Analyzing Transforming Moments Essay
There were a couple of things that I found interesting in this story, but I would say the one thing that stood out the most was the influence that the praise poet had on the writer. With this one event her whole life changed. The ugly duckling became a beautiful swan, and all of a sudden her whole perspective changed from “Life was all right. Everything was going the same …” to “I felt like jumping and laughing until I could not laugh any more. I wanted tomorrow to come …” In the beginning of the story she started by saying “I thought I was very ugly” and after her encounter with the praise poet she says “my face didn’t feel so ugly – everything just felt fine. My voice sounded like it was a special voice …”
She started with a very low self esteem and ended truly liking herself. In the first sentence we are introduced to the author as being a teenager that is lacking in confidence, when she writes “feeling very unsure of myself”. The remainder of the paragraph is dedicated to the fact that she did “exceptionally well” academically; but this had no influence on the way she felt about herself. The transformation in this story is on an emotional level. Initially she experiences herself as being ugly but intelligent; with others only pretending to be her friend for help with their homework when she writes “some of the girls were forced to be my part-time friends”. She describes her image as “Miss-Ugly-Top-of-the-Class”. Although she did well academically, she still lacked confidence and “self-love”. She describes herself by saying “I thought I was very ugly”. She continued to describe herself as, “I had knock-knees and big feet! I was just so ugly and awkward – I hated myself”. She saw herself as “an unsuitable girl” for Sizwe, and found it difficult to believe that he did not want anything from her. He didn’t say that he wanted to be her boyfriend just to sleep with her.
In the last three paragraphs we can see a major change in the way she thinks and feels about herself. Her voice, her hair, everything about herself is now acceptable, and she loves herself. One gets the feeling that she is fearless and filled with confidence. She can do this, even if she’s the first female praise poet.
It could be said that she was a humble individual. Although she did very well academically, she said “I was probably proud of myself, even though I didn’t really give it any serious thought”. She did not want to receive special treatment. “I liked the fact that I was not treated like some special guest who couldn’t even do the dishes.”
She sees herself as being ugly, in comparison to the rest of the class and her peers. She refers to herself as “Miss-ugly-top-of-the-class”.
She thought of herself as not good enough to sing, that she had an ugly voice, because Bulelwa’s voice was beautiful enough to be recorded, and she was asked to leave the school choir. “I remember Bulelwa’s voice every time I think of our choir.” “I wished I had a tape recorder so that I could tape her voice and have the pleasure of listening to her for the rest of my life.”
The clothes that she wears is the same as the rest of the students but she thinks that they are not as nice. “get dressed in my black skirt and white shirt, which were not as nice as those of the other girls”
According to her she is an academic that helps her friends, but she refers to a boy, that is good with maths, as a genius that scares her. “But with Maths we all relied on one particular boy who scared me a lot. Sometimes the Maths genius did help us when he felt like it.” “Boys in my class did not like me very much – except when they needed help with school work.”
She could not find anything they had in common, like sport, background or appearance. Sizwe enjoys sport and is described as a “good-looking boy from Port Elizabeth who played rugby.” “I was not the one to go on the sports field. I was forever buried in my books.”
She would read about love but would not participate. “I thought he was crazy! What did a good-looking boy like that want with me – “, “not to sleep with boys! I told him so. I did not have to sleep with him, he wanted to be my boyfriend, he’s not blind, he can see I’m ugly”
She saw herself as not suited in comparison to the other girls. “I’ll go out with him. He had chosen an unsuitable girl and set the whole school on fire”
She saw herself as being unworthy of having a handsome boyfriend and saw herself as being ridiculed by the other girls, not realising that they were actually jealous. “They thought he was too good for me.” “I was ugly and did not have any fashionable clothes” “unkind remarks” “girls who hated me”
She finds herself to be a likeable person in at least one situation. “minister, Father Fikeni , had a soft spot for me. But then, maybe I don’t have to explain too much. I think everyone has somebody in their lives who seems to like them for no particular reason – just like that”
The author enjoyed the times that Bulelwa and herself spend under the trees. She enjoys “listening to her sing”, and “I wished I had a tape recorder so that I could tape her voice and have the pleasure of listening to her for the rest of my life.” She however thinks that she has an ugly voice.
