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“The Gold Legged Frog” and “The Red Ball”

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In both stories “The Gold Legged Frog” and “The Red Ball”, the writers use a range of language and techniques, to emphasize the struggles the families are going through, due to their poverty, which cause the writer to sympathise with what they are going through.

In “The Gold Legged Frog” the opening paragraph is carefully crafted to create a general impression of depravation. Around the main character, Nak, is an “expanse” of dry, bleak land in which nothing much grows. The reader gains the impression that surrounding him is a huge area of nothingness. It’s probably a really desolate and lonely landscape, with no animals grazing, or vegetation growing there, so we feel that Nak is quite isolated. It also conveys a feeling of entrapment, with no escape from his life. This expanse expressed “total dryness”, which emphazises how dry it was. Srinawk uses these powerful adjectives, to make the reader aware of how uncomfortably hot it is. He also uses assonance to further emphasise the extreme discomfort of the heat. Nak’s “dark blue shirt”, is described as being “wet with sweat”.

Frequently, at the beginning of the story, the writer reminds us of how uncomfortable Nak feels. One of the techniques used is personification: “the sun blazed as if determined to burn every living thing.” This shows us how harsh and unbearable the heat must be. Also the writer gives us a contrast to the extreme heat; extreme cold: “in the morning the cold had pierced his bones.” Alliteration and sibilance are used in the same sentence to convey his pain: “his feet blistered from the burning sandy ground.” The harsh “b” and “s” consonant sounds echo the intensity of the heat, and further express his discomfort.

Another way the writer conveys poverty in this story, is by highlighting the harsh circumstances Nak’s family are in. The have to catch frogs for breakfast, and quite a few of them; “a fully grown frog, as big as a thumb”. This draws the reader’s attention on their lack of food, and hints that they are undernourished. It makes the reader feel they will eat almost anything to satisfy their hunger, and eat things we wouldn’t even consider as a source food, as treats. This sort of food would not satisfy a person for very long, so Nak and his family must be constantly hungry. He also must be in constant physical pain, due to the weather conditions, and the fact he wears such heavy clothing in the heat, and that he doesn’t wear shoes. “The soles of his feet, blistered from the burning sandy ground”, this use of sibilance and alliteration, highlights the extremity of his pain, by using the “s” and “b” sounds. Once I had read these harsh circumstances he is in, I began to feel extreme sympathy for him, as he is in so much emotional and physical pain.

Nak’s position in society is very low down; he is nothing more than a peasant. The writer shows this quite clearly, with Nak’s encounter with the deputy district officer. Srinawk mocks this character, which hints to us that perhaps he is not likeable, or Srinawk himself does not intend him to be liked; “raised his fat face to stare at him”. Immediately we receive a negative view of him. I also feel that he abuses his position, and has a very inflated view of himself, by the way he treats Nak, which is in a very rude and almost cruel manner; “Idiot, don’t you have eyes to see people are working”. The officer says this even though he’s not working at all, but pretending he’s working, just to torment Nak. This shows how badly treated people like Nak are in this village. If you’re poor, you get treated badly.

What both these stories have in common is poverty, and how the families deal with it. The stories’ focuses are on different members of the family, a father, and a son. They deal with poverty in different ways, obviously because of the age difference. “The Red Ball” is a more emotional story, and you can feel the emotion all the way through. In “The Gold Legged Frog”, you only feel Naks emotion at the end, and this is quite a contrast, however they are both very emotive storylines.

The opening paragraph of “The Red Ball” begins with dialogue, which immediately brings you into the story, into what is going on. “Aye…Thinny Boney!” This is said by young children calling out to Bolan. Hes obviously very thin and undernourished as he is referred to as “Boney”, so perhaps you can even see his bones. Under nourishment is a clear sign of poverty. These insults continue all throughout the story, and Bolan is referred to with nicknames a number of time directly relating to his appearance, but only at the beginning of the story, when his name is unknown. The writer is evidently giving us a clear hint that the family doesn’t get enough to eat.

The general circumstances they are in just declare poverty. They can’t afford electricity, and have to use “kerosene lamps”, and sleep on “mats” in one room which implies their way of life is very basic. His parents don’t speak standard English either; “you could talk better than your moomah and poopah,” which tells the reader they haven’t been properly educated. His father also gives a brief reference to having a hard life. Bolan attends market school, probably because they can’t afford to send him to proper school. Despite the major upheaval of them moving to Port of Spain, they haven’t saved very much money to compete with their expenses. Bolan, unlike the other children, can’t afford things they can, like black pudding, and this makes him feel ashamed, as all children would be.

Another way, in which the writer creates a feeling of poverty in this story, is highlighting the tension going on in the family. Bolan’s father has a serious drinking problem, as he tries to numb himself from the harsh reality of his life. This is a serious problem, as alcohol is very expensive, and is making them a lot poorer; “a nip of rum meant that it was a holiday or a celebration”. This suggests to the reader the father is abusing the alcohol, using it as an escape, and also that alcohol is a luxury.

The drunken state of the father makes him neglect his fatherly duties, and this gives an evident effect on the father-son relationship. Bolan, tries to seek out this fatherly affection he is obviously not receiving at home, from a statue, probably of Neptune. “A giant of a man standing lordly among four half-fish half-women creatures, a tall trident in his massive arm pointing to the shell of blue sky.” This prolonged description shows that the statue makes a big impression on him, and that it commands respect from him, just like his father. So the reader gets the impression that he is relating it to his father.

In both essays the writers create a sense of poverty very effectively, by describing the harshness of the conditions their in, and what their lacking, such as education. Both stories are very emotive as their emotional states are sad about what isolated lives they lead, and are not able to escape.

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