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Compare the Language in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London'

In this worksheet, students will identify the language techniques used in both 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London' explain their effect on the reader.

'Compare the Language in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London' ' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'Checking Out Me History'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'Checking Out Me History' by John Agard and  'London' by William Blake. Both poems can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your anthology.

 


Both Checking Out Me History and London are poems that express the poet's anger towards the misuse of power by those with authority, but the main difference is that while Agard shows a solution, Blake does not, showing how they have different viewpoints on the possibility of change. Both poems create a sense of unfairness to those who are less powerful or wealthy and show that the place where you live can have a huge impact on your happiness. 


In the following questions, you will look at the language techniques used in both poems.

 

 

BeachHouses of Parliament

 

In order to identify the language techniques in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London', we need to understand their meaning.

 

Read the poem 'Checking Out Me History' and match the questions to the correct answers below:

 

Column A

Column B

What is the poet at conflict with?
The poet is at conflict with the way he was taught...
What is noticeable about the style of the poem?
His own cultural identity and history
Who are "dem"?
People in authority
What does the poet want to "check out"?
The poet has written in a way that shows his accen...

London tower

 

 

Now read the poem 'London' and match the questions to their answers below.

Column A

Column B

What is the narrator doing in the poem?
How weak and sad they look
What does he notice about every face he looks at?
That it is supposed to help, but does not
Why does Blake believe that people stay in London?
That the people in authority do not care about tho...
What does Blake suggest about the Church?
Wandering through the streets of London
What does Blake suggest about power?
They believe that they have no way out

Let's recap your knowledge of language techniques, so we know what to look for in the poems.

 

 

writing paper

 

 

Can you match the language technique to the definition?

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Direct comparison of two things without using word...
Simile
Words beginning with the same letter sounds
Onomatopoeia
Words which sound like the effect they describe
Metaphor
Comparing two or more objects with words "like" or...
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or animal with huma...

In 'Checking Out Me History', repetition is used with the following quotation:

 

"Dem tell me"

 

teacher with a class

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that he did not know the names of the people who taught him

It creates the impression that he was bombarded with history as a child

It emphasises the idea that he told what to learn instead of having freedom to choose

The poem 'London' also uses repetition to describe the suffering of the people in the city.

 

London

 

 

The following quotations are all from 'London'. Choose one which you think is an example of repetition.

 

"How the chimney-sweeper's cry"

"In every cry of every man"

"Runs in blood down palace walls"

Both poems use juxtaposition to describe the negative consequences of power.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the poet uses juxtaposition to describe what he was taught as a child,

 

"Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat. Dem tell me bout Dick Whittington and he cat"

 

 

cat

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that as a child he was confused between what was fact and fiction

It creates the impression that he loved learning about history and stories

In the poem 'London', juxtaposition is also created with the use of the oxymoron:

 

"Plagues the Marriage hearse"

 

Can you underline the two words which you think create the contrast?

\"Plagues the Marriage hearse\"

Both poems use metaphor to create meaning.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the poet uses metaphor to describe the historical figure Mary Seacole:

 

"A healing star among the wounded" 

 

stars in night sky

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that Mary Seacole worked hard at night

It creates the impression that Mary Seacole was a dangerous person

It creates the impression that Mary Seacole was someone to be admired and respected

The poem 'London' also uses metaphor to describe how the people of London believe there is no way out of their misery.

 

 

Tower bridge London

 

 

The following quotations are all from 'London'. Choose one which you think is an example of a metaphor.

 

"How the chimney-sweeper's cry"

"The mind-forged manacles I hear"

"And mark in every face I meet"

Re-read this quotation:

 

"A healing star among the wounded"

 

Candles

 

 

Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

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

  • Question 1

In order to identify the language techniques in 'Checking Out Me History' and 'London', we need to understand their meaning.

 

Read the poem 'Checking Out Me History' and match the questions to the correct answers below:

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

What is the poet at conflict with...
The poet is at conflict with the ...
What is noticeable about the styl...
The poet has written in a way tha...
Who are "dem"?
People in authority
What does the poet want to "check...
His own cultural identity and his...
EDDIE SAYS
'Checking Out Me History' is an assertive and justifiably angry poem which links the biased and reductive Western European history taught in schools to the complexities of one's cultural identity. The poet talks of "dem" (the people who taught him history) and it's clear that he feels a sense of separation and anger, as he feels he was "blinded" from his own history. He explains how, as an adult, he is now learning about his own cultural identity.
  • Question 2

London tower

 

 

Now read the poem 'London' and match the questions to their answers below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

What is the narrator doing in the...
Wandering through the streets of ...
What does he notice about every f...
How weak and sad they look
Why does Blake believe that peopl...
They believe that they have no wa...
What does Blake suggest about the...
That it is supposed to help, but ...
What does Blake suggest about pow...
That the people in authority do n...
EDDIE SAYS
Published in 1794, 'London' is a poem by British writer William Blake. The poem has a sombre, morbid tone and reflects Blake's unhappiness and misery with his life in London. Blake describes the poverty and harshness of living in London and reflects on the people there who feel like they have no way out.
  • Question 3

Let's recap your knowledge of language techniques, so we know what to look for in the poems.

