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Explore How the Key Themes Develop in 'The Emigree' by Carol Rumens

In this worksheet, students will undertake an exploration of how the key themes develop in the poem 'The Emigree' by Carol Rumens.

'Explore How the Key Themes Develop 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 she was born in). 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 how these themes develop throughout the poem.

 

 

aeroplane

 

In order to explore how the themes develop 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?
When she was a child
How does the narrator feel about her country?
It is at war and ruled by tyrants

Now that you have read the poem 'The Emigree', which summary 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

A main theme of the poem is 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"

Let's have a look at how the theme of living in exile is developed throughout the poem.

 

There are references throughout the poem regarding the narrator's childhood, which explain how long she has been living in exile.

 

Which quotation would you use to support this theme? Choose one answer from below.

 

"My city hides behind me"

"The white streets of that city"

"I left it as a child but my memory of it is sunlight-clear"

"...opens and spills a grammar"

The theme of living in exile is closely linked to another theme - the passage of time.

 

This theme 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"

Let's have a look at how the theme the passage of time is developed throughout the poem.

 

Read the following quotation and explain the meaning of this quotation by filling in the blanks:

 

"I never saw it in that November".

"The white streets of that city"

"As time rolls its tanks"

"The graceful slopes glow"

"But I can’t get it off my tongue"

Another main theme of the poem is 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

Let's take a look at how the theme of migration is developed throughout the poem.

 

The narrator explores the idea that, although she would love to go back to her country, she is no longer able to.

 

Read the following quotation and explain what it means by filling in the blanks:

 

 "There once was a country...I left it as a child".

 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

Another theme running throughout the poem is light and shade.

 

The narrator uses light to describe her home country and shade to describe what has happened to it.

 

 

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\"

Let's have a look at how the theme of light and shade develops throughout the poem.

 

Read the following quotation from 'The Emigree':

 

"My shadow falls as evidence of sunlight".

 

 

Forrest at night

 

​How does the narrator use the theme of light to explain how she feels?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain in deeper detail.

  • Question 1

aeroplane

 

In order to explore how the themes develop 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 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

A main theme of the poem is 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

Let's have a look at how the theme of living in exile is developed throughout the poem.

 

There are references throughout the poem regarding the narrator's childhood, which explain how long she has been living in exile.

 

Which quotation would you use to support this theme? Choose one answer from below.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"I left it as a child but my memory of it is sunlight-clear"
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

The theme of living in exile is closely linked to another theme - the passage of time.

 

This theme 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

Let's have a look at how the theme the passage of time is developed throughout the poem.

 

Read the following quotation and explain the meaning of this quotation by filling in the blanks:

 

"I never saw it in that November".

CORRECT ANSWER
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

Another main theme of the poem is 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

Let's take a look at how the theme of migration is developed throughout the poem.

 

The narrator explores the idea that, although she would love to go back to her country, she is no longer able to.

 

Read the following quotation and explain what it means by filling in the blanks:

 

 "There once was a country...I left it as a child".

CORRECT ANSWER
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 opening "There once" sounds like a fairytale's, 'Once's upon a time', which shows that she associates her country with innocence and enjoyment.
  • Question 9

Another theme running throughout the poem is light and shade.

 

The narrator uses light to describe her home country and shade to describe what has happened to it.

 

 

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

Let's have a look at how the theme of light and shade develops throughout the poem.

 

Read the following quotation from 'The Emigree':

 

"My shadow falls as evidence of sunlight".

 

 

Forrest at night

 

​How does the narrator use the theme of light to explain how she feels?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain in deeper detail.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: Throughout the poem, the narrator uses the imagery of light and shadow to illustrate how she feels about her home country and the one she lives in now. She uses the oxymoron "My shadow falls as evidence of sunlight" to contrast her feelings. This creates the impression that her life is made much worse now because she knows what it is to be happy (in her home country).

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one point (AQA recommends that the student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 6.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation.
The paragraph should include a quotation, language technique and some evaluation.

Try it ---- OR ----

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