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Tasks: The Coup

These are tasks about the short story "The Coup" by William Boyd.

South African Landscape


  1. How long has Morgan stayed in the country, and what has he been doing there?
  2. Why can he not leave the country as planned?
  3. What other guests are at the hotel where he is staying?
  4. How does he try to avoid contact with them? Does the text reveal why?
  5. How does Morgan feel about women in general, and how does he normally approach them?
  6. How does he perceive Jayne at first, and how does he get her attention?
  7. How does he seduce Jayne?
  8. What makes him change his mind about Jayne after spending the night together?
  9. What is revealed about his feelings when he is ordered back to his former posting?

Literary Analysis

  1. Why has the author chosen to use so much inner dialogue in his portrayal of Morgan? How does it contribute to our perception of the protagonist? How does it make us feel about him?
  2. The African assistants are characterized by the way they speak. Find examples of this. Why do you think the author uses this literary device?
  3. What impression do you get of life in this imaginary African country? Pay attention to what is revealed about:
    • culture clashes
    • attitudes
    • the political conditions in the country
  4. The characters and the events in this dramatized story are treated in a humorous way. Does the writer also hold anything or anybody up to ridicule? If so, what or who does he make fun of?
  5. Imagine what feelings the assistants have towards Morgan, and try to describe his character from their point of view.
  6. Imagine Jayne's feelings the morning after, and describe her hopes and aspirations.


In which way do the these sentences uttered by Africans vary from Standard English? Rewrite the sentences according to rules for Standard English.

Analyse the grammar in the African-English sentences, and explain in what way they are grammatically incorrect.

  1. Your car be here soon.
  2. Because it go across the nation, sah.
  3. Something funny here, sah.
  4. He come, soldier come!
  5. You go for swim.

Essay Writing

  1. Your subject curriculum in International English requires that you should: "reflektere over hvordan kulturforskjeller og ulike verdisystem kan påvirke kommunikasjon." In which way are cultural differences and norms highlighted in this text?
  2. Discuss the relationship between Morgan Leafy and Jayne Darnley. How does it develop, and why does it change throughout the story?
  3. Discuss the attitude towards former colonies demonstrated by Morgan Leafy in this story.
  4. Analyse the human weaknesses displayed in this story. Why has the author chosen to incorporate these aspects of human nature in this story?
  5. Write a character analysis of Morgan.