'If -' By Rudyard Kipling

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1 IGCSE English Literature Anthlgy Wrksheet 2 Wrksheet 1 'If -' By Rudyard Kipling Aims This wrksheet shuld help yu t carry ut a clse reading f the pem understand the wider cntext f the pem understand the cntent, including unusual vcabulary in the text analyse the way the pet has used language, including the use f literary devices and techniques analyse the frm and presentatin f the pem understand the theme(s) the authr is writing abut be aware f thematic links between this pem and thers in the anthlgy prepare fr writing abut the text in yur exam access links t readings f the pem Cntext The pem appears n p.55 f the Edexcel Anthlgy available fr dwnlad at Oxfrd Open Learning 1

2 Mdule Five: Petry 'Prayer Befre Birth' Ntes There are brief bigraphical details abut the pet at the beginning f the wrksheet; these are fr yur infrmatin and t help yur understanding f the pem. This knwledge will nt be credited in yur exam. There is a glssary f all the literary terms referred t in these wrksheets at the end f the unit Little credit is given in the exam fr pinting ut literary devices; it is far mre imprtant t cmment n the way these have been used in the pem. Yu will find answers t sme f the questins in Suggested Answers t Wrksheet Questins at the end f this mdule. Nt all questins are prvided with answers because it is imprtant that yu frm yur wn respnse t the pems. Sme questins are included t help yu frm yur wn views. Bigraphical Details Rudyard Kipling ( ), writer, was brn in India where he spent his early childhd befre his family returned t England. He is mst famus fr his prse writing. The Jungle Bk has had lasting ppularity, bth as a stry and in film adaptatins. Kipling travelled widely and wrte travel articles as well as petry. In 1907 he was the first English writer t be awarded the Nbel Prize fr Literature and the yungest writer t receive it. Fr further details see: ng-bi.html Kipling did nt seek recgnitin, hwever, refusing the bth psitin f Pet Laureate and a knighthd. If has been vted the natin s favurite pem n a number f ccasins and is widely quted. Lines appear abve the players entrance t the central curt at Wimbledn. The film if (1968) directed by Lindsay Andersn savagely satirizes English public schl life. The title is based n that f the pem whse values are enshrined in English public schl life. It is imprtant t remember, hwever, that Andersen satirised the hypcrisy and sham behaviur that are als a feature f the British establishment rather than the values celebrated in the pem itself. 2

3 IGCSE English Literature Anthlgy Wrksheet 2 Cntent Stanza 1 If cnsists f advice given by a father t his sn n what it means t be a Man. Varius attributes are listed including: self-belief, patience, truthfulness, kindness and mdesty. The advice is presented in a series f statements each beginning with the cnditinal wrd if. Each statement cntains a pair f ppsites which build up int a strng guide as t hw the father feels life shuld be lived. The main idea in this stanza is that ne shuld be true t neself and nt ver-react t the views f thers, r adpt them withut full cnsideratin. T achieve this, the by needs t develp certain qualities. The father advcates: level-headedness and keeping calm trusting in yur wn decisins understanding what makes thers dubt r hesitate sensitivity t ther peple s view / ideas patience truthfulness genersity mdesty humility Stanza 2 This stanza fcuses n vercming bstacles that can impede ur prgress thrugh life. The father cnsiders that: dreams are imprtant, but shuld nt rule ur lives while it is necessary t think things thrugh, we shuld nt be distracted by thught success and failure are impstrs and s we shuld nt be unduly influenced by them. (Smetimes what lks like success r disaster - may turn ut nt t be, and s neither shuld knck us ff curse.) 3

4 Mdule Five: Petry 'Prayer Befre Birth' Why are Triumph and Disaster given capital letters? What is suggested by impsters? What technique is used here? if thers misrepresent what we say in rder t trap thers we shuld nevertheless hld t that truth we need t be resilient, and be prepared t start again when things g wrng. Stanza 3 There is a hint f recklessness at the beginning f the stanza; suggesting that taking chances is a vital part f life. It is imprtant t learn hw t manage risk, and t be stical when we lse. The father cunsels his sn that he shuld: take risks, but being willing t start again if nt successful nt cmplaining when he lses ut, but remain stical and self-cntained What is suggested by breathe in line 20? persevere and strive, even when exhausted, and never give up develp strength f will t survive and succeed Why is Will capitalised? Stanza 4 There are tw pieces f advice in this final stanza: d nt be crrupted by pwer, and use yur time t the full. The father advises his sn: nt t be crrupted by plitical pwer t be able t talk equally t kings and the cmmn man nt t be ver-influenced by what thers say, whether they are friends r enemies T live every secnd f f his life t the full. Explain the metaphr used in lines

