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STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy No 1

 

STEALING SUMMARY  By Carol Anne Duffy

STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy No 1

 

The poem opens with the narrator repeating a question, “The most unusual thing I ever stole?’ It seems that he or she is being questioned by someone who is curious about the thefts. The thief’s answer to the question is ‘A snowman,’ which certainly is an unusual thing to steal. The description is poetic: ‘He looked magnificent: a tall, white mute/ beneath the winter moon.’ Enjambment allows for an extended image; it is noticeable that there are three words beginning with the letter ‘m’ here. Two more appear in the following sentence: ‘mate’ and ‘mind”. The thief explains his desire to have the snowman, using the simile that his mind was ‘as cold as the slice of ice / within my own brain.’ The coldness of the two minds conveys the idea that the thief is a person with no feelings, a harsh criminal. Duffy uses rhyme within the simile in ‘slice of ice’, creating a vivid image. The first stanza ends with a simple sentence in which the thief recounts that he stole the snowman’s head first.

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The second stanza opens with the thief stating bluntly that it would be better to die rather than give up on the idea of stealing something you want: ‘Better off dead than giving in.’ He remembers how heavy the snowman was when he carried the ‘torso’ close to his own chest and the intense coldness penetrated his own body: ‘a fierce chill /piercing my gut.’ The phrase that follows, ‘part of the thrill’, forms a rhyme with ‘chill’, although ‘thrill’ is not at the end of the line. What gave the thief a thrill was the thought of children waking up the next morning and crying when they saw that the snowman had gone. This is another obvious clue to the harshness of the thief. He ends the second stanza with the brief statement ‘Life’s tough.’ The shortness of the sentence gives it punch, and again shows the thief’s lack of remorse. We sense that life has been hard for him and he wants to pay back, even if the ones who suffer are children.

At the beginning of the third stanza, the thief goes on to say *Sometimes I steal things I don’t need’. This perhaps suggests a sense of boredom. He says ‘I joy-ride cars’, but it is just for the sake of it, not because he has to go somewhere. Then again he burgles houses purely out of curiosity. Line 13 contains another three words beginning with the letter ‘m’: ‘I’m a mucky ghost, leave a mess, maybe pinch a camera.’ This line, however, is much less poetic than the description. of the snowman in the first stanza, using slang words such as ‘mucky’ and ‘pinch’. The last two lines of the stanza describe the way that the thief, with a ‘gloved hand’, opens the door of a bedroom where a stranger is sleeping. ‘Mirrors‘ is a single word sentence that continues the thread of words beginning with ‘m’. He ends with a description of his sigh, ‘Aah,’ which is set in italics for emphasis, as he sees the reflection of someone asleep.

Stanza four returns to the occasion of stealing the snowman: ‘It took some time.’ The thief ‘reassembled’ the snowman in his own garden, but it looked different. He decided to kick it and break it, showing a streak of vandalism: ‘I took a run / and booted him. Again. Again.’ The repetition of ‘Again’ in one-word sentences stresses his determination and also gives the impression that he was starting to lose control of himself. The alliterative description ‘My breath ripped out / in rags’ emphasises desperation, and the idea of rags underlines the destructive act. Looking back, the thief realizes that it was a senseless thing to do: ‘It seems daft now’, but this sentence makes us feel that at the time the thief was completely wrapped up in his desire to destroy the snowman. The stanza ends once again with a simple sentence, ‘I was sick of the world.’ The thief does not seem to have been capable of any positive thoughts, or any optimism.

The fifth and final stanza opens with another one-word sentence: ‘Boredom.’ That seems to be what pushes the narrator to steal, and he continues ‘Mostly I’m so bored I could eat myself.” This is a person who cannot find anything constructive to do with his time. He then says that he once stole a guitar and considered learning to play it. He obviously didn’t do so, but it is the only positive idea that he mentions during the poem. ‘I nicked a bust of Shakespeare once, / flogged it’ means that he stole the bust and sold it. The words ‘nicked’ and ‘flogged’ are reminiscent of the slang in line 13, and form a sharp contrast with the literary connotations of an object representing Shakespeare. In the penultimate line, the thief remarks again that the snowman was the strangest thing he ever stole. The poem ends with the question ‘You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?’ It creates a feeling of alienation and implies that the person he is talking to will not be able to see his point of view or help him to overcome his compulsion to steal.

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STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy

STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy STEALING SUMMARY By Carol Anne Duffy

 

 

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