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Mythsical
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#1
Report Thread starter 9 months ago
#1
hey so I'm in year 9 but I'm doing a gcse style paper where i have to answer this question... How does Duffy use language and imagery to convey the feelings of the war photographer throughout the poem?
I wrote a model answer myself and got a level 5 ( gcse) which is pretty good but i'd like to aim higher. could you please give me tips on answering this, or maybe give some model answers?. thank youuuu - i'll include my answer below
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Mythsical
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Report Thread starter 9 months ago
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this is my answer

War photographer, a poem by Carol Ann Duffy addresses how one deals with the suffering of others, others who might be far away. The war photographer, as a character, symbolises someone more involved and committed than we are. Many religious references are made. Duffy, within his poem, seems to have a sense of admiration towards the photographer, and is criticizing society; criticizing us. The poem explores themes that are powerfully anti-war. Duffy’s inspiration for his poem was his friendship with a war photographer. She was intrigued by the challenging job they had of recording horrific events, helplessly watching their art being expressed through blood and tears.

One way that the poet expresses despair about the human existence is through the use of sibilance within the phrase ‘spools of suffering’ The use of this feature creates a hush sound, which suggests that society desires to hide the horrors of war.Every picture sitting on the spools being developed speak a thousand words of pain. This is further emphasized in the phrase ‘ his editor will pick out five or six for sunday’s supplement’. Out of the ‘hundred agonies’ photographed, a few are simply picked; as if it’s routine. They’re put in the supplement, as well, not even in the main sections of the newspaper. Squeezed into the extra page. And, if all pictures were put out, society would become even further immuized to the endless afflictions of war. A life out of the millions lost in war is just another brick in the wall. The wall society broke down with ignorance. The contrast created between these two quotes is effective as it presents the theme of society’s indifference to war. This gives the stanza a pessimistic approach, as it implies that everything is helpless,
and war will never end.

Alternatively, another way that the poet creates this sense of despair is through the use of allusion. Duffy writes ‘ running children in a nightmare heat’. This is supposedly an indirect reference to the famous war photo called ‘Napalm girl’ A young girl, naked, runs screaming towards the camera in agony after a napalm attack incinerated her village, her clothes, and then her skin. Almost every person in the world with access to media would have seen this picture at least once in their life, therefore the reference to it paints an image in the reader’s head presenting the suffering of children through imagery. This is effective as the reader can feel sympathy towards the children; towards society. This short lasting sympathy shows the reader how one can become desensitised to the effects of war, and creates a sense of despair for the human existence.

Furthermore, the poet reinforces elements within the theme of indifference to war through the last, short stanza. She uses the adjective ‘impassively’ which suggests the photographer’s growing acceptance that his photos will make no difference. He refers to society as ‘they’, excluding himself which shows how distant he feels in the modern world. He has given up trying to belong, or make a difference. This is the author’s use of climax throughout the structure of the poem, as there’s building acceptance of the dullness of society. This is effective as the reader might relate or at least feel sympathetic.
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entertainmyfaith
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did your teacher mark this and give you a band 5, out of curiosity?
regardless, this is a pretty decent analysis with some good links to context though you could focus more on certain words. you could also offer some alternative interpretations on certain words or phrases; examiners love it if you can look at words in multiple ways. for example, 'spools of suffering' means that whatever the photographer's captured, these images of suffering, they're now all neatly ordered/organised; this could be considered ironic as in reality suffering cannot be organised or constrained to one thing. the photographer's main purpose, to show the readers the true horrors of war and make them realise how horrific it is could be seen as a futile attempt.

there are also suggestions throughout the poem that the photographer has become partly desensitised to the warzone eg. "hands which did not tremble then though seem to now". this could be an interesting thing to think about; he is a photographer so his hands will need to be steady when taking these photos; he may be used to all these horrific scenes or focussing on his duty/job more than the action taking place.

i'd analyse structure/form a bit more as it's one thing that students tend to forget about when analysing poetry. the stanza size doesn't really change in the poem, if you look at it- the rhyme would be a good thing to look at in the last stanza as it gives certain lines a slower but lilting pace to suggest that the readers being temporarily affected by these photographs has become a routine, or it could also reflect the photographer's growing frustration with how indifferent people in england are to the war that's taking place- he wants change but it doesn't seem to be happening, the stanzas are actually quite tightly controlled, all the same amount of lines and having rhyme within them which could represents the photos attempting to control and contain the chaos of war within them- the controlled structure contrasts to the true nature of war.
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