This is a revision paper for KCSE English Paper 3. Click on each question to see the answer.
I) Imaginative composition (compulsory) (20 marks)
Your relatives have organized a farewell party for you in preparation for your departure to the USA for further studies. Write the speech that you will deliver on that day.
2) Drama (compulsory) (20 marks)
The past always catches up with the present, sometimes with some unintended consequences. Using the play, A Doll’s House, explain this statement.
The choices that we made in the past have consequences that show up in our present lives, sometimes, influencing it negatively.
Nora Helmer made a choice in her first year of marriage that later leads to the breakdown of something for which she had worked so hard and persevered a lot of humiliation to preserve. It was a choice she had made out of her great love for her husband. Torvald Helmer was seriously sick because of overwork and the doctors had recommended that he takes a holiday in
the warmer climes in Italy. Nora tried giving hints to make him get a loan for the trip and eventually told him to get it, but he would hear none of it In this society, only men could get loans with minimal obstacles. Nora takes a loan of 250 pounds to save her husband. The loan is given by Krogstad who gives almost ‘impossible conditions’ and Ann has to forge not only her father’s name but also his signature. Three days after the loan was extended, her father dies.
She patiently repays the loan for eight years. She has to skim some household expenses, work long hours on her knitting and get a copy typist work to put together enough to repay the loan and also keep her home running. By ‘good luck’, her husband gets a job at a bank as a manager. Krogstad is also employed in the same bank. In a twist of fate, Krogstad engages himself in some indiscretion, forgery, and in Helmer’s housecleaning task, the first assignment is to get rid of Krogstad as he cannot work with the likes of him. Krogstad blackmails Nora to plead his case to keep his job or else he reveals her past indiscretion. But there are some complications. First, Mrs. Linde, an old school friend of Nora, and a girlfriend to Krogstad has requested for the job through
Nora, and it has been given. In any case, Nora’s guiles and white lies will not sway Helmer who has even written a dismissal letter.
Matters go from bad to worse. Krogstad relents about the letter and tries to retrieve it. This is after they have had a discussion with his old girlfriend Mrs. Linde, and made up. Mrs. Linde is of the opinion that the letter should be read to end the lies and the hypocrisy in the house. Though apparently Krogstad tried to retrieve the letter from the mailbox, he did not succeed, Helmer discovers the secret the wife has kept hidden for years. He is upset that his image in the society will suffer a battering due to his wife’s thoughtless actions. Ironically, he does not even pause to ask why she had done it in the first place. In his estimation, his wife should not even be a mother. She will contaminate the children, a belief current in the society that vices among parents destroy the children eventually. He does not even contemplate living as man and wife with such a contaminated wife and tells her that they can only live as brother and sister for appearance’s sake.
Nora is upset. She feels betrayed that this is what her husband feels. In fact, she is disappointed because he does not even take the burden of her shame, or even try to understand. His cruel judgment is devastating considering that she did it for him. She has always tolerated his openly condescending attitude towards her, petting her with the diminutive little this or that, reducing her to a play thing, a doll. She was Little Squirrel, Little Skylark, Little Doll, terms degrading whatever the intention. She has always lived in his shadow in accordance with social expectations.
Helmer ‘offers’ her a lifeline, and ‘forgives’ her for her treachery. The chutzpah of the man is truly unbelievable. Nora has had enough of the marriage and she feels she is not the woman for the patronizing and utterly insensitive Helmer. She will no longer be a pet, a doll for him or the society to play with and she is walking out of the marriage to go and rediscover herself. NO pleading or even appeal to her religion or conscience is going to change her.
Thus, we can conclude that our present circumstances are usually the consequences of the choices we have made in our paste Nora made a decision out of a deep love for her husband, not to lose him, but ironically the decision comes back to split them up. The marriage she sought to preserve is broken up. The consoling grace though, is that she comes to realize the kind Of man.
3) Optional set texts
Either (20 marks)
a) The Short Story
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Using the stories in the anthology, Memories we Lost and other Stories, discuss this adage.