 

 

writing paper

 

 

Can you match the language technique to the definition?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Words beginning with the same let...
Simile
Comparing two or more objects wit...
Onomatopoeia
Words which sound like the effect...
Metaphor
Direct comparison of two things w...
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or...
EDDIE SAYS
Well done if you got them all! The techniques above are just a few of the ones frequently used in poetry. They are really useful to use when writing an explanation of a quotation, as they help to describe how an effect has been created. They also bump up your marks when used correctly!
  • Question 4

In 'Checking Out Me History', repetition is used with the following quotation:

 

"Dem tell me"

 

teacher with a class

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It emphasises the idea that he told what to learn instead of having freedom to choose
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Dem tell me" is repeated throughout the poem and is a reference to the people in authority during the poet's childhood. The pronoun "dem" suggests that he felt alienated (separate) from the people teaching him, and was made to feel different. He resents that he was only allowed to learn what they "told" him to and that because of this, he missed out on studying his own rich, meaningful Caribbean history.
  • Question 5

The poem 'London' also uses repetition to describe the suffering of the people in the city.

 

London

 

 

The following quotations are all from 'London'. Choose one which you think is an example of repetition.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"In every cry of every man"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "in every cry of every man" is an example of repetition as the word "every" is repeated four times in the second stanza. This is to emphasise the scale of suffering of the people of London - the poet wants to make the point that misery is everywhere.
  • Question 6

Both poems use juxtaposition to describe the negative consequences of power.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the poet uses juxtaposition to describe what he was taught as a child,

 

"Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat. Dem tell me bout Dick Whittington and he cat"

 

 

cat

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It creates the impression that as a child he was confused between what was fact and fiction
EDDIE SAYS
In this quotation, the poet creates a juxtaposition of the different things he learned and creates a sense of his confusion as a child. He was taught both fact and fiction, but as he could not relate to these things culturally, he couldn't decipher what was real and what was not. To him, everything resembled fiction stories. The phrase "and all dat" suggests that he was never really interested in this history.
  • Question 7

In the poem 'London', juxtaposition is also created with the use of the oxymoron:

 

"Plagues the Marriage hearse"

 

Can you underline the two words which you think create the contrast?

CORRECT ANSWER
"Plagues the Marriage hearse"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Plagues the Marriage hearse" is an example of juxtaposition as the words "marriage" and "hearse" contrast the joy of marriage with the misery of death and mourning. The poet is suggesting that society has destroyed all of the happiness in life.
  • Question 8

Both poems use metaphor to create meaning.

 

In 'Checking Out Me History' the poet uses metaphor to describe the historical figure Mary Seacole:

 

"A healing star among the wounded" 

 

stars in night sky

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It creates the impression that Mary Seacole was someone to be admired and respected
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses a metaphor to describe Mary Seacole as a "star". Mary was a nurse who risked her life to help men who had been wounded in battle - very much like the more famous Florence Nightingale. The poet describes Mary Seacole in very positive terms. Comparing her to a "star" suggests that she brought hope and light to the people who were wounded.
  • Question 9

The poem 'London' also uses metaphor to describe how the people of London believe there is no way out of their misery.

 

 

Tower bridge London

 

 

The following quotations are all from 'London'. Choose one which you think is an example of a metaphor.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"The mind-forged manacles I hear"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "The mind-forged manacles I hear" is an example of a metaphor as it is comparing the people's feelings to "manacles" (two metal bands joined by a chain, like handcuffs). This suggests that, although the people of London feel that they are trapped there, this is all in their "mind", however the poor people feel as though they are.
  • Question 10

Re-read this quotation:

 

"A healing star among the wounded"

 

Candles

 

 

Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

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

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: The narrator gives an example of another historical figure who he admires and who he would also like to be remembered. He uses a metaphor to describe nurse Mary Seacole as a "healing star among the wounded" and indicates that she was just as influential as the more well-known nurse Florence Nightingale. This creates the impression that black historical figures, such as Mary and Toussaint, have not been given the respect they deserve in that their narratives are not taught in schools.

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 a 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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