has done this more than once. He is a very kind man, and for this, both the old and the young people always pay him back in kinds.


    PEDRICO: Pedrico is another cast in the novel. He is the one that looks after the old man’s skiff and gear when he comes back from his last fishing journey in which the big fish he has caught turns to a mere carcass by various bumping inflicted on the fish by the invading sharks. For Pedrico’s effort, he is given the head of the big fish to use in fish trapping.


    THE BOY: He is a close confidant of Santiago, the oldman. He has learnt from the man for forty days as a student learning the act of fishing. The forty days he spent with the old man has brought nothing in terms of fish to them. His parents order him not to have anything to do with the old man, whom they called a failure, but the boy always goes to the man to assist him whenever he is around. He is also a keen lover of baseball and always listens to Santiago whenever he is telling him about the history of baseballers such as Dick Sisler, Rogelio, D. Maggio and John J. Mc Graw and important baseball clubs like the Indians of Cleveland, Tigers of Detroit, the Reds of Cincinnati and the White Fox of Chicago. He also tutors him on great baseball coaches like Luque and Mike Gonzalez. Apart from the name, the boy, he is also known in the novel as Manolin.


    The boy is always ready to assist the man and looks out for him especially when he goes for the last fishing as reported in the novel for four days. The boy always comes in the morning to visit him and takes care of him whenever he looks defeated and worn out. The boy counsels him not to loose hope despite the fact that his last journey ended unsuccessful and sometimes, he steals to satisfy the old man.



    1.  The need to take one’s destiny into one’s hand.

    2.  Power of resolution.

    3.  The result of resilient.

    4.  Love as a weapon for conquering differences.

    5.  The fear of failure.

    6.  The problems associated with living and working as a fisherman.

    7.  The outcome of rejection and neglect.


    1 Discuss extensively two major themes of the book.

    2  Write detailed notes on the two major characters in the book.



    Choose the correct option that best answers the following questions

  8. A ballad is a (a) poem bearing a thesis and an antithesis (b) poem that tells a folk story

    (c) love story told by a singing story (d) poem bearing an interesting climatic episode

  9. The short story as a literary form is closest to (a) the play (b) poetry (c) tragedy (d)

    the novel

  10. Dialogue is crucial in a piece of drama because (a) it makes the audience laugh

    (b) it is like a discourse (c) it reveals the characters’ minds (d) it make the character


  11. One of the following applies to both tragic and comic plays (a) climax (b) happy

    ending (c) temper (d) sympathetic ending

  12. A deliberate use of understatement for humour or emphasis is also known as (a)

    litotes (b)hyperbole (c) antonym (d) pun



    1 Discuss the role of Manolin in the book.

    2 Discuss the issue of fate in the book.



    1 Essential Literature-in-English for SSS (second edition) 2011-2015 by Ibitola, A. O., 238-





    Honest Man’s Fortune’ by John Fletcher



    Poet’s biographical sketch

    Content analysis

    Poetic devices




    John Fletcher was born in 1579. He had his education at Cambridge University. He grew up among prominent poets, many of whom influenced his writings. Besides his interest in poetry, John Fletcher was a famous playwright and dramatist. Record has it that he co-authored Henry VIII with William Shakespeare. Most of his poems were on religious themes. He died in 1625



    This poem is about man’s life journey on earth and the honest pathway to perfection. In the first 20lines, he takes a swipe at astrologers and spiritualists who pretend to know more than the physical world.


    They pretend to see the workings in the spiritual realm far above the ordinary human perception. In the first eight lines the poet-persona explains the antics of these supermen. They are star gazers, fortune tellers and mystics. They ascribe meanings to the movement of the stars and tell the course of the wind and thunder to the amazement of the uninitiated.


    The poet -persona does not believe in the power of these supermen. Therefore in the succeeding lines he charged them to look into their art and tell him his future. He believes that even if they use all the magical powers in their possessions they would find nothing. Disdainfully he asks if they not conjure his star because he was poor or because their art could only work on kings, warriors, wicked people, merchants or lovers. He does not believe that he is so poor not to have a future rather he said that God gives every man a future which is not in the power of any astrologer to tell. He added that God alone decides the fate of men; that the greatest astrologers of Egypt from whom the present astrologers descended, were all humbled when they encountered God’s plagues, a reference to the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt. He describes all the opinions of the astrologers as something that is not to be taken seriously and that God alone orders the fate of man. He concludes the first stanza with the idea that conflict is part of the providence of God for mankind.


    In the second stanza, the poet-persona calls on man to trust in the Lord and in the power of his providence. He tells man not to be afraid and to remember that he was made in the image of the perfect God, filled with the spirit of God, beloved of God, provided with knowledge, given the daylight to work and night to rest. God so loved man that He made the angels their companions and servants. “Oh can’t be so stupid then, so dim/To seek a saving influence and him? Can stars protect thee?…” He enjoins man to put all their trust in God and disregard every hand of danger or curse threatening them. He uses a number of metaphors to restate his opinion that man is his own star and must not trust in any external influence outside God and that man’s perfection can only come from honest living, separating oneself from the world is not the answer though it may develop the mind. A love relationship does not make a perfect man even if the relationship resulted in material increase. Eve the first woman was good and yet she failed. Though he is not denouncing marriage, the poet-persona prefers to take as his mistress, knowledge and truth, which can never fail or be corrupted. He chooses to be his own friend and to take his afflictions, sickness and even death as a stepping stone to God’s plan for man.


    The poet-persona likens sickness to a humorous cloud between man and God’s kingdom, describing death as not more than a night of separation between man and God’s light. This poem is written in the form of stream of consciousness. It is presented in a conventional style. The poet-persona is alone, revealing his mind on how only honesty can produce the perfect relationship with God and man but he spoke as if he has some imaginary audience with him. The long monologue uses a number of rhetorical questions and suggestive declaration to invoke not only audience participation but also reader’s interest in his logical argument.

    The poem is a rhymed verse. It contains two successive and rhymes popularly known as couplet. The long sequence of this rhyme scheme tells of John Fletcher’s great craftsmanship and an excellent devotion to aesthetics. The poem uses a fusion of conversations, declarative statement of one’s soul. The poem has no clear stanzas. However, there are two sections. The first contains 48lines. The first section speaks directly to astrologers or spiritualists. It questions their art and declares God’s power over all things even over those natural conflicts on which spiritualists tend to defraud their fellow men. The second section speaks of man being made in the image of God, filled with the spirit of God, provided thus calls on man to trust only in God, walk in the path of knowledge and trust and regards every affliction, challenges and pains as stepping stone into God’s plan for man.


    1 Give a detailed content analysis of the poem.

    2 The poem is an acknowledgement of God’s supremacy. Discuss.



    DICTION: The language of this poem is simple, symbolic, persuasive and melodious. The words and sentences patterns are easy to understand. However, there are some symbolic words that mean more than their ordinary usage. Words such as light, truth, knowledge, providence, star, night, morning and angels are used in the poem in their symbolic meaning. The tone is assessive. In his choice of words, the poet falls prey to his overriding interest to dissuade his audience from believing in astrologers and spiritualists. He persuades them to trust only in God and themselves. The diction is melodious and almost memorable in spite of the unusual length. The poet achieves this through his use of end rhyme in all the lines in the poem.


    METAPHOR: “God’s Surveyors”, line 32 “…Your conjectures all are drunken things”, and line 37 “our acts our angels are…”. In other lines, poverty is taken as light, affliction taken as deeply allay, sickness taken as humorous cloud, and death taken as night.


    SIMILE: “My star like me, unworthy of a name?” and 28 “your calculations are as blind as ye”


    ALLITERATION: “Full-flame” and line 20 “deal with dangers, dignities…”


    ALLUSION: In line 26-27, there is an allusion to Biblical Egypt and the plague visited on them in order to break Pharaoh’s heart to allow Israelites to go.


    PARADOX: Line 25 “And no man knows his treasure…” and lines61-62 “… can poverty/which is the light of heaven…”


    PERSONIFICATION: In line 2, stars are said to have “kind conjunction” and make “wars”. In lines 79 -82, knowledge, Truth and Time are personified.


    SYMBOLS: Many words such as light, night, morning, love, stars are used in their symbolic forms throughout the poem.


    RHETORIC QUESTION: It is used in lines 10, 15-18, 20 and many other lines.



    The themes in this poem include the following:


    *  Trust in God and the power of his providence.

    *  Disregard for astrologists and spiritualists.

    *  Belief in oneself and one’s abilities.

    *  Honesty as the surest path to perfection.

    *  Man as the image and prime creature of God.


    1 Discuss any two themes on the poem.

    2  How significant are the poetic devices used in the poem.



    1.  “Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind”, illustrates

     (a) inversion   (b) paradox   (c) humour   (d) mood  (e) metaphor

    2.  When characters talk to each other, it is referred to as ………..

     (a) soliloquy   (b) monologue  (c) dialogue  (d) recitation   (e) talking

    3.  The attitude of a writer towards the subject matter is the ………

     (a) tone  (b) plot (c) crisis  (d) climax  (e) theme

    4.  The story of a person’s life written by another is ……

     (a) history   (b) autobiography   (c) biography  (d) anthology

     (e) compilation

    5.  A writer’s diction portrays his ………

     (a) repetition   (b) irony   (c) tension  (d) humour   (e) style



    1 Discuss the diction of the poem.

    2   Examine the structure of the poem.



    1 Essential Literature-in-English for SSS (second edition) 2011-2015 by Ibitola, A. O., 168-


    2 The Mastery of Literature for 2011 to 2015 by Iwuchukwu Chinweikpe Esq., 82-90.




    AFRICAN PLAY Women of Owu by Femi Osofisan.








