2023 NECO Literature Drama & Poetry Answers [27th July]
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Literature in English (Drama & Poetry)
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NECO Literature in English Drama & Poetry Questions & Answers [27th July, 2023]

(Answer ONE Question from this section)

Queen Yoko is the tragic heroine who is also a historical figure in the play, She is the wife of Gbanya who is the chief of Senehun and Lamboi’s blood sister. She is high-spirited, determined, focused, and courageous, she knows what she wants and she is willing to do everything to achieve her heart desire. Gbanya made a promised to pass the chiefdom to her when he is no more her derails in his decision. Yoko refuses to cave into Gbanya’s attempt to give it to his chief warrior. Ndapi, Yoko continues to pester him until an unfortunate incident happened.
She is very sensitive to other people’s plight. She is not a greedy leader who is power drunk. She is very empathetic, for she is ever willing to share in her people’s feelings.

She is a peace-loving leader who does not derive joy in shedding innocent blood and that is why she strives hard to put an end to wars during her reign as Queen of Moyamba. She also demonstrates this in her relationship with the Governor. She knows how to be calm in a tense and unfortunate atmosphere. This is seen when she’s accused of being responsible for the death of Ndapi’s daughter, Jeneba, she could not react immediately but waits patiently to dig deep into the root of the matter.

Yoko is sensitive and soft-hearted. She allows the problems in the land to affect her psychologically, consequently, she could not manage it, and she feels that taking her own life is the best option, she takes poison and dies. This is because she believes that the only way to achieve peace on earth is through death.

Madam Yoko is a woman who loves to make sacrifices. She sacrifices her womanhood in order to govern her people. She refuses to bear children, a decision she took with Gbanya. She keeps to Gbanya’s decision not to allow her to have children but she concurs. She reminds him of the promise when Gbanya apparently declares that he cannot give a woman, the land of his ancestors Yoko laments, Yoko feels betrayed by Gbanya in this regard and the people she eventually governs.

This theme of colonial oppression is introduced at the beginning of the play when Gbanya narrates the dreams he had the previous night to Yoko about how the Governor humiliated him in the eyes of his people. Gbanya vows to receive and treat the Governor well in order not to incur his wrath. This shows that the setting of the play is connected to a pre-colonial era where Governors were appointed to oversee the activities of African communities.

Some of these Governors, representatives of Imperial Majesty tend to overzealously exploit the people but also treat them as sub-humans or humiliate them when the people in the community err against them and that is exactly what Dr. Samuel Rowe, the Governor does to Gbanya when he finds out that the people have not stopped engaging in the war despite his stern warning to desist from such barbaric act.

As a punitive measure or punishment, Gbanya the chief of Senehun is humiliated before his people. Rowe orders the soldiers to stretch Gbanya out on the ground. He also fires a shot from his pistol in the air to threaten Lavalie and Ndapi not to retaliate, Rowe takes the rice and cattle Gbanya entertained him with and zoom off.

Moreover, colonial domination also makes the chief and the people, not to have confidence in themselves because they feel and believe that the Governor, the white man is awash with superior and supreme power. That is why even when Rowe sends his Messengers to Moyamba, the people especially the chief treat him well like the Imperial Majesty herself.

Lastly, the people receive a dirty slaps on their faces when the Governor turns against them to gives out a portion of land that belongs to them to the chiefdom of Bo.

The central theme of youth and old age is prominent throughout the play and is portrayed through the interactions and conflicts between the characters.

Firstly in Youthful Exuberance and Traditional Wisdom as the play features two central characters who represent the contrasting aspects of youth and old age. Lakunle symbolizes the modern, educated youth with new ideas and aspirations. He advocates for change, gender equality, and the rejection of traditional practices. On the other hand, Baroka, the Bale (chief) of the village, embodies the wisdom of age and the traditional values of the community. He resists the changes Lakunle wants to bring and embraces the old ways.

Secondly in Beauty and Attractiveness delves into the perception of beauty and attractiveness, particularly concerning Sidi, the "jewel" of the village. Both Lakunle and Baroka are attracted to her, but their perceptions of her beauty are influenced by their age and mindset. Lakunle sees her as an idealized modern woman, while Baroka, despite his age, desires her youthfulness, portraying how youth and age approach attractiveness differently.

