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THE PEOPLE BEFORE
Transcript of THE PEOPLE BEFORE
Basic understanding of the story
The story starts out in a farm placed a little away from civilization.The family includes the narrator ,his younger brother and his parents. His father owned the the flat land and the hills behind it.In the time of depression the father found farming less profitable and thought of selling the land however he didn't as he had put hard work and time into it.The narrator and his brother find "Green stone Adzes" in the hills.The father only cares about how much they were worth rather than how they had got there since they were not native to the area.Later some Maoris(Maoris were the first inhabitants of New Zealand.)came to visit the farm with an old man.Jim goes with them intrigued about them.Sometime during the night the old man dies and his people bury him on the mountain. Jim comes home with an account of how the Maoris lived in the area until the whites came in and defeated them. But they still consider this land to be their home.WW2 starts and the boys go to war,meanwhile the father sells the farm and makes a new farm closer to the city.Once during a discussion about coping with war, the elder brother says he had no happy memories to focus on during war. But Jim says, for him, their old farm was Te Wahiokoahoki, the place of happy return. The brother feels jealous that he could never feel that way.
The Importance of figurative language: It helps to create emotion, form mental images and draw them into the writers work.
Metaphors:The only important metaphor and the largest metaphor:
'I felt the dismay of a long distance runner who, coasting confidently to victory, imagining himself well ahead of his field, finds himself overtaken and the tape snapped at the very moment he leans forward to breast it. For one black moment I had been robbed of something that was rightfully mine.'
As thin as a rake too'
THE PEOPLE BEFORE
More characters in the story
His dream was to own land and it is this dream that sustained him while fighting in Gallipoli(WWI). Back from war, he works really hard to make the land yield.
He expects his sons to be strong ,manly and learn from him.
He thinks Jim is a 'softie' as he is much smaller, weaker and is a mothers boy.
He has no special feeling for the land he farms and when things are not good during the Depression, he thinks of selling out.He thinks of the material worth of things more than their intrinsic worth.
The Maoris seem to have spiritual bonding with the hill behind the farm, whereas for him, the hill has been just a wild place that does not produce anything.
The narrator also reffers to his father as 'A man among men'
He could out argue and out fight most men as well
Many people respected what he had to say about football
The father is depicted as insensitive but this is false as he brings out a glass of lemonade for his son from the bar and invested in a brighter future for his children.
Jim is the younger son of the family. He is described as not as physically strong as his father or elder brother.
His life and interests are not bound by the farm. He connects with the land and is curious about the “people before”. He collects relics and tries to find out about their rightful owners.
He has no interest in trying to sell the greenstone adzes. For Jim, the farm has really been ‘Te Wahiokoahoki’, the place of happy returns.
Jim was always his mother's rather than his father's.
Jim was the more intellectual,smarter and intrinsic brother of the two.
THE PEOPLE BEFORE
The story takes place on a remote farmland during the years between World War 1 and World War 2.
Events occur in a chronological order with the narrator reflecting on the past. This results in majority of the story being told in 3rd person.
Characters of the story
hi glad you could visit me up here
IRONY IN THE STORY
The main theme in this story is the
cultural differences and perspectives
of people and their attitude towards the land.
The narrator’s father has bought the land as he did not want to work as a share milker like his father did in his youth. It was the thought of his land that kept him going through the First World War when he was fighting in the trenches in Gallipoli. But he does not have an intimate bond with the land. When things turn grim during the Depression, he is ready to sell out and move elsewhere.
The Maoris on the other hand, returned to the land because of their ancestral and emotional connection with the land.
The Greenstone adzes:
Jim’s attempt at restoring the Greenstone to Tom is symbolic of restitution and the reader is left to interpret Tom’s reluctant refusal.
The land symbolizes the different attitudes of the Europeans and the Maoris. The elder son does not feel connected to the land in any way just like the Europeans. But the younger son sees the land as something precious to him like how the Maoris (especially the old man) had the opposing feeling towards the landscape. Land plays a major role in the story because it represents the two brothers’ polarized perspectives.
The title of this story has some historical relevance. An example of
would be when the land had belonged to the Maoris before the Europeans had taken it away by force.
The father in the story faces
within himself whether or not to let the Maoris bury the old man up in the hills.
The narrator is physically abused by his father, and he accepts the abuse quietly – “I put my head down for many days so he wouldn't see the bruises.”
The narrator’s mother is completely dominated by her husband, and slowly gives in to his bullying – (He was wrangling at the time with my mother, who held opinions on a dwindling number of subjects.She never surrendered to any of these opinions exactly;she just kept them more and more to herself until presumably, they lapsed quietly and died). One gets the impression that the narrator’s family life was made unhappy largely due to the father.
The old Maori man’s emotional reaction to Te Wahiokoahoki is very touching because it highlights the love of the land, and how painful it’s loss must have been for the Maoris.
When Tom talks briefly about their struggle to retain the land, the reader realizes how much the Maoris struggled, the lives that were lost, and all to no avail.
At the end, the narrator feels a piercing pain when he realizes that Jim had bonded with the land more than him. His pain is described vividly.
Vivid, mostly visual imagery is used throughout the story. It is used to help readers visualize the setting, understand characters, as well as important themes.
Setting: Scrub and jagged black humps on the hills, bush in gullies where fire hadn't reached;hills and more hills, deep valleys with caves and twisting rivers, and mountains white with winter in the distance.
Character (Jim): He wandered around the hills way behind me,entertaining himself and collecting things.He gathered leaves, and tried to identify the plants from which those leaves came.He collected stones,those of some interesting shape or texture;he added them to his collection.
Theme (emotional connection with the land):his eyes were still bright and trembling, they had a life independent of his wrinkled flesh.
'There's something wrong somewhere. It doesn't make any sense, No Maori ever owned this place,Who the hell do they think they are coming here?.
The irony is that the father is the settler and the Maoris are the natives. The green adzes as well as the skull are evidence the Maoris were the original inhabitants. Yet, the European settlers are ignorant about the history of the land that they have forcibly taken from the Maoris.
Though the elder brother spent more time actually working on the land, it is Jim who truly bonded with it. The narrator’s blind love for his father limited his connection with the land as well because he ended up being like his father, and never connected emotionally with the land. Also, the pain that he feels is probably similar to what the Maoris felt when their land was stolen. That is deeply ironic.
'And besides, it's my land you're leaving him on'.'Yes' Tom said,'Your land'.
Tom seems to imply that the narrator’s father’s anger and hostility was ironic since it wasn't his land at all: it was the Maori's stolen land.
By: Neil, Arjun and Shruthika
The Elder Son (Narrator)
The elder son is cast in the mould of the father.
He is not as firm/straight forward like his father but offers explanations for this.
He looks at things in a dispassionate way without passing judgment on either his father or his brother.
He too does not have strong feelings for the land that he helps his father to farm.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maurice Francis Richard Shadbolt (4 June 1932 – 10 October 2004) was a New Zealand writer. Shadbolt was born in Auckland. In total, Shadbolt wrote 11 novels, four collections of short stories, two autobiographies, a war history, and a volume of journalism, as well as plays. In the 1989 New Year Honours, Shadbolt was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services to literature. His writing is always about newzealand and he is known best for his book "The season of the jew"
By: Neil, Arjun and Shruthika