    Language and style



    In 1821 or there about, the combined forces of the armies of Ijebu and Ife, two Yoruba kingdom in the south of Nigeria, along with mercenaries recruited from Oyo refugees running downward from the Fulani force, sacked the city of Owu under the pretext that their Oba was a despot, that they came to free them from the cruel yoke.
    Owu was a model city- state, one of the most prosperous and best organized of those times. The allied force besieged the city for seven years. Owu closed the gate of its formidable city walls, but soon had to face the problem of drought when the rains stopped in the third year of the siege. This was a boon to the allied force of course, and finally, in the seven year they entered the city, and it was all over. These allied forces, determined that the city must never rise again, reduce the place to complete rubble, and set fire to it. They slaughtered all the males, adult and the children, and carried away the females into slavery. Owu was never rebuilt.


    Plot Account

    Women of Owu dramatizes the fall of the once formidable and opulent city of Owu. In her thirst for power and fame, Owu attack Ile-Ife and the popular Apomu market. Several stall, property and lives were destroyed in this attack. Lawumi, a deity in the land becomes very angry and sees the attack as an insufferable display of arrogance toward herself and Ile –Ife, as Ile-Ife is regarded as the root where other Yoruba Land sprout from. She vouched that Owu would never go scoot free for the singular act of disregarding Ife, her main spring. Okunade, the reputable Ife artist, not only felt shamed and disgraced, he also bore deep hatred for the Owus. In the case of the attack, his favorite and beautiful wife, Iyunloye was capture and brought to be one of the wives of the youngest prince, Dejumo. Okunade became embittered and swore to get his wife back. He abandoned his tools and took to arms. And so fierce was his passion for killing, that he rose rapidly through the ranks, and so became the Maye. These ignoble acts made the armies of Ijebu, Oyo and Ife form an allied force against the Owus. For seven good years, this allied forces laid siege on Owu’s formidable walls. At the close of the third year during the siege, Owu faced the problem of drought when it stopped raining. This was a great opportunity for the allied force. And at the seventh year, the forces entered Owu, and reduced it to ruin. Anlugbua, Owu’s ancestral father could however not help, for no one was spared in the destruction.



    The many rhythmic mixes of choruses, songs, and dances evince a typical traditional Yoruba setting. There is usual strife for supremacy in this epoch. This was how Owu kingdom was able to make their name. The gods are usually said to be responsible for any fate that befall any human person. Through the act of their benevolence, they could also grant favour to anyone they wish. This was why Anlugbua now deified as Orisa, was so dismay on seeing the destruction melted on Owu. He (the Orisa) felt he had not been contacted by the people on time to avert the war. He would have pacified his grandmother, Lawumi. Woman of Owu was also set at a time when there was political tussle between kingdoms. The political strength of a kingdom was measured by the many kingdoms, towns or villages she was able to will herself. Owu was very powerful then, she had conquered so many kingdoms, towns, and villages. She was also prosperous and she had a formidable army. This was what informed her prosperity and political power. Hence, she sold other Yorubas into slavery. This despicable act made Lawumi, a deity, most annoyed and she therefore brought destruction through the allied force on Owu people



    In not less than 11/2 pages trace the plot account of this play.

    2 Discuss in detail the fall of Owu.



    Pride and Arrogance: It is usually said that pride goes before fall. This was the fate of Owu kingdom. As a result of the economic and political power Owu kingdom enjoyed, she flaunted the law that no Yoruba kingdom should sell other Yorubas into slavery. The Owus flagrantly sold follow Yorubas into slavery at Apomu market. This spelt their undoing and it eventually brought her doom.


    Sorrow and Anguish: The whole plot of the play covers a tragic account of the entire kingdom. No male life was spare; all the males, both young and old were killed. Only Oba Akinjobi with some of his high chief who had escaped the massacre was spared the ignoble death by sword. The women were seized and shared out to the blood- splattered troops to spend the night. Only those from the noble house and some whose beauty struck their eye were reserve for the generals. This was the sorrow that befell Owu kingdom. The once boisterous kingdom was reduced.


    Revenge: Okunade (Maye) had been embittered because his priceless jewel, Iyunloye had been cheaply taken away from him by Prince Dejumo. This was the very reason why he took to arm and abandoned his first vacation as an artist. To avert the shame and disgrace brought to him by the capture, he vowed to have Iyunloye to himself. And so fierce was his passion for killing that he rose rapidly through the ranks, and he soon became the Maye. And for seven full years, he seizes Owu city because of a woman. And for these years, the people of Owu suffered and they refused to open their gates. But when drought force them to open the gate, the destruction was unspeakable.


    Blood shed: Too many lives were destroyed in the reprisal attack by the Allied force on Owu kingdom. No single male life was spared. Not even the life of the little baby prince, Aderogun. His head was bashed against a tree and his skull crushed, since it was a taboo to shoot him or cut his skin with a blade. Oba Akinjobi, who had earlier fled with some of his chief was caught at the dead of the night and was subjected to mercy killing. The sacred hill and mountains where the gods were worshipped were also defiled and set on fire. The few women who were spared death and taken as slaves also had their different hearts figuratively bleeding.




    Erelu Afin: She was the wife of the king, Oba Akinjobi. She has five handsome and brave sons and three daughters. She was not left out of the mourning that befell Owu kingdom. Rather, she is a major agent to the destruction of the kingdom. At the birth of her son, Dejumo, the priest had ordered that he should be executed immediately. They (priests) warned that he was evil, and that if left to grow, he would bring disaster to Owu. They said he, Dejumo, would seduce a woman, and through that act cause the death of many. Erelu out of her self pride chose instead to hide him and nurse him to manhood and thereby fulfilled the prophecy. She wailed with other Owu women. She is the cause of the whole destruction for she allowed herself to be used in the hand of fate to fulfill a prophecy foretold.


    Anlugbua: He is the former Owu war leader, son of Oba Asunkungbade, the ancestral founder of Owu Ipole. Anlugbua had a strong passion for his town. Though deified, he constantly keeps watch over the town. If only he had been called as he said he should, the disaster would not have befallen Owu kingdom. Anlugbua also has some inherent power of destruction. He was asked by Lawumi to unleash a terrible storm, lightning and thunderbolt on the allied force on their way homeward.


    Gesinde: He is an Ijebu soldier, herald and staff officer to the allied army, also a special aide to the Maye, General Okunade. In the cause of the seven years siege, he served as messenger to the general. He is a soldier that carries any order given to him to the letter. He seems not to like the job sometimes because he has to just carry out any order by the general.



    Lawumi: She is Oba Asunkungbade’s mother. She is also deified as an Orisa. She is a woman of protocol. She likes respect and she also gives respect. Lawumi caused the disaster that befell Owu. She made the Allied force overcome Owu kingdom. She also wanted Anlugbua to aid her in destroying the allied forces on their homeward journey.


    Orisaye: Orisaye is the half-mad daughter of Erelu. She is also the votary of the god, Obatala. Orisaye predicted the homeward journey of the allied force. She also foretold the fate of the remaining women of Owu. For Balogun Kusa who was to take her as a wife, she predicted a tale of perdition for his family.


    Iyunloye: Iyunloye is the erring wife of Maye, a very Industrial woman. She established herself as a woman to reckon by selling the ‘adire’ cloth her husband, the Maye, was once known for. She is a victim, a helpless tool of fate, used to fulfill a prophecy.



    Song as a technique: The rhythmic mix of chorus, song and dance makes this play culturally endowed. Each scene is usually opened with a corresponding song. Though the songs are written in Yoruba language, it shed light on each scene. For example, the songs give further information about the suffering and the death torture melted on the women.



    1 Discuss in detail three major themes of the play.

    2  Discuss the role of Erelu in the play.



    1.  …………… determines the atmosphere of a poem (a) tone  (b) theme  

    (c) synopsis  (d) structure

    2.  When a word is used in superficial manner, it is said to have been used in its ……….  

    (a) figurative sense  (b) connotative sense  literal sense  (c) literary sense

    3.  A term used in describing an effective choice of word in a literary work is ………… (a) diction  (b) diphthongs (c) denotation (d) dialogue

    4.  To drag your father from his farm is as different as dragging a child away from his

    mother’s breast is a …………….  (a) simile (b) amplification (c)personification

    (d) metaphor

    5.  A poem without a regular beat and rhyme scheme is referred to as …………..

    (a) a solomonic verse (b) a blank verse  (c) a free verse  (d) traditional verse



    1 Discuss the dramatic techniques of the play.

    2  The play is a recap of history. Discuss.



    Essential Literature-in-English for SSS (second edition) 2011-2015 by Ibitola, A. O., 115-



    TOPIC: READING AND CONTENT ANALYSIS OF NON-AFRICAN POETRY– ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ by Langston Hughes.


    I’ve known rivers:

    I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the

     flow of human blood in human veins


    My soul has the grown deep like the rivers

    I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young

    I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep

    I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

    I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincohn

    went down to the New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy

    bosom turn all golden in the sunset.


    I’ve known rivers:

    Ancient, dusty rivers


    My soul has grown deep like the rivers.








