I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Junior

Short Summary

This essay is a speech made by Martin Luther King Junior to a large crowd 100 years -1863-
after the slaves in the USA were freed. Martin Luther King says the Constitution of the USA promises that all men will be free, but the Negros (Black-Americans) are not free and do not have equal rights with the Whites. He says the Negroes are asking for freedom and equal rights but they must ask without using violence. Martin Luther King says that he has a dream that one day the Negroes will be free and will have equality. He has a dream that people will decide whether his children are good or bad because of their actions (character) and not because they are black. He hopes that, one day, all people will be able to join hands and sing that they are free.

Historical and Cultural Background

From about the year 1600 AD the White people in North America bought Negroes (Black Americans) from Africa to be slaves. A slave is owned by the white farmer. The slave cannot leave the farm and must work without being paid.

In 1787 the Constitution of the USA stated that all men are created equal, and that all men have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But these rules were not for the Negro slaves. They were not allowed to live like the white people and they were not free.

In 1862, President Lincoln made the Emancipation Declaration. This said that all slaves were free. They could leave the farms where they had been slaves and must be paid for work they did.

However, the Negroes were still not treated equally. In many states in the southern part of the USA black children were not allowed to go to the same school as white children, and black people were not allowed into the hotels, restaurants and buses that white people used. This was called SEGREGATION and it still existed at the time Martin Luther King made his speech in 1963.

Many Negroes were also poor. They lived in very bad quality houses in special areas called ghettos – where white people did not live. They were treated very badly by white people and it was difficult for them to get good jobs or to get a good education.

Paraphrase of the main things said by Martin Luther King

One hundred years ago, President Lincoln declared that the slaves in the USA were free, but the Negroes in America are still not free. Negroes are not allowed to go to the same places as white people and Negroes are still very poor.

The Constitution of the USA promises that all men have the right to live freely and to try to be happy. The Constitution was a written promise, like a check from a bank which promises to pay money. America has not kept its promise to Negroes. We (the 200,000 people in the crowd) have come to Washington, the capital of the USA, to say that the promises made in the constitution should be met now. America will not operate normally until these demands are met.

It is important to make these demands without using violence. It is also important not to distrust all white people, because there are some whites who support the Negroes, and who are helping them get equal rights.

We want the police to stop beating Negroes. We want Negroes to be able to stay in every hotel in the country. We want Negroes to be able to improve their position in society, to be able to vote and to have Negroes to vote for.

You must go back to your homes and work for change.

I have a dream that one day all people will be treated equally, that Negroes and whites will sit together like brothers and that everyone will be free. I have a dream that my children will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by their actions.

If America is to be a great country, all people in all the different places must be free. All people, of all colours and religions must be able to join hands and sing together, “We are free at last!”

What is the apparent purpose of this speech?

Martin Luther King wanted to show the prevailing discrimination against the blacks and how this racial injustice must come to an end. He also wants the Blacks to be given freedom and equality as promised by the constitution of America.

What thesis does King develop in his first four paragraphs?

(a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved)

King started his speech by announcing that the Emancipation Proclamation had brought great hope to million of Negro slaves who had been suffering from racial injustice. They had hoped that their life of captivity would be over. Contrary to this high hope, the Negroes have been crippled by chains of separation and discrimination. They are living a life of poverty although their white counterparts live a rich life. They are neglected and they feel they are in exile in their own land. In the third paragraph, Luther mentions that the Negroes haven’t received rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It’s only the Whites who enjoy these rights. In the final paragraph, King calls upon the Negroes to cash their cheque of equality and justice. Also he urges the Blacks not to cool off or opt for a gradual change as it would postpone the opportunity to lift America out of the quicksand of racial injustice.

What does King mean by the “marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community? (paragraph 6)? Does this contradict King’s non-violent philosophy?

Militancy has many meanings. The meaning implied here is that of strength of purpose and determination. The Negroes have woken up to fight for their rights but King urges them to struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. He alerts the crowd to fight physical violence with soul force. He advocates for creative protest rather than using physical violence. He doesn’t want the Blacks to show any bitterness or hatred towards the Whites or against the police. Hence, King’s use of militancy is the one favouring the use of strong moral pressure to achieve the aims of getting justice.

In what passages of his speech does King notice events of History? Where does he acknowledge the historic occasion on which he is speaking?

King in his very first utterance mentions President Lincoln who in 1862 had declared freedom for the slaves when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. In the third paragraph too, King mentions the magnificent words written in the constitution of America and in the Declaration of Independence, which guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Explain King’s analogy of the bad check (paragraphs 3 and 4).

