BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

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BBC Stealing Duffy

Text of BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

  • 3/3/2015 BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetduffy/stealingrev_print.shtml 2/10

    PicturecourtesyofKarthikNarayanaswami

    aloneamonglumpsofsnow,sickoftheworld.

    Boredom.MostlyI'msoboredIcouldeatmyself.Onetime,IstoleaguitarandthoughtImightlearntoplay.InickedabustofShakespeareonce,floggedit,butthesnowmanwasthestrangest.Youdon'tunderstandawordI'msaying,doyou?

    Thespeakerinthepoemstatesthatthemostunusualthingtheyeverstolewasasnowman.Theydescribehowtheydidsoandhowenjoyableitwastoknowthat"childrenwouldcry"asaresultofthetheft.

    Theyalsotellusaboutotherthingsthey'vestolen,oftenpointlessly:"SometimesIstealthingsIdon'tneed."

    Thespeakerthentellsushowtheydestroyedthesnowman,bykickingittobits,becausetheywere"sickoftheworld"and"bored".Finallythewriteradmitsthisaccountofwhattheyhavedonesoundsstrangeandthatpeople"don'tunderstand".

    StructureandLanguageStructure

    Althoughthepoemiswritteninfiveequalstanzas[stanza:Agroupoflinesofpoetrythatmakeupaunitlikeaparagraphinapieceofproseaverse.],thereisnoregularityinthelines.Sometimestheendofonelinerunsintothenextline(enjambment).Whatistheeffectofenjambmentintheseexamples?

    "Ijoyridecars/tonowhere""Itookarun/andbootedhimagain""Mybreathrippedout/inrags"

  • 3/3/2015 BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetduffy/stealingrev_print.shtml 3/10

    Ineachcase,thelinebreaks'actout'whatisbeingdescribed.

    Language

    AlthoughthepoemisaboutI,itisnotthepoetherselfwhoistalkingtous.Doyouthinkthepoemistoldinthevoiceofamanorawoman,aboyoragirl?Thereisnowayoftellingitisdeliberatelyambiguous,amysteryvoice.

    Thepoetappearstoberespondingtoaquestionsomeonehasasked."'ThemostunusualthingIeverstole?'"S/hecontinuesto'talk'tothereaderthroughoutthepoemandsothelanguageofthepoemsoundslikenaturalspeech.S/heasksustorespond('Youdon'tunderstandawordI'msaying,doyou?')andsowefeeldirectlyinvolved.

    PicturecourtesyofMatthewABatten

    Thespeakerglamorisesthemselvesandwhattheyhavedone,almostasiftheyareimaginingthemselvesasthestarofafilm.Attimess/heevenseemstobespeakinglinesfromascript:"IsighlikethisAah."

    Someofthelanguageisviolentanddestructive.

    "Thesliceoficewithinmyownbrain.""Mybreathrippedoutinrags.""I'msoboredIcouldeatmyself."

  • 3/3/2015 BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetduffy/stealingrev_print.shtml 4/10

    Itshocksandsurprisesus.Isthisperhapstoemphasisethelackoforderinthespeaker'slife?

    ImageryandSound

    PicturecourtesyofKarthikNarayanaswami

    Thecentralimage[image:Avisualrepresentationofsomethingamentalpictureapersonathatispresentedtotheworld.]isthatofthesnowmanaloneinsomeone'semptyyardinthemiddleofthenightanimageofdarkandicycold:

    "...beneaththewintermoon...""...amindascoldasthesliceofice/withinmyownbrain...""...frozenstiff,huggedtomychest,afiercechill/piercingmygut..."

    Howdoesthisimageaddtotheimpactofthepoem?

    Well,thereisanobviousparallelbetweentheicecoldsnowman,aloneinhisyard,andthespeaker,

    "...standing/aloneamonglumpsofsnow..."

    Theparallelisunderlinedbythespeakerthemselveswhentheydescribethe"icewithinmyownbrain",andthe"chillpiercingmygut"asifthesnowmanisinsidethem,aswellasontheoutside.Thesnowman,inotherwords,standsasa

  • 3/3/2015 BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetduffy/stealingrev_print.shtml 5/10

    symbol[symbol:Animageorthing(usuallysomethingphysicalegaflag)thatstandsfororrepresentssomethingelse(usuallysomethingabstracteganation).]forthecoldandlonelinessofthespeaker'sownsituation.Becausethespeakersmashesthesnowmanup("bootedhim.Again.Again.")itisalsosymbolicofhisorherselfdestructivebehaviour.

