How is conflict presented in War Photographer and Remains by Simon Armitage?

Authors Avatar by hilaryalfrescoky (student)

How is conflict presented in ‘War Photographer’ and one other poem of your choice? 

The poem ‘War Photographer’ by Caroline Duffy and the poem ‘Remains’ by Simon Armitage both explore the theme of conflict by both being about wars and the aftermath of the wars, and the guilt felt after the war. Both authors weren’t involved with war, but both poems are written about war.

In the poem, ‘War Photographer’ conflict is presented using metaphors, imagery and adjectives. Duffy does this by creating detailed images of what happened by using vocabulary that has connotations of war and violence. She also uses sibilance, Duffy also uses these techniques to create a semantic field of a priest by the way she uses metaphors and also by the way she shows how the photographer is dedicated to his job, similarly to how a priest would be. Also, by the way, Duffy refers to the old testament in the first paragraph. Duffy also doesn’t specify what war it is, so the reader could associate it with any war. Contrastingly in the poem ‘Remains’ by Armitage, conflict is presented in a similar way, using metaphors and creating semantic fields. Both poems use imagery to depict the aftermath and trauma it had on the soldier and photographer, this poem is also a dramatic monologue written in the third person.

In ‘War Photographer’ Duffy presents the theme of conflict with the metaphor; ‘Spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.’ This metaphor tells the reader about what the war photographer has to do for his job and how he feels about it. The word ‘suffering’ links back to conflict because of the connotations it brings. Also, the harsh alliterative sibilant of 's' sounds in 'spools' and 'suffering' establish the negative mood. The photos, like war graves, are set out in a uniform fashion, and also the juxtaposition of ‘spools’ and ‘ordered’ suggests that the photographer has to put these photos in ‘order’ to make sense of all the suffering he has seen. Duffy uses the quote ‘The only light is red and softly glows as though this were a church and he a priest preparing to intone a Mass’ to create a semantic field of a church, red could be referring to blood, including that of Christ. Also, Duffy could be comparing the photographer to a priest because a priest is exposed to suffering and death, and so is he, a priest has an important job, and so does he. The quote; ‘into foreign dust’ is a reference to ‘all are from dust and dust we shall return’ this quote gives the poem appropriate solemnity. Another religious quote in this poem is ‘all flesh is grass’, this is referring to the old testament and keeps the religious theme going throughout the play, this quote has a rhyming couplet, this rhyme scheme is also used earlier on in the poem, with the words ‘rows’ and ‘glows’ and also with the words ‘Mass’ and ‘grass’. The couplets suggest tightness and restraint. It implies that the photographer has to keep his emotions in check while on the job, but falls apart when he is back at his home. The adjectives that Duffy uses that have connotations of war and conflict are; ‘suffering’, ‘explode’, ‘nightmare’ and ‘blood’. These adjectives all link back to war, conflict and violence, the writer uses imagery throughout the poem in the quotes; ‘a strangers features faintly start to twist before his eyes, a half-formed ghost’ and ‘he remembers the cries of this man’s wife’ and ‘Solutions slop in trays beneath his hands, which did not tremble then though seem to now’ , showing the reader that even though he is back in ‘Rural England’ he can't escape the memories, and how he has to block out what he feels at the moment, but the memories then haunt him later on.

Join now!

Contrastingly, the poem ‘Remains’ links to conflict as well by using repetition and adjectives that link back to conflict and violence. Armitage uses juxtaposition to shock the reader of this poem, by creating a sharp contrast between the casual conversational tone of the opening stanza and a sudden violent statement. Armitage uses dramatic contrasts to the serious nature of death and war as if the person speaking in the poem finds it hard to process the events that have happened in an adult manner, so then proceeds to process it in a child-like manner. The writer also makes a ...

This is a preview of the whole essay