Select Page
IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 5

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 5

Edexcel English IGCSE: An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi

Q5. How does the poet address the theme of being multi-cultural in ‘An Unknown Girl’?

Consider these points in your answer:

  • the setting of the poem;
  • the speaker’s thoughts and feelings;
  • the writer’s use of words, phrases and techniques.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The theme of multi-culturalism is expressed through the setting of the poem – a bazaar in India which has Western influences – and through the identity of the speaker, who both celebrates and struggles with her Indian and Western cultures.

The setting of the poem is a combination of Western and Indian influences, which show a physical side to multi-culturalism. The bazaar is “studded with neon”, showing the Western influence of cheap, garish signage on the traditional Indian setting. Although these signs contribute to the positive description of the colours that “float like balloons”, there is a degree of violence implied by the verb “studded”. This creates the impression that the relationship between the two cultures might be slightly troubled. Similarly, the Western-style dummies “tilt and stare”, adding a sinister element to the shop-fronts. Thus the setting reflects the slightly troubled multi-cultural identity of the speaker.

The speaker experiences both positive and negative elements to her multi-cultural identity. She clearly has a positive experience of India. She feels an affinity with the hennaing girl, which is expressed through the descriptions of their tender physical contact (lines 7-10). The banners in the bazaar “canopy” her; this word has connotations of safety, showing how comfortable she is in this Indian setting. Furthermore, the henna tattoo, which symbolises her Indian heritage, is discussed with tenderness and fondness: “soft as a snail trail”. The tenderness of this simile is enhanced by the sibilance and assonance; the speaker’s Indian culture is depicted as fragile and beautiful. Through these positive descriptions, the speaker celebrates multi-culturalism.

On the other hand, there are tensions involved in having a multi-cultural identity. For example, the fragility of the speaker’s Indian identity means that there is anxiety in her need to hold onto it. She is “clinging” to the henna tattoo (and therefore to her Indian culture): a strong verb that implies desperation and fear of loss. The transience of the henna is poignantly symbolic, as it represents the fading of her closeness to Indian culture once she leaves the country. Line 44 is one of only two lines in the poem with no enjambment, emphasising the finality of the henna’s impermanence. The final image of the poem is of the speaker “with [her] hands outstretched”, reaching out like a child, showing how much she will miss India. Thus whilst experiencing and enjoying India is a positive thing, there are negative elements to having such a split, multi-cultural identity.

To conclude, multi-culturalism is shown to be an enhancing experience, both for the setting and for the speaker’s identity. However, there are also difficulties in having one’s identity split between two cultures, largely because the closeness that one feels to one’s culture can be delicate and transient.

Students also browsed:

免費
【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤系列

【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤

詳細內容

Free
Conjunction examples and pdf exercisesbecause in order to/so as to so so that although but so... that...

Conjunctions examples and exercises pdf – Course 1

See more...

免費
HKDSE Paper 2 Writing model essays 香港高級文憑試英文寫作卷二模擬作文

HKDSE Paper 2 Writing 寫作卷 Model Essays 合集

詳細內容

« » page 1 / 7

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 4

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 4

Edexcel English IGCSE: An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi

Q4. How does the poet bring out the tensions in the speaker’s identity in ‘An Unknown Girl’?

You should write about the following:

  • the speaker’s thoughts and feelings while being hennaed;
  • the description of the bazaar;
  • the writer’s use of language techniques.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Through the description of the bazaar and the speaker’s thoughts and feelings while being given a henna tattoo, the reader learns about the tensions between the speaker’s Indian and Western identities.

The description of the bazaar shows the speaker’s love for India, but also reveals her discomfort at being a Western ‘intrusion’ on the scene. Indian words such as “bazaar”, “hennaing” and “kameez” inform the reader that the poem is set in India, but there are also Western influences on the scene which are described as uncomfortably clashing with their setting. The neon lights “studded” the bazaar, implying violence, as the lights seem to penetrate the scene. The dummies with their “Western perms” are said to “tilt and stare”, which makes them sound eerie. This personification reveals the speaker’s self-consciousness. It is almost as though the dummies are staring in accusation, as she herself is a Western intrusion in an Indian scene. These perceived conflicts in the setting symbolise the tensions within the speaker’s multi-cultural identity.

The henna tattoo symbolises the speaker’s Indian identity, which she celebrates in this poem. She describes the tattoo as giving her “new brown veins”; this metaphor shows that she feels that receiving the tattoo is providing her with more of an Indian identity, as though the Indian culture is flowing in her blood. That this short sentence is on a line of its own shows the significance of this experience to the speaker. She speaks tenderly about the tattoo, describing the lines as “soft as a snail trail”; the combination of assonance and sibilance here create a gentle, reflective tone. She is clearly fond of her Indian identity, and enjoys its embodiment through the henna tattoo. The symbolic significance she assigns to the tattoo, however, suggests that she needs a physical reminder of her Indian identity to feel that it is truly part of her.