    James Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 and died on May 22, 1967. He lived as an African American and a Harlem renaissance poet, who suffered the racism of early twentieth-century America but rose above this cankerworm and felt love and compassion for all races. His acceptance is especially evident and assertive in his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” which is a cosmic voice that unites all races and people.



    The poem begins thus ‘I’ve known rivers/I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the/flow of human blood in human veins’. The river symbolizes the connections of all human life from the earliest of times to the present day.


    He mentions river Euphrates which is the very cradle of western civilization and river Mississippi among others. That means the history of mankind from biblical times to the period of the American civil war is represented. The speaker of the poem claims to have ‘bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young’. Thus, the voice begins at the origin of civilization. He said also that he ‘built’ his ‘hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep’. That is to say that the Congo is ever present in mother-Africa and when he says that he ‘looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it’, he is simply reinstating the fact that the river Nile remains a solid rock for one of the seven wonders of world-the pyramid of Egypt, and also civilization which actually started in Egypt, Africa, has its roots to the great river, the Nile. In all these, the speaker is trying to encode, and we the readers of the poem should decode the fact that his claims meant only that both the black, the white or even the yellow races have all shared common experiences and so should unite, instead of building unnecessary walls of division.


    The poet also highlights his American experience when he boasts thus “I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln/went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset”. Here, Lincoln reminds us of the process of emancipation of slaves and the importance of river here which symbolizes the human blood of all races. The poet had earlier on stated thus:

    “My soul has grown deep like the rivers”


    Simply because the soul is the very life which everybody possesses, it therefore stands to reason that any person who recognizes his soul, recognizes his identity. In this poem, the river symbolizes mankind. The river flows like blood, and we are all linked by blood as children of God.


    The speaker recognizes his identity as a child of not only his biological parents, but as a child of an overall father, the father of all mankind, and his is linked with all races and creeds for all time through the depth of his soul. And that is why he reinstated and punched his age long views thus:

    I’ve known rivers

    Ancient, dusky rivers.



    1 Give a detailed content analysis of the poem.

    2 In relation to the poem, the voice of Langston Hughes is the voice of peace. Discuss.



    1 The theme of love and unity

    2  The theme of equality and indiscrimination

    3  The theme of forgiveness and acceptance

    4  The theme of inspiration of black essence



    DICTION: The poet’s vocabulary or language is not hard to understand, as he uses common phenomenon like ‘river’ etc. to put across his message which is an attempt to inspire the Blackman, who in the poem, is described or presented as being intelligent and a successful species. Classical references are made to some historical places like river Euphrates, river Congo, Nile, Mississippi and the river in New Orleans and many other ‘ancient, dusky rivers’. The poem is delivered on free verse.

    TONE/MOOD: The poem evokes feelings of joy, love and fascination for the symbolic rivers. Indeed, this river of life touches on the very point of his existence and indeed our collective feeling of agape love for the things that bind us together as mankind. The mood of the poet is that of praise, appreciation and melody.

    ANAPHORA: The repetition of the phrase ‘I’ve known rivers’ in lines one and two exemplifies this literary devices and has the effect of emphasizing the subject matter and punching same. There are repetitions of ‘rivers’ and the word ‘I’ seven and eight times respectively in poem which not only is for emphasis but rhythmical.

    SIMILE: The tranquility and depth of joy and melodic vibrations in his soul is here compared to that of the rivers mentioned in the poem. The imagery conjures in the mind for a long time.

    HYPERBOLE: The whole of lines 5 to 10 of the poem from ‘I bathed in the Euphrates… to muddy/bosom turn all golden in the sunset’ are all grossly exaggerated. Thus, the vividity and truism are brought to the fore for us to consider.

    SYMBOLISM: Actually, the ‘rivers’ which the “negroes’ are speaking of in the poem are that of the soul unity, togetherness and love which are found everywhere, if barriers are removed from the world.



    1 Discuss the significance of the poetic devices used in the poem .

    2 In detail, discuss two major themes of the poem.



    Provide the right answers for each of these questions.

    1 The epilogue in a play refers to the _____________

    2 A short story of everyday life used to teach a moral by comparison is called a__________

    3 The character that create humour in a play is ______________

    4 The literary term that describe the year of a novel is written is______________

    5 FIFA’s visit is geared towards “packaging Nigeria overseas fir international acceptance”.

    The above quotation contain a figure of speech known as _______________



    1 ‘My soul has grown deep like the rivers’, discuss.

    2  Comment on the tone/mood of the poem.



    1 The Mastery of Literature for 2011 to 2015 by Iwuchukwu Chinweikpe Esq., 73-76.


    by Bernard Shaw










    Bernard Shaw was born in 1856 in Dublin. His parents were known protestant. He worked in his home country as estate manager before moving on to London at tender age of nineteen to live with his mother and sister. He left his father, an unsuccessful business man with a drinking problem in Dublin.


    He started his writing career, first, as a journalist, and then music critic, book reviewer and novelist. His first five novels written between 1878 and 1883 were unsuccessful because all the views expressed in them, were influenced by his Marxist beliefs. He veered into public speaking and became one of the leaders of the Fabians society, a socialist group. He became a major pamphleteer, essayist, philosopher and economist. In 1892, Shaw broke into playwriting where he made his mark. Shaw wrote over fifty plays. Arms and the man is one of them.



    The play is set in Bulgaria in the Bulkan region, during one of their war crises common at that period. All aspects of Bulgarian life are carefully built into the characters to illustrate a semblance of reality. The mannerism of Mr. Petkoff and his wife is reflective of the lifestyle of the Bulgarian senior-class citizens. The high premium on nobility, class, beauty and heroism portrayed in the play are part of the values common and cherished in the Bulgarian society which contrast with the democracy spirit in the neighbouring Swiss society.


    Almost, if not, all aspects of the play are based on real life situations. The flight of Bluntschli as a mercenary soldier; his fond of food items instead of ammunition and the burning of his friend, Stolz, were all actual life experiences in the 1885 Serbian Bulgarian War. Shaw set the plot of the play in the north-west area of Bulgaria around the spot through which the Serbian soldiers advance into Sofia. The capture of the Serbian army at Slivnitza and their flight home wards start the plot of the play. The plot of the play is about love relationship between the leading characters, Raina and Sergius. The Lady, Raina, a daughter of the propertied class is in love with a Bulgarian soldier, Sergius Saranoff who is away at war. Raina’s interest in Sergius is due to the glamour and excitement of the war. Her hero is lionized and idealized. Catherine, her mother, proudly tells Raina, that she is happy with the exploits of Sergius and counts him worthy of heroic deeds, ideas, nobility and soldiership they have always associated him with.


    Having lost the war, the Serbians retreat from the battle and they are pursued by the victorious Bulgarians. Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary in the service of the Serbs, runs from the battle-field into Raina’s bedroom, panting and tired. He begs her at a gun point to hide him from his pursuers which she accepts. The search party enters the house but she deceives them, hiding Bluntschli behind the curtain. At the end of the search, the refugee was sent away by daughter and mother, dressed in Mr. Petkoff’s coat. Before then the refugee has told his host how unprofessionally Sergius won the battle. Bluntschli said this without knowing the relationship that exists between Sergius and Raina.


    Sergius and Petkoff returned home after the war. Sergius joins Raina who begins to find her lover loathsome, uninteresting and irritating but she hides her true feeling. Sergius on his part begins to flirt with his lover’s maid, Louka. Louka is betrothed to Nicola, Petkoff’s servant. Bluntschli returns to see Raina and to give back the borrowed Petkoff’s coat. Petkoff, who does not know the reason for his coming, welcomes him to the house, having met him before at the war front. The relationship between Raina and Bluntschli grows. During this visit, Raina informs him about the picture she intentionally left in the pocket of the coat given to him. Louka and Sergius also developed strong feelings for each other unknown to Raina. Louka tells Sergius about Raina’s affairs with Bluntschli and mock at Sergius’ insincerity.


    Sergius is provoked by this and he challenges Bluntschli to a fight. He, Sergius, renounces his engagement to Raina when her portrait was discovered in the housecoat which they gave to Bluntschli to escape with. The whole secret of her affairs with the fugitive is then exposed. Sergius then proposes marriage to Louka. Nicola raises no objection to this. But his natural goodwill and kindness did not go unnoticed as he gets rewarded when Bluntschli offers him position of a hotel manager. Catherine who was initially opposed to her daughter’s marriage to the Swiss, Bluntschli, gives her consent when she discovers his material prowess. Arms and the man is essentially about Sergius and Raina, two sons of two rich and great families in love relationship. The plot involving Bluntschli’s escape from the war and Louka’s relationship with Nicola are sub-plot intended to enhance the story and make it interesting.





    Catherine and Raina, the two Bulgarian women hide a fugitive from his pursuers, feed him and send him home disguised in the coat of Petkoff, the master of the house who was away in war. Catherine and Raina know that the story refers to them and they were bitter about this. But the men are in the dark and could not understand why the ladies are not happy. Another instance is when Nicola was sent by Mrs. Catherine to bring major Petkoff’s coat from the blue closet. The woman, her daughter, Bluntschli and the audience know that the coat has just been replaced in the wardrobe but both Sergius and Petkoff are in the dark and so are eager to bet over it. Furthermore, Bluntschli gets security in the house of an enemy, who is in the battle field trying to kill his people, the Swiss.