There is a general tendency among human beings to always imagine that things are better in the other places that they hear of. They give little thought to the fact that the grass could be greener because people in there expend their energy to make their surrounding better. Therefore, they could also do the same and make the grass on their side as green. The most common recourse is to want to immigrate to these other areas
In the story Light, Enabeli’s wife goes to USA so that she can get better employment on the strength of the foreign papers which are perceived to be better. Whereas indeed she gets the papers, she loses her home and probably her daughter. Her daughter undergoes a critical stage in life without her mother. As a result, the girl acquires certain undesirable habits. The distance also kills her marriage to Enabeli. It is true that her grass could have become greener, but for her husband it got worse, leaving a
In Almost Home, Ali Mahfouz had fled home apparently after committing a crime. He flees to Ireland using money hastily collected by his family, which he never repays. He spends years in Ireland doing menial labour and generally building no future. He was a conman, posing for a picture on Facebook, as if he was a medical student. His time of reckoning comes and he is arrested for being an illegal immigrant. On several occasions, he avoids being taken home by scaring passengers that he is a suicide bomber, so he is taken back overland and by sea. Faced with a real prospect of returning home to the brown grass with virtually nothing, he opts to jump into the ocean.
In Hitting Budapest, people have fled the country. We are told that Budapest is deserted and Mello seems to have come back to photograph the novelty of desperate children. The narrator talks of an auntie in America whom she hopes to join. However, she is derisively dismissed by Basta who says people go there to wash poop and work in nursing homes, so the grass may not be green after all. Basta would prefer to go to South Africa or Botswana with the rider so that it is easier to return if things go wrong. Therefore the prospects of greener grass are not very good there either.
In Missing Out, Majdy is in his paradise, the grass seems to be as green as he would ever want it to be. He can concentrate on getting an education because things work. Life is efficient and he has access to everything he needs in the library and the computer lab. But the country is certainly no paradise for his bride, Samra. She had been procured by Majdy’s mother to cure his loneliness and to motivate him to work hard. But Samra finds it hard to fit in. The order, the convenience of well-packed groceries, the cut meat and liberal dressing hold no attraction to her. She would prefer the more laid-back existence of her country with all its imperfections. When her husband chooses to work in the new land but suggests she goes back home, she jumps at the offer. For her, the grass is certainly not greener at all on the other side.
For the narrator in The President, the grass is very green. The offer of life in Canada affords her a chance to get an education and support her family. It is a sweet escape from the refugee camps back in her country and the cruelty of war that made her lose her hands, get defiled and then lose the baby. She can get proper food and shelter in her new country.
Thus the adage the grass is greener on the other side of the fence does not always hold true. Sometimes, by luck, things can improve. However, the alien culture and the resentment by the natives can make life worse than what one has left behind.
Using the play, Inheritance, explain the saying: the mouth that eats the seeds asks what it will plant.
Lacuna is described as a lazy greedy man with a liking for carnal pleasures. It is in pursuit of his pleasures that he ends up destroying the foundation of the economic and political independence of his people.
He believes in entertaining his guests, sometimes even referring to the age-old tradition of breaking kora. But he does not think kora is good enough for a man of his stature and the kind of guests that he gets. We would assume kora is home-grown, but he goes for the more exotic, and ‘nutritious’ apple which we can safely assume is not grown locally. His parties flow with imported wine and coffee re-exported from England to his country. He is also too good to travel overland and has acquired a plane to soar over the gossip, complaints and envy of his people. His court seems to be an endless succession of one party after the other and there are impromptu holidays for his people. These are not ways in which to develop a country’s economy.
At the time of his ascension to the throne, there was some rudimentary industrialization that was taking off. But it appears as if it was not fast enough for him and his foreign masters. They loaned him money to buy more machines for the silver mines and service the existing ones. But in his total lack of wisdom and greed, he diverted the money to subsidies and bought only one machine. He also took some of the money from the ministries and banked it abroad, Consequently, production has sunk to all-time lows. There is nothing coming from the coffee and tea farms. Production in the silver mines has declined by 15%. Therefore, the country is standing on very shaky economic grounds. When his masters ask to be paid back, he wonders how he will raise the money, yet it is his poor economic policies and misappropriation of funds that have led him to his current situation.
The white masters are even threatening to dethrone him as they have so eloquently done when Goldstein sits on his throne as he grovels on the floor. The moment he abandons the economic policies of his father that were grounded on freedom, he was eating up the seeds, so he should not be asking plaintively where he is to get the money to pay up old debts and the interest.
Lacuna also ate up the seeds of social development. His father had started the society on some kind of education, however rudimentary. Now it is impossible for children to go to school because of the many levies that are imposed. There is also a lot of hopelessness among people who are educated but cannot get jobs. The moral compass is lost because he was so disdainful of the religion and education that his father had introduced that he did not support them. He prefers an ignorant superstitious people whom he can continue ruling as ‘subjects’ and manipulating in meaningless rituals like the yearly rebirth ritual.