A promissory note is a signed document containing a written promise to pay a stated sum to specified person or the bearer at a specified date or on demand. The one who goes to the bank can cash the cheque. However, insufficient funds in the bank mean the cheque is not cashed. The cheque becomes a bad cheque. In the same way, the architects of America had promised to give each American the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution of the USA (1787) is an open check that has promised to provide every Americans these rights. But America has denied (not paid) its black population these rights. Thus, the Blacks are demanding the good cheque of justice, freedom and citizenship rights.

How much emphasis does King place on the past? On the future?

King’s introductory paragraph starts in the past tense wherein he talks of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Emancipation Proclamation that guaranteed freedom to the slaves. In the second paragraph too he mentions the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. But in the rest of the paragraph he has used language of the present and future. His sentences abound in the pains and sufferings braved by the Blacks for most of History. He dedicates the parallel language structure beginning with Now to prove the importance of present. Because it is a speech he emphasises the current status of Black Movement and the ways to achieve complete freedom. King was not keen to open the wounds of the past so he uses positive language of hope. Another parallel structure King uses – ” I have a dream…..” – clearly hints at King’s dream about the better future for Black Americans. The use of ‘will’ clearly indicates about the hope for the end of racial injustice, the beginning of freedom, and the attainment of the spirit of brotherhood. Even the imperative parallel structure “Let freedom ring…….” cry for a day when freedom will ring from all parts of America, and people practicing various religion will become God’s children. Indeed, the very title supports a future for the Blacks where hope and faith will triumph over despair and discord.

Comment on the language used in the speech?

Martin Luther King Jr demonstrates superior command of language that is evocative and inspirational at the same time. King meshed the cadence of a Baptist preacher with the credence of a man who was well-versed not only in the history of African-Americans in the United States, but America itself. From the very beginning to the end, Martin Luther King used powerful, evocative language to draw emotional connection to his audience, such as:“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”; “This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.”; “We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities”

 The use of similes, metaphors, analogies and parallel structures abound throughout the text. Some of the metaphors are the crippling of the blacks ‘ by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination,’;  the negroes faith that will be able to ‘ hew out a mountain of despair a stone of hope’;  and the desire to transform America ‘ into an oasis of freedom and justice.’ Other metaphors are: “joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity”;“the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity”;“rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice”; “This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.” These metaphors allow us to associate our speech concepts with concrete images and emotions. He then relates to the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln as a ‘ great beacon light of hope to millions of negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.’ Mention to justice rolling like water and righteousness like a mighty stream are other fine examples of simile that catches the abstract ideals in a very concrete manner.

The uses of analogies is worth mentioning, particularly the analogy of the bad check. The Constitution of the USA promised that all men have the right to live freely and to try to be happy. The Constitution was a written promise, like a check from a bank which promises to pay money. America did not keep its promise to Negroes. Thus, they (the over 200,000 people in the crowd) marched on to Washington, the capital of the USA, to say that the promises made in the constitution should be met now, and that America would not operate normally until these demands were met. Likewise, the mention to transforming ‘ the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,’ catches the spirit of all the people of America from various racial backgrounds coming together to create a prosperous America.

 If that was not sufficient, the use of parallel structures provide a hypnotic impact on the people who listened to him talk about the finest human ideals like justice, freedom, democracy, righteousness, brotherhood, equality, etc. The parallel structure: Now is the time ……..’ catches the existing problems in America which have come about because of the dishonoring of  the  ‘legitimate discontent’ of the Negroes. Similarly, ‘ I have a dream ……………’ apprise us with the hopes and dreams of the Black Americans who are ever so optimistic and patient in spite of several obstacles on their way.

The repetition of the ‘theme’ words throughout the body of the speech makes it memorable and convincing. The repetition of some words brings to the fore the emergence of some very interesting patterns. The most commonly used noun is freedom, which is used twenty times in the speech. This makes sense, since freedom is one of the primary themes of the speech. The  other key ‘theme’  repeated words include,we (30 times), our (17 times), you (8 times),nation (10 times), America (5 times), American (4 times), justice (8 times) and injustice (3 times) and, dream (11 times).

King has explicitly and implicitly drawn on numerous Biblical allusions  to provide the moral basis for his  arguments:“It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.” [paragraph 2] alludes to Psalms 30:5;  “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” [paragraph 8] evokes Jeremiah 2:13; No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.Amos 5:24 “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”; I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.Isaiah 40:4-5; And when this happens, . . . we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The references made to the US documents like The Constitution of the USA (1787); The Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) on the one hand and to God and divine providence on the other hand bring out the essential goodness of language borne out of the marriage of the real historical developments with the spiritual precepts. In his booming voice, we can feel and hear the voices of Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, the Bible and the Negro spiritual. He speaks from a high plane of morality, and the language is unbiased and neutral with none of the elements of propaganda and politicking that peppers a demagogue’s speech. He raises ethical questions that have meaning and scope beyond his time and age. The rhetoric question he asks: “When will you be satisfied?” is answered with great clarity and earnestness of purpose.

