2011 EXAM FORMAT

Marks allocation for the literature component:

Poem 5 marks
Novel 15 marks
___________
Total 20 marks

Note that candidates will only be tested on NOVEL and POEMS.

Complete Guide: QWERTYUIOP

Complete Guide: QWERTYUIOP

Here's an extract:

Write about one of the characters that you like in the short story,

QWERTYUIOP.

Miss Broome

Miss Broome was old Mr Bannister’s secretary for forty-three years. She typed letter by letter and she hated the young girls who touch-type without having to look at the keyboard. According to Harry Darke, the young girls gave Miss Broome “the push”. When her boss retired her after forty three years, she had no place to go, for the office was her home and the job was “all she lived for” (p25). Thus whenever a new girl came to work, her ghost which haunted the typewriter would scare the girl until she was too frightened to continue. Sure, Miss Broome was angry and vicious at first...

Complete Guide : The Curse

Complete Guide : The Curse

A Comprehensive Guide to The Curse

Here is an example from the Guide:

CHAPTER 3

In this chapter we are introduced to Puan Kamsiah and her daughter, Siti. We are also introduced to Datuk Zulkifli and Datin Sharifah, who are Azreen’s foster parents; they are sponsoring Azreen’s studies in London. We also introduced to Puan Normala and Noor, her daughter. Noor and Siti are classmates.

Siti conveys to her mother what Noor has been telling her classmates that Madhuri has been murdered. Puan Kamsiah feels that the ‘wicked woman’(p12) Puan Normala is spreading ‘malicious lies’ (p12) about Madhuri and ‘the poor girl isn’t even properly laid to ground yet!’ (p12) When Siti quotes her mother’s description of Normala as ‘a slimy cobra with a three-forked tongue’ (p12), it gives us a hint of the character of Normala: She is, in fact, a busybody and the village gossip.




Guide to GULP and GASP

Guide to GULP and GASP

Complete Guide: STEP BY WICKED STEP

Complete Guide: STEP BY WICKED STEP
Yes, the most comprehensive guide on Ann Fine's Step by Wicked Step to help you prepare for your SPM English 1119 Exam is out. Chapter by chapter analysis with lots of explanatory notes to explain the plot, theme, and characters of this loving & touching story. Page references are given to save you the trouble of having to locate important texts and quotes.


Complete Guide to Poems

Complete Guide to Poems

Sample Question and Answer

What does it mean when the poet says but on their brows there was not a sign of despair?

It means that despite the difficult situation they were in, they did not show any sign of hopelessness.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Are You Still Playing Your Flute? - by Zurinah Hassan

Are you still playing your flute?
When there is hardly time for our love
I am feeling guilty
To be longing for your song
The melody concealed in the slim hollow of the bamboo
Uncovered by the breath of an artist
Composed by his fingers
Blown by the wind
To the depth of my heart

Are you still playing your flute?
In the village so quiet and deserted
Amidst the sick rice fields
While here it has become a luxury
To spend time watching the rain
Gazing at the evening rays
Collecting dew drops
Or enjoying the fragrance of flowers





Are you still playing your flute?
The more it disturbs my conscience
to be thinking of you
in the hazard of you
my younger brothers unemployed and desperate
my people disunited by politics
my friends slaughtered mercilessly
this world is too old and bleeding
NOTE
In the Ministry of Education's A Collection of Poems and Short Stories(2009), the words field (stanza 1) and friend are given in the singular form; the plural form should be used.
Here are some questions for you to practice. Try answering them; I'll insert the answers later. 
1.      What is the musical instrument made of ?
A.               A. flute
B.               B. bamboo
C.               C.    melody

            You can find the answer in line 5 of the first stanza: The melody concealed in the slim hollow of the
            bamboo. 
   
             2. Who are the two personae?
A.              A, A man and his flute.
B.              B. A man and a woman.
C.              C.  A woman and her flute.     

            The main persona is a woman who is talking to her beloved, the flutist. We know the flutist is a man   
            because in line 7 of the first stanza the woman refers to his fingers. Answer is B.                          

           3. What is the atmosphere in the village as described in the second stanza?
 
A.           A. peaceful
B.            B.     joyful
C.           C. gloomy 

      If you choose A, you are partly right. A more accurate answer is C. In the second stanza, the female persona tells her lover, the flutist, the village is quiet and deserted and the rice fields are sick. It may be quiet, but the place is deserted. So, C is the better answer.


4. Describe in your own words what the poet means by sick rice fields.

      We can only guess from the context of the poem that the place is deserted and there is the likelihood that young people have abandoned the village, and there aren't enough people to work the rice fields. mention is also made in the last stanza about my younger brothers unemployed and desperate. Are these the same young people who deserted the village? You could write your answer:


      The sick rice fields probably refers to abandoned rice fields because the young have left the village to go to the city.

5. What is the luxury mentioned in line 4 of the second stanza?







Sunday, June 19, 2011

Slides: In the Midst of Hardship - by Latiff Mihidin

Coming Up, Next

Are You Still Playing Your Flute?
- by Zurinah Hassan

Boy, this must be one of the most memorable local poems ever selected for the SPM English 1119 Literature Component. I find Latiff Mohidin's poem much too literal and lacks the beauty and rhythm of Zurinah Hassan's Are You Still Playing Your Flute? Here's the English translation followed by the original in Malay.





