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Identify and Explain the Key Themes in 'The Emigree' by Carol Rumens

In this worksheet, students will identify the key themes in the poem 'The Emigree' by Carol Rumens and understand their significance.

'Identify and Explain the Key Themes in 'The Emigree' by Carol Rumens' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'The Emigree'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'The Emigree' by Carol Rumens, which can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your Anthology.

 

suitcase

 

In this poem, the speaker is recalling a place she left many years ago (the place where she was born). She does not remember details, but the place has left a very strong impression with fond memories. She also suggests that she feels threatened in her new city.

 

Emigrants are people who have left the country of their birth to settle elsewhere in the world. The spelling of the word Rumens chooses, "émigrée"- is a feminine form and suggests the speaker of the poem is a woman.

 

 

The poem focuses on the main themes of living in exile, the passage of time, migration and light.

 

 

In the following questions, you will be asked about the meaning of these themes. 

 

aeroplane

 

 

In order to identify the key themes in 'The Emigree', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below.

Column A

Column B

When did the narrator leave her home country?
It is at war and she has no passport
What is wrong with the country she left behind?
She looks back on it with affection and feels bad ...
Why can't the narrator go back to her country?
It is at war and ruled by tyrants
How does the narrator feel about her country?
When she was a child

Now that you have read the poem 'The Emigree', which summary below do you think best explains the poem?

 

The poem is about the happiness that people feel when they get to move to a new country

The poem discusses the sadness of people who are forced to leave their home countries due to conflict

The poem describes the differences between the landscape and cultures of different countries

An "emigre(e)" is a person who has left his or her country and has settled in another, usually for political reasons.

 

Living in exile is the most obvious theme of the poem.

 

Living in exile = to live away from your home, often by force.

 

 

globe

 

 

 

The following quotations are all from the poem "The Emigree". Choose one that you think supports the theme of living in exile.

 

"The white streets of that city"

"The worst news I receive"

"There’s no way back at all"

Read the first stanza of the poem.

 

How long has the narrator been living in exile?

 

Choose one answer from below.

 

Since she was an adult

Since she was a teenager

Since she was a child

Since she was a baby

Another theme in the poem is the passage of time, which is used to explain how long the narrator has been separated from her country and how her life has changed since she was a child.

 

The quotations below are all from 'The Emigree'. Choose one that you think explains the theme of the passage of time.

 

"The white streets of that city"

"As time rolls its tanks"

"The graceful slopes glow"

"But I can’t get it off my tongue"

In the poem 'The Emigree', the passage of time is explained by the length of time the narrator has been away from her country.

 

Read the following quotation and underline one word which supports the theme of the passing of time.

\"I never saw it in that November\"

The theme of migration also runs throughout the poem to describe a war-torn country.

 

Migration = the movement of people from one place to another with the intention of settling.

 

The following words are all from the poem 'The Emigree'. Which words are associated with the theme of migration, and which are not?

 

 

 

 Words associated with MigrationWords NOT associated with Migration
Worst news
A child
Mildest city
At war
Paperweight
Tyrants
Rolls its tanks
Banned by the state
Like waves

The theme of migration is explored through the idea that, although she would love to go back to her country, she is no longer able to.

 

The following quotations are all from the poem 'The Emigree'. Choose one quotation that you would use to support the theme of migration.

 

"It lies down in front of me..."

"I left it as a child..."

"They accuse me of absence..."

"My city hides behind me..."

The theme of light and shade has been used to contrast how the narrator feels about her home country and the events which led to her leaving.

 

 

beautiful country

 

 

Read the following quotation from 'The Emigree' and underline two words which you think represent the theme of light.

\"The white streets of that city, the graceful slopes glow even clearer as time rolls its tanks...\"

To contrast the theme of light, the narrator also used phrases associated with darkness

 

 

Forrest at night

 

 

Read the following extract from 'The Emigree' and underline three words associated with the theme of darkness.

\"They accuse me of being dark in their free city. My city hides behind me. They mutter death, and my shadow falls as evidence of sunlight...\"
  • Question 1

aeroplane

 

 

In order to identify the key themes in 'The Emigree', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

When did the narrator leave her h...
When she was a child
What is wrong with the country sh...
It is at war and ruled by tyrants
Why can't the narrator go back to...
It is at war and she has no passp...
How does the narrator feel about ...
She looks back on it with affecti...
EDDIE SAYS
This poem has a deep sense of conflict in terms of emotions and memory, the poet is torn between her childhood memory which is of a country she loved and her adult understanding of what her country is like now. She cannot believe that her county is now a terrible place full of war and destruction.
  • Question 2

Now that you have read the poem 'The Emigree', which summary below do you think best explains the poem?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The poem discusses the sadness of people who are forced to leave their home countries due to conflict
EDDIE SAYS
The poem 'The Emigree' discusses the issue of emigration and how a person might feel when they are forced to leave their home country. There is a lot of sadness in the poem when the narrator describes how she loves and misses the place she grew up.
  • Question 3

An "emigre(e)" is a person who has left his or her country and has settled in another, usually for political reasons.