He destroys the people and their aspirations and still expects them to support him to reclaim the ‘sovereignty’ that Goldstein and Robert have ‘taken’.
These are the same people who cannot even produce enough food because they lack the means. Their farmlands have also
been bought by Lacuna’s cronies who have the money. These are the same people who are so poor that they have destroyed forests. Now there is no water and they can only farm if they use irrigation which may not be possible unless bankrolled by the west — and he is busy fighting them. These are the same people he is forcing out of their homes so that he can give the land over to Robert and company. He orders an oppressive curfew on the people and is planning to withhold their salaries. He has also retrenched them from their jobs and done away with their subsidies. The king has destroyed any good will the people would have had for him, yet he expects them to join him as he fights for what he calls sovereignty. We are also told that he has created many enemies in his quest to consolidate his leadership. These include Bengo, who was jailed and later comes back to start a rebellion against him. He seems very contemptuous of his wife, Melissa and his adopted sister, Sangoi. In his final act of folly, he sacks his supporter Chipande and worse his spiritual guide, Malipoa, who at least could direct his actions towards patience and a second opinion. He is busy destroying the seeds that would have germinated to some good in his life. The king has destroyed the foundation of the country’s economy. He betrays the dreams of his people when they rebelled against the white man. He has betrayed the vision of his father to develop a country of free and proud people who would live as equals to the white man. He has traded away their economic independence and unconsciously, their political freedom. He has nobody but himself to blame for the misery that befalls him personally, and his country.
c) The Novel
The sea shapes the destiny of the Kino family. Discuss this statement using the book The Pearl.
The Kino family comprises Kino, Juana and Coyotito. They are a poor family living in a brush house by the sea in the outskirts of La Paz and eking out a living from hunting for pearls and fishing from the sea. They are seemingly destined to remain poor pearl hunters.
Juan Tomas, Kino’s brother, tells us that Indians are kind of meant to remain poor harvesters of pearls. The people have even tried to get better markets for their harvest from the sea twice, but their noble efforts have come a cropper, with the people charged with the responsibility disappearing with the pearls and the money, never to be heard from again. We are told it is like the town keeps track of its units. Everyone keeps to the beaten track and anyone who tries anything new disappears from the unit, or rather is cast away, never to be heard from again. The Catholic Father never tires in his frequent sermons to remind his congregation that each has been accorded a place in life and must keep it. Trying to do anything different is a betrayal to God who has assigned the roles. Even as they hope to find The Pearl of Destiny, in their hearts they know it is a pat on the back by
God, or gods or both. It is a part of destiny as everything is determined by forces beyond them. It is in light of this that the Kino family can be examined. Perhaps they prayed too hard on the day Coyotito was stung by the scorpion and the gods decided to humour them by playing a very cruel joke on them. The discovery of the Pearl That Might Be turns their lives around in a way they could never have imagined in their wildest nightmare. In their minds, the sea has brought them some unimaginable luck and fortune. They can now have the church wedding of their dreams, wear new clothes and their baby can go to school to lift them out of their ignorance. Kino can now even afford a gun, a symbol of power and authority.
But their lives turn for the worse. The love and harmony that they once knew suddenly disappears. They lose their house and means of livelihood, the boat. They become hunted prey by those who desire to take their fortune from them. They leave the only place they have called home and the only people they have known and flee into the desert and the mountains. In the mountains they lose their only child, the one they had laid so much hope in. They go back to their home and shattered lives, to continue in their humdrum existence, much worse than they had been before ‘fortune’ showed up at their door. All the efforts, all the dreams and aspirations they had drawn from their gift from the sea go back into the sea, from whence it had come. This is when Kino belatedly agrees to throw back the evil pearl into the sea like Juana had previously urged him to.
It is like their destiny is what the Catholic Father has always preached. The destiny is to remain in their small corner of the world in their poverty and ignorance. It is to harvest small, run-of-the-mill pearls and sell them at miserable prices to greedy merchants for a pittance. The plight of the family only goes to reinforce what they have always known; that the gods are never happy when you try to grab fortune from the sea out of your own efforts.
The Kino family’s destiny appears to be tied to the sea in their backyard. They are to remain poor pearl harvesters living in a crowded tiny brush village outside a town that has turned its back on them.