Arrival of Things from Another Culture in Hurricane hits England and Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan

Arrival of Things from Another Culture in Hurricane hits England and Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan

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In ‘hurricane hits England’ (hurricane) by Grace Nichols the arrival

of the hurricane challenges the thoughts of the poet, she is initially

from the Caribbean but now live in Sussex, until the arrival of the

hurricane she has not felt at home in England. This is similar to

‘presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ (presents) by Moniza Alvi, she

also has roots from another country and now lives in England. The

arrival of presents from the Pakistan culture challenges her

thinking, as does the hurricane to Nichols.

The hurricane challenges her thinking by making her realise that

it is possible to bring your roots anywhere. She comes to this

realisation through the poem and at the end of it comes to the

conclusion that ‘the earth is the earth is the earth’. She originally

feels torn between her two cultures, it takes the arrival of the

hurricane ‘to bring her closer’. Whereas in ‘presents’ it is the

arrival of the presents from Pakistan that make her feel torn

between cultures. The clothes are a symbol of culture, she feels

‘alien’ and awkward wearing them and much more comfortable in

her English ‘denim and corduroy’.

Nichols also uses symbolism in her poem, the hurricane is a symbol of her Caribbean culture. They are very irregular in

England but a regular occurrence in her childhood in the

Caribbean, this makes her feel comfortable and at home. The

hurricane is used along with many other natural images, this is

mainly because of the effect of the wind on the landscape, for

example the 'trees / Falling heavy as whales' is an effective line

because the huge trees become like whales when the torrential

rain that accompanies a hurricane makes the land become almost

like a sea. Another natural image is the ‘frozen lake in me’ which

metaphorically is the poet being ‘frozen’ away from her county and

now the hurricane has arrived to break the ice, so she can bring

her roots anywhere.

‘Presents’ also uses natural images, the poet describes the sari

that is sent as ‘apple-green’ and the salwar kameez as ‘peacock

blue’ and the other ‘like an orange split open’. This vibrant simile

and the repeated reference to colour draws her to the loveliness of

the culture and emphasises the contrast to the boring English

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‘cardigans from Marks and Spencers’. This challenges her thinking

because she wants to be part of this beautiful culture bur feels that

‘she couldn’t rise out of it’s fire’. She also thinks that if she took on

being part of her Pakistani culture it would be a ‘transformation’,

this suggests that she thinks it would be permanent with no return. It also reflects the difficulty, giving a negative effect to the poem.

‘On the other hand ‘hurricane’ is more positive, although there is

a division at the beginning, at the end the two cultures become

one. There are eight stanza’s to the poem which very much vary in

length, this is possibly to show how unpredictable the hurricane is

and also the thoughts of the woman. The first stanza is written in

third person, introducing the reader to the woman, this is perhaps

to show that she wants to be a different person- someone that isn’t

torn between cultures.

This compares with ‘presents’ as it’s structure is also of varying

length, this is because of the use of enjambment, it creates a lot of

emphasis on what the girl is actually doing. There is enjambment

between ‘Candy-striped glass bangles’ and ‘snapped, drew blood’.

This emphasises her being torn between cultures and the word

‘blood’ shows the physical pain. The varying structure also suggest

randomness which shows the reader the struggle for the girl to

’recall the story’. The only memories she has are from ’fifties’

photographs’ and ’newsprint’. The poem begins with her in

England, at the end she imagines herself being ‘there’ in Pakistan.

She imagines herself staring ‘through fretwork’ at the beautiful

Shalimar Gardens, this shows the physical barrier for her between

cultures. It is a powerful image to end on because it is the final image that the reader is left on, it reflects the poets confusion.

In ‘Hurricane’ Nichols shows this confusion of being torn by

using contracting language, the paradox ‘Fearful and reassuring’ is

used to reflect the poets feelings and thoughts. This is also shown

with the line ‘into further darkness’, literally the hurricane has

caused a power cut but metaphorically she is being pushed

‘further’ into confusion as her thoughts are challenged, she feels

dismay for leaving her homeland. She indirectly asks the

hurricane a series of questions, emphasising her confusion. This

leads up to her final question: ‘o why is my heart unchained’, it is a

personal question which is specific to her- not just the landscape

like the other questions. It expresses her joy as she becomes

unchained from the Caribbean. It is a very powerful image because

it shows her knowledge of historical culture, it gives the reader an

image as it refers to the slaved being released. Nichols also

reflects her knowledge on the Caribbean culture, she refers to

‘Huracan’ which is the Indian god of the winds. The Carib Indians

were the original inhabitants of the Caribbean islands.

Similarly Alvi also uses Pakistan words like ‘salwar-kameez’ and

‘sari’ to show he knowledge of her foreign culture. This shows that

part of her does want to be a part of the Pakistani culture, and still

have a balance between the English culture as well, she does not feel this is possible though. She aspires to be more like her Aunt,

she feels uncomfortable and wrong in the Pakistan clothes ‘unlike

Aunt Jamilia’.

My personal opinion is that she longs to have a balance between

the cultures and would love to be more in touch with the Pakistani

culture, even though her roots are already there. The arrival of the

presents makes her feel even more torn between England and

Pakistan and challenges her thinking. Correspondingly, the

hurricane has the same effect on the woman in ‘hurricane’

although I think it is more positive because instead of making her

feel more torn it brings the Caribbean and England together.
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