The writer briefly mentions her sister, and the fact that she is the one who is paying for her education. One gets the feeling that although she doesn’t see her often she still cares about her and about what she thinks. She writes, that she can “imagine her face glowing when she received my good results and I wish I could be there to see it.” The fact that she said to Sizwe that she’s going to that specific school “not to sleep with boys!”, but for a good education, leaves one with a feeling that her studies are important to her.
Sizwe, the handsome rugby player from Port Elizabeth had an impact on her life, because of him she had to endure cruel remarks behind her back. The fact that he was interested in dating her caused her to be the object of ridicule and jealousy. The other girls were very hostile towards her and thought he was too good for her, and that “he was a city boy, and should therefore go for a city girl.” They also thought that she was ugly. She thought the same, and thought he just wanted to sleep with her, that’s why he said he loved her. He was a rugby player and she “was not the one to go on the sports field.” She was concentrating on her reading. After deciding to go out with him, she found out that he “was a lovely person” and they became good friends.
The author thought that her minister, Father Fikeni, had a “soft spot” for her. He encouraged her to go back to the choir. He also took her to the meeting, where she met and saw the praise poet in action. It could be argued that he knew what effect the praise poet would have on her.
The praise poet’s performance moved the author in such a strong way that she was at a loss for words, even years later. One could say that the writer had an epiphany the evening of the meeting, after watching the praise poet, when she said “I made the decision then and there that I was also a praise poet. That was a beautiful moment for me, to think of myself in that way.” She felt baptized when she felt the poet’s warm and sweaty hand, holding her own. One gets the impression that she felt as if she has given birth to a new creation, her first poem, the true beginning of her transformation. It is at this point she truly “fell in love with” herself and where she said “everything about me was just perfect”. She did not just dream about wanting to be like the praise poet, she started with her new journey. Watching the praise poet that evening must have been so amazing. To think that someone that has the ability to write poems, still to this day, find it difficult to describe the feeling she had that evening.
In the first sentence we are introduced to the author as being a teenager that is lacking in confidence, when she writes “feeling very unsure of myself”. The remainder of the paragraph is dedicated to the fact that she did “exceptionally well” academically; but this had no influence on the way she felt about herself. The transformation in this story is on an emotional level. Initially she experiences herself as being ugly but intelligent; with others only pretending to be her friends for help with their homework, when she writes “some of the girls were forced to be my part-time friends”. She describes her image as “Miss-Ugly-Top-of-the-Class”.
She did not love herself, her confidence level and self esteem was low. “I was just so ugly and awkward – I hated myself”
She contradicts herself by pretending not to notice, or be interested in boys. It is interesting that she proclaims: “They knew I was not very interested in boys” and in the next paragraph she says “I read love stories”.
It could be argued that she is a bit of a hypocrite as she is so used to the fact that people want something from her in exchange for friendship or love, that when Sizwe proclaimed his love for her, she immediately said “I went to that school to study, not sleep with boys!”
The writer’s life changed when she went to the meeting with Father Fikeni to listen to the “imbong – a praise poet”. This event changed her completely; she now liked her face, hair and the sound of her own voice; she says “everything about me was just perfect”. What started as a sad “unsure” individual ended in a happy self assured and self loving woman.
There was a rebellious moment when she decided to go out with the boy that all the girls wanted. “I thought, fine – I’ll go out with him. He had chosen an unsuitable girl and set the whole school on fire.”
There were times when the comments of the other girls caused a change of attitude towards them, which was positive for her. “I laughed alone as I imagined what they could be whispering about me.”
She was prepared to do a lot to help others but her moral standards were high as she was not willing to sleep with Sizwe just to be accepted.
Her attitude, towards life, changed when she came to realise that she felt beautiful and that she loved herself. “For the first time, I liked the texture of my hard, curly hair and my face didn’t feel so ugly – everything just felt fine.”
She felt positive and believed that anything was possible. “A woman praise poet – I’d never heard of one, but what did it matter? I could be the first one!”