5 IGCSE English Literature Anthlgy Wrksheet 2 What d yu understand by yurs is the earth and everything that s in it? Language and Style What is even mre imprtant than this in line 32. What des his father believe his sn will gain if he fllws his advice? By beginning each piece f advice with the wrd if Kipling uses the first part f the cnditinal tense cnstructin. The secnd part cmes at the end f Stanza 4 in Yurs is and yu ll. In bth cnstructins there is the sense that If yu d this then that will happen. The situatins mentined are hypthetical and general, the attributes are nes t strive fr, nt nes that can be achieved vernight. The fact that the pem is ne lng cnditinal sentence indicates that it will take a lng time, and cnsiderable effrt, fr the sn t becme a man in the sense that the father is speaking f. The father uses the secnd persn prnun, yu thrughut the pem. As yu can be singular and plural the pem is bth a persnal address by a father t his sn, and at the same time a general address t every reader. It has a universal appeal. Being addressed directly helps t maintain the reader s attentin as s/he is curius t discver where this advice is leading. If we can achieve what seems t be a lng and impssible list, what will we achieve? The many imperatives in the pem are nt intrusive r strngly cmmanding; the tne is that f a father ffering his sn friendly and helpful advice. Metaphr and persnificatin, examples f which are mentined abve, strengthen the impact f the fatherly advice. Structure and Frm The pem develps thrugh a series f suggestins, using ppsites t clarify the message. It is divided int fur 8-line stanzas with a regular metre r rhythm. There is nly ne cmplete stp in the pem: the exclamatin mark at the end. The advice is cntinuus and cumulative. This structure suggests that t becme a man is an n-ging prcess that is difficult and challenging. Frm line 5 until the end, the rhyme scheme is a regular alternate ne f ababcdcd. This maintains the mmentum f the repeating structure. The first fur lines all rhyme with each ther, the first three all end in yu, stressing the persnal nature f this address. 5

6 Mdule Five: Petry 'Prayer Befre Birth' The divisin int fur stanzas allws the father t grup his ideas int related sets f persnal attributes. Hwever there is sme verlap; these persnal qualities are nt entirely separate entities. Overview If has cntinued t be widely anthlgised frm the time f its publicatin in 1909, and is ften quted tday. Why d yu think the advice given in the pem has prved t be s timeless? D yu find it relevant tday? Yu culd cmpare this pem t: Prayer Befre Birth What qualities wuld an individual need t be a man in the wrld MacNeice depicts? Hw useful wuld the advice advcated here be? Pem at Thirty-Nine in which Alice Walker cnsiders what she learnt frm her father. D nt g gentle int that gd night where a sn is instructing his father hw t apprach ld age. IGCSE Mdule Five Suggested Answers t Wrksheet Questins Many f the questins in these wrksheets are intended t assist and encurage yu t frm yur wn pinins n the pems in the anthlgy. Yu will nt find answers t these questins here. If yu have difficulty respnding t any f thse questins yu shuld ask yur tutr fr advice. It is imprtant t develp pinins f yur wn abut the pems and refer t these in the exam as yu write. Remember t always explain and qute frm the pem t supprt any views that yu include in yur answers. Wrksheet 1 Stanza 2 Persnificatin is used t cmpare Triumph and Disaster with imprtant peple, which is why they are capitalised. Impsters are peple wh pretend t be smething they are nt. 6

7 IGCSE English Literature Anthlgy Wrksheet 2 Stanza 3 By saying never breathe is saying mre than simply d nt talk abut; Kipling means d nt give even the merest hint. The wrd Will is capitalised t emphasise the amunt f mental strength needed t hld n when yu feel yu can d nthing but give up. Oxfrd Open Learning

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