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Compare and Contrast 'Old Man Old Man' and 'Leaving School' Discussing How each Poet Conveys their Character's Retreat from the Capable Adult World.

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Compare and Contrast 'Old Man Old Man' and 'Leaving School' Discussing How each Poet Conveys their Character's Retreat from the Capable Adult World 'Old Man, Old Man' and 'Leaving School' are both about the crossroads in someone's life and both illustrate the transformation from being one type of person to another. The title of the Fanthorpe poem is lament and modestly conveys that the character is not in the adult world but has retreated from it into old age. The title of the William's poem, however, is ambiguous and misguides the reader into thinking that the character is eighteen and just entering the adult world. Nevertheless this is not true as the boy is retreating from the adult world not entering it. While reading the poem the title keeps reminding the reader of the character's situation and evokes the pity of the reader as it makes it apparent that the boy is leaving school, but only in his mind, because he cannot cope in the adult environment. Both poems have a fairly regular verse form with a relatively formal structure showing that both the boy and the old man are heading in a continuous but gradual course away from the adult world. In Williams' poem the three verses gradually get shorter starting with eleven lines and decreasing to nine. Also the sentences are very short at the start, for example "I had my own suitcase", "I wasn't listening" and "I thought it was going to be fun", but gradually get longer throughout the poem. This illustrates the boy's gradual relapse from a normal child of his age as he slowly recoils from the adult world and growing up, to his childhood. ...read more.


The tones in each poem evoke pity and sadness in the reader, which shows that the old man and the boy can't face the adult world anymore. The tone allows people to relate to the characters and they feel heart-rendered, as there is a feeling that these situations are inescapable, especially the old man's situation. In "Old Man, Old Man" the juxtaposition of words like "Lord", "World authority" and "connoisseur" with words like "shamble" and "ramble" emphasize that the old man is retreating from his talents in the adult world to an old frail man who now lives in a "contracted world". His old talents have been exaggerated and given titles, like "Lord", because they stress the old man's loss of aptitude and capability, and his subsequent failure to cope in the adult world. The reference to time, "once", "After supper" and "Now" illustrate that this poem is about a transaction of time from what once was to what the man has now become. The phrase "A man who did-it-himself" is a pun on do-it-yourself, which highlights that the old man used to be able to do it himself, but now he can't. The use of the word "cloud" highlights that the old man's sight is failing and that he is diminishing from the capable adult world. It also suggests the frailty of the old man and that he has to rely on his daughter to help him. In "Leaving School" military sounding words like "Inspection" and the reference to the game "Battleships" displays how hard the mature world is and shows that you have to plan and be alert all of the time to survive. ...read more.


Her outward coldness is meant to compel the boy into adulthood but instead he retreats from it. In the Fanthorpe poem however, the daughter is illustrated as a compassionate, motherly figure who supports the old man during his retreat from the capable adult world. She loves his "helplessness" because it gives her a chance to help him and she asks the old man to "Let me find your hammer. Let me walk with you to Drury Lane.", which shows that she cares about him. Both poems contain everyday actions like "television", "not good with daughters", "leaving school" and "waiting". This gives both poems a tragic feeling, which evokes emotion, as everyone feels that they will be like the characters in the poems one day. The last lines of both poems leave you sad and accentuate the failure of the boy and the old man to manage in their new environment. In Williams' poem the last line, "I was miles away with my suitcase, leaving school." displays a boy who is only physically present but whose mind is where he really wants to be, not trapped in an unfriendly environment. The last line in Fanthorpe's poem gives a similar image. "I am only a cloud" also illustrates a man only there in physical form but whose mind is drifting off somewhere else to what he remembers when he was secure in the adult life. Both lines are open ended, which expresses the feeling of loss and failure in life which make the characters retreat. Overall both poems are similar in conveying the character's retreat from the capable adult world and each are emotive and successful in doing so. Katie Phillips ...read more.

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