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'In the Snack-bar' - Evaluation.

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'In the Snack-bar' Evaluation by Amy Naumann Recently in class we have been studying 'In the Snack-bar' by Edwin Morgan. In this essay I will be discussing the various literary techniques and language the poet uses to bring across the misery of old age. The poem is about someone helping an old man to the toilet in a snack bar. The old man's severe disability turns the seemingly simple task into a quest where everyday objects become problematic obstacles and each step takes a lifetime. The old man's helplessness makes the poet philosophical about old age, disability and the very nature of life. 'In the Snack-Bar' is probably set in Scotland as that is where the poet is from, and also because it is wet in the summer, 'these rains of August', as it often is in Scotland. It sounds like it is in a large city such as Glasgow as it's a 'crowded' snack bar. It is most likely to be set in the last thirty years, as before then coffee machines would not have been commonplace. ...read more.


And slowly we go down'. This use of repetition emphasises the slowness and agony brought about by the simple task of walking down a flight of stairs, making it sound like the ordeal it must have been. Repetition is used again later to continue this feeling when the pair are going back up the stairs; 'he climbs, and steadily enough. He climbs, we climb. He climbs'. Morgan also uses words with negative connotations to convey the agony of the old mans life. The poem is full of these words, such as 'dismal', 'doubtfully', 'feebly', 'embarrassment', and 'shame'. They are used throughout the poem to give it a depressing and bitter tone, as if all of the old man's life is like this. The sentence structure of the poem also helps bring across the ideas of helplessness and pity. When the old man speaks, hyphens are used make him sound nervous: 'I want - to go to the - toilet'. This makes the old man sound like a dependant child who has to ask help for the most embarrassing and personal needs in public. ...read more.


I knew already that there are bad things in the world as I had been repulsed about old age before. Morgan talks about important issues to some extent, but only by giving observations, not views or emotions. He doesn't allow himself to see the old man as anything other than what he can see with his eyes. He doesn't think that the old man may have had a family or a past, or at least in no way shows these thoughts to us. I think that this is the easy way of writing a poem. He doesn't give his emotions, he doesn't bare his soul but makes us think for ourselves. He creates a picture and almost dares us to feel disgust for the old man without saying what he feels. In conclusion, I haven't and probably never will make up my mind on whether I like 'In the Snack-bar'. It is definitely an interesting poem in the way that it is well-written and full of literary techniques. For people who have not thought much about what it would be like to be elderly and disabled it is a good eye-opener as it really puts you in the position to think, but whether it is really about serious issues is debatable. ...read more.

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