Friday, March 12, 2021

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 2 | Lesson 5 The Gift in Wartime | Tran Mong Tu


NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 2 | Lesson 5 The Gift in Wartime | Tran Mong Tu

Lesson: 5

The Gift in Wartime

About the Poem

In the poem, Tun addresses an absent person. The person who she is speaking to can neither hear nor understand what she is saying. She mourns the futility of lives lost in war. Her attitude towards war is scornful and bitter.

In the poem, Tun uses the technique of verbal irony. In this technique, words are employed to mean the opposite of their intended meaning. For instance, when she talks about the ‘gift’ in wartime, she speaks not of a real gift but of grief and loss.


The poem opens with the speaker offering roses and a wedding gown in her husband’s grave. He gives the speaker medals, silver stars, and a badge. These items seem to be less meaningful and personal than the items that the speaker offers.

The speaker offers her husband her youth. He gives her the smell of blood. For the speaker her husband’s offerings are insignificant.

The speaker gives her husband clouds of summer. She sacrifices her cold winters and springs for him. He still remains unmoved inspite of these offerings. In return, he gives the speaker lips with no smile, arms without tenderness and eyes with no sight as he is dead.

The speaker deeply apologizes to her husband about her complain regarding his offerings. She promises to meet him in their next life. She will keep the shrapnel as a token, which will help them know and recognize each other in next life.

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. Who is the speaker addressing and why can that person not hear or understand what she is saying?

She is addressing her husband. He cannot hear or understand what she is saying because he is dead.

b. What can you infer about the speaker’s feelings for the person addressed as “you”?

The speaker’s feelings for the person addressed as “you” are full of love and devotion.

c. What is the speaker’s attitude toward war?

The speaker has bitter attitude towards war.

d. In what ways do you think this person’s fate has affected the speaker?

The speaker has been widowed. She has lost her youth. She is now alone in this world.

e. What does the speaker promise at the end of the poem? Why do you think the speaker does this?

At the end of the poem, the speaker promises to meet her beloved in their next life. She will keep the shrapnel as a token to recognize each other. I think the speaker does this to express her sincere love for him.

Reference to the context

a. What is the theme of the poem?

The poem has the themes of lamentation for the loss and meaninglessness of lives lost in war. The speaker has lost her husband in war. In return she gets medals, silver stars and a badge, and they are of no use as he is not alive. She has been widowed and all alone now.

b. What imagery from the poem made the greatest impression on you? Why?

The image of the motionless body made the greatest impression on me. The body has lips with no smile, arms without tenderness and eyes with no sight. The dead body represents the loss caused by the war. The speaker lost her husband. Though he is given honor after his death, it is of no use.

c. Which figurative language is used in the poem? Explain with examples.

In the poem, irony, imagery, anaphora and apostrophe are used as figurative language.

Irony takes place when the poet talks about the gift which is not a real gift but of grief and loss. A grave and shrapnel as tokens of remembrance are not the types of gifts people truly want. In reality, the speaker says, her beloved's "gift" of death has robbed her of her youth.

The poet uses imagery when roses are offered in her beloved's grave, and her husband is described as as a corpse with lips with no smile and eyes with no sight.The red roses traditionally symbolize love.

The next figure of speech includes anaphora, which is the repetition of the same words at the beginning of a line. In the first, third and fifth stanzas, the poet repeats "I offer you". The anaphora comes in the sixth stanza when the speaker repeats "you give me" three times in a row.

The poem also uses the method of apostrophe, which is direct address to a person who is not present or to an inanimate object. In this poem, the speaker addresses her husband’s dead body. The poet makes use of metaphor as she compares her sadness to the clouds in her eyes on a summer day.

d. What does the speaker “offer” in this poem? What does the person addressed as “you” give in return?

The speaker offers roses, her wedding gown, her youth, clouds, cold winters and spring time to her beloved. In return, he gives her his medals, stars, badges, his blood stained dress, his motionless body with lips without no smile, arms without tenderness and eyes without sight, and shrapnel.

e. An apostrophe is a literary device in which a writer or speaker addresses an absent person or an abstract idea in such a way as if it were present and can understand. Discuss the poem in relation to apostrophe.

The speaker’s husband has been killed in war. She addresses the dead body as if he can understand her. She offers several things to him but he gives her the things which are of no importance. She promises him to meet him their next life as she loves him very sincerely.


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