    This technique is always used to create a moment of anxiety in the audience about the outcome of a given action. One instance of this is when the soldiers pursuing the fugitive were allowed into Petkoff’s compound and into Raina’s bedroom. The audience must be worried about the possibility of the fugitive being fished out, especially with the man’s gun conspicuously displayed on the ottoman. Another instance is when Louka tells Sergius about Raina’s affairs with Bluntschli. The audience is no doubt anxious to know how the revelation will turn out, that is, the loser and the winner in this game of hide and seek in the name of love.



    Most of the actions in Arms and the Man are not acted on the stage. For example, Sergius heroic exploits in the war are outside the stage and only reported by Catherine. So also the details of the war, how Sergius unprofessionally conducted himself in the battle is made known through Bluntschli who has run away from the war to escape being captured



    This technique helps to sustain the plot and makes it looks humorous in spite of serious issue of love embedded in the play. The fugitive who has run away from the battle and put up with Raina was sent home the next morning disguised in major Petkoff’s coat, possibly, to avoid being recognized by the Bulgarian soldiers



    In the play, there are contrasts of setting and character. The setting in Act one, a locked-up bedroom in the dark of winter night with military apprehension is in share contrast to the opening of Act two in a garden in spring time with peaceful environment. Almost all the characters are built on contrast. For example, Sergius is contrast with Bluntschli. So are Louka and Nicola. Even the homely Raina and Catherine shared different opinions on Bluntschli. While Raina saw his humanity, Catherine saw only as a never-do-well person.



    The bitterness Catherine and Raina feel when Sergius narrates the story they heard about two Bulgarian women sheltering a fugitive and sending him home disguised is a forecast to the clash to come when the whole story of Raina’s romantic relationship with Bluntschli is blown open. Another is Louka’s prediction that Raina will marry the fugitive she hides in her room, if the man ever comes back again. It is a hint on what will eventually happen. The man comes and she gets married to him.



    1 Give a detailed plot account of the play, Arms and the Man.

    2  Discuss the dramatic techniques of the book, Arms and the Man.





    Major Paul Petkoff is a family man. He left his wife and daughter at home to fight in the Bulgarian war against the Serbian army. Due to this, he hastened up the peace treaty with the enemy army so as to join his family in good time.


    He is a conservative old fellow who does not adapt to changes easily. He finds the new development in his house on arrival from the war very difficult to accept. He prefers to shout to his domestic servants instead of bothering them with the newly installed electric bell. He does not believe in regular bath.


    He is a military officer with poor military capacity and capability. Though he was a major in the army and occupied leadership position, he possesses little military intelligence. Without shame, he narrates how Bluntschli outsmart them at Pirot during the exchange of war prisoners and calls on the Swiss officer who visit him to help him out of his military assignment. Another demonstration of his low military ability is when he enlists his wife to instill discipline in his soldiers.


    He is forthright and decisive. Major Paul Petkoff may not be knowledgeable but he can be forthright and decisive both at home and at work no matter who is involved. He does not consider his future son-in-law good for promotion and stand on it. That is his price for winning the war the wrong way. He insists on striking out any friendly relations with the Serbians in the peace treaty that ended the war. He insists on Bluntschli staying with the family and encourages the other characters to embrace him.


    He is an easy going, comfort seeking, and materialistic old fellow. He returns quietly to the comfort of his house after the war and gets mad with Nicola for disturbing the peace of his house. His love for materialism was seen in his initial objection to Bluntschli’s proposal to marry Raina, but accepts him due to the groom’s material possessions.



    She is an ambitious but clever woman. She is not contended with the mere victory of the Bulgarian army over the Serbians but would have loved to have the enemy’s territory annexed. Petkoff depends solely on her witness to solve both his domestic and professional problems, such as, when she was called to help instill discipline in the soldiers and to engage Sergius till Raina comes in to meet him.


    She is very romantic and fun-loving. Her romantic illusions about military glory compel her to encourage her daughter’s love relationship with Sergius. She enjoys her private moment with Major Petkoff and encourage Raina’s private meeting with Sergius. Her fascination with the Swiss fugitive, Bluntschli, who sneaks into her daughter’s bedroom shows her romantic appeal for she was at liberty to have raised alarm and get him arrested.


    She is materialistic and vain seeker. She sees her newly acquired electric bell as a status symbol. She reminds Bluntschli of the wealth and high status enjoyed by the Petkoffs and Saranoffs when the young man picked up interest in her daughter. She demonstrates her craze for material things when she rejected the treaty Bulgarian army entered with their Serbians counterparts. She suggests the annexation of Serbian territory.


    She is skillful and crafty and has an uncanny ability to maneouver apparently difficult situations to her advantage. It was bad that their encounter with Bluntschli has leaked. It was worse that the Swiss is back to return the old coat given to him by her daughter. And it was worst that Petkoff who is looking for the coat to wear at the same time, sees the Swiss coming in. Catherine is crafty enough to maneouver the situation, even with Raina’s careless familiar shout out of “the chocolate cream soldier”, on setting her eyes, on Bluntschli.


    She is a caring mother and an excellent house keeper. Catherine effectively maintained the house while her husband was away in battle with the Serbians. She bought new fixtures for their home like the electric bell to keep to her dream status. On the night soldiers were retreating from battle and shooting indiscriminately, Catherine ensured the entire household was indoors and that doors and windows were locked. She doted on her daughter, Raina, loves her husband passionately; and admires her future son-in-law. Her likeness for Sergius was high to a level or state that Raina taunted her about it.



    She is a pretty young lady of twenty three years. She is the daughter of Major and Mrs. Petkoff, and betrothed to Sergius Saranoff. She is the heroine of the play whose dealings with all the other characters formed the story of the play. She is a romantic character who lives in the imagined world of nobility, grandeur and heroism. She carries on this false world with her noble attitude and thrilling voice. Her self – high esteem was deflated only when she met the practically – minded Bluntschli. She is cunning and not a straight forward person. She does not always put all her cards on the table even before her parents. She has the habit of eaves-dropping into people’s discussion and always appearing, when discussion is centered on her. She accepts before Bluntschli that her attitude is always a gimmick intended to steal the affection and respect of people around her, that is, she always craves for attention sometimes unmerited.


    She is dishonest and incapable of keeping relationship. She claims she loves Sergius, yet she finds a place in her heart for a total stranger, Bluntschli, whom she sheltered, fed, clothed and gave her portrait with romantic inscription, “Raina: To her chocolate cream soldier”.


    Raina doubt a lot and daydreams, she does not believe in her own ability and estimation, and the world around her. It takes her mother some time to reassure her of her doubts and Sergius’ heroic qualities and soldiership before she accepts him. She later dumps him.


    She is a simple, well-groomed girl with natural feelings for others, especially those in predicament. She demonstrated this, when she received the fugitive soldier, Bluntschli, hid him from his enemies, fed him with chocolate before calling her mother. Even when her mother was upset and tried to wake up the fugitive she calmed her mother in her simple natural self that captivate the audience above her materialist, status hungry parents and the make-belief world she has hitherto lived in.


    She is one of the most misunderstood fictional characters in the play. Her simple acts of good neighbourliness, honesty and childlike affection are misunderstood by Louka and Sergius. This is her undoing. Her chance meeting with Bluntschli is mistaken by Louka for love affairs. The false report blinded his mind and he opted out of their promising relationship.



    He is the young officer in the Bulgarian army with the rank of a major. He is a noble and splendid soldier put in charge of the Bulgarian cavalry that defeated the Serbian army at the Slivintza battle and gave Bulgaria decisive victory. He is an amateurish and impulsive character who ruined his military career through sheer unprofessional conduct. Though he became the hero of the Slivintza war, he won the battle using the wrong approach. Though he gave his people victory, but for this error he was condemned and denied promotion. Sergius knows that he acted unprofessionally and so he sincerely offers his resignation. He acts here like a man of honour.


    He is a pretender and coward. He hardly keeps many of his words in the play. Sergius challenges Bluntschli to a fight over Raina’s love only to withdraw minutes after. As for his cowardice, Bluntschli said that when he led the cavalry charge at the Serbians he was seen pulling at his horse so that others can get into the ring before him. He is a double-dealer, insincere in his love relationship. He is betrothed to Raina and loves her passionately. He ends up loosing Raina for the crafty Louka, because he acts on circumstances and impulses.


    Sergius is an irreconcilable personality. He is quite capable of representing different personalities. He doubts himself and questions the half a dozen personalities that came out of him. Since he is unable to reconcile his conflicting personalities, Sergius ends up in failure and despair, his love shattered, his career crumbled, his pride punctured and sees the whole of life as boring end mere wild story.



    He is a mercenary soldier of fifteen years of experience. He joined the Serbian army against the Bulgarian soldiers. He escaped from the war-front after their defeat and ran into the bedroom of the Petkoffs to escape arrest, and was finally sent home, after his attackers had retreated, in the old coat of major Petkoff. He is a consummate soldier, clever and skillful. He outsmarts Majors Petkoff and Sergius at the prisoners’ exchange at Pirot and later offered them his military expertise when they got confused on how to send cavalry regiment to Philippopolis.


    He is decent, forthright and sensitive. He tells Raina the plain truth about himself and the battle front: such as how he carried chocolate instead of cartridges and how the Bulgarian army defeated them by using the wrong military strategy. In spite of his predicament, he is decent enough to know that it is insensitive to stay in the house with Raina alone longer than necessary. This decent aspect of his character was displayed again towards the end of the play when he offered Nicola the job of a manager having seen how he gave himself up to be used by all the characters. He has an incurable romantic disposition which he claims has spoiled all his chances in life. When he was a boy, out of mere adventure, he ran away from home twice. And when it comes to the choice of career, he goes into the army instead of the more fashionable business world of his father.