    Sound

    Thepoemreplicatesnaturalspeech,sothatwecan'hear'thevoiceofthespeakertalkingtousespeciallysinces/heasksusdirectquestions.Wecanevenhearthepausesass/headdsdetailstothestory."Asnowman./Midnight."

    Attitude,ToneandIdeasMuchofthemeaningofapoemisconveyedbytheattitudeitexpressestowarditssubjectmatter.'Attitude'canbethoughtofasacombinationofthepoet'stoneofvoice,andtheideasheorsheistryingtogetacrosstothereader.

    Agoodwaytodecideonthetone[tone:Themoodormannerofatextorpartofatext.Theauthor's'toneofvoice'orwayinwhichtheyexpecttobeunderstood.Theemotionalloadcarriedbyatext.]ofapoemistoworkouthowyouwouldreaditaloud.Isthispoem:

    sneeringandaggressive,almostspittingat'ordinary'peoplewhocannotunderstand?sad,lonelyandaskingforhelp?

    Eithertonewouldwork.Infactthepoemseemstoverebetweenthetwo,sometimescynicalandcruel("Partofthethrillwasknowing/thatchildrenwouldcryinthemorning.")sometimesalmostappealingforsympathy("Iwasstanding/aloneamonglumpsofsnow,sickoftheworld").It'sasifthespeaker'stoughnessmaskssomethingelse,somethingfarmorevulnerable.

  • 3/3/2015 BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetduffy/stealingrev_print.shtml 6/10

    Ideas

    PicturecourtesyofAliciaSavage

    Whatisthepoetistryingtosayinthispoem?Allthefollowingideasarecontainedinthepoem:it'sdowntoyoutodecidewhichyouthinkarethemostimportant.

    Sheissympathisingwiththespeakerwhoisobviouslylonelyandboredandneedssomeonetopayattentiontohim/her.Sheistryingtounderstandwhyanyonewouldwanttocommitasenselesscrime.Ifthereisenoughsnowforsomeonetohavemadeasnowman,surelythereisenoughsnowforthespeakertohavemadeonetoo,sowhystealone?Sheisexaminingsomeoneelse'sattitudetolife"Betteroffdeadthangivingin."Weareshownthespeaker'sloneliness(s/heneedsthesnowmanasa"mate"s/heis"alone".Weseehowthewriterregardshimorherselfasafailure"IstoleaguitaronceandthoughtImightlearntoplay"whocannotsucceedinan'ordinary'way.Weseethespeaker'spessimisticattitude:althoughthey'dliketheirlifetobeglamorous,theyarereducedto

  • 3/3/2015 BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Stealing

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetduffy/stealingrev_print.shtml 7/10

    gettingkicksfromstealingasnowmanand"'thingsIdon'tneed".

    ComparisonIntheexam,youwillberequiredtowriteaboutseveralpoems,somepre1914andsomepost1914.TowhichpoemswouldyoucompareStealing?Therewillbeanumberofwaysinwhichthepoemscanbecompared,andyoumaywellbeabletothinkofoneswhichwehavenot!

    Comparisonswithotherpoems

    Poetandpoem

    Whattolookforinyourcomparison

    Armitage:KidandHomecoming

    Allthreepoemsarewritteninthefirstperson[firstperson:The'I'or'we'usedbyanarratorwhoisaparticipantinanarrative,incontrasttothethirdperson'he','she'or'they'ofanarratorwhoisnotdirectlyinvolved.],butI'vemadeoutawillseemstobeArmitage'sownvoice,whileintheothertwoheadoptsapersona[persona:Thespeakerofapoemafictionalcharacterinadramaamasksomeonepresentstotheworld('persona'istheLatinwordforanactor'smask).].

    Duffy:BeforeYouWereMine

    Duffy'spoemispersonal.LikeArmitage'spoem,itcontainsherownthoughts.

    Yeats:SongoftheOldMother

    Yeats'poemalsousesthefirstperson,buthereYeatsadoptsthepersonaofanoldwomanheisnotwritingabouthimself..

    Clare:Sonnet Bothpoemsusethesonnet[sonnet:A14linepoem,usuallywritteniniambic

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetarmitage/kidrev1.shtmlhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetduffy/beforeyouwererev1.shtmlhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetarmitage/homecomingrev1.shtmlhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetryyeats/index.shtmlhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetryclare/index.shtml