Thirdly the play uses Power and Control as age often comes with power and influence in traditional societies, and the play explores the struggle for control between the young and the old. Baroka, as the Bale, holds significant authority over the village, while Lakunle seeks to challenge and undermine that authority. The generational conflict highlights the tensions between the established order and the desire for change.

Fourthly in Tradition and Modernity which the play examines the clash between tradition and modernity. Lakunle represents the forces of modernization, trying to introduce Western ideas and values into the village, while Baroka stands for the preservation of traditional African customs and norms. This theme raises questions about the potential benefits and drawbacks of embracing modernity while preserving cultural heritage.

Lastly is in the Role of Women as it touches on the role of women in traditional societies and how it changes with the influence of youth and old age. Sidi, as a young woman, has dreams and aspirations, but she is also bound by societal expectations and the desires of the men around her. The conflict between Lakunle and Baroka also highlights the power dynamics within male-female relationships.
Additionally Legacy and Impact in the older characters in the play, particularly Baroka, are concerned about their legacy and how they will be remembered after their time is over. Baroka's desire to maintain his virility and youthfulness by marrying Sidi is driven, in part, by his fear of being forgotten and replaced by a younger generation.

The play uses the theme of youth and old age to explore deeper issues within African society, such as tradition, change, power dynamics, and the evolving roles of men and women. The play offers a complex portrayal of these themes through its rich characters and their interactions, shedding light on the challenges and conflicts that arise when tradition meets modernity.

In African society, bride price is considered to be the most important part of a marriage rite such that any married woman without it is branded as illegal and unrecognized. In some African communities, children raised or given birth to in such marriage are taken away from their father.

In the play, Bride price is an integral aspect of African culture and tradition because Sidi could have married Lakunle before she is seduced by Baroka whom she believes is ready to pay her bride price unlike Lakunle who describes such traditional rite as “savage custom, barbaric, outdated, retrogressive and unpalatable… To further demonstrate the importance of bride price in the play, Sidi promises to marry Lakunle only if he agrees to settle her bride price.

Ideally, bride price is a sign of respect and regard for the bride and her family who otherwise would become “a cheap bowl for the village spit” (object of scorn and shame). It also portrays bride’s purity (virginity) and undefiled status. Lakunle sees it as “buying a heifer of the stall, while Sidi sees it as a mark of honor and respect identity and dignity to womanhood in Africa.

Lakunle opposes this idea because of his influence on the western concept of gender equality. He thinks that bride price is uncivilized and outrageous custom.

(Answer ONE Question from this section)

"Innocence" is an underlying theme the play, which its portrayal of disillusionment and societal unrest is characterized.

The theme of innocence is explored in the play firstly through the Loss of Innocence as the play's main character, Jimmy Porter, is filled with anger and bitterness towards society, his upbringing, and his own circumstances. He is disillusioned and frustrated with the world around him, feeling that his dreams and aspirations have been crushed. His anger stems from the loss of innocence he experienced as he transitioned from a hopeful and optimistic young man to a bitter and resentful adult.

Secondly, throughout the play, there are references to childhood memories and innocence. These memories serve as a stark contrast to the present state of the characters' lives, reminding the audience of the characters' lost innocence and the passage of time. The past is portrayed as a time of simplicity and purity, which stands in contrast to the complexities and disappointments of the present.

Thirdly Alison, Jimmy's wife, is portrayed as a gentle and sensitive character who has lost touch with her own innocence due to her troubled marriage with Jimmy. Her life with him has been filled with emotional turmoil, and she struggles to find happiness and fulfillment. Her inability to connect with her own feelings and desires is emblematic of the loss of innocence and the impact of a tumultuous relationship.

Fourthly the play is set in post-World War II Britain, a time of significant social change and upheaval. The characters in the play grapple with the loss of innocence related to their beliefs and values. The disillusionment with societal norms and the establishment is a central theme throughout the play.

