UNIT 5 - Ray of Hope

Mother to son

The poem ‘Mother to son’ is written by the famous American poet Langston Hughes. In this poem the mother is the speaker and the son is the listener. The poem is in the form of a monologue. The mother compares her life to a staircase.

The theme of the poem is perseverance. The mother asks her son to face the hardships of life bravely. The poet used poetic devices like metaphor, alliteration and imagery.

Possible discourses:

• Critical appreciation of the poem.
• Profile of Langston Hughes.


‘Vanka’ is a heart touching story written by the famous Russian writer, Anton Chekhov. Vanka a 9 year old boy apprenticed to the shoemaker Alyakhin. He was an orphan and the only relative he had was his grandfather, Konstantin Makarich. The life at the shoemaker’s house was very miserable to Vanka. So one Christmas Eve he decided to write a letter to his granddad. In that letter he wrote about all the cruelties of his master, mistress and other apprentices.

One night Vanka slept while rocking the master’s baby. The cruel master dragged Vanka to the yard and beat him with the stirrup strap. Once the mistress asked Vanka to gut a herring.When Vanka began to cut it from the tail, the mistress picked the herring and rubbed on Vanka's face with its head.

The other apprentices sent Vanka to the Tavern and also made him steal the masters cucumbers. Then the master punished him severely. They gave Vanka very little food. Unable to bear all these hardships, Vanka decided to leave his master’s house. Hence he wrote a letter. Without proper address Vanka posted the letter. He hoped that his grandfather would come and save him.

Possible discourses:

• Character sketch of Vanka/Grandfather.
• Letter writing - Imagine that there are many children in your locality who have similar experiences like that of Vanka. Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper describing the sad plight of such children and the need to uplift them.
• Speech - Child labour is one of the major issues faced by the world today. A program is held in your school to make the public aware of the dangers of Child Labour. Prepare a Speech on Child Labour to present in your school.
• Diary - After posting the letter, Vanka comes back to his room. He feels very happy. Nobody has seen him posting the letter. The letter will reach his grandfather and he will come to take him back. In his joy he started writing his diary. What will be the diary entry.

The Castaway

‘The Castaway’ is a beautiful story written by Rabindranath Tagore which depicts the emotional journey of a young orphan boy named Nilkanta. The other characters in the story are Kiran, her husband Sharat, his brother Satish and his mother. They belonged to a Zamindar family.

Kiran had fallen seriously ill. So they came to Chandernagore for a change of air. Nilakanta was a member of a theatrical group. The boat in which Nilakanta was travelling perished in a storm. He swam ashore and sought shelter in Kiran’s family. She had a warm interest on Nilkanta. But he developed friendship band of naughty boys who became a nuisance to the neighbours. Though Sharat punished him for his naughtiness he didn't change his behaviour.

When Sharat’s younger brother Satish came for the vacation, Nilakanta became envious of him. One day Satish’s ink stand was missing. Everybody suspected Nilkanta, but Kiran protected him. But when she opened his bag, she found the missing ink stand there.Though Nilkanta had taken the inkstand to throw it into the river, he had no chance now to prove his innocence. So he ran away and was found no more.

Possible discourses:

• Character sketch of Kiran/ Nilkanta.
• Profile- Prepare the profile of Rabindra nath Tagore.

Poetic Devices

Now let us familiarise with different Poetic Devices

• Rhyming words: Words with the same sound repeated at the end of the lines in the same stanza (eg: day-lay)
• Rhyme scheme: Pattern of rhyme between the lines of a poem
The old priest Peter Gilligan (a)
Was weiry night and day (b)
For half his flock were in their beds (a)
Or under green sods lay (b)
Rhyme scheme -abcb
• Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds at the beginning of the words in a line.
Eg: Palpitating Plantation
• Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds in a line
Eg: And reachin’ landin’
• Simile: Comparison between two things using the words ‘like’ or ‘as'.
Eg: As merry as a bird.
• Metaphor: Saying that one thing is something else or it is a comparison without using the words ‘like’ or ‘as'.
Eg: life for me ain’t been no crystal stair – The crystal stair is a metaphor.
• Hyperbole: It is an over exaggeration. Eg: I heard a thousand blended notes.
• Personification: Non living things are given human attributes.
Eg:1. “poetry arrived in search of me”. 2. “and it touched me”
• Refrain: Repetition of same lines in a poem. Eg: “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”
• Imagery/images
Descriptions which appeal to the five senses.
1. Visual image - appeal to the sense of sight.
Eg: birds,flower
2. Auditory image -appeal to the sense of sound.
Eg: ''I heard a thousand blended notes”
3. Olfactory image -appeal to the sense of smell.
Eg: fragrance of flowers
4. Tactile image – appeal to the sense of touch.
Eg: soft rain
5. Gustatory image - appeal to the sense of taste.
Eg: sweet, bitter

The Process of Discourses

Conversation - It is the talk between two or more people in which thoughts or feelings and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered or news and information are exchanged.
Identify the persons engaged in the conversation.
Relate the conversation with the given context.
Apt initiation.
Use appropriate words and expressions.
Short forms, short questions, broken expressions etc.
Create a feeling of completion as the conversation ends.

Eg: conversation between Ali and his sister Zahra.

Zahra : Why are you looking so sad?
Ali : Zahra, I lost your shoes.
Zahra :What? Where did you lose it?
Ali : I lost it in the vegetable shop
Zahra :I will surely tell this matter to dad.
Ali : No Zahra, he will beat both of us.
Zahra :Then how shall I go to school tomorrow without my shoes?
Ali : You can wear my shoes.
Zahra : Thank you Ali.

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