 

Living in exile is the most obvious theme of the poem.

 

Living in exile = to live away from your home, often by force.

 

 

globe

 

 

 

The following quotations are all from the poem "The Emigree". Choose one that you think supports the theme of living in exile.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"There’s no way back at all"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "There's no way back at all" tells the reader that the narrator is living in exile. Although we are given the impression that she loves her country and would love to go back, she says there is "no way", which suggests that the new rulers of the country would not allow her.
  • Question 4

Read the first stanza of the poem.

 

How long has the narrator been living in exile?

 

Choose one answer from below.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Since she was a child
EDDIE SAYS
The narrator tells the reader that "I left it as a child but my memory of it is sunlight-clear" which tells us that she has been living in exile since she was a child. Despite this, her memories of her country are extremely clear.
  • Question 5

Another theme in the poem is the passage of time, which is used to explain how long the narrator has been separated from her country and how her life has changed since she was a child.

 

The quotations below are all from 'The Emigree'. Choose one that you think explains the theme of the passage of time.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"As time rolls its tanks"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "As time rolls its tanks" supports the theme of time as it personifies time, making it seem like it is a menacing person that "rolls" its tanks. So the more time passes, the less chance the narrator has of getting back to her country.
  • Question 6

In the poem 'The Emigree', the passage of time is explained by the length of time the narrator has been away from her country.

 

Read the following quotation and underline one word which supports the theme of the passing of time.

CORRECT ANSWER
"I never saw it in that November"
EDDIE SAYS
In this quotation, the word "November" is a reference to the time that has passed since the narrator had to leave her home country. The fact that she refers to it as "that" November, tells the reader that this was an important time in her life which she remembers vividly - the month will always be significant to her.
  • Question 7

The theme of migration also runs throughout the poem to describe a war-torn country.

 

Migration = the movement of people from one place to another with the intention of settling.

 

The following words are all from the poem 'The Emigree'. Which words are associated with the theme of migration, and which are not?

 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words associated with MigrationWords NOT associated with Migration
Worst news
A child
Mildest city
At war
Paperweight
Tyrants
Rolls its tanks
Banned by the state
Like waves
EDDIE SAYS
The words above all relate to the theme of migration and remind us of the images that we see in the news, of countries that are too violent to live in. The phrases above all suggest a war-torn country under the control of a violent ruler. These phrases create sympathy for the people, such as the narrator, who are forced to leave their homes.
  • Question 8

The theme of migration is explored through the idea that, although she would love to go back to her country, she is no longer able to.

 

The following quotations are all from the poem 'The Emigree'. Choose one quotation that you would use to support the theme of migration.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"I left it as a child..."
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "I left it as a child" supports the theme of migration as the narrator is explaining that although she loved her country, she has not been able to go back since being a child. The time that has passed suggests that she is not able to return and has had to settle in a new country.
  • Question 9

The theme of light and shade has been used to contrast how the narrator feels about her home country and the events which led to her leaving.

 

 

beautiful country

 

 

Read the following quotation from 'The Emigree' and underline two words which you think represent the theme of light.

CORRECT ANSWER
"The white streets of that city, the graceful slopes
glow even clearer as time rolls its tanks..."
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses the word "white" as it symbolises innocence and purity, which is how she views her country, she also uses the word "glow" to suggest that her country is light in a world of darkness. To the narrator, her country is a beautiful place that has been taken over by darkness.
  • Question 10

To contrast the theme of light, the narrator also used phrases associated with darkness

 

 

Forrest at night

 

 

Read the following extract from 'The Emigree' and underline three words associated with the theme of darkness.

CORRECT ANSWER
"They accuse me of being dark in their free city.
My city hides behind me. They mutter death,
and my shadow falls as evidence of sunlight..."
EDDIE SAYS
The poet wants to create the impression that what is being done to her home country is wrong. She uses words associated with gloominess, such as "dark", "death" and "shadow" to describe the actions of the new rulers. These words also suggest that the positive way in which she remembers her country may not be the whole truth, as images in the media have shown her that there are many dark and dangerous things happening now.
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