    When pursued, Bluntschli climbs the balcony of Petkoff’s house rather than diving into the nearest cellar. His romantic adventurism brings him back to the house of his rescuer, instead of merely sending the borrowed coat back. He lives his tumultuous thirty four years, including the fifteen years in barracks and battle, out of the bliss and comfort of his Swiss home just to satisfy his romantic curiosity.


    He is an intelligent, knowledgeable and a practical man of ideas: There is no job that is too hard for him to overcome and no problem is too great for him to solve. Retreating from the war he finds his way into an enemy’s house, holds the occupant from raising alarm and winning her understanding and protection in the end all through practical application of wisdom. He narrates how commonsense has saved him better in wars than weapons. For his bundle of knowledge, Sergius describes him as an invaluable man after he has identified the problem with the Philippopolis – bound cavalry.


    He is a simple, egalitarian and fair-minded person. He believes in the equality of all men, rich or poor. He ranks human freedom higher than position, career or possession.



    They are both domestic servants of Major Petkoff. In order to enhance their economic survival, they pretended to be engaged to each other. Nicola is commercially minded. He believes so much in the power of money that he looks forward to setting up his own business on retirement. He is subservient to his employers and has a kindly spirit that takes undeserved insults from the Petkoffs. For this, Louka said he has a soul of a servant.


    He is an efficient house keeper. He is very good and efficient in running the Petkoff house hold. He is always ready to offer himself as a scapegoat to avert domestic crises in the home. He never failed to warn Louka to behave herself not to incur the wrath of their employers. Bluntschli admires his modesty and dedication to duty and describes him as the best man he has ever met in Bulgaria, offering him the job of a manager.


    Louka, on the other hand, is full of herself. She looks beyond her position and rates herself better than her mistress. In fact she holds high opinion of herself. Daring and independent – minded she would not want to be pushed around by anybody. She pretends to be in love with Nicola just for economic protection while she nurses greater romantic aspiration which came to fruition through her marriage to Sergius.




    This theme is demonstrated in the relationship that exists between Raina and Sergius, Raina and Bluntschli, Louka and Nicola, and Louka and Sergius. All these characters are into different degrees of love relationship, some of which culminated in marriage. Raina’s love for Sergius is the romantic idealist love that exists mainly on paper. This type of love cannot face reality. Raina and Sergius worship each other’s untested integrity, nobility, purity and greatness, but fall apart at the first contact with realities. The coming of the realistic and practical Bluntschli, destroys Raina’s romantic obsession with Sergius. She was brought into real life love relationship that has allowance for certain weaknesses. At the expense of Sergius, her new love relationship with Bluntschli eventually blossomed into marriage. The love between Louka and Nicola is one of commercial convenience. There is really no love but the desire to protect one’s economic future makes them to give themselves out as lovers. Louka and Sergius however find a common ground for love later in the play.



    The play centres on the 1885 Serbian – Bulgarian war. The hero of the war, Sergius who won the war using the wrong military technique found out later that war is not the glamorous and heroic exercise of great soldiership long held in his mind. While Catherine sees the splendid heroic side of the war, he concludes that war – the dream of patriots is not only, “ridiculous” but a “fraud” and a “hollow sham”. Bluntschli, the professional soldier, does not see war as an amusement and is always glad to be out of it.



    The theme of marriage can be traced to the lives of Major Petkoff and Catherine. They are jolly happy couple who seek after easy comfort and pleasurable future. Major Petkoff would not want the war to be prolonged so that he can return to the comforting arms of his wife. Catherine is the comfort-crazy wife. She installed an electric bell while her husband was away in battle to avoid the smallest distraction. They have their differences but this is not allowed to hinder their joint comfort. Another interesting marriage can be seen in Bluntschli and Raina: Although, it was unexpected but very timely, and finally the marriage of convenience between Louka and Sergius.



    This is one of the major themes Shaw set out to explore in the play. The desire for ideal, to be the best, for perfection and excellence in character and in the battle field underscores the attitudes and actions of both Raina and Sergius. Their heroism is at the expense of reality. Sergius unreasonably led a cavalry charge for which he should have been court-martialed under normal circumstance but he is hailed and hero-worshipped by the Bulgarian Society. Raina captures the societal hero worshipping syndrome and so to please her hero, Raina begins to live a false life through her noble attitude and a thrilling voice.



    Another theme one can find in this work is wealth or possession. There is inordinate pride in the amount of wealth or possession a character has. The Petkoffs place great premium in their positions and in possessions like library and electric bell. They are rich and would not want their daughter to marry a poor man. Catherine sums up the premium the Bulgarian society placed on wealth when she advised Bluntschli to look to another direction for a wife. Even Louka and Nicola mere house helps, look forward to the comfortable establishment of the rich, and look at every opportunity with commercial eyes and gain.



    Class is another important theme revealed in the play. From the play, especially the setting, we can see that in Bulgaria, class is determined by one’s possession or material wealth, while in Switzerland, social status is measured by the quality of one’s life. This explains the different class consciousness between the Petkoffs (Bulgarian) and Bluntschli (Swiss). The Swiss believes in the equality of human beings, wealth or no wealth. Bluntschli told the Petkoffs this when they were particular about their wealth and that of their future son-in-law.



    Apart from the modest servant, Nicola, all the other characters are proud and pretentious. They take undue pride in their beauty, character, rank or property. For instance, Raina proudly told Bluntschli that her father holds the highest command of the Bulgarian army, that they have a library, two rows of windows and a flight of stairs. Catherine is not better. Her pride in her family, possession and future son-in-law is infectious. Louka has a mind beyond her status in live, she told Sergius that she was better than her mistress. Petkoff and Bluntschli are not better. In spite of their realistic nature, both are proud of their personalities. They live on ever blotted ego.



    1.  Discuss two major themes of the play, Arms and the Man.

    2.  Write short note on the following characters.

     (i) Raina  (ii) Catherine   (iii) Louka   (iv) Sergius (v) Bluntschli




    1.  When characters talk to each other, it is referred to as ………..

     (a) soliloquy   (b) monologue  (c) dialogue  (d) recitation   (e) talking

    2.  The attitude of a writer towards the subject matter is the ………

     (a) tone  (b) plot (c) crisis  (d) climax  (e) theme

    3.  The story of a person’s life written by another is ……

     (a) history   (b) autobiography   (c) biography  (d) anthology

     (e) compilation

    4.  A writer’s diction portrays his ………

     (a) repetition   (b) irony   (c) tension  (d) humour   (e) style

    5.  A literary piece used to mock or ridicule a society or practice is called …..

     (a) an allegory   (b) a fable  (c) a farce (d) a satire (e) a sarcasm



    1 Discuss the degree of prominence of the issue of love and war in the book.

    2  Discuss the role of Bluntschli in the book.




    Essential Literature-in-English for SSS (second edition) 2011-2015 by Ibitola, A. O., 90-




    AND CONTENT ANALYSIS OF AFRICAN POETRY – “Myopia” by Sly Cheney Coker.









    Shy Cheney Coker is born in 1945 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He had his early education in

    Freetown and later studied at the University in Oregon, California and Wisconsin. He lived on

    exile due to repressive regime at home under president Siaka Steven. He taught at the University

    of Maiduguri and at the University of Philippines. He has the following four poetry collections:

    The Road to Jamaica, Concert for an Exile (1973), The Graveyard also has Teeth. (1980) and

    recently Blood in the Desert. His most recent work is a novel entitled The Last Harmattan of

    Alusine Dunbar. In his writings, traces of disenchantment to slavery which his ancestors suffered,

    a plight of the common men in the society and his disgust over his poor life in exile are found.



    This is a poetic composition wherein the plight of the downtrodden, the poor or the ordinary

    members of the society is x-rayed. We are to learn how rough and dejected the peasants who

    constitute the backbone or the main-stay of the economy are; because they toil and moil to

    harness the natural resources of their country, yet are treated very unfairly by the leaders of the

    people, to the extent that their lives are laden with anguish, suffering and frustration.

    Denotatively, ‘Myopia‘ means shortness of sight. In the poem, the reaction of the poet is one of

    disdain, rejection and condemnation of the attitude and conduct of those hypocrites of leaders

    who control all facets of our national life, and all those public administrators who renege in their

    public duty of accountability and responsibility.


    The first stanza depicts a picture of penury, squalor, misery, difficulties and anguish. “On

    rainy mornings / you will see them drenched”. Who are those that are battered by the downpour?

    They are the PEASANTS who in their ’emaciated’ and bony physical appearance, stand

    ‘shivering’ and helpless ‘along the boulevards of misery’. A boulevard is a broad main road

    bordered with trees on the two sides of the road, so when the populace are distressed under the

    circumstance, it means, the people are suffering in the midst of plenty.


    The second stanza shows that the leaders are indeed myopic and bereft of ideas in the running

    of the government of the country. The result is that the ‘Boulevards’ of this country, that is, the

    national monuments are abandoned and left in dilapidated conditions. The ‘railway tracks’, ‘the

    ricepads’ are ‘cordiary of hunger’ instead to beacon of hope, instead of being preserved for the

    entire citizenry, they are consciously made to waste, to the point of degenerating into ‘putrid

    marshlands in my soul’. That shows that the ‘marshlands’ which would have been positioned for

    a good and bounteous harvest, are allowed carelessly to dry up for lack of use of ‘magic



    The third part of the poem reinforces the reaction of the narrator or the persona to the entire

    charade. The poet would like to be an agent of change, hence the narrator would like to be a

    sacrificial lamb of change asking to be made a ‘sabre of that wind’ or the ‘incendiary bomb’.

