Half Caste Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:15
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The two poems I am going to compare are I am not that Woman by Kishwar Naheed and Half Caste by John Agard. Although these poems are essentially about different things, with I am not that woman being about a feminist and Half Caste about skin colour, underneath this they are both about being prejudiced against somebody for no real reason. The poem Half Caste begins with the words Excuse me standing on one leg Im half caste. This is an almost apologetic beginning to the poem, it immediately shows that being mixed race is seen as negative, and that the person is unsure of himself, because of this view.

In contrast, I am not that Woman starts very strongly with the title words I am not that woman. This, although also creating a feel that women are being treated unfairly, shows that the person in this poem is far stronger in her views that it is unjust, and will not stand for it, whereas the beginning of the other poem leads us to believe that the person will put up with the unfair treatment. Half Caste then goes on to question why when picasso mix red and green is not a half caste canvas.

This, as well as the example of the half caste symphony, by Tchaikovsky, is used because these also use half caste things but these are accepted, and even highly regarded. Therefore, the poet is reasoning that he shouldnt be discriminated against when there are lots of things that are mixed that the whites view in high esteem. He is asking why they arent treated in the same unfair way as he is. This could also have an ironic side, as he is pointing out that the whites are so prejudiced against mixed race people and yet some of the things that they hold in the very highest esteem are mixed colours.

He carries on questioning in the above way, as though trying to find the answer as to why he is treated as different, when, as he points out, English weather is in their definition, half caste, i. e. mixed. It is a moment where the author shows his utter and complete bewilderment that the English can discriminate against him, when something that is so much a part of them, the weather, is half caste, and therefore, in their opinion, inferior. He cant understand why he is discriminated against by people who are actually linked to half caste things, just like himself.

He is asking why he is treated unjustly when so many other things are mixed. Here there is also a play on words, with the weather being described as overcast and the poem being about a half caste person. This play again links the weather more strongly to being mixed as the word is very similar to half caste. I am not that Woman also goes on to talk about being treated unfairly because she was a woman, who would be thought of as inferior. It is also likely that she was black as she talks about custom and tradition which is generally more associated with black societies.

However, we are shown in this poem that she has not just accepted it but has fought strongly for her right to be treated the same as everyone else. She says my voice cannot be smothered by stones. By describing how she has fought against prejudice, is it obvious that this woman, like the man in Half Caste, has been discriminated against. It also literally says that I was the one you hid in your walls of stone, which can be taken to mean that she wasnt allowed to do what she wanted but was controlled, which is a form of discrimination and prejudice.

However, the difference between the two poems is that, in I am not that Woman, the person stayed strong and is succeeding despite it; where as the other person is struggling along complaining that it is not fair, and as explained in the previous paragraph, questioning why they are being treated like this. It seems that the person in Half Caste possibly only deals with the discrimination by being ironical, taking the idea of half caste to extreme examples to make it clear how foolish a thing it is to discriminate against someone for it.

The person in I am not that Woman has not bothered with this, and has merely fought her way through the unpleasantness until she succeeded in breaking free. The two poems therefore show two very different ways of dealing with a similar situation. The next stanza in Half Caste says Ah looking at yu wid de keen half of mih eye. This coupled with other similar references in the stanza, again shows how he is worried and squashed down by the treatment he is receiving. It also makes the reader feel that he is trapped in a certain way and unable to use his whole self, simply because he is not accepted by the community.

The word keen could also refer to the fact that he sees the white people completely clearly and can see them for what they are, in his view narrow minded and vicious people as they are unfairly prejudiced against him, and is not fooled by any exterior. He is quite clever enough to know the type of people they are and know what they are doing. I am not that Woman also makes several mentions to the idea of being confined by the way she is thought of. She tells us how she was crushed, bought and sold, and a commodity you traded in.

However, the contrast between the two is again that the woman in this poem also mentions that light cannot be hidden in darkness and my voice cannot be smothered by stones. This creates a feeling in the reader that the woman is fighting and still believes that she will become somebody free and equal. Although she also was restricted she has fought to be released from her unfair treatment. The idea in the two poems is of the person who is treated badly being hampered while all the others are free, also has a difference in the way it is dealt with.

In Half Caste we are told I offer yu half a hand which establishes the impression that the person is limited, because he is not the same, and cannot use all of himself. This leads us to the feeling that the people who are accepted in community are free to do what they want, especially as some of the references to famous people who also mix tell us that they are accepted as normal, where as the people who have not done something great, have to fit in as a white person and cannot be mixed as they are then hindered.

In I am not that Woman we are given images of her hid in your walls of stone, which is again the image of being trapped because of who you are. It also mentions you roamed free as the breeze. This shows us very definitely that one person is restricted, while the ones that fit in, in this case men, in the other poem white people, are unbound. The difference is that in this poem she says chains cannot smother my fragrance. This shows that she still feels she could, and should, be free, and as a consequence, we are made to feel that she is becoming more and more so.

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