Thus the use of the concrete examples of comparison to exemplify abstract quests of the Black Americans and his oratorical powers honed out of his many preaching and personal struggles for the cause of the Blacks and their rights have added peculiar charm, energy and posterity to this speech.

What is the dream of Martin Luther King?

Martin Luther King’s dream is deeply rooted in the American dream. He dreams of the Blacks receiving justice, freedom, equality, and brotherhood. He dreams of a time when the sons of former slaves owners and the sons of former slaves will sit down together at the table of brotherhood; he dreams of transforming the states where injustice and oppression prevail into an oasis of freedom and justice. Furthermore, he hopes of a time in the future where black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. And then, he believes that Black American children henceforth will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. Finally, he is keenly waiting for the day when all the people of America will be blessed by the glory of God.

What is the historical significance of the speech?

Martin Luther King Jr made this historic speech hundred years after Abraham Lincoln had declared the Blacks legally free through the decree known as Emancipation Proclamation that swung into action in 1863. The Blacks were filled with hope and joy, and expected the end of segregation and discrimination. They also expected to come out poverty and walk into the world of material prosperity, and become a vibrant American community like their white counterparts’ but much to their surprise and shock their condition improved little and they still had to languish in the margins of the American society and face discrimination and ill treatment in the very country they gave their blood and sweat. They were denied access to the unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness made available by the Constitution of the USA and the Declaration of Independence. They were also wrongly made the victims of the government’s double standards because they could not enjoy real democracy; get opportunity as decreed by God; come out of the quicksand of injustice; and not feel the rock solid power of brotherhood.

What is Martin Luther King Jr’s method of militancy?

Martin Luther King was a great adherent of the principles of non violence and peaceful rebellion. He was inspired by the acts of Great Mahatma Gandhi who single handedly freed India from the British rule through the employment of non-violent techniques and methods. King followed the same route. In his speech he reminds the people not to try to get justice through wrong deeds. He suggests that the people should not demand for freedom by being bitter and hateful towards the Whites. He tells them to conduct struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. He further reminds them not to degenerate their creative protest into physical violence. Rather they should meet physical force with soul force. The people should work and walk with fellow whites who have solidarity with them. Their struggle should not cause any distrust among the Whites because the fate of the Blacks is tied up with the fate of the Whites. He suggests that they should not lose hope until they get justice and equal rights.

Some famous MKL Quotes

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hates destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

A right delayed is a right denied

Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.


We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.


Non violence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.


Raj Kumar Gautam, Arniko HSS; 02 September 2013.

Image  —  Posted: August 30, 2013 in NOTES OF TEACHERS

pramod yadav 9807724256follow us

http://www.fb.com/arniukoconfession + http://www.twitter.com/arnikoconfess
http://www.linkedin.com/arnikoconfession +https://myspace.com/arnikoconfession +www.plus.google.com/arniooconfession

Image  —  Posted: August 26, 2013 in NOTES OF TEACHERS


Image  —  Posted: August 25, 2013 in NOTES OF TEACHERS


God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Paraphrase of the poem

Verse 1

The world is filled with the greatness of God. Men are born and die and are unaware of God’s greatness. Because they are too concerned with work, men cannot understand the greatness of God.

Verse 2

The world and nature continue. The sun rises and sets and God continues to watch over the world

Some comprehension Questions

  1. What is meant by God’s Grandeur?
  2. What have generation of men done?
  3. Why can’t people feel the earth?
  4. How does the poet describe the nature?
  5. Explain the line “the last lights off the black West went.”
  6. Explain the line “morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs.”
  7. What is the Holy Ghost?
  8. What is the Holy Ghost doing?

Board Questions

  1. Give reasons why men are unaware of the greatness of God? (2061) (see paraphrase)
  2. What is the central idea of the poem “God’s Grandeur”? (2059/61/62)


charged: filled with; grandeur: greatness; flame out: jump out like flame from a fire; shining: bright light/reflection; shook: gold tinsel/past tense of shake; foil: very thin piece of metal sometimes used in cooking; ooze: flow slowly; reck: take notice of; rod: discipline/rules; reck his rod: pay attention to the command of God; trod: stepped; seared: burnt/scorched; trade: work; bleared: blurred (made unclear); smeared: rubbed; toil: very hard, physical work; wears: covered by; smudge: dirty mark; shod: with shoes on; spent: used up/finished; deep down: inside; last lights: sunset/the end of the day; brown brink: the horizon; Holy Ghost: the third person of the Trinity, regarded as God spiritually active in the world.

Some solved questions

  1. What does the poet say in the first quatrain (4 lines) and in the second?  I

The speaker says in the first quatrain that the world is the expression of God’s greatness and magnificence. It is like the glitter of a gold foil which shines in the sun and it is like the ooze of oil that gathers in a pot coming from an oil press. However, mankind doesn’t seem to notice or acknowledge these manifestations of God; mankind doesn’t acknowledge God’s discipline. In the second quatrain the speaker shares the commercial and materialistic world of man, where he is too busy at work in order to make money and accumulate other materialistic gains. Man has become a slave to machine, and he has dirtied himself physically and spiritually by exploiting nature to fulfil his vested interests.

