Uploaded by Tim Ratcliffe

half caste presents comparison

Agard uses direct address throughout the poem to confront his readers and challenge racist
attitudes. The imperative “Explain yuself wha yu mean” is repeated throughout the poem to force
the readers to think about the term ‘half-caste’. The fact that Agard also uses his native dialect
creates the impression that the speaker is proud and defiant; he is not afraid to challenge how
others see him. Alternatively, Agard may have used dialect and direct address to show the reader
that it is the ignorant, racist attitude of society that causes the speaker to be described as half-caste.
The speaker proudly asserts his speech and identity and demands that ‘yu’, which likely represents
society, change the way we see him. In stark contrast the confident speaker of ‘Half-Caste’, the
speaker in ‘Presents…’ is shown to be confused about her dual identity. The speaker admires the
Pakistani clothes, and tries to “glimpse myself in the miniature circles”. Alvi seems to use this line as
a metaphor for the way the speaker is trying to find herself or her identity in the Pakistani clothes.
The verb ‘glimpse’ is suggestive of only a partial view, and this idea is reinforced by the use of
miniature circles, which would create a divided or fractured reflection of the speaker, symbolising
her dual identity. Alvi likely uses this moment to create sympathy for the speaker, and shows in a
different way from Agard, another problem people of mixed heritage might face.