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PLS MARK GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE ESSAY (conflict poetry)

Explain how effects of conflict is presented in War Photographer and one other poem. (20)

Satyamurti presents the effects of conflict in “War Photographer” as a force which takes things away from people, such as stealing the childhood of innocent children which is portrayed when the speaker sees “a small girl staggering” on a street. To many people, this may seem like a painful subject, however, Satyamurti focused on the importance of exposing what conflicts cause, being a contemporary poet. However, Weir focuses more on the experience mothers feel when losing their sons to war. They reminisce on the memories of their children and are “hoping to hear” them again. Weir wanted to shed light on how wars affected females, seeing as usually, war poems are about how the male soldiers are impacted. Although very different, both poems focus on how war affects not soldiers, but the women and children who were left at home and were helpless in the situation.

War photographer is written in free verse in order to mirror how photojournalists do not want to mask the truth in rhymes, or fake stories. It also reveals the speaker’s thoughts in a natural style, further emphasising the urge to get the truth to the public. Whereas Weir uses irregular rhythm and an irregular rhyme scheme to make the speaker sound like she’s telling stories from her memories of her son.

Satyamurti uses a cyclical structure, linking the end to the beginning and emphasising her point of how people should stop being ignorant of the suffering of people impacted by war. Similarly, Weir uses chronological order to describe how the son leaves and then how the mother grieves his absence to highlight how it is making her feel. Weir’s idea is that people are ignorant of the idea of how only soldiers suffer during war, when in fact the civilians were suffering just as much as them. Weir grew up in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles” in which many civilians got caught up in the riots between Protestants and Catholics.

Satyamurti thinks that conflict forces children to grow up and do things at an age in which they are not ready for. The speaker finds a girl with a baby in the middle of a warzone and drops her “burden”. Here, it highlights how the girl was not ready to be taking care of a baby as she abandons it to save herself from the bombing, therefore the war has ruined both of their lives and the girl will probably have to live with the regret of dropping the baby. The adjective “burden” conveys the baby in a light that it was holding the girl back, and in a situation like this it was survival of the fittest. In contrast, Weir says that the mother’s “stomach was busy”, metaphorically suggesting that the mother was feeling anxious about not having the explicit confirmation of whether her son was alive or dead. Weir had two sons herself, so could probably try to empathise with the mothers who lost their sons to war.

Both poems however use vivid imagery to convey the effects of conflict. For example, Satyamurti says “arbitrary as a blood stain on the wall” at the end of the poem so that the gory image will stay in the reader’s head after they have finished reading the poem. Satyamurti wrote this poem at a time of several major world conflicts, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, so was exposed often to the horrors of war. The graphic noun “blood” suggests that the baby and the girl died as a result of the continuous bombing. The speaker in Poppies says there was “spasms of paper red” which has connotations of an injured body and implies to the reader that this is what had happened to the son.

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