‘Not’ by Erin Hanson
(a) In your opinion, what is the message of this poem? In explaining the poet’s message, please refer to and quote from the poem.
In my opinion the message of this poem is about self-acceptance. The first stanza lists all the things that we are not define by, like our age, clothes, size and hair. However, it would appear that the person to whom the poet is speaking to, has allowed themselves to be defined by those things. The poet is speaking about the harmful effects of commercialism and advertising and how easily they exploit people’s insecurities and leave them feeling vulnerable and diffident: ‘But it seems that you forgot/When you decided you were defined/By all the things you’re not’. The poet urges the reader to focus on what is really important i.e. your soul ‘you’re the sweetness in your laughter’ and forget the superficial stuff.
(b) The speaker in the poem offers a lot of advice. Who might need this advice and why would they need such guidance?
Yes I agree there is a lot of advice given in this poem. The poet employs a didactic tone throughout as she encourages young people to focus on what’s really important. The poet is trying to communicate the idea that people ae not and should not be defined by their appearance as we are ‘made of so much beauty’. I think Hanson’s poem is very apt for teenagers who are bombarded with advertisements and social media on a daily basis. Teenagers are easily manipulated and exploited by big companies to look a certain way because they want teenagers to buy their product or brand. However, this can leave a young person feeling very vulnerable and insecure about how they look and feel about themselves. Social media sites like Instagram and Facebook can have the same harmful effect wherein a person’s ‘so-called’ imperfections are scrutinised. This can damage a teenager’s self-esteem. Reading this poem can counteract that.
© Choose an image from the poem that appeals to you most of all. Is this image a positive one? Explain why you find this image appealing.
The author makes adroit use of the following aural image: ‘You’re the songs you sing so loudly/When you know youre all alone’. This is a very positive image. This image really appealed to me as I think everyone is guilty of doing this at some time or another. It is a image that resonates with me. This image is really appealing to me because it shows how confident and creative with can be when we know that we are not being judged or scrutinised by others. The young person’s pursuit to conform to what’s cool so they can ‘fit in’ actually inhibits them from being themselves and accepting themselves for who they are.
Five Steps to Positive Body Image
Step 1: Be grateful- be happy and thankful for the body that you have and all that you can do with that body i.e. talk, walk, dance, run etc.
Step 2: Be your own best friend- you have the ultimate power to accept or reject negative comments that other people may say about you. Also you are ultimately responsible for what you tell yourself. Think only good things about yourself.
Step 3: Self-care- look after your body. Don’t abuse it or neglect it by eating unhealthy foods, consuming alcohol & smoking cigarettes. Take pride in your appearance. Get plenty of exercise. Provide your body with the important nutrients it needs to function properly. Relax. Do the things that make you happy.
Step 4: Don’t compare yourself to others- as the adage goes ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. You will never have someone else’s body or you will never be that person. Love yourself and your body. Focus on what you love about yourself.
Step 5: Use your body to do things that bring you joy and happiness. Learn a new hobby, read a book, take up yoga. Live your life to the full and stop focusing on what other people think of you. Other people’s opinions are theirs and are none of your business. Focus on pleasing yourself. Don’t get caught up in following the latest trends or what other people think is cool. Be your own person, your own boss. Remember you define you. Your thoughts become your reality.
(d) You have been asked to devise a list entitled ‘Five Steps to Positive Body Image’. In writing your list you may adapt some of the advice offered in this poem.
‘Many poems enable us to understand other people’s feelings and experiences’
Think of the poems that you have studied and choose one that helped you understand the situation of a particular person or group.
Title: ‘The Road not Taken’
Poet: Robert Frost
(a). What sort of person is described in the poem?
The person in this poem is a very introspective thoughtful person: ‘And be one traveller, long I stood’. The person in the poem is faced the decision of which path to take. The person is not an impulsive person as he takes his time to come to a decision. He also strikes me as a reflective person who reflects backs on the decisions he has made in his life: ‘I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence’. He comes across as being a very wise and mature person as he reflects back on his decisions and evaluates his decisions as he is keen to learn from his life experiences. Finally I think the speaker strikes me as someone who is a non-conformist as he chose the path ‘less travelled by’.
(b) What central message does the poet convey?
The central message of this poem is about the importance of taking time to make important decisions: ‘long I stood’. The poem highlights that in accepting one path, we are rejecting other paths: ‘Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back’. The poet highlights that each path has its own opportunities and difficulties: ‘And both that morning equally lay’. The poem also draws our attention to the fact that the decisions we make shape the course of our lives: ‘I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’.
