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How Do You Respond To Mid-Term Break? What techniques does Heaney use? Having read the title 'Mid-Term Break', I assumed that the poem

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Introduction

How Do You Respond To Mid-Term Break? What techniques does Heaney use? Having read the title 'Mid-Term Break', I assumed that the poem was about a student's holiday abroad or something similar, however as I progressed through reading the play, I realized that it had a different meaning. The poem has a very deceiving title, a mid-term break is supposed to be a joyous time of holiday but here Heaney must deal with the death of a family member. This misleading title is the first technique used by Heaney to attract the attention of the reader. The poem is also told in first person and this gives the effect that the emotions come straight from the boy to the reader. We respond directly to the boy, which provokes greater sympathy in us when we find out that his brother dies. ...read more.

Middle

Heaney then walks into the living room and is met by older men. They stand to greet him and they shake his hand and one says 'Sorry for my trouble'. This was rare for him because these men were treating him as an equal and I was confused at this point as to why older men were apologizing to a young boy and turned to respect him. This is another technique used to create more tension. By telling us his emotions "I was embarrassed" we have a better idea of the atmosphere around him. We can tell by the tone in which the boy introduces his family, that he is not content with the current situation. He then enters the bedroom of his brother. It is tranquil and has a serenity feeling in it with the 'snowdrops' a feeling of innocence and purity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Much of the power of the poem comes from the idea of a child trying to understand the death of another child and although all children may not be able to relate to idea of a sibling dying, I'm sure most children would be able to relate to idea of somebody in their family passing away. I enjoyed reading this poem not only because of its sadness and anger but because there was a deeper meaning to why the poem was wrote. I find this poem more 'genuine' than others because of the fact that it is a true story. It doesn't probe the poet's feelings because he probably wasn't aware of them and the emotions expressed in poem are 'natural'. What he was aware of was what was going on around him, so this is what he described in the poem. This allows the reader to really feel the impact of the tragedy from Heaney's point of view. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is one of those very beguiling questions that directly asks for a personal response. The danger here is that candidates, instead of incorporating a personal view mixed with an effective analysis, simply say whether they liked it or not. ...

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Response to the question

This is one of those very beguiling questions that directly asks for a personal response. The danger here is that candidates, instead of incorporating a personal view mixed with an effective analysis, simply say whether they liked it or not. Thankfully, this candidate has steered well clear of that red herring and has instead constructed a very well-thought through answer with an emotional response attached. 'Mid-Term Break' is probably one of the few poems in the Anthology where candidates will almost always be asked to connect on some sensitive emotional level (such as this very question when it asks, quite generally, for the candidates' response) as it is by far one of the saddest poems Heaney has ever written, if not the saddest.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis shown by this candidate is good; it represents what should be expected of a candidate expecting to achieve a high B grade. The candidate comments on a variety of features that Heaney uses in order to achieve his desired effect on the reader. This is particularly good as it shows examiners an ability to comment analytically about a poem and how it's language, structure and imagery contribute to the emotions expressed by the poet and those subsequently felt by the reader.
The candidate did well to recognise the prosodic features as opposed to a typical poetic verse, making it seem like we are receiving first-hand information of the event. To score even higher though, would be to comment more explicitly on the nature of Heaney's hand. The reason 'Mid-Term Break' is such an emotionally stirring poem is because the protagonist (a young Heaney) is almost unbearably reserved and controlled in his eloquent descriptions like "A four foot box. A foot for every year." where usually the loss of a younger brother merits a more dramatic response. It is with this control that Heaney presents it's wrenching sadness. And this kind of evaluative judgement is the kind that will be required of a top mark candidate.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) is excellent. There are no grammatical or spelling errors and although the candidate uses language confidently with a range of sentence to express their response to the poem, there could be a more diverse use of punctuation to push their QWC mark up even further.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 26/02/2012

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