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Compare Nooligan by Roger McGough with Street Boy by Gareth Owen. How do the poets use language to create a vivid sense of character?

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Compare “Nooligan” by Roger McGough with “Street Boy” by Gareth Owen. How do the poets use language to create a vivid sense of character?

The poems “Nooligan” by Roger McGough and “Street Boy” by Gareth Owen both describe teenage hooligans. They both use distinct diction in their poems to project a certain image of hooliganism. There are similarities between the two poems, most clearly in their theme, but there are also slight differences between the poems as well.

Firstly, both poems consist of four stanzas. In “Nooligan” all four stanzas are five lines long and in “Street Boy” all four stanzas are four lines long. Both poems just use only short sentences. The poems flow very smoothly and they both use short words and little punctuation. In terms of syllables, both poems are consistent as well. In “Nooligan” all sentences vary from three to five syllables in length, with the exception of one sentence, which is seven syllables long. In “Street Boy” each sentence has exactly the same number of syllables in each stanza. The first

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Also, McGough mocks hooligans in the last line of every stanza. For every point he makes as the “nooligan”, he mocks it at the end. For example, in the first stanza he says:

In our class

I’m the boss

This is the point he makes, but then in the next line he goes on to mock hooligans by saying:

(Well, one of them)

This shows that the hooligan isn’t as big, tough and scary as we previously thought. In the second stanza, McGough says:

Step out of line

And your dead

(well, bleeding)

So at first he makes the hooligan sound extremely authoritative and violent, but then he goes on to say that you won’t be dead, maybe just bleeding a little bit. Again, this diminishes the hooligan’s stature. In stanza three, line three, he says:

I spray me name

All over town

This portrays hooligans as rebellious and they are shown to vandalise public property. But then lines four and five say:

Football’s me game

(well watchin)

So this makes us realise that what is being said is all an act. They are all just words and no actions.

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is filled with feet” instead of saying “my boots are filled with feet.” This is also the case with the last two sentences of the poem:

The walls isred with stories

The streets isfilled with me

He also uses the word “writ” instead of “written”. All these inaccuracies make the hooligans in both poems appear uneducated and stupid. It shows us that they are only educated enough to write the way they speak. That is why in “Street Boy” many colloquial words are used, such as “crombie” instead of “shirt” and “hark” instead of “listen.” While these colloquialisms are acceptable speech patterns, they are clearly used by both poets as markers of ridicule.

Finally, the tone of both the poems is clearly humorous. They are not serious poems and the readers are clearly aware of this due to the diction and devices used. However, they both send the reader a clear message that hooligans are, in a word, fake.

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