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Stanza 1

Line Meaning
The personas grandmother looks tall in the
1 My small grandmother is tall there,
photograph.
She is standing with good posture, wearing an
2 straight-back, white broderie anglaise shirt ,
embroidered lace blouse.
She wears the blouse with a pleated skirt, non-
3 pleated skirt, flat shoes, grey bun,
heeled shoes and her hair in a bun.
4 a kind, old smile round her eyes. She is smiling kindly.
5 Her big hand holds mine, Her big hand is holding the personas hand.
The contrast of their skin colours can clearly be
6 white hand in black hand.
seen in their linked hands.
Her grandmothers blue eyes suggests that her
7 Her sharp blue eyes look her death in the eye.
death is near.
Stanza 2
Line Meaning
8 It was true after all; that look. The personas reference of death came true.
The grandmother became thinner and more
9 My tall grandmother became small.
fragile.
10 Her back round and hunched. Her back became hunched.
11 Her soup forgot to boil. She became forgetful.
12 She went to the awful place grandmothers go. Soon, she passed away.
Upon her death, she went to a place that no one
13 Somewhere unknown, unthinkable.
knows.
Stanza 3
Line Meaning
However, in the photograph, her grandmother will
14 But there she is still,
always be alive.
The persona was there years old in the photograph
15 in the photo with me at three,
with her grandmother.
16 the crinkled smile is still living, breathing. Her grandmothers smile is still so alive and real.
Moral Value
1 We must treasure our loved ones when they are alive.
We must spend as much time as we can with our loved ones while they are still living
When they pass away, all that will be left are the memories, as is illustrated in the poem.
2 It is difficult to lose a family member.
It is always difficult to deal with the death of a loved one.
The persona loses her grandmother when she was younger but she will always remember her.
3 We must never forget the importance of family relationship.
We should not forget to love and care for our family, especially our grandparents who are the
pillars of a family.
When they are old and sick, we must continue to take care of them.
Summary of Stanza 1
The persona is looking at an old photograph of her grandmother and herself. She describes the
photograph her grandmother is standing tall and straight, dressed in a white embroidered lace
blouse with a pleated skirt, and flat shoes. Her grey hair is pulled neatly into a bun. She is smiling
kindly while holding the personas hand in hers, giving her the security and comfort. As the persona
describes their linked hands white hand in black hand it is clear that they come from a mixed race
family. The last line seems to suggest that the persona knows that her grandmothers death will come
soon.
Summary of Stanza 2
While the first describes the photograph, in the second stanza, the persona is remembering her
grandmother later, when she is older and has become ill. The persona recalls how her grandmother
soon grows thinner and more fragile. Her back is hunched and she becomes forgetful as is illustrated
in the line, Her soup forgot to boil. Eventually, she passes away and upon her death, she goes to an
unimaginable place.
Summary of Stanza 3
However, in the photograph, the personas grandmother will forever be alive. She is still there, holding
the hand of her three-year-old granddaughter, with her smile looking so alive and real.
Themes
1 The everlasting quality of a photograph
A photograph immortalizes a person or a moment. What is captured in a photograph will
remain alive forever.
In the poem, the personas grandmother has already passed away. However, in the
photograph, she will always be healthy and alive.
A photograph also allows us grandmother passes away to reflect on what happened in the
past and relive our memories.
2 Death
Death is a definite outcome for all of us.
In the poem, the persona recalls how her grandmother was once strong and healthy but soon
grows older and becomes ill.
In the end, the grandmother passes away and the persona is only able to relive her memories
with her grandmother through a photograph.

The living photograph

1. 1. The Living Photograph By Jackie Kay


2. 2. The Poet : Jackie Kay Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1961 Scottish
mother Nigerian father Adopted by a white couple Raised in Glasgow
3. 3. Studied English at the University of Stirling, Scotland Currently a
professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, England A
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
4. 4. Stanza 1 Describing her grandmother in a photograph is
Standing tall and straight, tall, broderie anglaise shirt shows a woman
of class; upper or middle class White hand in black hand come from
a mixed race family Sharp blue eyes isnt afraid of death
5. 5. Stanza 2 was how she remembers her grandmother used to be
Has become smaller in size Her soup forgot to boil forgetful, senile,
signs of dementia She passes away and goes to a place that is
unimaginable to the persona
6. 6. Stanza 3 is in the photograph (still living in her heart) Feels her
grandmothers presence whenever she looks at the photograph She
wants to remember her as healthy, not old and fragile
7. 7. Theme: The positive image people create in remembrance of a
departed person Coping with grief and loss one way is to hang on to
the good memories of a person
8. 8. Moral Values We must strive for close family relationships We
should love and appreciate our family members while they are still alive
We must not dwell on the past too much We should learn to let go of
the dead
9. 9. Questions How are the people in the photograph related? What
does the line, My small grandmother is tall there mean? What is the
grandmother wearing in the photograph?
10. 10. Questions What does the line, white hand in black hand suggest?
Which line in the poem tells us the grandmother has passed away?
Name one theme of the poem. Provide evidence from the text to support
your answer. Theme: Evidence:
11. 11. Questions Why do you think the persona describe the place that
grandmothers go as awful? Name one moral value you have learned
from the poem. Provide evidence from the text that shows this moral
value. Moral value : Evidence :
12. 12. Questions Do you like the poem? Give one reason to support your
response.