Past Paper

Time: 1 hour

Marks: 50

You are required to answer ONE of the following questions.



Read the poem through at least twice and then answer the questions that follow:

The Old Woman’s Message Kumalau Tawali (1946 - )

Stick these words in your hair
And take them to Polin and Manuai
my sons:
the ripe fruit falls and returns
5 to the trunk – its mother.
But my sons, forgetful of me,
are like fruit borne by birds.
I see the sons of other women
returning. What is in their minds?
10 Let them keep the price of their labour
but their eyes are mine.
I have little breath left
to wait for them.
I am returning to childhood.
15 My stomach goes to my back
my hands are like broom sticks,
my legs can fit in the sand crab’s hole.
I am dry like a carved image
only my head is God’s.
20 Already I sway like a dry falling leaf
I see with my hands –
oh tell Polin and Manuai to hurry
and come to my death feast.

i) In a sentence or two, say what this poem is about. 5

an old woman feels her age; her sons have left home; this is a message to persuade them to return; it outlines her suffering

ii) Comment on the central image used in the first seven lines. What does this tell us of the context of the poem?
some fruit fall near the tree – some women’s children stay near their home, do not travel far
but birds carrying fruit from parent tree drop them far away – her sons are far from their parent.
Context – implication that this is a rural area (fruit, bird falling leaf metaphors), sons so far away she has to send a message to them, with the person she is talking to, perhaps in an urban area.

iii) In line 9, to whom does the possessive adjective in ‘their minds’ refer? What is the tone of the lines 9 -11?
Their minds = her sons’ minds – the tone is one of indignation;

iv) Identify the similes used in lines 16-21. How do these images add to our understanding of the speaker’s state of mind?
legs like broom sticks – excessively thin; legs can fit into a crab’s hole – even the feet are not defined – as thin as the legs; dry like carved image – probably carved from dead wood; sway like a dry falling leaf – the brittleness and lifelessness of the leaf suggest her vulnerability
Withering of body; drying of life sap – her mind is similarly dry and without hope.

v) How does the speaker’s tone vary throughout the poem? You should show how she increases the emotional elements in her appeal to her sons and note the impact of the last two lines in particular.
initial poetic statement of situation; tone of jealousy of other women; then anger; then appeal to pity for her physical state - picture of diminished body; increasing blindness; almost a moral blackmail to hurry or they will be too late.
Last two lines:
dismay/anguish in the words ‘oh’ and ‘hurry’.
ironic reference to ‘death feast’ – loneliness at the end of life;

vi) Kumalua Tawali comes from Papua New Guinea. Do you think his poem is relevant only to the situation in his country or does the same situation apply in Africa? Discuss.

Own opinion – but a universal tendency for youth to leave rural communities – South African experience of depopulation of rural areas – probable abandonment of the older generation in villages.


In Selves and Others, we are reminded that many ‘bad’ literary characters function as opposites of the ‘good guys’. …Their unpleasant qualities strengthen the good qualities possessed by the heroes of the texts. .

With reference to ONE of the following characters, write an essay in which you demonstrate these ideas. You will need to consider what qualities make the character unpleasant, how his/her actions show an undesirable personality, how he/she highlights other ‘good’ characters; where we get information about him/her from; what role is played in the novel and how the character helps the author get his or her message across.

In Heart of Darkness; The Accountant or Mr Kurtz
In Nervous Conditions; Nhamo or Nyasha


Based on Selves & Others Section 2 Chapter 2 p. 75 - 82
NB This is a departure from previous years. I have been told that a question will be set on Selves and Others, but I don’t know what form it will take. This question will have to be marked globally - I intended a character sketch with reference to a contrast with other ‘good’ characters. I suggest 30 marks for content - showing an understanding of how characters are portrayed, and 20 for structure and language usage.


Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad (1902)

And by the way, I suppose Mr Kurtz is dead as well by this time.”
For a moment that was the dominant thought. There was a sense of extreme disappointment, as though I had found out I had been striving after something altogether without a substance. I couldn’t have been more disgusted if I had travelled all this way for the sole purpose of talking with Mr Kurtz. (p.69)

In an essay of about 2 pages, discuss the nature of Marlow’s quest. You should consider his reasons for travelling to the Congo and what he hoped to do there. Refer to incidents in the novel to illustrate your points.

Essay of about 2 pages. The argument depends largely on the student’s individual interpretation.
Use a global mark: 30 for content with direct reference to explanatory incidents; decrease mark for just narrative - 20 marks for structure, paragraph development and language use.

Marlow a man of the sea
Needed a job
Fascinated with Africa – white space on map
Hoped to sail up river – river craft a new experience for him
Growing fascination with Kurtz’s situation – hears about him from Brussels, Lower Station, Central Station – given different perspectives – great man or dangerous rival.
Marlow’s dislike of other agents (pilgrims) and horrors of colonial exploitation
Impression that Kurtz will be worth meeting – and hearing – and understanding as person influenced by isolation


Nervous Conditions Tsitsi Dangarembga (1988)

‘We know he is doing his duty,’ I said obstinately, ‘but we still have to thank him.’

‘Thank him, yes,’ agreed Nyasha patiently, ‘but not make him into a hero. And what about poor Lucia! She’s been groveling ever since she arrived to get Daddy to help her out. That sort of thing shouldn’t be necessary. Really it shouldn’t.’ (p163)

What do you think about the issue of Babamukuru’s duty to his family?

In an essay of about 2 pages, discuss your views and comment on the contrast between the attitudes displayed by Tambu and Nyasha towards Babamukuru.

Essay of about 2 pages. The argument depends largely on the student’s individual interpretation.
Use a global mark: 30 for content with direct reference to explanatory incidents; decrease mark for just narrative - 20 marks for structure, paragraph development and language use.

Tambu accepts ideas of duty in Babamakuru’s culture - eldest or most successful to support family
His personality – enjoys prestige – strong sense of duty
Benevolent dictator – thinks he can order lives of Jeremiah, Mainini (eg. marriage) Lucia, Nhamo & Tambu
Expectations of others - that he is always right
Tambu is grateful because she has benefited directly from his ruling of her parents’ objections.
Nyasha unimpressed – familiarity; awareness of effect of domination on her mother; has experienced different culture – more independent