  1. What is the central idea of the poem?

Ans. The poem emphasises the glory and the all pervading nature of God in the world. The world is the gift of God’s greatness, but mankind doesn’t seem to realise this as they are too busy doing various commercial and industrial activities. Nevertheless, God gives freshness to humankind through nature. God continues to keep a watch over the world by renewing nature for mankind’s better life.

3.. Summarize the last six lines in a sentence.

Ans. Nature, an inexhaustible resource in spite of human beings’ destructive activities making it bare, is renewed or freshened by the grace of spirit of God, who is ever so watchful upon humankind night or day.

  1. What is the effect of the repetition of the words “have trod”?

Ans. ‘Trod’ means to put down the foot, place the foot. People have walked on this world since time immemorial. The words, “have trod” emphasize the fact that many generations of human beings have constantly not paid heed to God’s greatness and his will. Indeed, human beings have utterly downplayed the importance of God and his greatness. The repetition of the idea thrice is an indication of the constant overlooking by humankind of the splendor of God. Man has become mechanical in his approach to life. The present generation is following the pattern shown by their antecedents of stepping on this earth and getting lost in the earthly ways of life – of work and money. Mankind would rather work hard –”seared”, “bleared” and “smeared”- and act as slaves but not understand God’s bounteous plan for them.

How has man become ugly?

Man has become ugly for many reasons. He has lost divine will because of his overwhelming ambition and desire to make money. He thinks that emancipation is possible through hard work only and that is madness. Man also is interested much in commercial and industrial activities. As well as that, he has become slave to machines. Man is toiling day in and day out dirtying his body and soul before the machine. And then, he has also made nature ugly as he has exploited it to fulfil his earthly needs and wishes. Thus, man has become insensitive and merciless because of his abandonment of God’s plan.

Comment on the form of the poem?

The poem is a sonnet i.e., it comprises of 14 rhymed lines expressing the speaker’s high reverence and esteem for God. It is written in the Petrarchian school of sonnet. The poem can be divided into two sections: the first eight lines which celebrates the greatness of God (first four lines) and the contrasting human acts in the earthly world (second four lines). In other words, the octet focuses on the problem of mankind’s disrespect for God and his bounteous plan. They work and treat money they get through work as their God. The rhyme scheme here is abbaabba.

 The last six lines are rhymed cdcdcd, and it deals with nature and its inexhaustibility. God constantly renews and replenishes nature and world for man and his people. He has been doing this since time immemorial but the people who live in the world of sleep and shadow never know of his bounteousness. He instills freshness in nature which can be seen each morning. Also, when the spring comes, nature renews itself just like the dawn comes after the night. God in the shape of the Holy Ghost – spiritually active God in the world – provides replenishment and protection to nature and to mankind like a dove does to its young brood under its bright wings. Thus, the last six lines appear to be the solution.

“God’s Grandeur is an excellent blending of accurate observation with lofty imagination.” Explain.

G.M. Hopkins has come with a very penetrating poem that is stylistically pleasant and aesthetically liberating. The language has subtle layers of meaning, and the references made to the Bible and to common phenomena are truly fascinating and compelling. The observation of ordinary phenomena with such imagination provides us a great insight into the poet’s devotion, his high regard for God, and, by extension, our need for supplication before him.

In the first quatrain the reference to the gold foil and the oozing of oil that collects into a pot are simple observation. God is that brilliant entity whose halo of splendor provides solace to devout Christian people; and, ooze of oil that gathers in a pot coming from an oil press is an image of the omnipotence, omniscient and omnipresence of God. Even the setting of the sun in the West and its rising in the East in the morning is fabulously done, not just because it provides us an image of a great morning but also the implied freshness that is ever so present in the nature, thanks to God’s bounty and graciousness. Even the observation of man slaving in front of machines and sullying his clothes is a very truthful observation of the daily grinding mankind goes through in this physical world.

The final image of the Holy Ghost and his revelation in this physical world in the metaphor of a dove brooding over its young ones is highly imaginative. The Christians believe that soul is invisible but always present in this world in the form of the Holy Ghost, and the idea here of the presence of the spiritual force to provide protection to nature and humankind is very reassuring.

Thus, the poet demonstrates his feeling of reverence to God through the use of several images, mainly visual. Also he demonstrates that God is unchangeable and endless through the beauty of nature which remains fresh forever.