Are you still playing your flute?
When there is hardly time for our love
I am feeling guilty
To be longing for your song
The melody concealed in the slim hollow of the bamboo
Uncovered by the breath of an artist
Composed by his fingers
Blown by the wind
To the depth of my heart.

Are you still playing your flute?
In the village so quiet and deserted
Amidst the sick rice fields
While here it has become a luxury
To spend time watching the rain
Gazing at the evening rays
Collecting dew drops
Or enjoying the fragrance of flowers.

Are you still playing your flute?
The more it disturbs my conscience
to be thinking of you
in the hazard of you
my younger brothers unemployed and desperate
my people disunited by politics
my friend slaughtered mercilessly
this world is too old and bleeding.



Masihkah Kau Bermain Seruling?


Masihkah kau bermain seruling
walau waktu telah terlewat untuk kita bercinta
aku semakin terasa bersalah
melayani godaan irama
lagu yang tersimpan pada lorong halus buluh
dikeluarkan oleh nafas seniman
diukir oleh bibir
diatur oleh jari
dilayangkan oleh alun angin
menolak ke dasar rasa.

Masihkah kau bermain seruling
ketika kampung semakin sunyi
sawah telah uzur
waktu jadi terlalu mahal
untuk memerhatikan hujan turun
merenung jalur senja
mengutip manik embun
menghidu harum bunga.

Masihkah kau bermain seruling
ketika aku terasa mata bersalah
untuk melayani rasa rindu padamu
di kota yang semakin kusut dan tenat
adik-adikku menganggur dan sakit jiwa
bangsaku dipecahkan oleh politik
saudara diserang bom-bom ganas
dunia sudah terlalu tua dan parah.

Di sinilah berakhirnya percintaan kita
kerana zaman sedang menuntut para seniman
hidup di luar dirinya.

(NOTE: You will notice that the last stanza in the original has been left out in the English translation. This is what Zurinah Hassan says on her blog in reply to a reader who commented on this:

"I agree with baffled, the deletion will distort the whole meaning as a poem can be literally regarded as a complete aircraft in which the pilot moves the yoke (control column)to maneuver the rudder...changing direction. The poet has already planned the outcome by steering the reader from first stanza to the next until it has reached the objective (last stanza) provided that the poem stays intact (no alteration and adulteration). Now, the aircraft has faced hydraulic failure resulting in rudder jamming and I don't think the 'passengers' will arrive safely at the designated destination" - http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=15878397&postID=2200470330082836193).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In the Midst of Hardship -by Latiff Mohidin


At dawn they returned home
their soaky clothes torn
and approached the stove
their limbs marked by scratches
their legs full of wounds
but on their brows
there was not a sign of despair

The whole day and night just passed
they had to brave the horrendous flood
in the water all the time
between bloated carcasses
and tiny chips of tree barks
desperately looking for their son’s
albino buffalo that was never found

They were born amidst hardship
and grew up without a sigh or a complaint
now they are in the kitchen, making
jokes while rolling their cigarette leaves

Do you like this poem by Malaysian poet and artist, Latiff Mohidin? What do you think he is trying to convey through this poem, In the Midst of Hardship. What is the theme? What are the literary devices he uses to convey his meaning? In reading a poem, the first impression is the literal (surface) meaning. However, the surface meaning is often not the real meaning or theme. You will have to infer from the poet's use of literary devices to convey his meaning. For example, what does bloated carcasses tell you? Its literal meaning refers to dead bodies, but is that what Latiff Mohidin mean? What does he mean when he says, they had to brave the horrendous flood? For this, you must read to understand the poem's theme and explain the the use of images or symbols in relation to the theme. More about this in my next post...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SPM English 1119 New Literature Component from 2011

Poems
  • In the Midst of Hardship - by Latiff Mohidin
  • He Had Such Quiet Eyes - by Bibsy Soenharjo
  • Nature - by H.D Carberry
  • Are You Still Playing Your Flute? - by Zurinah Hassan
Short Stories
  • QWERTYUIOP - by Vivian Alcock
  • The Fruitcake Special - by Frank Brennan
Novels
  • Catch Us If You Can - by Catherine MacPhail
  • Step by Wicked Step - Ann Fine
  • The Curse - by Lee Su Ann

Understanding Rudyard Kipling's Poem "If".

One of the poems in the SPM English 1119 Literature Component is 'If' by Rudyard Kipling. It is also one of my favourite poems as it tells me what leadership means.Although it is addressed by a father to his son, it should not be interpreted as only for sons. I would use it just the same for my daughter. Sadly, this poem has been taken off the list from 2011. Anyway, this is a sampling of a new course I am writing for my website at : www.spmenglish1119.com. 
The course is expected to be ready in three months' time.
                       If
                by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!



1.       What do you call the first two lines (stanza 1) where the last word in both lines rhyme?
A.                A. couplet  B.  free verse  C. verse
2.       Which line in stanza 1 tells us that he must allow others to disagree with him?
A.                A.  Line3   B. Line 6    C. Line 4
C.      

3.       What does ‘And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise’ (stanza 1)mean?
A.               A.  The clothes you wear are not important.
B.                B.  Do not pretend to look good when you are not.
C.                C. Do not be too proud even if you think you are good.

Answers
1. A
2. C
3. C. It is good to be righteous (behave in a way that is morally correct). However, if you are too proud or arrogant in your righteousness, you have become self-righteous (behave in a way that you think your behaviour is better than others).