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The Answer

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  1. The Answer ‘Why is there ice everywhere?’

  2. Hong Kong, 2003 • What are the July 1 pro-democracy rallies about? What is significant about them?

  3. Tiananmen Square, 1989 • • What is your emotional reaction to the events shown in the clip? Why do you feel this way? • What issues have led to all this violence? Why are these issues so important? • Should Tyranny be resisted? • Why does the maker of the video wish for us to not forget what happened in Tiananmen Square? Why is it so important we remember? • What kind of poem might be inspired by the issues and emotions raised in the video? Why?

  4. Tiananmen Square Protests, 1976 In 1976 thousands were in Tiananmen Square to mourn the death of Zhou Enlai, a Politburo member who had tried to moderate Mao’s policies. Police brutalized the mourners, and the incident inspired ‘Huida’, or ‘The Answer’, from Bei Dao.

  5. Freedom and Oppression ‘I don’t believe the sky is blue.’ This famous line from the poem is about freedom. Can you believe the sky is NOT blue? TOK: Who decides what we can or cannot believe?

  6. Read the poem • What kinds of protests are being made? • Why is the poem called ‘The Answer’? Answer to what? • What is the answer? How do you set yourself free? • What kind of language and structural techniques does Bei Dao use to get his message across? • How is his language different from and similar to political speeches?

  7. Group Tasks • Your group will be given one stanza of the poem. Your job is to answer the questions on the handout provided, and make a short power point to deliver to the class next lesson. • Make sure you talk to bullet points on the power point, but feel free to illustrate your slides in any appropriate way you wish. • The class will be annotating each stanza from your power points, so make them clear and viewer-friendly!

  8. Plenary • What kind of China does Bei Dao portray in The Answer? • How much does the poem convey your own attitude to oppression? Check out For a different translation of the poem, and the original Chinese text. Which translation do you prefer and why?

  9. Homework • Read ‘Dusk: Dingjiatan’, another poem that refers to the sky. • Choose five images and explain the connotative meaning of each. • What themes do ‘The Answer’ and ‘Dusk: Dingjiatan’ share? • In what ways is this poem different?

  10. Homework - HL • Read ‘An End or a Beginning’. • This poem is another about protest, like ‘The Answer’. • What is similar in the poem to ‘The Answer’? • Choose five images and explain the connotative meaning of each. • What makes this poem more bleak than ‘The Answer’. Look at the final stanza in particular.