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Parade's End

Revision resource for the Daljit Nagra poem
by

Mr Wood

on 19 January 2013

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Transcript of Parade's End

JUXTAPOSITION
placing two words or ideas next to each other OXYMORON
combining two words that contradict each other. The famous example is 'deafening silence.' CONTRAST
when two words or descriptions have an obvious difference Before we start, let's check on a few key terms: You'll need these terms to explore how Nagra presents his family's experience When we explore poetry, we are looking at LAYERS of MEANING. A good place to start is always the title. 'Parade' gives a sense of showiness - you put your best on show, and that links to the car in the first line. The fact that it is the 'end' suggests something final. You will need to comment on what has ended. Is it hope, or a dream? Is it the end of the shop in the PARADE of shops? It's hard to imagine, but a Ford Granada was once an object of desire. It was the largest and highest specified car (so it had the most kit) that Ford made in the 1970s and 1980s. It was expensive. Think Audi A6 now... What we have is a representation of luxury. Even the colour of the car suggests the high life. Obviously, the family earn their money and have the right to spend it how they want. The car is an object of pride - hard fought for, earnt and paid for. You might call it their pride and joy. We see this JUXTAPOSED with the hard life of the local people. The phrase "scraped the pavement frost to the dole" gives us a clue that their life is as hard as the weather, and most are poor unemployed on the 'dole'. It's not all bad, though, and these are not all bad people. Look at the metaphorical warming effect of thumbs up. Where one person is described as getting 'on his bike', it's a reference to Norman Tebbit, a politician from the 1980s who told workers that if they struggled to find work - as the coal mines and tradition industries of the North were closed down - that they should 'get on your bike'. So the government was telling them to move. If the men are out looking for work or signing on, the women are doing the shopping. The description of them is really interesting. Firstly, they are "Council mums". This term tells us that they live in council flats, but it also characterises them as a particular type of person. 'nestled' gives us the sense of them as together, looking for food. But it also carries connotations of helplessness. The description of the food backs this up. The "swilling kidneys, liver and a sandy block of corned beef" don't sound appetising. These are cheap cuts of meat - these women can afford nothing else. How are we supposed to feel? If their lifestyle elicits some sympathy, this CONTRASTS with our reaction to their insults. Look at how they speak just "loud enough": they want to be heard, but won't say it to their faces. Their language is transcribed phonetically to give a sense of how it sounds to the poet. Their insults are based on fear and distrust of the poet's family claiming benefits they are not entitled to. This might be ironic - who is actually claiming benefits? In this stanza, look for the defence mechanisms they put in place. What does that that tell us about the way they live in fear? What are they afraid of? Has anything happened before? Why is it re-sprayed? This stanza is really interesting in the way it mixes NATURE and REALITY. Consider a valley: Nice, isn't it? Now consider a high-rise block of flats: Not so nice, is it? Nagra puts them together to create an OXYMORON. Why? Perhaps he is suggesting that what sometimes looks natural on the surface is actually strange and unnatural. Now, remember that luxury from earlier? The poet's family are not necessarily particularly well-off. A 'cul-de-sac' is really a dead end, and they live in a 'semi'. What we are looking at is RELATIVE wealth. Not footballer salaries and a champagne lifestyle. The people of the high-rise see them as and resent what they perceive as Across the divide of the last two stanzas we see the different experiences. The must be intimidating for the family, as they trudge through their own defences to try to get water. The reader is forced to empathise with the family - the roar must make them feel that their suffering is celebrated and cheered. They are not helped. The final image again mixes NATURE and REALITY. The 'bonnet leaves' might sound nice, but in fact they are are made of the puckering paint as it peels of their car again. The final phrase 'our former colour' is intriguing. Their colour hasn't changed. Perhaps they thought they were fitting in and helping the community. Perhaps the golden dream is gone. Perhaps they realise they cannot fit in and will always be treated badly. The JUXTAPOSITION of the CONTRASTING colours brings to our attention the different connotations of gold and brown. Gold has connotations of value and prestige, showing us how much the car was valued by the family. On the other hand, it is resented by the people in the high rises. Brown is earthly, organic and mundane. It is with these qualities that we are left. A few key points on Parade's End by Daljit Nagra
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