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Explore How Themes Develop in 'Singh Song!'

In this worksheet, students will evaluate how key themes develop in Daljit Nagra's poem 'Singh Song!'. They will look at consistent key themes in the poem, how they change, and why.

'Explore How Themes Develop in 'Singh Song!'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Singh Song!'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to revise how key themes develop in 'Singh Song!'?

 

This activity aims to help you understand how Nagra's language choice and tone develop key themes in the poem.

 

In other words, what is the effect of these key themes on the reader? What exactly is Nagra trying to show about these themes?

 

First, let's identify the main themes in the poem. They are:

 

Love, Sexuality, Tenderness, Culture, Unconventionality, Responsibility/Irresponsibility, Humour, and Stereotypes

 

The activity is designed so that you not only identify these key themes and ideas in the poem according to the language Nagra uses, but to help you explore how these themes develop in the poem.

 

So, choosing just one theme, let's ask: how does Nagra develop the theme of stereotypes in his poem?

 

Thought bubble

 

Here's an example of an evaluation on the theme of stereotypes:

 

Nagra plays with the theme of stereotypes in 'Singh Song!' He does this by using Indian dialect in the poem, so that the reader of the poem has no choice but to hear the Indian accent in their heads as they read the poem. The quote "I run just one ov my daddy's shops" starts the poem off with a burst of Indian dialect: the noun '"daddy" reinforces the Indian culture in the poem (as many Indian men call their fathers "daddy" colloquially). 

 

However, the poem also works to break down traditional and typical stereotypes, as it progresses. For example, the speaker seems proud of his wife who is "effing at [his] mum". The speaker's wife acts very untraditionally, breaking down the stereotypes of a typical Indian bride.

 

If you want to make this activity more of a revision exercise, then jot these themes down. If you want to use this activity to test yourself, then go ahead and try to memorise the key themes/motifs. 

 

It's up to you how you want to use this activity!

 

Stopwatch

 

Remember, it's not a race. So take your time with each step and you'll be fine.

 

You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples.  These quotations are for reference only.

 

 

Let's begin with the theme/motif of unity.

 

Couple holding hands

 

How does Nagra present the idea of unity in: "ven yoo shoppers are wrap up... vee cum down whispering stairs".

 

Which option do you think has the best explanation.

The idea of unity is presented in the way the couple are together at the end of the poem

The idea of unity is presented through the pronouns, which present the couple as secluded, private and unified in their desire to be together

The idea of unity is presented within the verb "whispering" as the couple have to be quiet

Let's take a look at the theme of Love.

An array of red cartoon hearts

 

Pick two quotations that support this theme.

"My bride"

"Vid my pinnie untied"

"She book dem for di meat at di cheese ov her price"

"From di stool...I say, Is priceless baby"

In the table below, tick the box next to the quote which you think shows either "irresponsibility" or "love".

 

Think about what part of the poem these quotes are from. Do the themes match up?

Let's take a look at the theme/motif of culture.

 

What quotations best show the theme of culture? There are two right answers.

 

Although the dialect in the poem reflects culture, think about the clearest references to Indian culture for this question.

 

"Cos up di stairs is my newly bride"

"Like vee rowing through Putney"

"Vee share in di chutney"

"In all di colours of Punjabi"

Let's try another theme! This time, look at the theme/motif of peace.

 

How does Nagra present this theme? 

 

 

1. Nagra presents this theme at the end of the poem

 

2. Nagra presents this theme at the end of the poem, as something which only occurs at night

 

3. This theme develops as nighttime falls in the poem, and it coincides with the theme of sex and lust

 

4. This theme develops as nighttime falls and the couple can finally be alone. It coincides with the theme of love and tenderness

 

 

Which numbered statement do you think is correct?

 

 

 

Let's have a look at this quote:

 

'"Di worst Indian shop on di whole Indian road"

 

Which two themes does this quotation indicate?

Nature

Sexuality

Irresponsibility

Culture

Love

We're moving through these themes with momentum! Just a few more to go.

 

Which quotation best shows the theme/motif of unconventionality?

"Yor bananas are plantain"

"She hav a red crew cut"

"Vee cum down whispering stairs"

"Ven I return vid my pinnie untied"

Now let's see how love and peace are connected/separated.

 

In the table below, tick the box showing which theme is indicated by the quote. If a quotation shows both themes, then tick under both themes.

 

Hint: when thinking about the theme of love, look at ideas/language devices which could be used to represent love; i.e certain pronouns and particular words.

 LovePeace
"vee share in chapatti"
"but ven nobody in I do di lock - cos up di stairs is my newly bride"

Nearly finished!

 

Let's take a quick look at the poem's theme/motif of humour.

 

Which option best shows how Nagra develops this theme in the poem. 

Nagra uses humour to express lightheartedness in the poem, adding to the sing-song nature of it

Nagra uses humour through the use of similes and metaphors

Nagra uses humour to make fun of the speaker and his dialect

You've made it to the last question! For all your hard work, here's an easier one!

 

What theme/motif out of the three listed is the most obvious in the poem?

Sex

Love

Peace

  • Question 1

Let's begin with the theme/motif of unity.

 

Couple holding hands

 

How does Nagra present the idea of unity in: "ven yoo shoppers are wrap up... vee cum down whispering stairs".

 

Which option do you think has the best explanation.

