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The Identification Roger McGough. Learning Objectives As we study this poem you will learn about: The story of the poem More about the terms, Metaphor:

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Presentation on theme: "The Identification Roger McGough. Learning Objectives As we study this poem you will learn about: The story of the poem More about the terms, Metaphor:"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Identification Roger McGough

2 Learning Objectives As we study this poem you will learn about: The story of the poem More about the terms, Metaphor: Tone: Imagery: Denial. You will also complete some mini tasks, a test and an assignment on the poem.

3 So you think its Stephen? Then I'd best make sure Be on the safe side as it were. Ah, theres been a mistake. The hair you see, its black, now Stephens fair... Whats that? The explosion? Of course, burnt black. Silly of me. I should have known. Then lets get on. The face, is that a face I ask? that mask of charred wood blistered, scarred could that have been a child's face? The sweater, where intact, looks in fact all too familiar. But one must be sure. The scoutbelt. Yes thats his. I recognise the studs he hammered in not a week ago. At the age when boys get clothes-conscious now you know. Its almost certainly Stephen. But one must be sure. Remove all trace of doubt. Pull out every splinter of hope. Pockets. Empty the pockets. Handkerchief? Could be any schoolboy's. Dirty enough. Cigarettes? Oh this can't be Stephen. I dont allow him to smoke you see. He wouldn't disobey me. Not his father. But thats his penknife. Thats his alright. And thats his key on the keyring Gran gave him just the other night. Then this must be him. I think I know what happened..... about the cigarettes No doubt he was minding them for one of the older boys. Yes thats it. Thats him. That’s our Stephen

4 What Happens In The Poem A father has been called into a mortuary to identify the body of his son who has been killed in an explosion. He is in denial and tries to find any excuse to prove it is not his son that has been killed. As the evidence mounts up he is forced to admit it is his son’s body that he is identifying.

5 Background to the poem ”I wrote it in the seventies after a bomb went off in Belfast. That night on the TV news following the dreadful scenes of carnage, a man talked movingly of his son, having just identified the body.” Roger McGough - April 2000

6 Mini Task 1 With examples, write down what you think are the key features of the poem.

7 Key Features - Imagery The main Key feature of the poem is imagery and some of the images are very graphic and poignant, ex. the charred black hair and blistered face, or the studded Scout belt. In essence the poem is a series of images that are presented to the reader from the father’s point of view as he tries to come to terms with the realisation that the charred corpse in front of him is his son. Other features include metaphor, repetition and irony.

8 Key Features - Metaphor Of the other features Metaphor is probably the most important element as there are several metaphors used in the poem to help convey the father’s horror and difficulty of his situation ex: – that mask of charred wood – Pull out every splinter of hope.

9 Key Features - Repetition ‘Stephen’ is repeated 5 times in the poem, but interestingly not in Stanza 2 where the corpse is described in detail. In this stanza ‘face’ is repeated 3 times, emphasising how disfigured Stephen's body is; so mutilated, his father can’t even recognise Stephen’s face. ‘That’ is repeated 10 times particularly towards the end of the poem as the father is forced to come to terms with his son’s death

10 Key Features - Irony Then this must be him. I think I know what happened..... about the cigarettes No doubt he was minding them for one of the older boys. Yes thats it. Thats him. That’s our Stephen At the end of Stanza 4 the father accepts the body he is identifying is his son....but then to avoid the reality of the pain he feels he switches the conversation to the cigarettes and the poem ends with: Thats him. That’s our Stephen Meaning that it is typical of Stephen, looking after something that would get him into trouble, but, taken in isolation, the lines are also a final recognition that it is Stephen’s body.

11 Mini Task 2 Write down what you think is the key image in each stanza.

12 Key Images For me these are: Stanza 1 – The ‘burnt black’ face. Stanza 2 – ‘that mask of charred wood’ Stanza 3 - The Scoutbelt or the imagery in the metaphor ‘Pull out every splinter of hope.’ Stanza 4 & 5 – The ‘Cigarettes’ which also have a deep symbolic significance.

13 Mini Task 3 With examples, write down how the mood or atmosphere changes in during the poem.

14 Mood & Atmosphere The mood and atmosphere of the poem is serious although it could be said to contain some ‘black’ humour in the elements the father selects to for identification. There is a slight change of tone in the second stanza as Stephen’s charred face is described. The end of the poem is tragic as the father tries to avoid the acceptance of his son’s death.

15 Mini Task 4 Write down at least 3 things you think the poet wanted us to think about in this poem.

16 Main Ideas & Themes For me these are: The father’s pain, suffering and inability to come to terms with the death of his son. The tragic loss of a young life. The disparity between a parent’s understanding of their children’s life and the real life they lead with their friends….cigarettes. The pain involved in having to identify the body of a loved one. The trauma and unfairness of indiscriminate acts of terrorism.

17 Assignment What elements does Roger McGough use to create an effective poem in The Identification words by Wednesday 8 th September If you want a copy of this PowePoint presentation to help with your assignment a request to Mr Tim at:


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