Explain how Carol Ann Duffy conveys her feelings towards the subjects of the two poems 'War Photographer' and 'Stealing'.

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Katy Steer 11c

Explain how Carol Ann Duffy conveys her feelings towards the subjects of the two poems ‘War Photographer’ and ‘Stealing’.


‘War Photographer’ and ‘Stealing’ by Carol Ann Duffy are both poems about outsiders. She often uses dramatic monologues when writing poems, and ‘Stealing’ is an effective example.


‘War Photographer’ was written after Duffy had a conversation with a war photographer named Don McCullin. I believe that he must have inspired her to write this laudable poem. ‘Stealing’ too is based on a true event. When Duffy lived in Wimbledon her neighbours snowman was stolen.

The setting of this poem is established on the first line; this being in a ‘dark room’ where ‘he is finally alone’. Because the setting is away from the action of the war, it describes the results indirectly so that it is less graphic, whereas ‘Stealing’ explores the psychology of an anonymous outsider with anti-social behaviour and feelings. Like ‘War Photographer’, ‘Stealing’ is about someone who is isolated from society and shows evidence of being distressed. However, in this poem, the narrator is the character and he is angry and resentful.

In both of the poems she uses the expressions and speech rhythms of an everyday conversation. ‘Stealing’ starts with a question, ‘The most unusual thing I ever stole?’, which I think, makes the poem more interesting and intriguing for the readers as well as making it more conversational. The question is then answered with ‘A snowman’. This is quite a shocking and unusual thing to steal and I believe this will grab the reader’s interest. By making the poem more conversational, it makes it more personal and gets us more intrigued and makes us think about the unusual question at the start of the poem. This is effective as it makes the poem feel more realistic to the readers and conveys her feelings to the poem in a more personal manner.

Both of the poems are about anonymous people. In ‘War Photographer’ the main character is identified as a man. Duffy portrays this man as an outsider. She refers to him as a ‘priest preparing to intone a mass’. ‘All flesh is grass’ is another effective example of religious imagery. I believe it means that there was so much death where he was photographing that the grass was covered in bodies. It is also linked to the Bible as it is said to mean ‘walking on death’. The use of religion in this poem has a strong link to Duffy as she is said to be a Catholic. This makes the poem more personal as it shows that religion is incredibly important to her. ‘The only light is red and softly glows’. In this line the use of the colour red is effective, as it is commonly known as the colour for danger and is a symbolism for blood. This adds fear to the poem and is a contrast of the photographer’s job and the danger of the area he is in, also the amount of blood and lives that are being lost throughout his time there.

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‘Stealing’ is also about an anonymous character. Duffy uses phrases that help us picture the characters feelings about his life. He tells us how he destroys the snowman by kicking it to bits, all because he was ‘bored’ and ‘sick of the world’. Although, he does admit that this account of his actions sounds strange and that people ‘don’t understand him’. I believe that Duffy could be using these phrases because she may have felt like this before or knows some one that has been in the same situation. As both of the poems are about anonymous people, this could ...

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