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A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat
A Passage To Africa
Climate Change - The Facts
Explorers, or boys messing about?
From Touching the Void
Taking On the World
The Explorer's Daughter
Your Guide to Beach Safety
A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat
Emma Levine is a journalist, travel writer, broadcaster and documentary maker. Levine had always traveled throughout her life and experienced the culture and traditions of many different nations. Her passion for cricket led her to explore women’s cricket in Pakistan, where women’s activities were limited by their tradition and religion. During her time there she also explored other traditional sports. A new passion was born.
In 1997 she set off on a 15 month excursion to study what keeps ancient sports alive. She traveled throughout Asia, when she returned, she wrote a series of pieces narrating her journey.
Form/ Text type & Purpose:
Travel writing, to inform the reader of unknown tradition and concepts and introducing various issues. Levine chooses to explore this using sports and other traditional forms of entertainment.
Emma Levine does not specify her targeted audience although she hopes to appeal to travelers. Not only does she write to inform travelers, her writing style suggests that she attempts to fulfill her reader’s general interests, promoting her travels and the choices they have.
Levine generally incorporates an informative tone throughout her narrative. Her narrative draws the reader in while providing factual information to satisfy external interest in various aspects of the culture she is exploring.
The extract from “A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat” also consists of a large build up where Levine experiments with first hand pessimism but also includes reassurance.
The extract’s pace is changed to build tension during and after the race.
Paragraph 1-3 / Build up
Paragraph 1 – Optimism, author promotes her own, Yaqoob and Iqbal’s excitement.
‘We’ll open the car boot … we’ll join the cars.’
Brief description of what will happen and Levine’s expectations. Builds immediate excitement and enthusiasm for race and the reader’s expectation of instant action.
Works effectively with
Paragraph 2 – Contrast in tone between “The two lads…suddenly fired up with enthusiasm” in which Levine narrates the creation of new enthusiasm within locals (her guides) to reflect on the reader and the rest of the paragraph
Use of “eternity” – hyperbole to exaggerate impatience and derived emotions such as boredom
“the only action was … gazed around at us.” Hopeless tone, at the point of giving up, is a let down to the reader
The contrast emphasises the climax in paragraph 7
Paragraph 3 – Alternatively, Levine builds hope and optimism in paragraph three, “coming, coming” the locals replied
Line 12: “I was beginning to lose faith… lads remained confident” holds elements of first hand pessimism/ loss in faith and witnessed optimism in the form of reassurance. The effect creates suspense further building the impact of the Climax.
Paragraph 4 & 5 / Climactic Beginning
Paragraph 4 - Climax appears as an explosion of activity
Choice of diction “revved” prominent v sound creates imagery and the impression of speed. Develops the moment of frisson
Change in tone from narrative to informative and factual, now not narrating their journey but provoking the reader’s interest. “The Kibla donkey is said to reach speeds of up to 40kph”
“Although not cruelly” at the end of paragraph four seems out of place, this is where Levine reveals that she is conscious of her effect on travelers and corrects the imagery she has introduced. She protects the culture and the tradition in order to promote the sport and the traditions.
Paragraph 5 –
Change in punctuation to speed up the pace of Levine’s writing, overall generating excitement. She begins to use lists and triads (“horns tooting, bells ringing, and the special rattles used just for this purpose”) and again incorporates an informative tone in order to introduce different aspects of culture. Long, disjointed sentences imitate the excitement, pace and disorder of the event: “men standing on top of their cars and vans"
Paragraph 6 / Levine Enters Race
Use of analogies like “Formula One” (fast-paced, seemingly chaotic), “City center rush hour" relates to reader and creates understanding of speed and "anarchic" disorder.
Illustrates danger in order to provoke different kind of excitement,
“Survival of the fittest”
Creates a life and death situation, introduces the animal, hunt theme.
Choice of diction creates a sense of importance, desperation and danger.
e.g. "Depended" creates a sense of necessity
“sharp flicks” “quick reflexes” “nerves of steel” all phrases associate with an animal during a chase or a hunt. All instinctive.
“Horn” could be interpreted as a pun – car horn or animal horn/ impression of danger, competition, tension even battle
“Yaqoob loved it.” Tone is enthusiastic, describing the fun, excitement. Link to ending.
“Growing more colourful” Euphemistic i
mpression of tension
Paragraph 8 / End of Race
Levine describes scenery to reflect the atmosphere.
“Road straightened and leveled” Tone is calmer, pace has been slowed, longer sentences, wider distribution of punctuation.
Effective ending “The race was over.” Mixture of long sentences with short blunt ending implies immediate end of race and excitement.
Paragraph 9 / Another Beginning
“I assumed the winner was the one who completed the race but it was not seen that way by everyone.” Emphasis on alien culture and traditions, so exotic that even common reasoning differs.
“Voices were raised, fists were out and tempers rising” Levine reuses lists and triads to speed up the pace, rebuild the excitement lost at the end of the race.
Irony, incorporated humour to reflect on the reality of the danger. Links back to “Yaqoob loved it.” Where the tone was still expressing shared enjoyment and fun, new realization and understanding is born to recreate an adapted impression of the entire extract.
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