    This denotes violent change in the statuo quo. To emphasize this, he insists that if the ‘madness’

    is allowed to continue, he should be the ‘hangman’ hanging himself, hanging the leadership or the

    government of the day because it has betrayed the people. By this, the poet calls for an

    egalitarian society for all.



    1 Give a detailed content analysis of the poem, ‘Myopia’.

    2 “Myopia” is a clear representation of the deeds of government in the then Sierra-Leone. Discuss.




    DICTION: Much to say about the diction of the poem is its simplicity of language but a

    powerful imagery. The use of these imageries and the simplicity of the words help us to look

    with pity and feel empathized by this obvious life of callousness and insensitivity of the leaders.

    Though certain words appear to be a bit difficult to decode but the imageries help to lighten the

    difficulties. Such words as: Boulevards (A broad main road bordered with trees on the two sides

    of the road), Emaciated (to grow weak and lean), Anguish (suffering), Putrid (rotten), Marshlands

    (wet land that is good for cultivation), Sabre (a sort of sword) catacombs (underground tombs)

    Incendiary (capable of causing fire) Corollary (a follow-up).

    ONOMATOPOEIA: The following words as deployed in the poem suggest their meanings and

    further help to recapture the helpless conditions of the downtrodden. Consider these: ‘peasants’,

    ‘shivering’, ’emaciated’, ‘anguish’, ‘putrid’ ‘catacombs’, ‘magic’, ‘skeleton’ etc.

    IMAGERY: The poem recaptures vividly the level of decay and spiritual rottenness of the

    leaders and states that the suffering of the people is a moral question, which those who are at the helm of affairs would answer. The poem is made to be picturesque by the use of such words as ‘

    emaciated bones’, ‘putrid marshlands’, ‘hangman hanging’ etc.

    REPETITION: The words repeated are ‘Boulevards’, which is used metaphorically as in

    ‘Boulevards of misery’ and ‘hanging’. The frustration of the people will lead to people hanging

    themselves which the persona in the poem wants to exemplify.

    MODE / TONE: Certainly, the moods prevalent in the poem are that of helplessness, dejection,

    misery and frustration, while the tone is that of anger and rejection of the entire system that

    makes nonsense of the people’s potentials and keep them in a perpetual bondage.

    METAPHOR: ‘The railway tracks in my heart’ is a metaphorical expression of abandonment of

    the country’s great assets and so is the ‘train of anguish’. The ‘incendiary bomb’ highlights the

    danger that lurks ahead in an obvious situation where injustice, deceit and betrayal prevail. ‘The

    magic fertilizers’ is another metaphorical expression which shows the rapid way the fertilizers

    help to turn out agricultural yields in quantum.


    The theme of hypocrisy and mischief.

    The theme of pain, anguish and frustration.

    The theme of disillusionment and disappointment.

    The theme of objection to corrupt practices.


    1.  Discuss two major themes of the poem, ‘Myopia’.

    2.  Discuss the diction of the poem ‘Myopia’.


    1.  Repetition is usually used in literacy works to _______

    (a) assess (b) emphasize (c) exaggerate (d) expose (e) modify

    2.  “She was found without her flower” is an example of ______

    (a) alliteration (b) allusion (c) apostrophe (d) metaphor (e) simile

    3.  The figure of speech used in the statement “The village lost its beautiful structures, glory and its inhabitants to the inferno” is _______

    (a) anticlimax (b) antithesis (c) climax (d) epigram (e) paradox

    4.  “The child is the father of the man” illustrates the use of ______

    (a) exaggeration (b) metaphor (c) oxymoron (d) paradox (e) personification

    5.  Rhetorical questions are used in literary works to achieve the following EXCEPT _____

    (a) creating awareness (b) drawing a point home (c) emphasizing a point (d) jettisoning the writer’s position (e) reinforcing a point



    1.  “Myopia” mirrors the life of the then Sierra-Leonean. Discuss.

    2.  Discuss the use of imagery and symbolism in the poem, ‘Myopia’.



    1 The Mastery of Literature for 2011 to 2015 by Iwuchukwu Chinweikpe Esq., 47-51.




    by Asare Konadu









    The plot structure of the book, A Woman in Her Prime (1967) by Asare Konadu is a simple and straight forward one with bits of flashback to aid appreciation of the text by its readers. The story of the book develops in sequence of events with diversions into the stream of thoughts of the central character which encourage proper understanding of the subject matter.

     The plot account begins with the presence of Pokuwaa. She is seen to have returned from the stream and eager to get set for the day’s spiritual rites in Tano’s house. Her excitement is seen as she slipped on the stone floor and had to step into the wooden water container to steady herself (P5). After taking her bath, she notices that one of the requirement for the consultation and sacrifice, the black hen, which cost her over six miles’ travel to the next village, Nsutem, and a non – negotiable fee of two hundred cowries, is not found at the spot she tied it to in her compound. Since she is in a hurry to take her turn in time, Pokuwaa runs out of her compound in search of the jet – black hen. On her arrival with the hen, Kwadwo, her husband is seen waiting for her. It continues that when she arrived from consulting with the gods on Tanofie day, she carried out the instructions of the priest of Tano, but missed the sacrifice on the first day. Having waited for six months, and no result, she decides to visit the priest to find out what the problem is. On getting there, she is told that she disobeyed the rules of the gods by looking back after the early morning bath which she confessed to; and that she must go over the sacrifice again for her prayers of motherhood be answered by Tano.

     With Koramoa’s visit to Pokuwaa, it becomes glaring that Kwadwo Fordwuo is Pokuwaa’s third husband. The first is her childhood lover, Kofi Daafo, who later marries her. The second is Kwaku Fosu. But they were both left by her for the same reason of childlessness. Also, from Pokuwaa’s thoughts and the writer’s use of flashback, we realize that she becomes pregnant for Kwadwo at the earlier stage of their marriage, but later experiences miscarriage. It follows that since that moment Pokuwaa, her mother, and her husband have been consistent and persistent, that she goes through all necessary spiritual rites that will endear the gods to bless her with a child of her own. Throughout the text, the plot account reveals Pokuwaa to be involved in farming and the new yam festival, feeding of their ancestors, encountering the dead body of Boakye beside her farm at Disemi, killing of the hornbill of the spirits, showing kindness to little children and being appreciated by the old chief at her tender age, and Pokuwaa and her mother over the issue of sacrificing to Tano. The plot plies through the terrain of the above – mentioned events to the end, when and where it is discovered that Pokuwaa is pregnant, and everyone celebrates her patience with the gods, and also, congratulate her.


    The setting of the book is a verisimilitude of a real society or community in Africa, in the time past. The textual settings identified are Brenhoma, Ananse, Nsutem and Disemi. But in physical reality, the setting is an offshoot of Ghana. It is a small Ghanaian village that has all the attributes of a traditional Africa society such as the mud and thatch house, the village square, the streams and the farms and the shrines etc


    In the book, A Woman in Her Prime, there are some philosophical messages Konadu intends to pass across to his readers from his African heritage. And one of such themes is the overbearing influence of the gods on mankind or the belief in ancestral worship. With a perusing insight of the novel, one will agree that the lives of the people are hung on the confidence and trust on their gods and ancestors. Right from the opening, we are made to understand that the whole community was at the consultation and sacrifice at the house of Tano for one reason to another. It is a community affair, as the crowd demands turn – taking. This is why Pokuwaa started off early with fetching of water and washing her body, so that, her turn doesn’t elude her. This also avers the fact that not only Pokuwaa is a subject to the dictates of the gods, but also, other members of the community (such as, Koramoa) who go for either thanksgiving or requesting the protection of the gods over their lives. For their farms, the people seek the intervention of the gods. In other words, they have great belief in fetishes, charms and sacrifices. This is why they celebrate and honour the gods of their land during harvest seasons. And where there is short harvest, it is seen as a sign of punishment to the people. The number of gods in Brenhoma also enforces this point. In the text, when the ‘wawa tree’ was struck with a raging fire from lightening, the people attributed it to their gods and ancestors who might have be grieved, so they made some incantations to pacify the gods. This is how the gods are feared and respected; that if you offend, even out of ignorance, you must sacrifice to purify yourself. This is seen in the life of Pokuwaa when she came back home with the hornbill of the spirits from Ananse. Her mother immediately advised purification for her, because of her fear of misfortune from the angry spirits.

     The feeding of the ancestors is also evident, and most pathetic is the case of Pokuwaa. She and, mostly, her mother follow strictly the instructions of the gods through his priest, so that Pokuwaa could bear a child of her own.

     Other themes in the book are the complexities of an African women; communal existence and unity; patience, perseverance and love; futility of divorce and the impotence childbearing etc.


    1. Discuss three themes in the book.
    2. Give a detailed plot account of the novel, A Woman in Her Prime.



    Asare Konadu in his work is rather subtle in the use of characterization. He cleverly presents his characters to avoid any complexities of understanding the relevance of the roles played by his characters in order to have a complete piece of art. Konadu decides to set his story around a female central character, Pokuwaa. That is, he has for his work a heroine, instead of a hero. The gods are also part of his characterization.




