Analysing “Presents from my aunts in Pakistan”

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How does the poem communicate its message to us? How does the speaker communicate the poem’s message?

Write one succinct sentence about what you think the poem is communicating.

Let’s look at that sentence and ask ourselves if we’ve fully summarised the poem.

eg.: Moniza Alvi’s poem represents a clash of cultures through the speaker’s reaction to the dresses from her aunt in Pakistan and trying to fit in with an English identity.

Let’s look at the elements – conflict/clash

Did she dislike the clothes solely because her friend wasn’t impressed with them? No, there’s more to it.

Do the clothes represent her cultural identity wholly?

Is she of one or another culture? She is not.

Is she lost or found? She is lost.

‘no fixed nationality’ – she is lost, confused.

Let’s revisit the sentence:

eg.: M.A.’s poem represents a clash of cultures through the speaker’s reaction to the dresses from her aunt in Pakistan and trying to fit in with an English identity and realising she’s both but neither.

So the clothes represent her identity.

The idea of clothing:

  • salwar kameez/ sari/ slippers
  • corduroy/denim

Salwar kameez – ‘glistening like an orange split open’ – bright colour, glistening – think about the feelings associated with the clothing.

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Slippers – beautiful, intricate

Beautiful bangles but drew blood.

What is blood – it is the core of you.

Ms Carroll: “Side, if you feel you’re on a roll, go back into the poem and test your theory. You don’t want to roll away.”

When she tries on the salwar kameez –

“I could never be as lovely as those clothes – ” Name that feeling.

  • Envy – they are too good for her
  • She lacks self confidence
  • insecure about her identity

What words does she use to express that she doesn’t belong? Pick these words out. Go and find the other metaphor(s) used for clothing in the second stanza – FIRE

She describes herself as ‘alien’ in these clothes.

She refers to this clothing as a ‘costume’.

She can’t wear the salwar kameez like her aunt does – she feels envy.

Her level of discomfort – described also by the clothes clinging (‘My costume clung to me…’)

Now let’s get to the next level of the analysis – WHY?

Is she in the garden? She’s on the outside.

 

 

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