Stealing by chant Ann Duffy Questions and Answers
Stealing by chant Ann Duffy Questions and Answers
1. Give an appreciation of the poem.
There are many examples of fragmented sentences. The first is “A snowman. Midnight.” These sentence fragments answer the question “The most unusual thing I ever stole?” The effect of the short sentences is that it seems the speaker is replying bluntly, hiding nothing. This develops the expository, almost confessional, tone of the poem. Another example of fragmented sentences is “A stranger’s bedroom. Mirrors.” Both this example and the previous one help the reader imagine the setting. They simplicity of the statements is what makes them powerful images. For me, the bedroom example conjured a very simple bedroom, stark and impersonal just like the speakers relationship to the stranger. When the speaker says “mirrors“, I didn’t imagine that there were literal mirrors all around this bedroom. Instead I imagined that she was reflecting about herself in this room, so the .mirrors were figurative.
Repetition is used when the speaker says “I took a run and booted him. Again. Again.”This repetition of the word “again” draws attention to the repeated kicking. The use of full stops, instead of commas, makes the repeated word more forceful, just like the speakers kicks to the snowman.
While the poem is clearly free verse, the use of full stops or a question mark at the ends of lines could be dividing the poem into stanzas. They are irregular, but still they are divisions in the poem. The irregular line structure makes the poem seem chaotic, just like the life of the speaker.
The speaker describes how her “breath ripped out in rags”. This is an example of alliteration. This poetic device serves to give the line a rhythm by drawing attention to the two words starting with .
While there is no rhyme at the ends of lines, there is rhyme within the lines. “As cold as the slice of ice” is an example. Just like the alliteration, it draws attention the specific words and gives the line rhythm.
Since rhyme and alliteration gives specific sections of lines a rhythm, they bring order into the chaos of free verse. We can infer that, since the poem is about the speaker’s teen years, the speaker’s life was chaotic with slices of order.
The speaker is a 30-something woman who is looking back on the things she did as a teenager. There isn’t anything in the poem that explicitly states that the speaker is female, this idea comes more from an overall sense of the speaker. Perhaps I sympathise with the speaker, and project my own gender onto her. The speaker isn’t from a very high class background, as she uses colloquial language. For example “booted” for kicked, “flogged” for sold, “nicked” for stole, etc.
In line one, the question mark pauses the line in the middle. This emphasises the next two words, “A snowman.” The caesura makes the fact that she stole a snowman more impactful that if she had simply said “the most unusual thing I ever stole was a snowman”.
In line 10, there is a full stop before she says “Life’s tough”. Just like with the snowman line, this draws attention to her final statement . in the line. The preceding part of the line, about making children.cry introduces her belief that life is tough. It seems like she wants to spread her belief, that by stealing the snowman she is being almost selfless by teaching the kids a lesson.
Line 15 has two instances of caesura. There are full stops before and after the word mirrors. The two pauses around this word draw attention to it. It gives the line symmetry. There are 5 syllables on each side of “mirrors”. The word mirror is acting like a mirror in the line, reflecting the number of syllables.
Colloquial language helps deepen the readers understanding of the speaker’s background. It shows us that she is a working class teen when she stole the snowman. It makes the reader more relatable to the average reader, which makes the delivery of the poems theme, message, etc more effective.
The snowman represents the transition from childhood to adulthood. The speaker is in that transitional period. She steals the snowman because she wants to hold onto her childhood. However, it isn’t the same as when it was made by the kids. This makes her realise that there is no going back. She is on track to becoming an adult.
2. Comment on the composition and the content of the poem.
The poem takes the form of a dramatic monologue with the thief confessing to someone: a friend, a counsellor, and the police.. The first thing the thief steals a is a snowman: “a mate with a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain”. The snowman can symbolically stand for a number of things. Firstly, the thief seems lonely in his desire for a mate, but the snowman can also be a metaphor for the thief himself: they both share a cold mind, a heartlessness, which perhaps comes about through the thief’s lack of friends. Cruelty is a depressingly circular thing and the simple cruelty of stealing could well be because of the cruelty that the thief has experienced in his own life. The snowman could also symbolic of a happy family as building a snowman is a typical parent-child activity. The pointlessness of stealing a snowman is also relevant in that the thief’s life seems to lack direction.
The thief then goes on to explain his motives for stealing. Patience and understanding is something that we lack – we are quick to judge others, hurl the first stone, and label someone because of their life choices. I wonder if we are particularly bad at this in England or whether it is a universal thing. Perhaps it is a first world thing – I’m pretty sure the media don’t help us to grow in our patience and understanding of others. Carol Ann Duffy is not a journalist, but she is someone who seems pretty passionate about breaking down our natural inclination to judge others. An example of this comes in ‘Liar’ when she creates sympathy for a child abductor. In ‘Stealing’, she picks a thief and tries to get us to hear their side of the story.
“The thrill was knowing children would cry in the morning.” This again backs up the theory that the thief has experienced pain in his own life. A desire to inflict pain on others isn’t something that most people feel, but rather comes out of a place of loss.