Raj Kumar Gautam, Arniko HSS, Biratnagar, Nepal, rgautam78@yahoo.com, August 24, 2013.

like us @ facebook www.fb.com/arnikoconfession Twitter: www.twitter.com/arnikoconfes

Image  —  Posted: August 22, 2013 in NOTES OF TEACHERS


Aside  —  Posted: August 22, 2013 in NOTES OF TEACHERS

The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Line-wise Summary

1-2: These lines are in the present. The boy is saying that now people will believe him, but in the past they did not

2-94: These lines all describe past events.

2-28: Many years ago the boy saw the ship for the first time. He saw it in March at night. The ship was very big. It didn’t have any lights and it didn’t make any sound. It was moving towards the village. Something was broken on the ship, so it couldn’t find the correct path in the water. It hit rocks in the water, broke and sank to the bottom of the sea. Nobody heard any noise from the ship hitting the rocks and breaking.

28-36: The next day the boy didn’t see anything unusual, so he thought maybe he had only dreamed about the ship and that it wasn’t real.

36-40: Exactly one year later during the night, the boy saw the same thing. This time he was sure that he was not dreaming.

40-44: The boy told his mother about the s hip he had seen. She did not believe her son. She thought that her son was becoming crazy.

44-54: The boy’s father had died 11 years ago. Since then the mother spent all of her time sitting in a chair and thinking about her dead husband. Now the mother’s chair has become old. She needs to buy a different chair. She takes a small boat to go to a place where she can buy a new chair. The boy goes with a boatman. While they are in the boat the man shows the boy that there is no broken ship at the bottom of the sea.

55-56: The boy still believes that the ship is real and that it will come next year, like it has come for the past two years. The mother promises to watch for the ship with her son next year.

56-72: That night the mother dies sitting in her new chair. After that four other women die while sitting in the same chair. The people in the village think that the chair is bad and throw it into the sea.

72-72: Now the boy has no parents. He has to steal fish so that he can have something to eat.

78-90: On the same night in March a few years later the boy is watching the sea again. He sees the same ship. He makes a lot of noise to wake up the villagers to see the ship. But when the people get up the ship has already broken and gone to the bottom of the sea. The villagers don’t see anything and do not believe that there is a ship. They beat the boy for making a disturbance and scaring them.

90-94: The boy is angry at the villagers because they do not believe him. He made a plan to show them the ship so that they would believe him.

94-193: Now events in the present are described. The boy is no longer describing the past

94-171: One year later on the same night in March the boy steals a small boat so that he can get near the big ship. He takes the boat to where he has seen the ship in the past. When the ship arrives the boy lights a lamp in his boat. The big ship sees the light on his boat and begins to follow him. The boy leads the ship towards the village.

171- 180: When the ship gets close to the village it blows its loud whistle. All of the people in the village wake up because of the loud noise and come out of their houses.

180-193: The ship comes onto the ground by the village and stops moving in front of the church. Now all of the people in the village see the ship and believe the boy. He feels happy.


Stream of Consciousness Definition:

A narrative technique that gives the impression of a mind at work, jumping from one observation, sensation, or reflection to the next is called stream of consciousness. These varied elements are usually expressed in a flow of words without conventional transitions.

Though stream of consciousness is commonly associated with the work of novelists (including James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and William Faulkner), the method has also been used effectively by writers of creative nonfiction. This technique does not divide the story into sentences or paragraphs. There is no full stop at the end of a sentence and no capital letter at the beginning of a new sentence. It eschews dialogues as they are used in conventional stories. It also has little or no plot and the plot flow is not chronological, but rather convoluted.  There is shift between the present and the past and between the real and the imaginary. You can see the overlap between character’s thoughts and the main narrative. Another recurring element of the technique is the repetitive nature of the story. Certain ideas, words or lines have presence throughout the plot with or without variation. The story is one long continuous sentence.

Because stream of consciousness is used to denote the flow of inner experiences, it has now become an almost indispensable (absolutely necessary) term in literary criticism as it refers to that technique which seeks to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind. This technique works best when dealing with abstract phenomena like memory (Look at a Tea Cup), psychological maturity (Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship), mysterious past or historical truths (The Royal Massacre of 2058 could be a fascinating story), and other abstract matters like piety, loss, separation, death, etc. Another phrase for it is “interior monologue”

This note should answer question no 1 of Style and Rhetorics.

The metaphor of the stream of consciousness was coined by American philosopher and psychologist William James (The Principles of Psychology, 1890).

Some Comprehension Questions

  1. What time of the day does the boy see the ship?
  2. In what month does the boy see the ship?
  3. Describe the ship?
  4. How many times does the boy see the ship?
  5. When the boy tells his mother about the ship does she believe him?
  6. What happens to the boy’s mother while she is sitting in the chair?
  7. Does the same thing happen to other people who sit in the chair? How many people?
  8. What do the villagers do to the chair? Why?
  9. What do the villagers do when the boy wakes them up during the night?
  10. Do the villagers in the village believe that there is a ship?
  11. How does the boy get the small boat?
  12. Where does he take the small boat?
  13. Where does the boy lead the big ship?
  14. What do the villagers hear?
  15. What happens to the ship at the end of the story?
  16. At the end of the story do the villagers believe the boy?
  17. Is the boy angry at the end of the story?
  18. Discuss why the boy’s mother and villagers don’t believe the boy.
  19. If the boy told you the story about the ship would you believe him? Why or why not?