    Pokuwaa is the chief protagonist and the heroine of the text. She suffered from the dictates of the gods, and was barren until almost the end of the book. She is seen to be subtle and patient. She is also hardworking and caring to her husband, friend and little children. The story revolves around her. That is, it is all about her life experience as a woman – cum – mother. She is seen to have divorced her previous husbands due to childlessness. She is seen to be easily influenced at the beginning of the book by her mother, but stood her ground at the latter part of the book. She is beautiful and admired by all her husbands, the old chief, and the people of Brenhoma. She married three husbands (Kofi Daafo, kwaku Fosu, and Kwadoo Fordwu) in the book, just to have a child of her one. She is a dance artist in her youth. She is a wise counselor, bold but emotional. She is the only daughter of her mother among five sons, and her father died when she was tender.


    Kwadwo is Pokuwaa’s third husband. He is a loving and caring man, who, though having a first wife, decides to be with Pokuwaa to help her make a reality her dreams of having a child of her own. He is also seen throughout the text to be helpful to Pokuwaa, even in the farm and at home. He is accused by Pokuwaa’s mother of advising Pokuwaa to stop the routine sacrifice. He is seen to express fear whenever Pokuwaa feels moody. He shares Pokuwaa’s pain with her. He also enjoys drinking palm wine.

    THE OLD LADY (Pokuwaa’s mother )

    She is Pokuwaa’s mother, who continues to press her daughter for a grandchild to mourn her when she dies. She is a source of disunity, as she stirs Pokuwaa to divorce her former husbands. She is also an opportunist. This is seen in the times she sends Pokuwaa to the old chief. She is a widow. She believes in tradition and fetishes that she went ahead, outside Pokuwaa’s consent, to make entreaties with the gods. She is a loving mother to Pokuwaa. She accuses Kwadwo of asking his wife, Pokuwaa, to stop carrying out the sacrifices. She becomes a prospective grandmother at the end of the book.


    Koramoa is a friend to Pokuwaa. She is seen to always be by Pokuwaa, when it is important. As a childhood friend to Pokuwaa, she already knows her husband from her tender age. But unlike Pokuwaa, she was patient with Kofi Dede and they had a son. She reported her husband’s flirtatious act for Serwaa to Pokuwaa, and threatens divorce but is advised by Pokuwaa not to. She is among the first witnesses to know that Pokuwaa is pregnant. She avails herself to calls from Pokuwaa. She is a friend in need and indeed to Pokuwaa.




    He is Pokuwaa’s first husband. They fall in love right from their hide and seek games at night at their tender age, and it matures into marriage. Pokuwaa divorces him because he could not make her a mother, and Pokuwaa’s mother a grandmother.


    This is Pokuwa’s second husband. She loves him so much that she felt guilty to have left him. She leaves him because of the pressure from her mother for a grand child.


    She is the lady Kofi Dede flirts with, which provokes koramoa to think of a divorce.


    This is the late chief who rules Brenhoma before his death. He loves Pokuwaa at her tender age and gives her gifts which she takes home to her mother. He also makes Pokuwaa to develop into an admirable dancer. He is known for his wisdom and love for the people of Brenhoma.


    He is the dead man devoid by vultures beside Pokuwaa’s farm at Disemi. His body is seen first by Pokuwaa, and later, by the search team, who brought him back for burial.




    The language of the book is simple and straight forward to understand by average readers. There is a direct transfer of the African sense and meaning into the English Language without altering the grammar and syntax of the English Language. Konadu borrowed richly from his native heritage, just as the names of the characters (Pokuwaa, Kwadwo, Koramoa) villages, festivals, gods and such other words as: Kente, Okra, Yaa Peavo, Nyamekya etc betray. He intelligently replete his book with words from his native dialect, and it did not frustrates proper understanding and appreciation by the readers. To aver this affinity Konadu has with his root, he draws richly from his oral tradition, the songs sung during the moonlit and festive seasons in his traditional community. These, he subtly harnessed in the book for aestheticism. Another style identified in his book, is Konadu’s creative use of flashback to aim acute understanding by his readers. Through this, his readers are made to know who Pokuwaa’s first and second husbands really are, and the reason for her divorcing them. It is stylistically done to link the early experiences of Pokuwaa into the present, then to the future before his readers. His choice for a female central character, a heroine, is also a uniqueness of the book. His language and style employed in the book, depicts Konada as a unique writer with strings attached to his African source.


    1 Discuss Konadu’s narrative technique in his book, A Woman in Her Prime.

    2 Discuss Pokuwaa’s mother as a character in the text.



    1. A praise poem is (a) a dirge (b) an epic (c) an ode (d) a ballad
    2. Lines of regular recurrence in a poem constitutes (A) a refrain (b) an alliteration (c) an assonance (d) a theme
    3. A regular group of lines in poetry constitutes (a) Stanza (b) verse (c) rhythm (d) metre
    4. An individual who acts , appears or is referred to as playing a part in a in a literary work is a (A) villain (b) character (c) clown (d)narrator
    5. A bitter remark intended to wound the feeling is (a) satire (b) an allusion (c) a sarcasm (d) an ambiguity


    1. How efficient is Konadu’s use of words from his African heritage in his book?
    2. Discuss the character of Pokuwaa to the sacrifices made.



    Essential Literature-in-English for SSS (second edition) 2011-2015 by Ibitola, A. O., 121-










    William Wordsworth (1770-1880) was born at Cockermouth and lost his father and mother at 13 and 8 respectively. He visited France between 1790 and 1792 during which period he became a revolutionary but the reign of terror that subsequently attended the French Revolution forced him to change his mind. It is typical of Wordsworth’s poems to emphasize the importance of the inner self. He is a major English poet who helped launch the Romantic age of English Literature.


    Daffodil whose short form ‘daff’, is a yellow type of flower. In the first stanza, the poet is preoccupied with an amazement of high proportion just as the ‘cloud’ appears in the sky and ‘floats on high o’er vale and hills’ and so is his gaze. A form of illustration of his amazement is when a thunder flashes across the sky, and a young damsel in imitation, flaunts her legs up the sky, and concludes that as above so below. Wordsworth gives the impression here in ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ that he is floating in the sky like a cloud looking down at the valleys and hills and in an instant, there appears a host of golden daffodils. In the last line of the first stanza, the movement of the daffodils is described as “fluttering and dancing in the breeze”. In stanza two, daffodils keep on towering like a shining ‘stars’ and ‘twinkle on the Milky Way’. The expansion or growth of the daffodils knows no bound. They spread to far distances like the stars on the ‘Milky Way’. Daffodils are seen as well along the margin of the bay. As many as ‘ten thousand’ daffodils spotted and noticed in a jiffy by the poet and found losing their leads in sprightly dance which describes the motion of the several thousands of the flowers tossing their heads in ‘sprightly dance’.

    In the first line of stanza three, the poet applies a contrast as the main subject matter of the poem receives less attention which now shifts to the waves of the sea and floats as if it were dancing. But the daffodils however ‘out did the sparkling waves in glee’ (delight). The daffodils are a delight to watch. The poet could not but be ‘gay’ and happy in such jocund (merry) company. The poet is eclipsed in the amazing world of the daffodils. In ‘I gazed – and gazed – but little thought’, shows a period of time that has passed away while the poet ponders on the beauty of the daffodils. The expression ‘What wealth the show to me had brought’ depicts the extent of joy in the mind of the poet which is what daffodils had generated in terms of value and beauty.

    The final lap of the poem reflects Wordsworth’s observation in the past at an old age. He visualizes and feels the presence and beauty of the flower called daffodils even when he is lying on the couch with nothing on his mind or when he is in deep thought. In loneliness, and at other times, he takes pleasure in his heart on this thing of joy which is nature at its best called the daffodils. In the final line of the last stanza, the poet demonstrates that he can move freely with the daffodils at all times hence he dances with it.


    1.  How relevant is the poem, ‘Daffodils’, to your contemporary society?

    2.  Give a content analysis of the poem, ‘Daffodils’.



    FORM: The poem is structured into four stanzas with six lines in every stanza. The poem is written in form of a lyric. It has a regular rhyme scheme throughout the entire poem. In the first stanza, it rhymes AB, AB with a rhyming couplet CC. The same pattern is maintained throughout the poem with pentameter rhythm which varies slightly from 7-9 syllables in each line.

    PERSONIFICATION: This literary device is exemplified in the poem by:

    1.  “Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”.

    2.  “Tossing their heads in sprightly dance”.

    3.  “The waves beside them danced”.

    In number 1 above, the poet compares the waving of the daffodils to human dancing. This makes the picture graphic and memorable. In number 2, the motion of the flowers is made more picturesque and the attribute of a living flower which is movement is highlighted. And number 3, the line recalls the mood of the poet and brings out a contrast between the waves and daffodils.

    HYPERBOLE: A deliberate exaggeration is employed in almost all the lines in stanza two but particularly in daffodils as “the stars that shine/And twinkle on the Milky Way”. The effect of this device is that it makes the action and ordinary size of daffodils look bigger and very important.

    ENJAMBMENT: Enjambment is common throughout the poem. It helps to express ideas clearly and enables us to see exactly how the poem should be read and understood.

    IMAGERY/SYMBOLISM: The poem employs a number of images to describe the beauty of the flower. Thus, by the imageries deployed, the movement and pleasure of the daffodils are appreciated. By using yellow flower, and thus yellow colour, the contrast with other flowers in the countryside is greatly enhanced. On the other hand, flowers are perhaps one of the main symbols of happiness in the world. This is because of their bright colours and its importance to man. Daffodils stand for happiness in the poem.

