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A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat

Author: Emma Levine

The author explains her trip through Karachi, Pakistan. It is written in the first-person narrative to make it more realistic and personable. Levine travelled throughout Asia researching and filming unusual sports.


  • The author explains her experience of a donkey race in Karachi. The story describes Levine meeting up with two “lads” to film and eventually just join the chaotic race.

  •  It draws out the parallels between the Western world and the Eastern world e.g. Polo is something the reader is familiar with but the headless goat makes this seem unusual, exotic and different

  • The title seems to have a contrast. Polo is usually a game that upper-class, English people play while headless goat seems to connote an uncultured lower class. (juxtaposition)

  • At first, the author is in anticipation, then in excitement, however, one can argue that the end of the race was anticlimactic. Her feelings change over the course of the extract.

  •  The author describes her assumptions, which are influenced by the western world, and the reality of the race.


  • The extract is written in chronological order, making it seem like the events follow each other (a new paragraph is a new idea) which is ironic since the entire race is disorganised and chaotic.

  • (no lane discipline here)-The parenthesis here shows her Western perspective about having no lane discipline. ● “-for it was the main road-” the parenthetical statement emphasises lawlessness as it has taken place on the main road. This is also shocking to the reader.

  •  “The road straightened...cart tumbled over”- the long sentence builds up anticipation.

  • “The race was over.” - Abrupt ending and keeps the reader guessing. The short sentence is anti-climactic. It juxtaposes with longer, complex sentences prior to it.

  •  “But I don’t even have my license yet because I'm underage!”- the structure leaves the reader in awe. It makes the reader realise in hindsight, that race was even more dangerous. As the quote is found near the end of the anthology, it sends a feeling of relief instead of panic (it becomes more humorous due to this reason too) Meaning:

  •  The meaning behind this anthology is possibly the clash of cultures between the Western world and Asia (Pakistan).


  • “In front of a cloud of fumes and dust”- cartoonish imagery- helps build drama and is part of the rising action. It creates an image of chaos and disorder, the noise and fumes cover everything- an uncomfortable atmosphere, the quote reinforces a stereotypical image we have of the country.

  •  “Dive into the ditch”- cartoonish imagery.

  • Language:

  •  The author uses colloquial language to inform her audience and to make the story more approachable.

  • “Wacky races”- a reference to Western cartoon show, already beginning to see a difference in cultures. This is humorous- we know what to expect.

  • “We’ll open the car boot, you climb inside”- again, the unusualness makes the reader laugh. This is quite unorthodox. It hints at a lack of tough laws in the area.

  •  “We waited for eternity on the brow of the hill”- the hyperbole creates anticipation and suspense. The reader begins to look forward to an exciting event.

  • “Zoom lens” and “wobble bicycle”- the phrases are an example of juxtaposition as they both describe the contrast in technology. It also describes the contrast between worlds.

  •  “Are they coming?”- The author is waiting. This creates suspense. The answer that was given to her, “Coming, coming”, highlights the ambiguity which also builds suspense. It also shows a lack of organisation of this race.

  • “Roaring” and “revved up the engine”- roaring is an onomatopoeia. They both indicate the rising action in the anthology. ● The Kibla donkey is said to achieve speeds of up to 40kph”- comical comparison of donkeys to cars

  • “Neck-and-neck”- the close race builds suspense. The whole paragraph is very suspenseful.

  • “Horns tooting, bells ringing and the special rattles used just for this purpose”- the onomatopoeic sounds reflect excitement and chaos.

  •  “Standing on top of their cars”, “hanging out of taxis”, “perched on lorries”, and “cheered and shouted”- the list of active verbs illustrate excitement and chaos.

  •  “This was Formula One without rules, or a city-centre rush hour gone anarchic; a complete flouting of every type of traffic rule and common sense.”- here the author compares the western world to Karachi. This quote has a judgemental tone to it. ● “It was survival of the fittest”- a sense of lawlessness. You refer to nature and the animal world in that way. This shows that she thinks of the culture as uncivilised.

  •  “To cut in front of a vehicle with a sharp flick of the steering wheel (no lane discipline here…”- listing here builds tension. It also shows the driver’s expertise.

  •  “There were two races- the motorized spectators at the back; in front, the two donkeys running close and amazingly not put off by the uproar- just behind them.”- the quote underlines the chaos and the double excitement of the people ● “The hospital gate”- it is a paradoxical phrase as a hospital should be a place of safety and order but in the anthology, the hospital is the finish line. ● “And then the trouble began,”- the quote has a sarcastic tone, after everything that had it begins? The quote has a sense of irony.

  •  “I assumed the..”- the author explains her western perspective and how she sees things differently. ● “ ‘Officials’ ”- the inverted commas give the word a sarcastic tone. The author actually discredits the officials here as they don’t do what she expects an official to do in her world.

  •  “Voices were raised, fists were out and tempers rising”- the triad (rule of three) here builds tension. The author describes the atmosphere- it seems to be getting even more out of control.

  •  “Yaqoob and Iqbal were nervous of hanging around a volatile situation.”- the quote encourages the reader to feel the same. “Volatile situation”- is it really an unstable place or is she exaggerating?

  •  “Swallowed up by the crowd”- personification. This suggests that the environment is threatening. It shows the disarray and the massive amount of people.  “They both found this hilarious, but I was glad he hadn’t told me before;” - it illustrates the contrast in perspectives.

  • Effect on the reader:

  •  “Headless goat” has very barbaric, savage connotations. This piques the reader's interest and causes the reader to wonder how this combination works.

  •  The language and structure are used to intrigue the reader. The author uses entertaining and exciting phrases used to make sure the anthology appeals to a variety of audiences. The author uses language to create a lot of suspense throughout too. ● The language used has humour and irony which makes the anthology interesting and engaging.

  •  However, it can be argued that the anthology is hyperbolic and the truth has been stretched quite a bit. However, this may be for a comical effect.

  •  The anthology ends on a positive note as it ends with a humorous phrase.

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