Cultural Identity In My Polish Teacher's Tie

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Helen Dunmore’s “My Polish Teacher’s Tie” is a short story set in England, most probably after the war. Carla Carter is half Polish and she works as a part time catering staff but she isn’t very confident about her job and doesn’t really understand where she considers home. One day the head announced that the school was arranging a teacher exchange program to help Polish teacher’s improve their English and Carla was interested in writing to a Polish teacher, therefore, she went to get an address and started writing to her new pen friend. As the story goes on, Carla slowly starts to understand her identity by writing to her Polish pen friend Steve. This story gives us a message that cultural identity causes confusion but helps you find a sense …show more content…
At the beginning, Carla was confused about her cultural identity and didn’t know where to consider her home. For example, “I can't speak it now. I've got a tape, a tape of me speaking Polish with Mum. I listen, and I think I'm going to understand what we're saying, and then I don't.” This shows that she wants to be able to speak and write Polish again but she doesn’t remember how to anymore, no matter what she does to try and understand Polish again, it doesn’t help her speak and write Polish the way she was able to when she was six years old. Her Polish mother taught her Polish words, poems and stories until she was six because her English father put a stop to it as he thought that Carla would get confused between the two languages. This also shows that when Carla was listening to the old tapes of her and her mother speaking Polish, she gets this feeling that she has heard it before and it feels very familiar to her but she couldn’t understand as she hasn’t spoken Polish for a long time. Although you were able to speak a language or your mother tongue very fluently, once you stop speaking it for a very long time, you would forget how to speak …show more content…
At the middle, Carla starts writing letters to her Polish pen friend Stefen Jeziorny, who is a teacher in Poland. For example, “I liked that poem. It made me think maybe I'd been missing something, because I hadn't read any poetry since I left school.” This shows that she really enjoyed reading that poem and since she hasn’t read poetry for a long time, especially Polish poetry, she left that she’s missing out on something. When she said she felt that she has been missing something, I believed that she thought she has been missing a part of herself, her identity and knowing who she really is. Another example is, “I wrote back, `Send me the Polish, just so I can see it.' When the Polish came I tried it over in my head. It sounded a bit like the rhymes my mother used to sing.” This illustrates that when Stefen, also known as Steve, told her all about his poetry writing and sent examples to Carla in English, Carla wanted to see the original Polish ones because she already has the poetry translated in English, therefore, she would know the definitions and she can slowly learn how to read Polish again. The poems and stories Steve wrote reminded Carla of the stories her mother used to tell her as a child. Carla and Steve start writing in a more informal and friendly tone and they wrote more often to each other. She writes to

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