CORRECT ANSWER
The idea of unity is presented through the pronouns, which present the couple as secluded, private and unified in their desire to be together
EDDIE SAYS
Think about the effect of the pronouns, which separate the reader from the couple because of the direct address "yoo". The speaker isolates himself and his wife from everyone else. They are a team, and they want to spend time with each other - no one else. Therefore, the contrast of "yoo" versus "vee" really unifies the couple against the rest of the world, including the reader!
  • Question 2

Let's take a look at the theme of Love.

An array of red cartoon hearts

 

Pick two quotations that support this theme.

CORRECT ANSWER
"My bride"
"From di stool...I say, Is priceless baby"
EDDIE SAYS
Love is presented in many ways within the poem, and while the quotes may not be glaringly obvious, it's simpler than you might think to evaluate and understand how these quotes present the theme of love. Repetition of "my bride" emphasises the speaker's pride and love for his wife. The comparison of the bride to the moon, where the moon is half the price of the speaker's wife, whom he calls "priceless", symbolically (and through direct quotes) emphasises the speaker's value for his bride. He values her time, her body, her appearance and her intelligence!
  • Question 3

In the table below, tick the box next to the quote which you think shows either "irresponsibility" or "love".

 

Think about what part of the poem these quotes are from. Do the themes match up?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The themes of irresponsibility and love do mingle together, considering the speaker's irresponsibility and shirking of duties is because he's so in love! So, the themes overlap a little: one is caused by the other. Think about when the speaker claims that he hears his wife's heels tapping away above his head. She's on his mind all the time!
  • Question 4

Let's take a look at the theme/motif of culture.

 

What quotations best show the theme of culture? There are two right answers.

 

Although the dialect in the poem reflects culture, think about the clearest references to Indian culture for this question.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Vee share in di chutney"
"In all di colours of Punjabi"
EDDIE SAYS
In picking out the presentation of certain themes, we have to make sure we can infer something. That means we need to read between the lines. Look at the language used and the tone established. So how exactly do these obvious references to Indian culture (alongside the obvious use of dialect) help us understand Nagra's attitudes/ideas? Perhaps we can link these obvious references to culture as a way for Nagra to falsely lead the reader into believing that the speaker and his bride participate in common Indian stereotypes, which are then broken down and rebuilt! Or perhaps Nagra is simply indulging in Indian culture and creating a poem in which love and culture are hand in hand! Love is a universal, human emotion, no matter how one speaks or acts or behaves; anyone is capable of being in love!
  • Question 5

Let's try another theme! This time, look at the theme/motif of peace.

 

How does Nagra present this theme? 

 

 

1. Nagra presents this theme at the end of the poem

 

2. Nagra presents this theme at the end of the poem, as something which only occurs at night

 

3. This theme develops as nighttime falls in the poem, and it coincides with the theme of sex and lust

 

4. This theme develops as nighttime falls and the couple can finally be alone. It coincides with the theme of love and tenderness

 

 

Which numbered statement do you think is correct?

 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
4
EDDIE SAYS
The theme of peace really develops at the end of the poem, when nighttime falls and the couple can finally be alone together and talk. Do you think this theme can be compared or contrasted with another theme in the poem?
  • Question 6

Let's have a look at this quote:

 

'"Di worst Indian shop on di whole Indian road"

 

Which two themes does this quotation indicate?

CORRECT ANSWER
Irresponsibility
Culture
EDDIE SAYS
The two themes really expressed in this quote are culture ("worst Indian shop") and irresponsibility ("di worst").
  • Question 7

We're moving through these themes with momentum! Just a few more to go.

 

Which quotation best shows the theme/motif of unconventionality?

CORRECT ANSWER
"She hav a red crew cut"
EDDIE SAYS
Any quote in the poem that describes the wife's behaviour or appearance will probably illustrate the theme of unconventionality ... rather than the conventional fashion/attitudes of a typical Indian bride!
  • Question 8

Now let's see how love and peace are connected/separated.

 

In the table below, tick the box showing which theme is indicated by the quote. If a quotation shows both themes, then tick under both themes.

 

Hint: when thinking about the theme of love, look at ideas/language devices which could be used to represent love; i.e certain pronouns and particular words.

CORRECT ANSWER
 LovePeace
"vee share in chapatti"
"but ven nobody in I do di lock - cos up di stairs is my newly bride"
EDDIE SAYS
Can you see how the pronoun "vee" really emphasises the way the couple are unified and together in their love? The theme of peace and expression of love is interlinked in the poem. The speaker, for example, is always trying to get away from his duties as a shopkeeper to spend time with his wife in peace!
  • Question 9

Nearly finished!

 

Let's take a quick look at the poem's theme/motif of humour.

 

Which option best shows how Nagra develops this theme in the poem. 

CORRECT ANSWER
Nagra uses humour to express lightheartedness in the poem, adding to the sing-song nature of it
EDDIE SAYS
Humour is an interesting theme of the poem, although we haven't talked about it too much. The speaker expresses a lighthearted, sing-songy tone. The sense of humour allows us to not take much seriously, just like the speaker of the poem doesn't take his duties seriously. This humour is offset, however, by the tenderness at the end of the poem, when the speaker and his wife are finally able to share time together. This reflects the speaker's priorities. Humour is used to reflect the speaker's attitudes. So, when it comes to the upkeep of the shop, a lighthearted tone is used. But, when it comes to the tenderness and love between the couple, the tone gets more serious and romantic.
  • Question 10

You've made it to the last question! For all your hard work, here's an easier one!

 

What theme/motif out of the three listed is the most obvious in the poem?

CORRECT ANSWER
Love
EDDIE SAYS
The theme of love is the most constant one in the poem. The repetition of "my bride" is what really emphasises this. Congratulations on completing this activity! Time for a break, perhaps?
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