However, the tension arises as the speaker portrays the tattoo, and thus her connection to her Indian identity, as delicate and even fleeting. She is “clinging” to the tattoo, showing her desperation to keep hold of her Indian culture. The line, “It will fade in a week” contains simple, monosyllabic language, which creates a sad, regretful tone. This description reveals the tendency of her Indian connection to slip away over time. The poem concludes with the moving image of the speaker “with [her] hands outstretched” towards the memory of this experience. This shows that she is aware of how her memories of India, and thus her connection to her Indian identity, will fade over time.

The speaker is very attached to her Indian identity, but there is tension in her knowledge that she is not entirely Indian, and that this element of her identity will fade.

Students also browsed:

免費
【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤系列

【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤

詳細內容

Free
Conjunction examples and pdf exercisesbecause in order to/so as to so so that although but so... that...

Conjunctions examples and exercises pdf – Course 1

See more...

免費
HKDSE Paper 2 Writing model essays 香港高級文憑試英文寫作卷二模擬作文

HKDSE Paper 2 Writing 寫作卷 Model Essays 合集

詳細內容

« » page 1 / 7

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 3

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 3

Edexcel English IGCSE: An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi 

Q3. What do we learn about the speaker of ‘An Unknown Girl’ from the descriptions of the setting in the poem?

You should consider the following points in your answer:

  • the description of the bazaar;
  • the speaker’s relationship with India;
  • the writer’s use of language.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In this poem, the speaker uses the setting to reflect her the conflicts between the Western and Indian elements of her identity. She has a close relationship with her Indian culture, yet is troubled by the intrusion of her Western identity.

Overall, the setting of the poem is described positively, showing the speaker’s close relationship with India and its culture. The writer appeals to the reader’s senses to vividly portray the peaceful experience of being given a henna tattoo in the evening bazaar. The “little air” and the artist’s “satin-peach knee” evoke a gentle, soft touch. The streets are “hushed”, creating a peaceful scene. There is also a visual feast for the reader, as the speaker describes the sights of the bazaar around her. In a particularly vivid image, the speaker describes the colours which “float up like balloons”. The setting is colourful and beautiful, and this child-like simile reflects the speaker’s joy at the sight of the colours, which are gently floating away as evening draws in. The banners in the bazaar “canopy” her; this word has strong connotations of protection, showing that she feels safe and happy in her current environment. Through this positive description of the beautiful and peaceful scene, we can infer that the speaker feels comfortable and relaxed in the bazaar, reflecting a sense of belonging to this scene.

However, there are also Western influences on the scene; the speaker’s portrayal of these as rather welcome intrusions reflects her own discomfort at being both Indian and Western. The second line begins with the word “studded” to describe the neon lights, which are a Western product adopted by India relatively recently. This word implies some violence and discomfort, meaning that the combination of Western and Indian cultures is portrayed as troublesome from the very beginning of the poem. The “Western perms” of the dummies also seem out of place. Their presence is portrayed as sinister by the speaker, as they “tilt and stare”, which makes them seem eerie. The idea that the dummies are staring is an example of personification, and perhaps hints that the speaker feels self-conscious in their presence. These uncomfortable descriptions of Western elements of the setting reflect the speaker’s discomfort at the combination of cultures in her own identity. Perhaps she sees herself as another Western intrusion on this traditionally Indian scene. This discomfort is also addressed in her descriptions of the henna tattoo, which symbolises her Indian identity, but fades away over time.

The speaker loves India and its culture, and feels at home in the traditional environment of the bazaar. However, the Western intrusions on the scene reflect her own struggle to embrace both the Indian and Western aspects of her identity.

Students also browsed:

免費
【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤系列

【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤

詳細內容

Free
Conjunction examples and pdf exercisesbecause in order to/so as to so so that although but so... that...

Conjunctions examples and exercises pdf – Course 1

See more...

免費
HKDSE Paper 2 Writing model essays 香港高級文憑試英文寫作卷二模擬作文

HKDSE Paper 2 Writing 寫作卷 Model Essays 合集

詳細內容

« » page 1 / 7

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 2

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 2

Edexcel English IGCSE: An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi 

Q2. In Monika Alvi’s poem, ‘An Unknown Girl’, how does the speaker feel about her identity?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • the speaker’s relationship with India;
  • the speaker’s thoughts and feelings while being hennaed;
  • the writer’s use of words, phrases and techniques.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In ‘An Unknown Girl’, Moniza Alvi expresses the conflicts in identity created by belonging to more than one culture. In this poem, the speaker struggles with her Western and Indian cultures.

The conflicts between Western and Indian culture within the bazaar reflect the conflicts within the speaker’s identity. Whilst words like “bazaar”, “hennaing” and “kameez” capture the Indian authenticity of the scene, there are intruding elements such as “neon” lights, “Western perms” and banners advertising “Miss India”. These Western elements are often accompanied by vocabulary hinting at the speaker’s sense that they do not belong there, such the dummies which “tilt and stare”, as if in accusation. These perceived conflicts, though slight, are symbolic of the speaker’s inner conflict of identity: she is part of both cultures, and feels both at home and out of place in the bazaar.

