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"Turkey" Poem Explication

In: English and Literature

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Turkey Poem Explication
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This poem is about an older man reflecting on a moment in childhood. Paying specific attention to the actions of his parents, he describes a scene of his family routine and enjoying a day at the beach. The poem encompasses use of descriptive language, metaphors, and the exclusive use of symbolism. The use of negative connotations sets the tone of the piece as sad and rather insightful about understanding what he viewed as a child. The poem is told by an adult who is reflecting on a childhood memory in a poor summer home with his dysfunctional family. The person sounds very perceptive in remembering little details of the house and his parent's actions in response to one another. He seems to value his family relationships, recalling this particular memory with some kind of fondness, especially for the home they stayed in. Because the narrator is telling the scene from his own point of view, the attitude the author takes in the poem is very significant. The attitude can sometimes be described as ironic, but mostly sad. The narrator is reflecting on this scene and seeing it from a different perspective, now that the narrator is an adult. For example the narrator comments, “How difficult it is to speak as I spoke then”. His attitude while he speaks directly affects the tone of the passage. The tone here can be described as rather opprobrious. The narrator uses more negative connotations that makes it obvious the narrator is not proud of or satisfied with his parents and their influence on him. The narrator remarks, “Their unhappiness was one of the constants of my earliest years, a high, unceasing buzz just beyond hearing”. Here the narrator expresses that his parents were constantly being marked by a deep unhappiness which in turn had such a significant impact on him that he felt the need to mention it. For example, the narrator chooses to mention a particular appliance in the house saying, “the walls were paneled with intelligently elegant, narrow, bevelled boards...” This may be because the house itself . He credits his parents for very little positive influence in his life, and using negative connotations with words such as “unhappiness” and “unceasing” which is a particular choice to words to reinforce the tone of the story. The author uses a variety of literary devices to make an otherwise average recount of a family summer trip into something interesting and an explanation for his current feelings about his family as an adult. The author often uses some amplification in his sentences in order to put emphasis on an otherwise average trip, so that the author will pick up some meaning within it. For example, the narrator chooses to write, “Had it been in my power I would have canceled my shaming parents on the spot, would have popped them like bubbles of sea spray, my fat little bare faced mother and my father whose body could have been made from lard”. Obviously, the author chose to include these minor details in a sentence whose message was easy to understand in order for the reader to really get a sense of the narrator's distaste fro his parents. The narrator is clearly ashamed and dissatisfied with the actions of his parents, and chooses to pick even at the sight of his parents in that moment. Again, you can see the clear use og negative connotation which also helps build the tone of the story. The narrator uses words like “lard” and “fat little bare faced” to describe his parents, intentionally being rude. Another literary device that the narrator employs frequently is characterization. His parents don't have any speaking lines in the poem, however, we get a good sense of the kind of people they are by the way he describes their looks and actions. For his mother, he often describes her look as plain and overly simplistic—and not in a good way. For example, the narrator writes “Her face looked bare and defenseless, pinched in the tight rubber seal of her bathing cap”. The readers get a sense that the narrator doesn't have very much pride in the way his mother looks physically. We also understand that he doesn't particularly have any interest in the type of person she is. Ironically the author questions himself by saying, “What did my mother do with her time when he was gone and I was not there?”. The narrator then answers himself by saying, “I picture her sitting...a hand under her head, nursing her dis-affections..” This image could not have been intentionally negative, however the narrator makes a point to show disapproval of the fact that his mother was un-motivated to do much for herself without the narrator's father around. The narrator is disappointed by his simplistic mother's habits and how her apparent unhappiness influenced everything around her, including his memories of her. Also, the narrator also uses his mother's actions as a way to describe her personality. During a scene of the family at the beach the narrator describes his mother in the lake as, “In those soupy waters she would wallow with small, mistrust pleasure, not swimming, for she could not swim, but stretched out full length on the surface and walking along the sea-floor on her hands, straining to keep her mouth above the lapping wavelets”. It is also important to notice that the narrator again uses a lot of imagery to describe how his mother looks during the session. In essence, he is trying to make the reader see what he sees: a pitiful, tense, and small minded woman. He is disappointed even in the fact that she isn't able to swim, and uses the words “small, mistrust pleasure” to describe how timid she was in the way she felt. He describes his mother as timid and un-appreciatively simplistic. The narrator seems to take pity on his simplistic mother, but seems to have some unresolved anger with his father. In the way the narrator describes his father, is with his descriptions. He describes his father as, “a wordless fury..bearing the frustrations of his day like so much luggage clutched in his clenched fists.” He describes his father's body as made of “lard”, and his smile as a “faint, sardonic grin”. It could be assumed that the narrator may be more afraid of his father than disappointed, but also angry. The narrator writes, “He was a violent man, a man of violent gestures,” which means that the narrator fears his father and was ashamed of his negative behaviors. Though the narrator doesn't directly say this, it could possibly be inferred that the narrator's opinion of his father is poor and that his father was probably a bad husband and role model to the family. Evidence of the narrator's opinion of his father can be shown in the way he describes his father's actions toward the mother at the lake. He writes, “He splashed water in her face”, “seized her wrists”, and “hauled her through the water.” In opposition, the mother “shrieks at him to stop.” The narrator recalls scenes like these in order to show the reader why he is so upset and dissatisfied with the way his parents behaved throughout his childhood. The narrator also uses a lot of imagery to help the reader picture the place of their summer adventures together. For example, the author describes items inside the small home they stayed in, “There were no ceilings, only the sloped undersides of the tar papered roof” and “the walls were paneled with intelligently elegant, narrow, bevelled boards...” The narrator here may be trying to explain the poor living situation the family lived in, although it was considered to be their vacation. Also, the narrator puts a great deal of imagery words in describing the lake scene with his parents, as this is the highlight where the narrator feels his tone of the story is best justified from the actions of his parents. The narrator describes the lake as “soupy waters” and a “shallow lagoon”. The description of the setting in the scene helps emphasize the narrator's idea that the family vacation in all likelihood should be a positive one, but that wasn't the reality.…...

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