How does the poet succeed in introducing the situation of this person/group of people?
How does the poet develop a sense of understanding, acceptance or empathy among readers?
You should consider how the various poetic devices used by the poet enhanced your understanding of the person or group of people.
The poet succeeds in introducing to us his fear and anxiety with regards to the decision that he faced in the past by employing an allegory. An allegory is a poem that has two levels of meaning: literal and metaphorical. The poet makes it easy for readers to relate to his dilemma by conjuring up a simple scenario, that we can readily empathise with- which direction should we take. A literal reading of this poem focuses around a man who is taking a walk in a ‘yellow wood’ and comes to a junction. The language is simple and accessible and we come to the realisation that this junction or juncture is indicative of a liminal experience in his life, a decision that will ultimately shape his life’s direction. We can readily visualise the two roads that ‘diverged’ in the yellow wood and the scenario of the traveller, standing there a long time, keen to make a good decision: ‘And be one traveller long I stood and look down one as far as I could to wear it bent in the undergrowth’. This simple language allows us to grasp the deeper metaphorical meaning behind this poem. The agonising poet describes how difficult it was to make this decision: ‘Though as for that, the passing there had worn them about the same and both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black’. The poet’s anxiety is clearly conveyed. This decision was not an easy decision for the poet and we can all relate to a time when we were faced with a difficult decision where it wasn’t clear to us what we should do. The poet’s nostalgic tone suggests his sense of regret: ‘Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back’. However, his sense of acceptance with his decision is conveyed in the final lines: ‘I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference’. Frost sagely implies that we must learn to accept the decisions that we have made in the past.
Section C Exploring Studied Texts- Character
Think about a character in one of your texts who showed bravery and complete the following task.
Write down the details of your chosen text and character below.
Title: ‘The White Dress’- short film
Author: Irish Film Board
Character who showed bravery: The little girl
(a) Describe the situation your character that forced them to be brave.
In this short film the little girl clearly comes from a disadvantaged area, living in a high-rise apartment block in a city. She is clearly neglected by her father who appears to be in an alcoholic stupor. There is little food in the house as the little girl is forced to eat a tine of cold tuna for her breakfast. There appears to be no mother-figure on the scene. The little girl suffers all kinds of deprivations-no warm running water to take a shower; no parent/guardian to make her breakfast; nobody to help get her ready for Communion day; nobody to shower her with love and affection on what is a special day of significance for many little girls. She is brave in that she learns to rely on herself. She is self-reliant and therefore she doesn’t miss out.
(b) In what way did the character show bravery? Refer to the text throughout your answer.
The little girl showed bravery in her self-reliance. She organises herself extremely well for a child of her age. She takes complete responsibility for herself and this strikes me as very brave on her behalf. She sets the alarm clock the night before so she doesn’t sleep in. She has managed to procure a communion dress from somewhere and has it proudly hanging up in her wardrobe(the only thing that is hanging up in her wardrobe).
She shows bravery and wisdom by making sure she eats something even though her options are very limited because it will be a long day. She evades the suspicions of the shop attendant in the pharmacy and procures two ribbons to accessorise her hair with. She bravely walks into the church on her own, with no parents, family or friends to witness, care or support her on her ‘big day’. She shows bravery because this most of been an incredibly lonely experience for the little girl.
© Write the text of the most interesting question you have asked your chosen character, along with their answer.
Interviewer: Why don’t you tell somebody about your situation, a teacher, a neighbour, someone who can help?
The little girl: Well, you see its always been just been me and my dad, since my mam died three years ago from cancer. My dad lost his job as a taxi driver when my ma got sick. He wanted to take care of her but then she died. Then my dad started to drink and he couldn’t stop drinking. He stopped looking for work. He’d just drink himself into oblivion. It’s like part of him died when ma died. I lost both my parents when my ma died. I’m all he’s got. I’m afraid if I tell someone, I’ll get taken into care and we’ll be split up. I take care of my dad. I’m afraid of what would happen to him. If I tell someone, I’d feel like I’m betraying him. He needs me. He’s my dad, the only one I’ve got and it’s not his fault. Everything started to go wrong when my got sick. I miss her every single day and it’s only getting worse. Time isn’t a healer as they say. I miss all those times that she’s suppose to be here for, like my Holy Communion day. I miss her so much, I don’t know if I could handle it if I lost my dad too. Things are hard but we get by. I like to think that ma is watching over me from above.
You have written your article about your chosen character’s act of bravery. What headline would you use? Write it in the space below:
Any assistance for angel?