LEARN A WORD A DAY

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Potato People

Set around the mid-nineteenth century. Potato People, focused on the great exodus of the Irish people to America, the promised land across the seas. Young Patrick Flynn, from the village of Skullgoragh, was one of the millions of Irish emigrants who struggled and fought to get a berth on the ships taking them out of a country, that was now riddled with famine and starvation, as well as all kinds of terrible epidemics like dysentery, cholera and typhoid. Accompanying him for the great adventure to America was Marie, a street-smart Gipsy girl who later became his wife. Already orphaned at the age of sixteen, Patrick learned the grim horrors of learning to survive the chaotic world that was on the verge of falling apart. First of all, he learned to forage for food, eating almost anything he could lay his hands on.

In addition, young Patrick learned the horror of being forcefully driven off the land where his family had lived for untold generations. He witnessed Mr. Graystone, the ruthless overseer of their absentee landlord, coming with British soldiers, to tear down and raze to the ground their humble cottages, the only shelter that they had against the bitter cold of the Irish winters. Encouraged by Sean, a similarly stricken fellow villager, Patrick made for Cork, their nearest port of call for the ships plying the Atlantic route.

Themes:
-
The aftermath of the Irish Potato Blight
- T
he great exodus to the New World.

Issues:
-
Migration as a form of escape from starvation and death.
-
The outbreak of disease can cause a breakdown of society, famine and epidemic outbreaks.

Characters and Characterisation:

Main Characters:

Patrick Flynn
-
an orphan
-
innocent and inexperienced
-
has strong survival instincts
-
loyal to Sean
-
generous and kind
-
hardworking
-
determined

Marie
-
street-smart
-
cheerful
-
optimistic
-
has leadership qualities
-
wise

Minor Characters:

Sean
-
orphan
-
generous
-
stubborn
- v
engeful

Lord Francis Egham

- landowner of Patrick’s village

- heartless
- uncaring
- unscrupulous

Oswald Graystone
-
harsh and brutal towards the villagers
-
cruel and heartless

Big Finn Mc Donald
-
brutal
-
a callous bully

British Sergeant
- all and muscular
-
kindly face
-
a no-nonsense person

Peter O’Connor
-
kindhearted
-
friendly
-
generous
-
caring
-
gentle

Plot:

Exposition:
Patrick acted as the lookout for the village of Skullgoragh. Patrick dreamt of being in Lord Egham’s manor.

Rising Action/Conflict:
The demolition of Patrick’s village by Mr. Graystone’s men. Sean urged the villagers to stand up and fight for their land. The warning given by the British officer to Sean of a bloodshed if there was resistance. The meeting between Patrick and Marie while on the way to Cork.

Climax:
Patrick and Marie met up with Sean at the Three Cats Inn. Sean was arrested for the murder of Mr. Graystone.

Falling Action:
Patrick and Marie boarded the ship, ‘Zeus’ to America.

Resolution:
Patrick and Marie arrived in New York. They got married and settled down in California.

Setting:

Place:
Irish Village of Skullgoragh, Ireland
Kilkaddy
The port of Cork
Three Cats Inn
The ship Zeus
New York
California

Time:
Mid-nineteenth century
In the 1840’s

Society:
The poor farming community of Ireland
The rich landlords of Ireland

Point of view:
The third person point of view
-
The omniscient narrator is used

Language and style:

Flashbacks:
Patrick’s recall of his eating the rotten meat of a dead dog
-
Patrick’s recall of the days of glory for Sean’s family
-
Patrick’s recall of his own deceased family, especially of his dead father
-
Patrick’s recall of the old stories of the brave men of Skullgoragh
-
Patrick’s recall of his mother’s remark about Gipsies
-
Marie’s recall of the strangeness in Sean’s eyes when they met at the Three Cats Inn.

Foreshadows:
Patrick’s walking away from the ruins of Skullgoragh with a strange feeling of excitement in him.
-
Marie’s reading of the palm of Patrick which told of his coming adventure in America and his eventual
marrying of Marie

Symbol:
The sun is used to show:
(i)
the complete destruction of the village of Skullgoragh (as indicated by the sun which was slowly sinking in the west behind the hills as the cottage were set on fire).
(ii)
The dawn of a new beginning and way of life for Patrick (as indicated by Patrick returning to the smouldering ruins of his village when the sun began to rise again the next morning).

Values and Messages

Compassion and Understanding
-
We must always show true compassion and understanding towards people who are facing great adversity and hardship

Generosity and Self-Sacrifice
-
We must always try to be generous in our words, thoughts and deeds, to people that we interact with.
- I
f necessary, we should be prepared to make some sacrifices for the good of our fellow men.

Courage and Determination
- If we want to achieve anything, we must have the courage and determination to face the many trials and
tribulations that present themselves along the way.

Hope and Belief in One’s Destiny
When we want to come out successful in any venture, we need to be inspired by hope and belief in our destiny.

Crime and Punishment
Whatever the situation and mitigating circumstances, when a crime is knowingly committed, the one responsible for it must be prepared to face due punishment

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Collection of SPM English Language Question Papers

2005
Terengganu Trial [Paper 1]

2007
Johor Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2] [Answers], Melaka Trial 2007 [Paper 1] [Paper 2], TIMES [Paper 1] [Paper 2] SPB [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2008

Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2],
Trial
MRSM Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], SBP Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kelantan Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kedah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Johor Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Perlis Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sabah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sarawak Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Melaka Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2009

Terengganu TOV [Paper 1] [Paper 2] Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2]
Melaka Trial , Johor Trial , Sabah Trial , Kedah Trial , Perlis Trial , Times , SBP , Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

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