Board Questions

  1. What does the refrain of the story “Now they are going to see who I am” mean? (2061)
  2. Why did the boy have to prove who he was? (2064)
  3. Narrate the story of the boy’s growth from an ordinary boy to an assertive young man. (2057: 10 marks)

Some Solved Questions


There is no plot in the story in the usual sense, but the story does trace a chronology of sorts involving the protagonists’ passage from a time of weakness as a boy without a man’s strong voice to a time in which his strength and power are asserted in his strong new man’s voice. How are the protagonist’s encounters with the ghost ship linked to this movement toward mature strength? Why does no one else know of the ship’s existence?


The story is about a boy who finds himself become strong and mature after he sees a ghost ship many times. The more he sees the ghost ship each March on four occasions, the stronger, more mature, and more assertive he becomes.

When he first saw the ghost ship he didn’t have a strong voice. He saw the ship heading towards the land and sinking. He was not sure of the event; he himself thought it was a dream. Upon seeing the ship the second time he relates the story to his mother so much so that she tells him that he is going mad, but he somehow convinces her to see the ship the following year. But she died before she could keep the promise. Her death made him orphan but that didn’t stop him from being independent and self-assured. He would steal fish rather than depend on charity. He has started to evolve into an assertive man – ‘ his voice was becoming a roar’. The villagers looked down upon him calling him the ‘son of a widow’ and that his mother had brought evil in the village. When he raises people of his village after having seen the ghost for the third time he is soundly beaten for creating unnecessary nuisance. But this event has put more courage into him. He again promises to show them what kind of man he is. He is made so courageous that he steals a boat and waits for the ship in the channel. Out of sheer anger and bravery, he maneuvers the ship and finally manages to land the ship in the village so that the unbelieving ‘coward’ villagers could see the ship. He has finally proved his manhood.

The ship is the product of the boy’s imagination, so it is only he who sees the ship. The imaginary ship is the subjective product of his assertive mind. It followed the will inside the boy. At the end, the ghost ship could be seen even when light fell on it. This proves that the boy has total control over his fear, doubt and weakness.

Why does no else know of the ship’s existence?

The phantom ship that makes no sound, and that disappears when lights fall on it is the boy’s private vision. The boy sees its four times with varied impressions and sensations from boyhood into adulthood. No one knows of its existence as it is the boy’s imagination. It is the creation of the boy’s mind. When he saw it for the first time one March night he was not very sure of it, but when he saw it the second time he was so sure that he went to tell it to his mother. But when the boatman and he went to the shipwreck site, they saw mantra rays, corvinas, pink snappers and wandering hairs but not any sign of the ship. The same thing happened the third time – the people made no effort to see the unlikely apparition of the ship which disappeared in its annual disaster. They didn’t see it so they felt he was lying to them. And then, they beat him soundly.


What do you think is the meaning of the boy’s newly discovered ability near the end of the story to control the ship’s movement?


The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship provides a very unique depiction of the idea of growth – mental and physical. It is the story of adolescent growth; a journey every adolescent has to make through as (s)he leaves or comes out of their parental shadow to find a  passage to the world of experience – the world of the adults. The vision of the colossal phantom ship is the extension of the consciousness of the adolescent individual. This vision gradually gives leeway for the boy to understand the weightage of the world, particularly to triumph over a skeptical society, and thereby find his own identity and career growth. Nothing in life is insurmountable, and the boy was relentless in its pursuit throughout so, towards the end, he proved the impossible to the villagers – the possibility of meeting one’s goal or career objective as symbolized by the ship that he showed to the shocked disbelievers. The boy’s conscious control of the ship is the metaphor for every young man’s triumph over odd should they work relentlessly, purposefully and with the ego to prove.


What is signified by the story’s refusal related to the protagonist’s outer experience? How is this refusal related to the protagonist’s journey toward a grand triumph in which the private “vision” of the ghost ship is forced upon the attention of the “disbelievers”?


The boy’s outer experience is absent. What we find significant throughout the story is the mental toughness of a boy who has gone through a lot of hardships. The story incrementally presents the maturing level of thoughts of the boy as he encounters one episode after another of the ghost ship, a unique imagination only he could see. This inner movement of inner consciousness of the boy finally proves the unbelieving villagers the existence of the ghost ship at the end when he guides the ghost ship right into the village. He finally triumphs over his weaknesses and thus becomes a strong new fearless man. The ghost ship is a private vision because it’s only he who sees it and it is this ghost ship that he shows to the incredulous villagers at the end. The ghost ship is metaphorically the representation of his inner consciousness.

