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By considering the use of language, how does Simon Armitage portray the importance of his mother, in Mother, any distance greater than a single span?

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Introduction

By considering the use of language, how does Simon Armitage portray the importance of his mother, in "Mother, any distance greater than a single span"? Armitage opens up his poem concerning the importance of his mother, suggesting a great importance to him. "Mother, any distance... requires a second pair of hands," instantly implies that his mother has always helped him, in any situation. He uses the phrase "any distance," to represent all situations. This is further backed up by the next line, where he begins to explicitly names things to measure. "Windows, pelmets..., the acres..., the prairies of floors," uses very large distances, when he talks about acres and prairies. This suggests that he views all situations as difficult tasks, such as measuring out an acre, without the help of his mother, reinforcing the importance of his mother. In the next stanza, he uses an extended metaphor of a measuring tape, to represent various things. This first can be viewed as the measuring tape representing age and time. ...read more.

Middle

In the final line of the stanza, Armitage writes "Anchor. Kite." This could refer to both his mother and himself. By referring to his mother as an anchor, he suggests that his mother has always been a stable point in his life, reinforcing her importance. However, he hints that she could be possibly holding him back, like an anchor does to a ship. This is further backed up by the use of "Kite." By referring the kite to Armitage, it implies that he is ready to become fully independent and 'fly free,' but his mother is holding him back, perhaps suggesting his mother isn't as important as he always thought. The next stanza begins with "I space-walk through the empty bedrooms." The empty bedroom could be referring to his own, which becomes empty when he leaves his home, to move out, when he is older, or it could represent his new house, which he has moved in to. He implies that this is a strange, new and scary experience, by using "space-walk," suggesting that it is a completely alien environment, like somewhere in space. ...read more.

Conclusion

"I reach towards a hatch... to fall or fly," shows us that he has reached a critical point in his life; almost like a point of no return. He must make the decision of whether to become totally independent, but knowing the importance of his mother, he must also consider staying with his mother. However, by using the word "fall," he suggests he does not want to rely on his mother anymore, so it seems he has already made his decision to become fully independent and "fly." Throughout this poem Armitage constantly reinforces the importance of his mother, with ideas such as an umbilical cord and her being a stable base. However, he hints at ideas that his mother is actually holding him back, like a kite. When he says "two floors below your fingertips...," he shows us how it is not only his decision to become independent, but also his mother's decision to allow him and throughout the poem we can see him struggle between two states of mind; one being how he could never leave his mother, but on the other hand he needs to become independent as it is a natural progression in his life. ...read more.

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