Additionally the Desire for Innocence his the characters in the play, particularly Jimmy and Alison, yearn for a return to innocence and simplicity. However, the weight of their past experiences and their strained relationship makes it difficult for them to recapture that sense of innocence.

Further more the character of Helena, Alison's friend, serves as a symbol of innocence in the play. She is depicted as a contrast to Alison, embodying a sense of purity and simplicity that the other characters lack. Helena's presence highlights the loss of innocence experienced by the other characters.

The play explores the theme of innocence through the lens of personal and societal disillusionment. The characters' struggles with their past, their relationships, and their desires for a simpler time underscore the loss of innocence as a fundamental aspect of their lives. The play remains a powerful depiction of the human condition and the complexities of navigating adulthood amidst the loss of youthful innocence.

Jimmy porter is the central character in the play; a twenty five year-old man who lives in Britain’s industrial midlands. He is an educated; well-read individual who works in a factory that is tends a sweet stall he is trying to buy, and issues diatribes about British society, which he feels has denied him opportunity simply because of his working class background.

Jimmy is self-conceited, self-centered and individualistic. He prides himself on his honestly, but can be cruel, as seen in his verbal attacks on his wife, Alison and his father, and on, Cliff Lewis, who lives with them.

Jimmy is a misogynist, that is, one who hates women. He hates womenfolk with passion and never takes them seriously. He sees them as people who cannot contribute anything meaningful to his life. He tends to transfer the anger in the past to them. He maltreats Alison, makes her feel subhuman to the point of resistance and her father, until Colonel Redfern comes to her rescue, and the Colonel takes her home. His only reason for maltreating Alison is the fact that she is too possessive and that she cannot understand him because she has never suffered, because he suffered at the age of ten; for he had to watch his father die. Because he insists on total loyalty, Jimmy feels betrayed when his wife, Alison, does not accompany him to the dead bed of a friend’s mother, yet he does not see anything wrong with his having an affair with Helena, his wife’s friend.

Jimmy is egocentric and egoistic; for he cares only about his own feeling and cares less about other people around him. He seems incapable of empathizing with his wife, even when she grieves over losing their baby. He takes her back only after he has realized her importance and completely abased herself to him. Jimmy is the “angry young man” of the play. Born working class but highly educated like his friend and roommate, Cliff but Jimmy have an ambivalent relationship with his educated status and yet frustrated that his education can do nothing to effect his class status. Jimmy is a frustrated character who wallows in his feelings of alienation and uselessness in post-war England. Jimmy is a bundle of contradictions. He is passionate about progressive politics but he treats his wife like a slave, which might seem contrary to being progressive, Jimmy is filled with rage but the reason for this misery is not known to anyone.

The theme of parental responsibility is explored through the family disintegration and rebirth

There is a serious case of one who is building an enduring family reputation and unity and there is another who is destroying it and bringing it to disrepute.

Rose who is positive minded does everything possible to reposition the Maxson’s family by giving moral and financial support to the members in her household, while Troy whose income cannot even settle his family’s need is busying dragging the family name on the mire.

So, Troy struggles to fulfill his role as a father to his son and husband to his wife. He does not do much before his demise. The family he ruled with Iron hand or hard-handedness is torn apart, as his son; Cory turns against him and also becomes a rebel. After leveling serious criticism on how Troy tormented his life and dreams for a better future, he vows not to attend his funeral. Troy’s adulterous act with Alberta also contributes to Troy’s backwardness and family disintegration. The nature of trust between Rose and Troy is broken here, because Rose has vowed never to have anything to do with Troy, especially when the news about Alberta’s pregnancy for “Troy filters in.

To further demonstrate that Rose is an embodiment of unity and family’s rebirth, she tries to convince Cory not to speak despicably against his dead father and to assure him that Troy means well for the family, “Your daddy wanted you to be everything he wasn’t… and at the same time he tried to make you everything he was… he meant to do more good than he meant to do harm” Rose cautions Cory. Troy also sees Rose as a good woman capable of uniting the family when he says… “I know she’s a good woman I have been married to her for eighteen years”

Also, Rose forgives Troy and accepts to bring up Raynell, that is, the illegitimate daughter of Troy and Alberta who died shortly after child birth in order to promote peace harmony and family integration in Maxsons.

