My Polish Teacher`s Tie
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My Polish Teacher’s Tie
The title • ‘My’- possessive pronoun implies a close relationship , ownership, sense of pride • Alliteration – makes it sound a little like a riddle, a nonsense phrase? • However, it is not a riddle -the tie is symbolic of what? • Polish – adjective to define the teacher. Theme of identity and exclusion
Who is the single main character? • • • • • • • • • •
Carla Carter Lunchtime assistant Half-Polish Insecure about her own status – does not reveal she is not a teacher Proud of family – tells Steve about Jade Curious about her Polish heritage Private – does not tell the head about letters sent Perceptive – sees through Valerie Kenward Brave – introduces herself Desires more optimism, hope, sincerity in her life ‘ I like your tie’
Characterisation • First person narration • Carla confides in the reader ‘ I am half-Polish . They don’t know that here’ ‘I felt terrible’ ‘I said it to myself in my head’ • Direct speech is very restrained and clipped ‘ I’d like to write to a Polish teacher’ ‘ Just a letter.’ • Her actions show inner strength ‘ pushing forward’ to speak to the Head. • ‘I tore it open’ excitement at letter revealed through actions. • Writer uses her narration to reveal her character. Direct speech conceals her character. Actions reveal the extent of her feelings that she only partially reveals herself.
Who tells the story • Carla in the 1st person
Where does the action take place • • • •
Staff meeting Carla’s home Within the letters School canteen
• Internal (within Carla’s head and her feelings) and external drama (actions) – at the end Carla publically introduces herself.
How much time does the story cover? • Not made explicit. But over the course of several months... • This enables a meaningful relationship to be forged between Carla and Steve- so we care that they do actually meet.
How does the story get started? • In the form of a first person monologue. Carla speaks to the reader in an informal style describing in the present tense her job at the school canteen revealing what she does and how she feels about it.
Rising action of the story- A event or set of circumstances that add interest Carla and Stefan begin writing to one another. Carla doesn’t tell him that her job is but writes about not remembering Polish and he writes a poem about it. The Head announces Stefan’s visit.
Climax • Carla worries about how Stefan will react when he finds out she is not a teacher. She overhears Valerie Kenward being rude about him then sees him for the first time. She understands that he feels out of place.
Denouement • Carla introduces herself to Stefan and sees that he doesn’t care about her job. He takes her hand and sings a Polish song from her childhood and she remembers the words for the first time
Specific mood the story creates • Resentment – at teachers • Division and isolation – between hierarchy of staff • Intimacy – letter writing • Anxiety – fear of being exposed as non-teaching member of staff • Scorn and cruelty – Valerie’s comments on her guest • Pride and friendship – Carla meeting Steve
Is the story realistic? • Day to day life in canteen- realistically presented • Nature of staff relationships is real? Naturalistically drawn? • Recognisable characters – Valerie as scornful bigot?
Themes • • • •
Belonging and identity Power and status Sincerity and insincerity Friendship
Did you identify with any character?
Was there a villain? Was there a hero? • Villain – to an extent this is Valerie Kenward. A hypocrite, complaining, melodramatic, judgemental, lacking empathy, bigoted, impatient • Hero – to an extent this is Carla. Reveals herself despite insecurities, offers friendship and an ally to Steve
Figurative language • ‘He [ headteacher] stitched a nice smile on his face’ the metaphor ‘stitched’ conveys Carla’s view that the head teacher is artificial and forced in his polite greeting • There is little figurative/ poetic language; the story instead uses prosaic conversational language in the first person as well as action and direct speech. • The tie becomes a symbol – of what? • The poem of the bird in the mine is a symbol – of what?
Key personality traits • Carla Carter – insecure, dissatisfied, lonely, curious, brave, determined • Stefan Jeziorny (Steve) – open, self-assured, proud, curious, friendly • Valerie Kenward – judgemental, hypocritical, scathing, impatient • Other ideas?
My overall opinion of this story • I loved the uplifting denouement- the allegiance formed between Carla and Stefan offers a warmth and sincerity otherwise absent in the story – particularly lacking in Valerie, the school and Carla’s personal life. • The hierarchy and power dynamics within the school (unfortunately) are well observed – at least for some staff in some schools. • The themes of belonging and identity are movingly portrayed – Stefan is able to tap into her earliest memories of Polish songs and at that moment a part of her returns
How effective is the ending? • Effectively reinforces the writer’s message: A celebration of personal identity and global friendships. A criticism of intolerance and ignorance – whether that be within the immediate community of the school or the global community. The reader’s wish for a resolution is satisfied – Carla introduces herself to Steve. However, there is no indication that any wider learning has taken place for any other characters.