Ans. Question no 2 under Style and Rhetoric: The refrain “Now they are going to see who I am” hints towards the rising courage and assertiveness that is evolving in the boy, who in the beginning of his life was weak. The vision of the ghost ship, on four occasions, somehow helps him to kill his weakness. No one believed him, not even his mother in the beginning. But after his mother’s death, he continued to see the vision of the ghost ship, but the villagers beat him up and left him twisted for his audacity. Interestingly, this strengthened his mental resolve further until he shows the ghost ship to them in the end. Thus, the private vision of the ghost ship has brought maturity in the boy, and this could lead him to live a fulfilling life. The refrain binds the story together. Each repetition tells us about the boy’s mental, spiritual and physical growth. It organizes the story together.

The tone in the recurring phrase is mostly that of extreme anger. He has a hostile society that doesn’t seem to believe the boy. The boy is certain of the vision but the people of his village have misjudged or misunderstood him. That is why he was roundly beaten for his extravagant boldness. Other moods this phrase indicates are those of fortitude (Strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity with courage), determination, challenge and unrelenting steadfastness of purpose. This is the boy’s mantra to steer himself to his goal.

What made the boy stronger and courageous?

When his mother died of heart attack the boy became orphan. He was called ‘son of a widow’ by the people of his village (disbelievers), and was badly beaten when he raised false alarm of the sighting of the ghost ship. Though he was given bad treatment he was not disappointed. On the contrary, he drew enough inspiration from this bad treatment. He became more determined and focused in his motive. He sailed a stolen boat and waited for the ship in the channel. Finally, he saw the ship. Therefore, his isolation, anger, indefatigable will power and spirit for adventure gave his strength and courage to find a new voice and position in the very society that looked down upon him.

How does the writer handle concrete, visual details?

The entire story is replete with mention to real historical figures, places and people. There are mentions of historical personalities like Sir Francis Drake and William Dampier who were illustrious English sea-faring heroes. The setting of the story is the Caribbean, which are organized into 30 states. Mentions to the Hindu gods and shops, Dutch Negroes and the woman-flesh eating Malayans are other realistic components of the story. One of the best example of concrete, visual details is the description of the Caribbean day after the boy saw the ghost ship first time –  he saw the radiant fishbowl of the bay, the disorder of colours of the Negro shacks on the hills above the harbor …..’ Another interesting description is that of the things the boatmen saw at the purported wreck site – he saw in the glass of the sea, the love making of the mantra rays in a springtime of sponges, pink snappers and blue corvinas diving into the other wells of softer waters ……..’ These are realistic visual details that Garcia has employed to give a semblance of reality to the otherwise magical story of a ghost ship.

What is so strange about the ghost ship?

 The ghost ship is seen intermittently once a year at the same night in May. It is sighted four times. It gropes its way towards the channel and suddenly heads towards the shoals and sinks without any sound. It is strange that the ship’s compass needle doesn’t work at the crucial time and hence it goes wayward.



The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship is an interesting story written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the story, the writer describes the growth of an ordinary boy (the narrator) to an assertive man. The writer here wants to prove that one cannot be great in life without courage and determination.

According to the story, a small boy saw a ghost ship in the sea at night in the month of March. The ship was quite big and wonderful. It had no sound and light. It was moving without any control. The surprising thing was that it would disappear when there was light and would appear when there was no light. The boy was surprised with the ship but he thought he might have seen it in the dream.

The boy saw the same ship in the next March and told his mother about it. She didn’t believe him. She said that his mind was rotting. However, she had to send a boatman to confirm whether it was the ship or not. The boatman saw nothing except some fish playing in the water. She became sad and worried about her son. One day, she bought a chair and began to see the sea sitting on it. She remembered her dead husband. She became excited and died. Other four women also died so it was an accursed chair. Finally, the chair was thrown into the sea.

The boy became orphan and he didn’t want to live with anyone’s mercy. As an orphan he lived by stealing fish. He was all alone. Villagers did not help him.

In the next March again he saw the same ship and talked to the villagers about it. The villagers also thought him to be mad and he was severely beaten. Then, he decided not to talk anyone about it but he tried to show who he was. In the next year, he saw the same ship and followed it rowing a boat. When the light of lighthouse fell upon it, it disappeared and the boy fell in problem. He lit a lantern and saw the ship again. He rowed his boat near to the ship and brought it under control. He found nobody in the ship and brought it at the harbor near his village. He called the villagers and the villager’s were surprised at seeing the ship larger than the village.

Thus, the boy proved himself to be an assertive young man. He showed the villagers who he was. It means that if a person works hard to develop his career without losing patience, he can certainly get success in his life.

