To What Extent do you agree that in her poetry Duffy explores “a sense of alienation and a turning away from the past”? You should base your answer on a close examination of three or more appropriate poems of your choice. In Duffy’s poem “Selling Manhattan” she uses the perspective of a Red Indian in the 1600’s feeling nai?? ve and abandoned, by his fellow man, an American. At first she uses linguistics to explore the brutality and harshness of the American man. Using words such as “Injun” and “ass” she has emphasised how the American does not care about the Indian, but is more concerned with his wealth and satisfaction.
Duffy also uses italics to emphasise his voice, and to portray blunt, self interested words and sentences. This really sets in stone that the American has tricked the Indian into believing that “twenty four bucks’ worth of glass beads” is worth all he has. In doing this, Duffy then reveals to us just how alone and alienated the Red Indian feels. The structure of the poem is such that it begins fast and hastily, the voice of the American set strong into our mind. We then we see that as the Red Indian begins to tell us his feelings, the poem slows to a sombre, sad tone.
We feel a true sense of humility from him; he does not blame the American for what has happened but feels sadness towards the destruction of the Earth. A very honest Indian way of thinking is to feel warmth and strength in the land, and also to read signs as to what is happening in the land through nature. “Firefly’s flash at night. ” The language personifies subjects such as the water and the land, “I wonder if the spirit of the water has anything to say. ” Again, the typical way of the Red Indians is that of worshipping the land.
He speaks not of the water literally, but the “spirit” of the water. He feels faith in nature, “I will live in the ghost of grasshopper and buffalo. ” But this is contrasted with the Americans fear of death and lack of faith. “Man who fears death. ” We realise this lack of faith and belief from the first stanza, the Americans voice, harsh and brutal, “Praise the Lord” we can immediately see that there is no honesty in this phrase and that the American is simply using it as a turn of speech, that he is greedy and therefore thankful that he has managed to con the Red Indian out of money and land.
The Red Indian’s alienation truly lies within the land, and he feels a certain type of bitterness towards common faiths. “Starlight psalm”. Whereas he feels faith in nature and the land, “I sing with true love for the land”. The final part of the poem is not really an ending, but assimilation to nature. “Disappears into the darkening pines”. I think this shows that the Red Indian has faith in nature and feels certain that he will live on in that state, yet feel that the past has been turned over and that there will not always be pine trees and nature, but buildings and destruction.
In Duffy’s poem “Stealing”, we see a feeling of loneliness; this is compared to an element of sabotage and destruction. “I took a run and booted him. Again. Again. ” The poem has neither a persona of a man or a woman, although stereotypes could influence us to think that it is a man. Yet, the descriptions are quite feminine, “I wanted him, a mate”. We can see alienation in this poem in many ways. The structure of the poem is written like a conversation, using a question and answer type method.
“You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you? ” Yet, it is harsh, the linguistics are such that there is an “I don’t care element” in the persona’s voice. “Life’s tough. ” The short, sharp, snappy sentences also emphasise the viciousness. Yet, the biggest emotions we feel are loneliness and emptiness. “I was standing alone”. The persona seems to fail to realise that they are constantly alone, or even what they are doing. “I watched my gloved hand”.
In this phrase there seems to be no recognition of self, it seems that the persona is out of their own control. They have alienated them self in a world of their own, where things have become meaningless, and nothing has reason. “I steal things I don’t need. I joy-ride cars to nowhere, break into houses just to have a look. ” There is no one for them, let alone anyone with them. “Sometimes I’m so bored I could eat myself. One time, I stole a guitar and thought I might learn to play. ” There is evidently a sense of loneliness, boredom and alienation.
In the third and final poem I have looked at, I think there is definite element of alienation and turning away from the past. In Duffy’s “Foreigner” we see a very typical view of alienation. The persona, again, speaks in a conversational way, as if directly to someone. “Imagine living in a strange, dark city for twenty years. ” Throughout the poem Duffy uses negative words and phrases to show us how alienation is often felt most when in a foreign place. “strange, dark, dismal, hate name, red like blood. “