"Children in Wartime": How does Isobel Thrilling present the ways children are affected by war? (18 marks)

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Thursday 14th January 2015

Unseen Poetry: Children in Wartime

How does the poet present the ways children are affected by war? (18 marks)

The poem ‘Children in Wartime’ by Isobel Thrilling is about the experience of children throughout the war. It presents the view of a child through first person narration, and highlights the issues with the reality of war and the confusion it brings for children.

The poet immediately shows the effects of war on children by using “siren” as her very first word; this gives the impression that the children are in danger as “sirens” are associated with urgency or damage. Thrilling then goes on to say “Sirens ripped open the warm silk of sleep”. The use of the adjective “ripped” is violent and severe which implies that the children are being abruptly taken from their beds. “The warm silk of sleep” creates quite an angelic image that is almost ruined by the previous sentence; this reflects the way the children were affected and their childlike innocence being destroyed. It is not only their sleep being disrupted, but it is their lives. Furthermore, the sibilance used in “silk of sleep” can be described as mimicking their soft breathing, which adds to the innocent imagery.
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In addition, Thrilling states “we ricocheted to the shelter”. The use of the word “ricochet” usually relates to the movement of a bullet. It also means to almost bounce off of things, which suggests that the children were confused on where to go, what was happening and were literally running looking for shelter. It implies that they were looking for a safer place to get away from the outside world. This action is quite an adult thing to do; to look for somewhere safer, which shows how the children are being forced to grow up quickly as a ...

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