The Class Game Poem Essay

Presentation on theme: "Session 1: “Half Caste” and “The Class Game”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Session 1: “Half Caste” and “The Class Game”
Poetry RevisionSession 1: “Half Caste” and “The Class Game”

2 Poetry Revision Sessions
Take place on Mondays (P14) and Tuesdays (P12)Must be prompt! Sessions will BEGIN at 1.25Latecomers not welcomeBring poetry anthologyRegisters takenAll materials will go up on the blog- the NEW blog-

3 To start us off….What is a METAPHOR? In pairs, please come up with a definition and an example of a metaphor (preferably one you have made up yourself and not one from the poems) Eg: ‘my son is a beanpole’ A metaphor is when you say one thing ‘is’ another to describe it.

4 “Half Caste” by John Agard
How do you respond to this poem? Think up a word that summarises your reaction.RacePrejudiceInjustice….How do we respond to this poem?

5 What is this poem about? WHO is this poem about?
WHERE could the voice be from / be living?WHY was this poem written?HOW is the poem written?WHAT kind of poem is it?WHEN might this poem have been written?I haven’t filled these in because it’s good to come up with your own interpretations…. What do you think? Can you back up your ideas with quotations from the poem?

6 Voice Who is the voice? What are they trying to communicate to us?
How is the voice presented?Direct address to reader eg ‘wha yu mean’Dialect / accent used – what does this suggest?ChallengingRepetition – ‘Explain yuself’ also an imperative (command) verb - demanding

7 ImageryWhat do we mean by imagery? Why do poets describe create detailed images in their work? What images are present in this poem?

8 Weather- English weather is mixed of light and shadow
Image:Effect it creates / Why it has been usedArt- Picasso, abstract art, used lots of colour, an ‘impression’ of something rather than realistic / naturalisticAs Picasso’s art is beautiful because he mixes colours and looks at things in a different way, people who are mixed race can also be beautifulWeather- English weather is mixed of light and shadowEnglish weather is mixed up, and this is something which we see as very ‘English’ so mixed race people can inhabit that national identity too. Also the balance of light and shadow in English weather can be beautiful, as are mixed race people.Halves - half an eye etc…You cannot have half an eye, like you cannot have ‘half’ a person. Calling someone ‘half’ anything is ridiculous but it is also nonsensical and impossible.

9 Rhyme and RhythmDoes this poem use rhyme? - Some half rhymes are used eg ‘overcast’ ‘pass’ Does this poem use rhythm? - The poem builds in momentums, as points are made in the voice’s argument How does this poem use alliteration and repetition? - Repetition is used to keep proving a point to the reader

10 Form and StructureDoes this poem have a formal form or structure? - Not really How does the poem use enjambement? - Gives the poem a conversational feel and means it flows well. Can imagine the speaking vocie How does the voice build tension / importance? - The argument builds with each point How does the poem end? - The reader is unsatisfied and the voice proves they do not know everything- they are still unknowledgeable. Political.

11 “The Class Game” by Mary Casey
How would you sum up the voice in this poem? (One word or phrase)What do you think about the voice in this poem?Voice

12 What is this poem about? WHO is this poem about?
WHERE could the voice be from / be living?WHY was this poem written?HOW is the poem written?WHAT kind of poem is it?WHEN might this poem have been written?

13 VoiceWho is the voice of the poem? Who are they speaking to? What are they trying to prove? Do they succeed?

14 How does the voice speak?
Direct Address – use of ‘you’ to address the readerRhetorical questions – ‘How can you tell what class I’m from?’Swapping between dialect / accent and posh words and phrases – confuses reader > who is the voice?unapologetic

15 Language choiceUses words the reader might not understand – creates distance, prevents us from making an initial judgementScathing ‘Bye mummy dear’ – characterises posh people in a certain wayCrude imagery ‘toilet instead of bog when I want to pee’ – shocking?

16 Rhyme and RhythmDoes this poem have a rhyme scheme? Why? What effect does it have? -The rhyme scheme is not regular but the poet does use rhyming couplets nearly all the way through. This creates a jaunty feel to the poem, which helps the mocking tone the author wants to use and the humour in the poem. Does this poem use rhythm? (Look at the end…) - There is a rhythm created by the line-end rhyming, and at the end the poet uses short lines to build up to the final statement which is given poignancy as a result.

17 Form and StructureDoes this poem have a formal form? Is it particularly structured? Why?The poem is again very conversational, which helps with its focus on the way people speak. It is informal, suggesting the voice’s class or purpose and helping create humorous moments.How does it end?- The final statement of the poem is the focus of the poem and is the most important thing the voice says.

18 ComparisonSee if you can answer these yourself……. What are the similarities between the two poems? What are the main differences in how they present their ideas?

19 Over the coming weeks…We will cover ALL the anthology poems… We will practise writing PEA paragraphs We will practise exam questions We will discuss highly interesting literary works in an extremely intelligent and focussed fashion. See you tomorrow!

