(Original post by goodmorningworld)
I wrote this in the time frame given in the exam by hand (and typed up separately), and I was wondering if anyone could mark the essay/give me a rough grade outline for what you think it would achieve: I am relatively confident on the other sections of the English Literature exams - just not this one
Question: How does the narrator feel about his father's behaviour following the death of his mother? How is this put across in the poem? (18 marks)
The poem 'Long Distance II' focuses on the effects of loss, specifically on the narrator and his father following the mother's death. The narrator's feelings towards his father's reaction to grief, are explored through the use of a variety of poetic techniques.
The narrator is shown to feel slightly resentful towards the way his father would "put you off an hour to give him time/ to clear away her things." The narrator too was grieving, though due at least in part to his incredibly firm belief that "life ends with death", he never even considered the idea that there could be a 'happy ending'. At the beginning, his father is "Dad", but later is described simply as "he", suggesting a lack of communication between the two family members. However, he also acts as if he understood his father and just wished to help: knowing that his "raw love", the pain still fresh, was not "such a crime". He did not want a "long distance" relationship with his father while the latter was still alive.
He is shown to be especially understanding of how his father was feeling, after his father's death. The father "couldn't risk my blight of disbelief" in a similar was that he felt similarly, still calling the "disconnected number" in the hope that someone would answer. When his father was still alive, after the mother's death, there was perhaps a lack of understanding - but later he understood the strength of his father's grief: when he had lost both parents and was feeling lonely.
The narrator's feelings towards his father's death, are developed by the poet through the use of second person, "you had to phone" as if he is talking directly to someone in his situation. This involves the reader and helps them to connect to the suffering of the forgotten son or daughter. It also highlights the narrator's desperation here, he "had to" obey and follow his father's routine. He is out of control in the face of his father's grief, and at the least,struggling to cope with what was happening when his mother was "already two years dead". In some ways, it is as if he wants to say these things to his father, but knows that he can never hear, so is trying to vent all his anger - even though now it doesn't matter, it is too late.
The title also highlights the way the narrator is feeling - "Long Distance II" shows that he felt the relationship with his father was incredibly strained; almost as if a part of his father had died alongside the mother. Equally, the narrator's loss of his family also shows the desperation to speak to his father (almost as if he didn't do enough to help "Dad" when he was alive), because he had already really lost the man before he had died. An alternative interpretation of the title, is it could represent the effects of the mother's - and later father's - death has. The 'line' is "disconnected", they are no longer here, but you still hope "she'd just popped out to get the tea".
Throughout the poem, the tense is changed to show the differing feelings of the narrator as he experiences further loss. The change from "he couldn't risk my blight of despair" to "disconnected number I still call" shows that he could no longer distract himself from his own feelings by trying to protect and help his father. Even though a considerable amount of time has passed, the narrator still wants the chance to make peace with his father that he will never be given.
Enjambment helps to show the way the father's behaviour affected him and created a disjointed life, affecting the narrator in a direct way: "look alone/ as though his still raw love". Equally, the use of end stopping makes a finite effect: there was no way to change his father's actions regarding the "transport pass"; he felt frustrated and perhaps even hopeless.
In conclusion, I think that the narrator's feelings towards his father's behaviour are shown in an effective way - highlighting the stark effect loss can have. He believed "life ends with death" yet still calls his father. The poem shows how hope can be misconstrued and can develop into something extreme, becoming damaging. Overall, the poem provoked a feeling of deep sadness
- I felt for this person, who could not help his father while also conveying a sense of fear shown by the dad ( you should definately develop on this point, as you read you get a feel that the father is scared)