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How does the poet present conflict in .Not my Business? Compare his methods with the ways conflict is presented in one other poem.

‘Not my Business’ and ‘Half Caste’ both include the theme of conflict. However, both poets address this theme in different ways. In ‘Not My Business’, the poet regularly witnesses injustice in regard to the violent authority in his country but turns a turns a blind eye, fearing the consequences. Whereas in ‘Half Caste’, Agard approaches the controversial subject of racism and offensive language in a humorous and light hearted way.

Both poems effectively use language to present conflict. In ‘Not my Business’, imagery is successfully used to convey the violent nature of the military regime. He describes how they ‘beat him soft like clay’ showing the immoral, aggressive and forceful methods used. The poet then uses a metaphor to describe the ‘waiting jeep’ as they ‘stuffed him down the belly’. This gives the jeep a predatory animal characteristic, which could perhaps show the savage techniques used which have no placed in a ‘civilised’ modern world. ‘Half-Caste’ uses language a different way to approach conflict. Agard uses repetition of the word ‘half’ to emphasise the ridiculousness of the derogatory term ‘half-caste’. He demands the reader – “Explain yuself” – which he also uses repetitively. The effect this has on the reader is guilt as ‘explain yuself’ has an reprimanding tone to it as he presumes everyone who reads his poems uses the term ‘half-caste’. I think this is an effective technique as it emphasises the offense the word has on people, which I think would persuade people, in future, to not use the term.

Structure is also used to convey conflict. In ‘Not my Business’, the poem is split into four stanzas. The first three stanzas feature three people being taken away in the jeep and then the last stanzas is the persona being taken away. These events take place at different times in each stanzas: “one morning”, “one night”, “one day” and “one evening”. This shows that the injustice can happen at any time of the day and shows the random occurrences of the visits, adding to the fear as they live in suspense. The first three stanzas also feature the poet’s attempt to justify his ignorance:
“What business of mine is it
So long as they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?”
Each of these explanations are indented from the text above describing the attacks, perhaps showing how he feels unaffected by the actions and he doesn’t want to get involved. This emphasises his ignorance and selfishness as he watches his neighbours get unfairly treated, ridding me of any possible empathy felt towards him.
Structure in half-caste is also used to present his argument. In the first stanza, standard English is used. However, in the following stanzas the poem uses phonetic Caribbean dialect with occasional standard English. This emphasises the message that he is from two cultures, the Carribean and England, but he is still a whole person, just as the poem is still a full poem. This could have also been used as an argument against society’s small-mindedness. Why should he be viewed as ‘half-caste’ (insinuating that he is a ‘half-caste human being’) and why should his version of English be viewed any different from standard English. I think this is an effective technique as it encourages the reader to question society’s judgements which is what Agard was aiming for.

In ‘Not my Business’, the poets thoughts are that ‘so long as they don’t take the yam’, he’ll ignore the antics. This shows his insensitive and selfishness. However, after witnessing the violence of the authorities it is clear that it is his fear controlling him and he is only acting out of self-preservation. ‘Half-Caste’’s poet’s thoughts are a lot different. In contrast to the fearful persona in ‘Not my Business’, Agard is much more light hearted and humorous but with a strong underlying message. His methods highlight the ridiculousness of the term and embarrass the reader of the stupidity of the word. I think this is a more effective technique than approaching the subject with an angry tone as it creates more empathy towards mixed race people.

In conclusion, I think that both poems are successful in presenting conflict. However, I think the humorous tone of ‘Half-Caste’ was much more effective at engaging me, as a reader, and it provoked an emotional response from me as I felt empathy towards people of mixed race who are referred to using this term by people who do not realise the insult beneath it of them being half a person.

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