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Critical evaluation - In the Snack Bar Edwin Morgan.

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Introduction

Critical Evaluation By Sammie Whyte In the Snack Bar Edwin Morgan When I first read In the Snack Bar by Edwin Morgan, I was taken aback and marginally disgusted by the topic the poet had chosen. However, on further inspection I realised that the plot had given the poet a chance to discuss meaningful issues in an entertaining and absorbing way. How Morgan uses techniques to create a vivid and memorable image is what I shall now discuss. The poem describes the crusade of taking a helpless old blind man to the toilet. This simple task takes the poet through a series of life altering thoughts and realisations about the cruelty of this man's existence and the trust he must place on strangers to stay alive. In the Snack Bar could be set any time within the last ten to fifteen years as there are no specific details on the time; mention of a "coffee machine" and a hand "drier" are the only things that hint a time but both became common in snack bars within the last decade or so. ...read more.

Middle

The use of "drift" has two outcomes: the word itself has negative ghostly connotations, once again forcing the reader to connect the old man and fear. Also, "drift" emphasizes the slow, steady movement that is taking place. Another metaphor that is used well describes the old man as he rises from his chair: "levers himself up" "levers" continues the 'inhuman' theme. However, this time the poet is comparing the old man to a machine. The use of "levers" also highlights the old man's lack of energy and power as well as showing the slow edgy movement of the man trying to stand. The way Morgan has used such strong visual imagery to detail such a simple motion persuades the reader to realise that for the old man this simple motion is a laborious task- indeed a great achievement. This realisation evokes sympathy and allows the reader to further grasp the old man's plight and the crusade like journey he is about to undertake. A further technique Morgan used to highlight the old man's quest is the personification of inanimate objects. ...read more.

Conclusion

The hyphens act also to give the impression of panting, almost gasping breath - again emphasizing the struggle of the old man to do such a simple thing. The old man's plight and struggle is highlighted even more by Morgan's word choice; words like "slithering"; "dismal"; "monstrous" and "drift" all have negative connotations. By using words with negative connotations, Morgan shows the negative way the old man is perceived. Throughout the poem, Morgan uses the old man and his struggle to represent the prejudice the general public feel towards the helpless and disabled. The old man also symbolises the struggle that many go through everyday just trying to live their lives. Although the poem disgusted me at first - by the sheer nature of the events detailed - I saw on further inspection that Morgan has used a simple event to describe a much deeper meaning. By doing so he has allowed me to witness and consider the weak and the disabled in a way I had not before. In the Snack Bar by Edwin Morgan takes a straightforward event and uses it to create a lasting image of the cruelty of many people's lives. ...read more.

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