In this fascinating poem, The Class Game, the speaker challenges her audience to ponder the game they are playing. This game, she refers to as the class game. The Class Game is a game in which people look at a person, and try to guess what social class they come from based on their appearance. They try to guess where they might live, how they talk etc. The speaker refers to it as a “game” with heavy sarcasm in her voice, because she knows that it is not really a game at all. Rather, it is the harsh judgement that people use to critique others. The speaker’s ironic reference to this way of thinking as a game allows the readers to see how truly harmful this game is.


The Class Game Analysis

Lines 1-5

The speaker of the poem, which can be read in full here, begins with a challenging tone of voice, and the readers can immediately since her intent to call out certain people and challenge their way of thinking. She asks, “How can you tell what class I’m from” and then she describes some specifics about her attire that she believes others are using to guess her social class. She explains that she “can talk posh” which reveals her social status to others. She also explains that she wears a hat rather than a scarf, and that her clothes are second hand.


Lines 6-11

The speaker continues to challenge her audience, asking them why they “wince” when they hear her say things a certain way. For example, she says “Tara to me Ma” rather than the more proper way of saying, “Bye Mummy dear”. The speaker clearly wonders why it matters how she says goodbye to her mother, and why it should make people cringe to hear it. So she calls them out, asking them why they wince when she speaks. She asks again, “How can you tell what class I’m from?” and then continues to guess that perhaps they saw where she lives. Her home, she describes as “a corpy”. A “corpy” is an old term used by those who lived in Liverpool, England to describe what was known as a “council house” or a very inexpensive home that could be afforded by the working class. The speaker challenges her audience to really think about why they know what class she comes from. She is not denying that she talks in a certain way, dresses in second hand clothes, and lives in a cheap home. Her tone does not deny these things. However, it does challenge the hearers to think about why they cringe when they see the evidence of her social class. She challenges the hearers to question their own reasons for playing this “class game”.


Lines 12-15

Again, the speaker points out things about her that make her social class stand out. She asks her hearers if they know her social class because she happened to drop her unemployment card. Her distinctly asking whether she dropped in on their “patio” reveals that she does not have a patio…just a yard. Again, she asks her hearers how they can tell what class she is from. She feels that her social class is so obvious to passersby that she may as well have a label on her head and another on her “bum”. Her tone here begins to reveal the question she is really trying to ask her listeners. She knows that her speech and dress reveal her social class, but she questions why those small differences in appearance others see her so differently.


Lines 16-19

The speaker reiterates a few of the points she has already made. She questions the onlooker, asking if he or she knows her social class because of the oil stains on her hands. She points out that her hands are not “soft-lily white with perfume and oil” like the rich women surrounding her. She questions her audience whether they have guessed her social class based on the oil on her hands, or if it was they way she drank her tea, or if it was because she said “toilet” instead of “bog”. Either way, it is clear that the speaker knows her social class is obvious, and is only questioning people to ask why they must cringe and judge when they see the evidences of her place in society.


Lines 20-26

With these last few lines, the speaker finally comes right out and says what she has been implying all along – that her social class should not concern others. She asks, blatantly, “Why do you care what class I’m from?” Then, in a critical tone of voice, she asks, “Does it stick in your gullet, like a sour plum?” With this question, the reader can imagine the people to whom the speaker addresses this poem. They look as though they had just eaten something sour, and their glares make it clear that they have disdain for the speaker, though it should not matter to them what social class the speaker comes from. Then, the speaker says, “Well mate!” indicating that she is about to tell her spectators something important. She declares that her mother is a cleaner, and her brother is a dock worker. She declares that she will use slang words such as “wet nelly” and “belly”. Then, she adamantly declares, “And I’m proud of the class that I come from”.

The imagery used throughout The Class Game serves to contrast two different lifestyles that existed in Liverpool. There was the working class and the wealthier class. The speaker effectively contrasts both, pointing out that the only difference between these two kinds of people are details as small as certain words used, clothing worn, places dwelled in, and the appearance of their hands. These are all outward details and have nothing to do with the inward soul of a person. For this reason, the speaker’s questions to her critics become all the more powerful. Her questions are rhetorical, and they cause the reader to stop and ponder, what really makes one person different from another. The questions address those who are of the wealthy class- those who cringe when she speaks in slang and cast a critical eye on her second hand clothing. The type of people the speaker addresses clearly view themselves as different from her – different from the working class.

But the speaker’s questions effectively reveal that the only differences are that of outward appearance and material possession. Thus, the Class Game is irrelevant, and is a “game” that should not be played. Her questions make those onlookers who “wince” at her seem profoundly shallow and thoughtless. This is the speaker’s goal throughout the poem – to point out the foolishness of playing the Class Game. In the end, however, she does not care what other people think when she walks by. She is proud to be part of the working class.She is proud that her mother has worked hard and taught her the value of hard work. She is proud that her brother is a dock worker, and she is proud of everything about her class from the way she dresses to the way she speaks. Her final question to her critics asks them, “Why do you care what class I’m from?” This is the question that sticks in the mind of those who have criticized others for their social class, and it is the question the speaker wants to resound in the minds of her readers.


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