The items detailed in stanza three can again stand symbolically. The cars joy-ridden ‘to nowhere’ demonstrates the aimlessness of his life while the ‘camera’ could represent stealing people’s memories because of the thief’s own lack of positive memories.
Stanza four brings us back to the original strange theft of the snowman. Non-gender specific thief now gives the snowman a good beating. It seems to make sense to consider the snowman is now symbolic of himself and as he boots him ‘Again. Again’, he symbolically destroys himself in the way that poor life choices are self-destructive. His ‘breath ripped out in rags’ expresses the violent aggression that the thief uses during this act. He really seems to hate himself which creates pathos in the reader.
The self-destruction continues in stanza five: ‘I’m so bored I could eat myself’ before the poem is concluded with the rhetorical question: ‘you don’t understand a word I’m saying do you?’ This question, deliberately left unanswered is the whole point of this poem. We don’t understand this person and we don’t seek to understand this person and that is a part of his problem. Duffy here is challenging us to do a hard thing and consider the pain that led the person to nick your possessions and have a touch of compassion.
3. Examine the structure of the poem.
‘Stealing’ is a poem by chant Ann Duffy, where a thief recounts his motives for stealing, as well as some of the much crotchety objects he has taken. al unrivalledness and the persona’s search for a companion is the handsome theme presented done out. This is number one alluded to in the first stanza, where it is make immediately clear that the cogitate the persona steals is because of his solitude. The poem starts with a rhetorical unbelief, which seems to be a repetition of a question someone has asked him. This suggests that there raise been many objects he has stolen e truly where the years, and that picking the “more or less preposterous social occasion” is uncontrollable. The answer, “A snowman” is very significant. Not only is it the “just about unusual thing” he has stolen, and as such, is most belike the most important or notable steal he has, the fibber goes to lengths to emphasize its importance through prose. Firstly, it is a minor sentence. By separate it, the reader can fully guidance on the answer, and actualize the magnitude. While describing the snowman and location, the alliteration “m” good for you used during “midnight”, “splendiferous”, “mute”, “moon” etc.
. The application of pauses, further demonstrates that the speaker is interacting with the reader, as in a speech, we will not be able to complete our speech in one breath, there must be pauses. Furthermore, although the poem is written in five equal stanzas, there is no regularity in the lines. Sometimes, the end of one line runs into the next line or the line may stop in the middle of the sentence. This special arrangement not only indicates the casual tone of the speaker but also points out that the behavior of the speaker was very strange and irregular. The speaker in the poem is pessimistic and regards himself as a failure, as he assumes he might learn how to play a guitar after he stole one. We can sense that the speaker longs for a glamorous life, as he desires to be able to play a guitar and be as genius as Shakespeare. Though the speaker has the motivation to life an upright life, he lacks the determination and courage to turn his thoughts into action. Instead he ruins his life. by committing theft, which reflects his negative view towards life. He even stole things that were of no use to him to idle his time away. For the snowman, he didn’t look the same and is left with its lumps of snow at the end; this is a metaphor to reveal the uselessness of his action to steal the snowman. Furthermore, the speaker is also a loner and yearns for companionship. He claims I wanted, him, a mate with a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain. The identity of the thief is not exposed. His or her age, appearance, positions in society are never mentioned in details. Mysteriousness is further builtup through the setting. The venue of the occurrence of the theft was left unknown; the readers only know that the atmosphere was creepy as it was midnight with the winter moon. Special literacy techniques are used throughout the poem. Metaphor is used in line 13, in a mucky ghost, as in the eyes of the children, the victims, the speaker is a mucky ghost which is even worse than human beings and is disliked by others. Repetition of the word again, emphasizes that the speaker is kicking the snowman repeatedly and is trying hard to destroy it, neglecting the feelings of the children. The use of full stops also helps the reader to picture him getting his breath back between each kick. As for the camera, there is a symbolic meaning behind. He pinched it because all his memories are recorded in it. As we learn from the poem, his life is a piece of boredom so there are no events worth remembering. Therefore, he wanted to pinch a camera. Lastly, in the last two stanzas, run-on-lines were used to state that the thieves’ life drags on and on and seems endless, monotonous and purposeless.
The idea he wants a friend and is willing to go to some lengths to be told throughout the poem. The inherent present moment stanza is almost dedicated to how difficult it was to steal the snowman, and it is explicitly express in the fourth stanza, “It took some time.” The.
VERY SHORT QUESTIONS
1. Why has the poet composed the poem?
Duffy has composed ‘Stealing’ in five regular stanzas of five lines each, and the fact that the third stanza moves away from the theft of the snowman but the fourth stanza returns to it gives the poem a certain symmetry.
2. Trace the use of enjambment in the poem.
The use of enjambment where one line runs through to the next to create a fuller description contrasts effectively with the abrupt, oneword sentences dotted here and there. Rhyme is used in an unusual way as in ‘slice of ice’, and slang phrases give a sense of genuine conversation.
3. Who is the narrator?
The narrator here, the thief, is a cold-hearted character who gets a thrill out of depriving people of their belongings and even upsetting children. His life has obviously been hard and the fact that he refers to boredom probably means that he is unemployed..