(i) Rose Maxson is Troy’s devoted wife and mother of his second son, Cory. She is a forty three years-old African-American house wife who volunteers to attend church regularly. She is ten years younger than Troy. Her devotion to him stem from her recognition of the possibilities of her life without him.

She is a woman with excellent spirit and great understanding. She recognizes Troy’s spirit as a fine and illuminating one and she either ignores or forgives his faults, only some of which she recognizes, Rose’s request that Troy and Cory build a fence in their small dirt backyard comes to represent her desire to keep her loved ones close to her with tender care while she is doing everything to unit her family; Troy is busy destroying the family’s dreams and aspiration.

She is a compassionate mother in all of her relationship with the members of her family, unlike Troy who discriminates. She is a fair Judge of character, and she sincerely hopes for a better future for her husband and son by not begrudging the stagnant situation at the moment. She is also kind, peaceful and ever willing to forgive those who wrong her. Rose’s acceptance of Troy’s illegitimate daughter, Reynell, as her own child demonstrates this attribute of hers.

Cory Maxeon is Troy and Rose’s teenage son. He is an ambitious young man who has the talent and determination to realize his dreams. He is a very respectful and compassionate nephew to his disabled uncle Gabriel. He is quite passionate and optimistic about great future to become a footballer and he needs to actualize it through his father’s support and love, but contrarily unmet by the pessimism of his father. His father, Troy believes that he can’t excel as a result of racism. He prefers him to read more books to get promoted in his A & P Job, or learn how to fix cars or build houses or learn a trade. Troy views Cory’s career aspirations as idealistic and detached from the realities of a racist society where the white dominate world of sports will not support his son’s dream of becoming a footballer.

He is a dynamic and persistent person, for he is undaunted by Troy’s bully and this makes Cory hate him vehemently. He refuses to attend Troy’s funeral because of his father’s hard handedness. He does not want to be Troy Maxson, he wants to be himself. He says this to stand up to his father who is not willing to support his dreams.

August Wilson uses Cory as an opposing force to Troy’s views and values which Troy stands for and the clash before both is the central conflict in the play. Cory undergoes transformation when she leaves home to join the marines in the end.

(Answer ONE Question from this section)

The Grieved Lands of Africa" by Agostinho Neto is a poignant and emotionally charged poem that addresses the suffering, oppression, and resilience of Africa and its people. The poem delves into the historical and contemporary injustices faced by the continent, while also celebrating the enduring spirit and unity of its people.

Tone: The tone of the poem is one of sorrow, grief, and lamentation. The title itself, "The Grieved Lands of Africa," sets the somber tone for the entire poem. The poet paints a picture of the hardships endured by Africa, referencing slavery, degradation, and oppression. The repetition of "grieved" throughout the poem emphasizes the weight of suffering borne by the continent and its people.

Mood: The mood of the poem is both sorrowful and hopeful. While it acknowledges the deep pain and injustice faced by Africa, there is also a sense of resilience and hope that shines through. The poem celebrates the enduring spirit of Africa and its people, emphasizing their vitality and the richness of their culture. The mention of dreams, dances, and the sound of life alludes to the indomitable spirit of the continent, despite its history of suffering.

The Leader and the Led is an allegorical poem. Hence, it can be understood at two levels of meaning. The poem makes use of animal characters to illustrate human conditions. The poem dramatises a situation where different animals vie for leadership positions, but are judged by other animals to be unqualified because of certain negative attributes that they possess. For instance, the Lion is seen to be 'ferocious' in his dealings with other animals. In other words, the Lion's anger and oppressive tendencies disqualify him from being an ideal leader. Other animals who aspire to the leadership of the jungle are the Hyena, the Giraffe, the Zebra, the Elephant, the Warthog and the Rhino. Each of these aspirants is seen to have one or two negative attributes that disqualify them from being leaders.

In other words, they have their excesses and these do not make for the ideal leadership that the animals are glamouring for. For instance, the Hyena's 'lethal appetite' is what detracts from his leadership abilities. The Giraffe is seen to be high up there, which means that he might not be in tune with the real experiences of the masses. The Zebra is seen not to be an honest and straightforward person. The elephant is feared for its gigantic feet which could easily crush the lesser creatures. The Warthog has an ugly character while the Rhino is seen to be too violent to be a good leader.