    REPETITION: The following words are repeated in the poem (e.g.) “gazed-and gazed”. The repetition shows the period of time that has passed while the poet discovers the daffodils and its beauty.

    ALLITERATION: Alliterative examples are “the stars shine” (‘s’ alliterates), ‘ten thousand’ (‘t’ alliterates), dance…. Daffodils (‘d’ alliterates). With these alliterative lines above, the musical quality of the poem is enhanced, and together with the rhyming scheme in the poem, the poem produces a concord and the entire poem flows like a gentle river. Thus the quality of the poem is further appreciated by the powerful rhythm of the lines. Imagine the harmony in the following rhymes – cloud/crowd, free/breeze, shine/line, glance/dance, thought /bought, lie / eye etc.

    TONE / MOOD: The poem generates a general mood of awesomeness and might, and expressed in a gay and happy tones.

    DICTION: The lyrical quality of the poem is enhanced by the common words used therein. The syntax of the poem is fairly simple. The understanding of the theme, mood and tone are enhanced by ordinary language deployed. It is only few words that are a bit difficult as in ‘fluttering’, ‘tossing’, ‘jocund’, ‘pensive’ (meditative) ‘sparkling’ etc. These words are equally onomatopoeic which in turn enhances the understanding of the poem as they suggest their meanings.


    1.  The splendid and impressive nature of daffodils.

    2.  The happiness therein in nature.



    1.  Discuss the poetic devices employed in the poem, ‘Daffodils’.

    2.  Identify and discuss three themes of the poem, ‘Daffodils’.



    1.  Sound in poetry is often exploited through the following except __________

     (a) alliteration (b) assonance (c) consonance   (d) oxymoron (e) onomatopoeia

    2.  The literary device used in evoking the mental picture of an idea is called _____

     (a) allusion (b) apostrophe (c) flash back (d) imagery (e) symbolism

    3.  The use of professional fools (clowns) in drama is primarily to ________

     (a) cause commotion (b) create comic relief   (c) develop the plot  

     (d) heighten emotion (e) heighten the language

    4.  The following are features of poetry except__________

     (a) chapter (b) inversion (c) repetition (d) rhyme  (e) sound effect

    5.  A poem that extols the qualities of a hero is called a/an ________

     (a) epic (b) lyric (c) parody (d) pun (e) sonnet



    1.  How does William Wordsworth present nature as the answer to the ills of civilization?

    2.  Discuss the structure of the poem, ‘Daffodils’.


    1 The Mastery of Literature for 2011 to 2015 by Iwuchukwu Chinweikpe Esq., 77-81.




    We are the natives of the street

    holed –up under the bridges

    we are necessary

    we are part of your existence

    major fragments of the globe

    as the day chameleons to night

    you slump in the warmth of your beds

    and the heat of loved ones

    we also embrace the cozy

    cardboard beds laid on stinks

    as the night injects us with cool breeze

    and endurance.

    We sleep and dream

    And have conferences with

    The indigenes of the elusive world

    when it’s day, in bundle

    we pack our belongings

    And move on with our days

    standing, kneeling, and bending

    to beg for alms just for the day

    necessary part of your society

    translators of your dreams

    carriers of your burdens

    Angels, we open gates

    of your blessings

    We are the lack

    that takes your lack

    We are homeless, not hopeless

    This make us rile at hereafter

    when death opens the gate

    to the second phase.








    Sola Owonibi, poet and playwright, bagged his first and second degree from the department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. At present, he is undergoing his P.H.D programme in university of Ibadan specializing in literature and medicine. He is a member of Association of Nigeria Authors (ANA), and also of the International Society of Poets (ISP). He teaches creative writing and mass communication at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria. Sola is the winner of the Editor’s Choice Award, 1995, international Open Poetry Contest of National Library of Poetry, Maryland, USA.



    The poem opens with the speaker asserting that they are the native of the street that are trapped and live ‘under bridges’. They go further to declare that they form ‘major fragments of the globe’. The beggars are ‘necessary part of (our) existence’. As the days go by, and as daybreak gives rise to night, people ‘slump in the warmth of (their) beds’ and for married couples, they embrace each other in the comfort of their beds, but for the beggars, theirs is ‘the cardboard beds laid on stinks’.

    As the sun shines on the rice, so does it to the poor. This is the handiwork of nature which does not discriminate on the basis of status, race, standing, position etc; it works good for everybody. The ‘ same night’ which injects the rich with ‘cool breeze’, does so for the poor.

    As these homeless poor put it in stanza two, thus:


    We sleep and dream

     and hold conference with

    the indigenes of the exclusive world

    The above statement shows how vulnerable and endangered this poor segment of the society is. They are here interacting with bad boys at night. The robbers, the ruffians and all manner of dangerous people come together and their guests are these beggars at night. The pathetic situation of these beggars is graphically presented by these poor speakers themselves in the following words:


    When it’s day, in buddle

    we pack our belongings

    and move on with our days

    standing, kneeling and bending

    to beg for alms just for the day

    The beggars are ‘necessary part’ of the ‘society’ because through them, the rich would measure the blessing upon which they have been blessed by God. If the rich would name their blessings one by one, it would surprise them what the Lord has done for them.

    The prayers of the righteous man availed much, the Christian bible says. The aim of any living being would better be realized by moving and showing love and charity to every body, including the beggars. And when this loves is shown, God would most certainly answer one’s prayers and so the beggars become a vehicle through which dreams are translated to reality and also in this vein, becomes a carrier of one’s ‘burden’. What this therefore means is that the beggars become ‘Angels’ who open gate to people’s ‘blessings’.

    In the fourth and final stanza of the poem, the beggars reinforce their angelic and mascot-like role for all men of goodwill, hence ‘we are the lack/that take your lack’. Furthermore, notwithstanding that the beggars are homeless just as Jesus Christ of Nazareth would say, ‘foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head’. The situation they maintain is not hopeless because every charitable work or otherwise shall have a reward, so they reason, that their sufferings in this world would definitely prepare a place hereafter, by which they mean heaven, ‘when death opens the gate/to the second phase’.



    1 Give a detailed content analysis of the poem.

    2 Discuss the background that enforced the writing of this poem.



    The need to help the less fortunate members of the society

    The material and spiritual benefit of being charitable

    We reap whatever we sow.



    DICTION: The general language of the poem is direct, precise, exact and simple. Through the simple words used the image of the beggars, who stand, kneel and bend to beg for alms are clearly conveyed. Few words ‘fragments’ (small potion), and ‘elusive’ (difficult to find) are words a bit difficult for an average reader.

    IRONY: It is ironical that the beggars who ordinarily are normal human being, who should be living in decent houses and good environment, are now living under the bridge and street, that they now assume the status of ‘natives of the street’. It is also ironic that those who form ‘major fragment of the globe’ are native of the street and hold-up under bridges. And also their warm embrace becomes the ‘cozy cardboard beds laid on stinks’. Indeed every line of the poem contains a doze or tinge of irony.

    PARADOX: It is paradoxical, that the beggars ‘are the lacks/ that take your lack’. How does this happen? The beggars lack a lot of social amenities and other good thing of life. Already, their lives become a life of sacrifice which the rich could convert to advantage.

    METAPHOR: The following metaphorical usages are made of ‘chameleons’ and ‘Angels’. In the first instance, just as the animal, chameleon, changes its colour as it move quickly away, so does day moves with its uncertainty to night. And as angel would bring blessing to human being, so would beggars open gate of fortune to people who care for them. The use of the above metaphors gives us visual sense of time and divine intervention in our lives.

    REPETITION: There are repetitions of ‘we’, and ‘your’ to underscore the two groups of people involved, the beggars and the fortunate ones. Other repetition are ‘day’ and ‘night’, ‘dreams’, ‘homeless’, ‘hopeless’, ‘part’, ‘ing’, ( as standing, kneeling, and bending) ‘lack’. They help to reinforce the subject matter of the poem.

    TONE/ MOOD: The poet’s attitude to the poem is that of usage of two words, couched in ironies. There is a general tone of suffering and rejection in the first and second stanzas of the poem, while the third and final stanzas present the tone of hope and consolation. The mood is that of sympathy and emotion.



    1 Discuss two major themes of the poem

    2 Discuss the diction of the poem



    Choose from the right option that best answer the following questions

  13. A ballad is a (a) love story told by a singing poet (b) poem that tells a folk story  (c) poem bearing a thesis and an antithesis (d) poem bearing an interesting climatic


  14. In poetry an image reveals one of the following  (a) theme (b) intent (c) refrain (d) rhyme
  15. One of the following applies to both tragic and comic plays (a) temper (b) happy ending  (c) climax (d) sympathetic ending
  16. A poem is said to be good if it  (a) has rhyme and reason  (b) has a regular rhyme  

    (c) is difficult to understand  (d) has elevated style

  17. We describe as ‘tragic flaw’ the  (a) element of plot whose prominence makes an artistic

    work faulty (b) unsuccessful play written by an otherwise wonderful dramatist (c) slip

    made by a character which result in his fall (d) typographical error which recurs in a

    work of drama


    1 Discuss the use of imagery and symbolism in the poem.

    2  Highlight the poet’s perception of life in the Nigerian society.z


    1 The Mastery of Literature for 2011 to 2015 by Iwuchukwu Chinweikpe Esq., 43-47.

    2 Essential Literature-in-English for SSS (second edition) 2011-2015 by Ibitola, A. O., 226-














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