4. What has the poet portrayed to?
Duffy has portrayed a character that, as hard-hearted as he is, needs help from the society that he cannot conform to.
5. What is the content of the speaker?
A persistent, unrepentant, possibly psychotic thief speaks about the most unusual thing they have ever stolen a snowman. They mention other activities and items which they have stolen, before returning to the snowman, an action which they found ultimately disappointing.
6. What is the status of a thief?
They seem to be alienated, antisocial and bitter with a sadistic streak. However, despite their unnerving psychopathology, they do not seem to be a physical threat to anybody. C
7. Give some exceptions to the thieves?
Some even see them as comical. The title, Stealing has other connotations it also means moving quietly and stealthily so nobody notices you creeping around.
8. What is the first stanza about?
The first stanza suggests an interview of some kind with the thief describing the theft of the snowman.
9. What does the poet challenge the reader?
Duffy challenges the reader by having the character start with what sounds like the repetition of a question asked by a listener perhaps a psychiatrist, a social worker or a police officer.
10. What is in the second stanza?
The second stanza develops their antisocial, cruel characteristics with them wanting to cause distress to innocent children.
11. What does the narrator say in the third stanza?
The narrator describes other minor crimes in the third stanza. They may not seem physically harmful, but they are the sort of things which do cause inconvenience and often distress.
12. What is the fourth stanza about?
The fourth stanza returns to the theft of the snowman, bringing it. home, reassembling it and destroying it. The narrator appears to take out all their frustrations with the world and their life.
13. What does this suggest?
This suggests another attempt to find emotional release, this time in particularly violent action, which does not actually harm anybody, but the potential danger is there.
14. What does the final stanza explain?
The final stanza has the narrator explain that they are bored by life and go on to list two other things they have stolen.
15. What do you think the narrator’s life is ?
The narrator’s life seems to consist of boredom, punctuated only by random acts of vandalism, theft and cruelty. There is no meaning to their actions other than to satisfy their needs at other’s expense.
16. How does the structure give meaning?
The poem is structured in one long stanza. Most of the lines are between 10 and 12 syllables. There is not a specific rhyming scheme, although there are rhymes, like a fierce chill / … Part of the thrill knew” The rhymes give the poem a sense of rhythm. Overall, the structure of the poem is quite chaotic, which represents the turmoil inside the speaker; the long single stanza makes the poem seem rambling, which it would be if it is an example of the speaker’s thoughts.
17. Who is the speaker or voice of the poem? Can you find examples of the use of enjambment, as well as natural speech to find a speaker?
The speaker is a bored teenager from the 80s, as that is when joyriding was most prevalent. We would guess the speaker is around 16-17 years old, as that is a time during which feelings of boredom are very prevalent. It is possible to interpret the poem as being autobiographical, as the feelings are very explicit, and likely could only have been described if they had actually been felt before, which means that the poem could be an example of Duffy reminiscing over her past.
18. Internal rhyme is when the rhymed words are in the middle er within the line. Where do you find an example of this? What does it emphasize?
As mentioned previously, “… a fierce chill / … Part of. the thrill was knowing”, which creates rhythm. Another example would be “as cold as the slice of ice”, and in this case, the rhyme adds to the imagery of coolness, both physical and emotional.
19. A lot of colloquial language is used in this poem. How does it help define the speaker?
The colloquial language in the poem makes the speaker more relatable. It makes the speaker seem young, and as the slang used is British, British.
20. What is the snowman symbolic for?
The snowman characterizes the speaker as lonely, because of the line “… I wanted him, a mate” In the descriptions of the snowman the speaker also appears to be emotionally cold, as he hopes the snowman’s physical coldness will match the emotional coldness in the speaker’s mind.
21. In what way can it reflect onto the speaker?
Taking the snowman apart in order to transport it is logical, but still absurd, highlighting the pointless nature of the crime. When the snowman is unsuccessfully reassembled, the speaker is angry at their childhood being over and bored with life, so vents his/her frustration at the snowman.
22. What is the rhyming pattern of the poem?
The poem, Stealing, is presented in five stanzas with no set rhyming pattern. Duffy has stated that, like many poems she writes with a conversational style, the poem naturally fell into verses of five lines. The tone is quite morose and angry.
23. What is the narrative of the poem?
The poem is told in first person and is unlikely to be the voice of the poet herself. The gender of the speaker is never revealed and left ambiguous.
24. How does the poem open and close with?
The poem both opens and closes with a question giving it an interesting symmetry. The opening question sounds like the narrator is echoing back a question they have just been asked as if the poem is the meandering answer to the question.
25. What is the intention of the last line?
The last line acts as if, having told their “story” the narrator is frustrated that the person asking the original question doesn’t understand their answer, doesn’t get their motivation.
26. What is the role of the snowman?
Duffy purposefully uses the snowman as a metaphor for the protagonist this is clever as people generally associate the cold and adjectives relating to the cold with negative personality traits. EG “I was given a frosty reception”, “she gave me an icy stare” etc.
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