The henna tattoo symbolises the speaker’s attachment to India and her own Indian identity. This symbolism is most explicitly revealed in her description of the henna as “brown veins”; this metaphor shows that she desires the Indian culture to be an inherent part of her identity, as if it is flowing through her blood. The tenderness she shows towards the henna tattoo, then, reflects her fondness for the Indian part of her identity. For example, she describes it as “soft as a snail trail”: a simile in which the sibilance and internal rhyme create a gentle and tender tone. She describes the henna as having a life of its own: “a peacock spreads its lines across my palm”. This personification of the inanimate tattoo shows that she feels that her Indian identity is alive in her.

However, her attachment to the Indian part of her identity is presented as tenuous. She is desperate to keep hold of her Indian identity. She is “clinging” to the tattoo, and uses a simile referencing Indian culture – “like people who cling to the sides of a train” – to show her knowledge and awareness of the culture, and her need to keep hold of this. There is a sad tone of regret in the line, “It will fade in a week.” This very short sentence on a line of its own reflects the finality of the tattoo’s disappearance; it shows that the speaker is fearful of the Indian elements of her identity fading away when she leaves India. The final image of the poem is the speaker with her “hands outstretched” towards her experience of Indian culture, showing her “longing” for her Indian identity.

The speaker of this poem is struggling with having more than one cultural identity. She loves India, but is aware that this element of her identity fades away once she leaves

Students also browsed:

免費
【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤系列

【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤

詳細內容

Free
Conjunction examples and pdf exercisesbecause in order to/so as to so so that although but so... that...

Conjunctions examples and exercises pdf – Course 1

See more...

免費
HKDSE Paper 2 Writing model essays 香港高級文憑試英文寫作卷二模擬作文

HKDSE Paper 2 Writing 寫作卷 Model Essays 合集

詳細內容

« » page 1 / 7

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 1

IGCSE Set 1 An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi Model Essays Question 1

Edexcel English IGCSE: An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi 

Q1. How does Monika Alvi show the speaker’s feelings about India in ‘An Unknown Girl’?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • the setting of the poem;

  • the speaker’s experience of being hennaed;

  • the use of language techniques.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The speaker has a complex relationship with India. She loves the culture, as expressed through the description of the setting and her experience of being hennaed. However, she is also troubled by the Western elements of the scene and the conflicts in her identity.

The speaker’s description of the setting shows her love for India, but also her discomfort at the intrusion of Western influences. The traditional setting of the “evening bazaar” has been influenced by Western technology: “studded with neon”. The word “studded” implies violence, suggesting that the speaker experiences some discomfort at the Western influences on the otherwise traditional scene. Similarly, the dummies “tilt and stare” with their Western hairstyles, which is a somewhat sinister image. Nevertheless, the speaker feels comfortable and at home in this Indian environment. Banners “for curtain cloth and sofa cloth canopy” her: the alliteration and repetition of “cloth” in this description create a gentle tone, and the word “canopy” has connotations of protection and safety, showing that she feels comforted by the setting.

Being hennaed is a pleasant and intimate experience for the speaker, and shows her enjoyment of traditional Indian practices. The use of the present tense creates a sense of immediacy, as if the speaker is reliving the pleasant memory. The phrase “an unknown girl is hennaing my hand” is repeated three times throughout the poem, repeatedly bringing the reader back to this key image, and showing that the speaker is relishing the memory. The description of the experience is tender, as their hands are touching, and the speaker’s hand is resting on “her satin-peach knee”. Both satin and peaches have a soft texture, and this description of the girl’s clothing thus appeals to the reader’s sense of touch. The experience of being hennaed thus captures the speaker’s love for Indian practices and culture.

The henna is symbolic of the speaker’s Indian culture, and her warmth towards it shows her love for India. She describes it with great tenderness, such as with the simile “soft as a snail trail”. The internal rhyme and sibilance in this description reflect her quiet appreciation of it. However, she describes herself as “clinging” to the pattern; this emotive vocabulary suggests that she has a desperate and tenuous grip on her Indian culture. At the end of the poem, the speaker thinks about when she will leave India; she creates a metaphorical image of herself leaning with “hands outstretched” for the hennaing girl. This image is a physical reflection of her “longing” for India and Indian culture, and the fact that she will miss it when she leaves.

The speaker in the poem has a close and intimate relationship with India, but has to deal with the conflicts involved in also belonging somewhere else.

Students also browsed:

免費
【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤系列

【DSE英文】高中生常犯的英文寫作錯誤

詳細內容

Free
Conjunction examples and pdf exercisesbecause in order to/so as to so so that although but so... that...

Conjunctions examples and exercises pdf – Course 1

See more...

免費
HKDSE Paper 2 Writing model essays 香港高級文憑試英文寫作卷二模擬作文

HKDSE Paper 2 Writing 寫作卷 Model Essays 合集

詳細內容

« » page 1 / 7

Pin It on Pinterest

error: Alert: Content is protected !!