In the ending stanza, it is revealed that a good leader is one who has 'a hybrid of habits'.
This is further explained in the next stanza:
'A little bit of a Lion/A little bit of a Lamb'.
This means that leaders should have
dynamic, unpredictable but virtuous qualities.
Again, the poem implies that leaders should acknowledge the fact that they derive their value from the followers, as it is the followers that enthrone leaders

(Answer ONE Question from this section)

The theme of change is portrayed in the poem as it questions the essence of modernism which seeks to reflect the shift in human consciousness, that is an essential part of modernist thought. The poet uses the poem “Bat” to represent 20th-century society which was characterized by war, religion, different beliefs and politics. It is a well-known fact that there is a shift or change in thinking and relation which has caused unrest in our modern society. “Bat” for instance, is an animal that is neither a bird nor rodent. It hangs upside down to sleep. This is symbolic of abnormality which is a product of 20th century society. The birds do perch and sleep in their nest which is contrary to the bat.

The fact that the protest poem ends “not for me” is also a sign of rejection of modernism. This poem dwells on loss of innocence into experience or the charge that Virginia Woolf identifies as part of modernism. This experience is the cause of human predicament. Also, the poet resets the idea about modernity which marks the advancement of technology, nuclear weapon because they are meant for destruction. Despite the fact that bat represents happiness in china which is symbolic of technological invention, the persona is not moved by such revelation.

Journey of the Magi" by T.S. Eliot is a travelogue recounting the arduous expedition of the three wise men from the East in search of the newborn baby Jesus. The poem is divided into three parts, depicting the harsh weather conditions they endured, the toll it took on them and their camels, and the transformative impact of witnessing the birth of Christ.

In the opening stanza, the Magi face the bitter cold of winter, and the persona bitterly complains about the challenging conditions, providing vivid details of the setting. The poem sets the stage for the difficult journey ahead.

The second part portrays the exhausting nature of the journey, which seems endless. The relentless cold and harsh weather cause painful injuries to their camels, making them reluctant to continue. The Magi regret their decision, yearning for the comforts of home and the pleasures they left behind. The mention of "silken girls" serving them sweet fruits and diluted fruit juice evokes nostalgia and temptation to abandon the quest.

As they seek refuge in cities along the way, they find no respite. The cities are unwelcoming, and the villagers charge exorbitant prices for basic necessities, leaving the Magi without proper accommodation. Traveling at night to avoid danger, doubts arise about the purpose of their journey.

The third stanza brings a glimmer of hope as they arrive in Bethlehem, a temperate valley "smelling of vegetation." However, the mention of "three trees on the low sky" foreshadows the crucifixion of Christ, adding weight to their destination's significance.

Upon entering Bethlehem, they find the locals engrossed in drinking and merriment, seemingly oblivious to the birth of the Messiah in their midst. The Magi continue until they reach an unexpected location in the evening—a manger. They struggle to comprehend how such a great savior could be born in such humble surroundings among animals.

The concluding stanza takes on a philosophical tone as the narrator reflects on the transformative impact of their journey. Witnessing the birth of Christ brings death to their old way of life, leading to repentance and salvation. The gifts they offer symbolize their newfound devotion. Returning to their homeland, they no longer fit into their former pagan practices and view their fellow countrymen as "alien people." The birth of Christ heralds the death of their old worldly ways.

The poem concludes with a longing for another transformative experience, akin to death. This alludes to the death of Jesus Christ, bringing salvation and redemption to the world. It serves as a call for fortitude on the Christian journey, acknowledging the challenges and sacrifices that ultimately lead to spiritual renewal and eternal life.

In conclusion, "Journey of the Magi" presents a poignant travelogue of the wise men's hardships in their quest to witness the birth of Christ. Their journey leaves them forever changed, embracing a new life of repentance and devotion. Through vivid imagery and allusions, the poem explores the transformative power of faith and the profound impact of encountering the divine. 


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