Introduction to The Lesson and Mid-term Break

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Introduction to “The Lesson” and “Mid-term Break

“The Lesson” tells the story of a 10 year old boy who has lost his father in the duration of school time. It goes on the say he’s trapped and although he feels grief for the death of his father he realises that he can use the death to “bind the bullies’ fist”.

“Mid-Term Break” is about the loss of a brother. It goes on to say that life goes on even though he has lost his brother and he witnesses things he does not normally experience (his father crying).

“Mid-Term Break”


The meaning of “Mid-Term Break” is to tell the story of an accident involving a young child and a vehicle. He tries to explain how life goes on and the death of the boy’s brother doesn’t mean that life stops. It goes on to show that because his brother has died certain things happen that he doesn’t usually see “I met my father crying” and “ Old men standing up to shake my hand”. It ends with the powerful and chilling line “a four foot box, a foot for every year” This shows that the boy was very young and had a small coffin because he was only 4 years of age.


The poems structure is very neat and very tidy. He chooses to write in three line stanzas because this allows the poem to flow easily and allows the stanza below it the link in with its predecessor. By also having three line stanzas helps the last line have more of a “punch” feeling because it breaks the mould.

 Heaney avoids using rhyme in this piece because we usually associate rhyme with happiness and glee. Because of this reason Heaney purposely makes this poem sad and hopeless.


The mood changes throughout the poem. At the start the mood is sombre, sad and mysterious but when it reaches “next morning” the mood has changed to a happier tone as if it shoes life goes on oblivious to his brother’s death.

In the first stanza the poet uses lines to describe how the child sits alone without any idea about what is going on “Sat all morning” and “counting bells knelling classes to a close”. This shows he has been alone, sitting all morning. Also “counting bells knelling classes to a close” shows alliteration to allow the line to flow and shows that he’s so bored that he’s counting the school bells ringing (later we discover that kneeling is also the sound a funeral bell, a glimpse of what is to come). Also the boy comes across another unforeseen incident “ Neighbours drive me home” This shows something extremely uncommon and shows the importance of the circumstance that even his parents cant pick him up. At this stage so many things must be going through the boys mind and he must be very confused.

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The next stanza starts with another uncommon sight “in the porch I met my father crying”. This shows that it must be very a serious incident that even his father, someone who is supposed to never cry and always show his strong side, has been broken by all that has happened. It even goes on to say that “he had always taken funerals in his stride” so this particular circumstance must be much more serious than all the other funerals he had ever been to.

The next stanza begins with  “the baby cooed and rocked the pram” not only ...

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