The story describes the growth of an ordinary boy to an assertive young man. It presents the boy’s inner journey from the innocence to experience and how he gains manhood. The ships stand for the child’s imagination and his encounter with the ship many times indicates his growing vision which finally makes him a strong man with strong voice and confidence. In fact, this story brings out the child’s inner consciousness. The whole story is a psychological study which describes the boy’s attainment of maturity. Thus, the story deals with the mental growth of the child in proportion with his physical growth. Both the growth combined makes him confident about what he says and does.


Further Reading and Understanding


Gabriel Garcia Marquez managed to do the unthinkable. Write a six page short story with only one sentence. At first, I was completely baffled as to why he would want to write only one sentence for a short story. However, I noticed that although the sentence is extremely long, the story still makes complete sense. Of course I decided to read this story out loud, but having the one sentence made the story flow. The short story is about a ghost ship that only one man can see. The setting is near the sea, which could relate to the long sentence structure. Just like the waves, the sentence continually flowed up and down, twisted and turned, picked up speed and slowed down. The commas were put in place to create pauses, which created a dramatic effect.

The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship – Imagery/Figurative Language:

“lunar encampment of glowing houses and streets of volcanic deserts” (123)

“a crash of metal and the explosion of engines that would have frozen with fright the soundest-sleeping dragons in the prehistoric jungle” (124)

“radiant fishbowl of the bay” (124)

“illusory liner, gloomy, intermittent” (124)

“the glass of the sea, the lovemaking of manta rays in a springtime of sponges, pink snappers and blue corvinas diving” (124)

“until night came over him with all the weight of the stars and the jungle exhaled sweet fragrance of gardenias and rotten salamanders” (126)

“one could hear the neat destruction of ninety thousand five hundred champagne glasses breaking” (128)

The imagery and figurative language in this short story help illustrate the action and scenes. Marquez’s use of imagery allows his story to come to life and leap off of the page. The figurative language in the story also creates a sense of magic and fantasy that does not seem impossible.

This should answer question no 3 under Style and Rhetorics.

Magic Realism


It is a narrative technique that blurs the distinction between fantasy and reality. It is characterized by an equal acceptance of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Magic realism fuses lyrical and, at times, fantastic writing with an examination of the character of human existence and an implicit criticism of social norms.

To expand this magical realism definition let’s look at elements of magical realism in fiction.

Elements of Magical Realism

Traditional magical realism literature has definable elements of magical realism that all works in this genre share. Magical realism authors put explicit techniques to very specialized use in order to explore viewpoint or worldview. Though any specific examples of magical realism may differ, they will employ a smattering of the elements listed here.

Fantastical elementsfabulous and fantastical events are included in a narrative that otherwise maintains the ‘reliable’ tone of objective realistic report. Fantastic attributes are given to characters.

Authorial reticence – The narrator does not provide explanations about the credibility of events described in the text. Further, the narrator is indifferent; the story proceeds with “logical precision” as if nothing extraordinary took place.

Sense of mystery – Magic realist literature tends to read at a much intensified level.

Plenitude – an “extraordinary” abundance of disorienting detail.

Hybridity – mixing multiple planes of reality or inharmonious arenas of such opposites as urban and rural, and Western and indigenous.

Collective consciousness

Political or social critique – magic realism’s ‘alternative world’ works to correct the reality of established viewpoints.

Some Real Names

  1. 1.      William Dampier (baptised 5 September 1651 – early 1715) was the first man of English descent to explore sections of New Holland (Australia) and also the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. Dampier has been described as the first natural historian of Australia and the greatest explorer-adventurer between Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook.

After impressing the Admiralty with his book A New Voyage Round the World, Dampier was given command of a 26-gun ship and made valuable discoveries in Western New Holland, but was court-martialled for cruelty.

On a later voyage, he was able to rescue Alexander Selkirk, , who may have inspired Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Others influenced by Dampier include James Cook, Lord Nelson and Charles Darwin.

  1. 2.      Sir Francis Drake, vice admiral (c. 1540 – 27 January 1596) was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver and politician of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out the second circumnavigation of the world, from 1577 to 1580. Elizabeth of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He died of dysentery in January 1596 after unsuccessfully attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico. His exploits were legendary, making him a hero to the English but a pirate to the Spaniards to whom he was known as El Draque. King Philip II was said to have offered a reward of 20,000 ducats, about £4 million (US$6.5M) by modern standards, for his life.
  2. 3.      The Caribbean: Caraïbe or more commonly Antilles) is a region that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean), and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America. Geopolitically, the Caribbean islands are usually regarded as a subregion of North America and are organized into 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies. From January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were then United Kingdom dependencies. The West Indies cricket team continues to represent many of those nations.    



Posted: August 12, 2013 in NOTES OF TEACHERS



Aside  —  Posted: August 12, 2013 in NOTES OF TEACHERS