Literature-In-English Paper 3 May/June 2015

Question 9

      Examine the identity crisis in “Boy on a Swing”


Many candidates attempted this question. However, only a few of them were able to bring out the identity crisis in the poem. A lot of them focused on the apartheid regime in South Africa without relating it to the poem.

Candidates were expected to discuss the following points:

  • The swinging of a boy on a swing; an activity he seems to enjoy as the swing moves “faster and faster”.
  • The comparison of the boy’s “blue shirt” billowing “in the breeze” with “a tattered kite”.
  • The boy’s loss of bearing in the metaphor of “east becomes west”, “north turns to south” and “the four cardinal points meet in his head”.
  • The questions the boy eventually asks his mother as it becomes clear that he can see the unacceptable situation in which he and his race find themselves.

    Candidates’ performance in this question was poor.