At The Border, 1979 LO) To explore how Hardi uses narrative structure to explore her relationship with her home country.
ChomanHardi Hardi is Kurdish – the ‘Kurds’ have their own language, culture and traditions, which stretch back thousands of years, but they live in 5 different countries: Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Armenia. So, they exist as a people, an ethnic group, but do not have their own country. Hardi was born in Iraq 1974. Her family moved to Iran in 1975 but returned to Iraq in 1979. Why did Iraq go to war with Iran? 1980 - 1988 1988 chemical weapons attack on the Kurds The full effect of chemical weapons Now at the Iraq/ Iran border. Her family fled from Iraq back to Iran in 1988 in an attempt to escape the devastating effect of chemical weapons.
A reading • At The Border,1979 • What relationships are discussed in the poem? (These might not all be between humans!) • Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
Use of the word ‘last’ suggests an ending;the border is not only a border between countries but a border between different stages of life. The 'last check-in point' can be interpreted as the last point of a certain way of life, the poets life will change at this point. The exclamation mark draws a special emphasis to the line, reinforcing the nature of the change. “It is your last check-in point in this country!” We grabbed a drink- soon everything would taste different. The land under our feet continued dividedby a thick iron chain. My sister put her leg across it. The verb 'grabbed' implies desperation; in this case, 'the drink' is a symbol of normality; therefore, the tone here is one of yearning for normality amongst a changing life. End stop reflects significance/ danger of crossing a threshold Single line stanza + enjambment elongates the sentence, evoking a pondering tone - apt, considering the poignant nature of the poem. significant image, strong and firm
This sentence is divided into three lines; this mirrors the separation and division in the mind of our protagonist and his sister. “Look over here,” she said to us, “my right leg is in this country and my left leg in the other”. The border guards told her off. Contrasts the childish innocence of the sister with the officiousness of the guards, drawing attention to the absurdity of the border in reality
the mother’s love of her home is clear, but the reported speech carries a hint of irony; the poet doesn’t accept or present this at face value direct speech and italics emphasises importance My mother informed me: We are going home. She said that the roads are much cleaner the landscape is more beautiful and people are much kinder. Repetition of comparatives (‘much cleaner’, ‘more beautiful’, ‘much kinder’) has the effect of undermining the mother’s message, exposing it as opinion and prejudice
undermines special excitement of returning home; in reality they are standing in the rain Builds a picture of crowds Dozens of families waited in the rain. “I can inhale home,” somebody said. Now our mothers were crying. I was five years old standing by the check-in point comparing both sides of the border. ‘home’ is symbolic – the ‘past’ is a ‘betterplace’. In reality is isn’t as they were attacked in their birth place, forcing them to exile The negative tone throughout the poem implies that the change is enforced, not voluntary
the clear-sighted child compares the two sides and sees the lack of difference Links back to line 6 – that land separation is manmade by borders. Repetition of the word ’same’ shows that there is no real difference between the two lands The autumn soil continued on the other side with the same colour, the same texture. It rained on both sides of the chain. We waited while our papers were checked, our faces thoroughly inspected. Double meaning (polysemic) nature does not reflect devision, maybe implying again, that separation of the border is not natural, as nature does not separate the land by raining in one half and not the other. Suggests caution/ tension. Identity not linked back to land but formal documents, reflecting idea that identity is imposed (not natural)
finally the chain, the border, is removed Repetition of ‘chain’ permeates negativity; imposed restriction, entrapment, constraint. Then the chain was removed to let us through.A man bent down and kissed his muddy homeland.The same chain of mountainsencompasses all of us. The verb 'encompassing' can be interpreted in two different ways. On one hand, it implies security; safety; on another, it implies entrapment and constraint. Also creates sense of connection, through land and culture. Sense that they are all trapped by the land; like there’s no way out.
Themes • The poem is about a child’s innocent perspective casting doubt on the ridiculousness of the behaviour of adults and the artificial nature of borders that cause so much conflict. • What is the purpose and value of the border to which there is so much significance and weight. • The poem plays with ideas of: • similarity and difference, • continuity and division, asking whether it has any real physical meaning on the ground, or if it exists purely as a concept, something within people’s minds. • Hardi ends the poem by seeing a different chain, the ‘same chain of mountains’ which exists on both sides of the border, and which holds everyone together rather than keeping them apart. Man’s sketchy lines and chains are made to seem trivial in comparison.
Key Points about Language, Structure and Form • ‘chain’ = effective: it represents and embodies the border, but also implies that people are enslaved by borders. • Use of direct speech – allows Hardi to realistically present and challenge a range of views • The paradox of the land that ‘continued / divided’ is emphasised by the use of enjambment, which forces the reader to reflect on what they are being told to do.
Now over to you This is a narrative poem, which tells the story, often to prove a point. Q. How does the poet use narrative to express her views about her relationship to her homeland? • How does it tell a story? • What is her view of the relationship with the land?