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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. In our final lesson on the poem 'If We Must Die', we will bring together everything we have learnt to produce an essay in response to the poem. We will try to answer the question: 'How does McKay challenge oppression in his poem 'If We Must Die'?


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8 Questions

What does a sonnet contain?
Correct answer: 14 lines, iambic pentameter, a tight rhyme scheme and a volta
Love, tradition and conflict
Oppression and dangerous language
Rhyming couplets, a loose metre and a cyclical structure
Why did Claude McKay use the sonnet form for 'If We Must Die'?
Because he did not know any other forms of poetry
Because he loved Shakespeare
Correct answer: Because he wanted the poem to be a dignified response to oppression
Because he was writing traditionally about love
What is iambic pentameter?
Correct answer: A metre which has 5 pairs of syllables following the pattern: stressed, unstressed
A metre which has 5 syllables in each line
A metre which is a heartbeat
A metre which was invented by Shakespeare
Why might McKay use iambic pentameter?
So that he doesn't get told off about using the wrong metre
Correct answer: To deliver a controlled but inspiring response to the violence
To sound like a heartbeat which is a pulse
To sound really frightened and worried
What is the rhyme scheme of 'If We Must Die'?
Correct answer: ABAB CDCD EFED FF GG
Why does McKay use the rhyme pairs 'die-defy', 'brave-grave' and 'back-pack'?
Because he wanted to emphasise the sadness of death
Because these are the rhymes of the sonnet form
To show that he is a good poet who can rhyme
Correct answer: To show that his community will fight back against the threat of death
What is a volta?
A form of poetry
A time to turn back on yourself
Correct answer: A turn of thought or argument
A type of pole used in gymnastics
Which of these lines is the volta in the poem 'If We Must Die'?
'Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack'
Correct answer: 'O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!'
'So that our precious blood may not be shed'
'While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs'

8 Questions

What is an embedded quotation?
Correct answer: A quotation which is included within a sentence so that the sentence makes sense as a whole
A quotation which is only from a poem
A quotation which supports the point you are making
A quotation which you think is better than all the others
What should you include in an introduction?
A bit of information about yourself
A long explanation about the poet, the context of the poem and the story of the poem
Correct answer: Context about the poem and a short explanation of how you will answer the question
Your first point about the poem
What should you include in a conclusion?
A new argument about the poem
Correct answer: A summary of your argument and a powerful closing statement
Everything you think about the poem
The words: This is the end. Thank you for reading my essay, I hope you liked it.
What should you include in a good analytical paragraph?
Correct answer: A clear topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding sentence
A retelling of the story of the poem
An explanation of what you like and do not like about the text
Lots of different points that you want to argue
Which of these words can you use to act as signposts in your writing?
Correct answer: Firstly, Secondly, Finally
Left, Right, Forward, Back
Number 1, number 2, number 3
This way now
Why does McKay ask the question 'What though before us lies the open grave?'
Because he is unsure about what is going to happen
Because he knows that the oppressors are violent
Correct answer: To encourage his community to take charge of their lives and their deaths
To scare the reader and make them fear death
What might McKay want to express in his poem 'If We Must Die'?
Fear for his community and embarrassment about what is happening
Love for his community and a reminder not to fight
That there is no point in his community fighting oppression because they will die anyway
Correct answer: To inspire his community to resist oppression with dignity
Complete this quotation about the poem: That is a great poem, authentic fire and blood;
a brilliant and powerful poem
a poem which exploded from me
Correct answer: blood pouring from a bleeding heart
let it not be like hogs