‘In the Snack Bar’ Edwin Morgan
Starter tasks 1) Once you have read the poem, write a brief summary of the poem. Don’t give too much detail; focus on the key ideas. 2) Now think about theme. What does Edwin Morgan want us to realise about the elderly and disabled? Think both about their treatment and characteristics. 3) What mood is created in this poem?
Close Reading ¡Look carefully at the opening of the poem. How does the poet take us straight into the ‘action’ of the poem? ¡Explain how the poet suggests people take no notice of the old man’s struggle. ¡Show the poet gives the impression this place is quite sinister and dangerous. Note – there at least 3 possible quotations you could use.
Description – the man ¡Copy and complete the table below. Gather quotations which describe the gentleman in this poem. Think carefully about how each ones makes us react towards the man and place it under the appropriate heading. Sympathise Fear
¡Verbs are doing words, like 'to stir', 'smiles', or 'met'. ¡Adverbs describe the way something happens, like 'gently', 'always' or 'today'. ¡Adjectives describe things, people or places, like 'stripy', 'soft' or 'warm'.
Word Choice – Verbs & Adverbs ¡Identify the verbs and adverbs used to describe the old man’s movements. ¡For each one, explain what this reveals to you about the man physically and, if relevant, mentally. ¡You should bullet point your ideas for each word e. g. ¡‘levers’-suggests the man needs to force himself up; needs supporting as his body is hard to maneuver.
Word Choice - Adjectives ¡Now look at the adjectives used to describe the old man. ¡Again, create a list and explain what each one shows you about the old man. ¡For example: ¡‘dismal hump’ –seems as though his body is miserable, made to feel this way due to the suffering his disability causes him.
Imagery ¡You may have noticed that there a few instances of metaphor and simile in this poem. ¡Identify the images created. ¡For each, explain what they suggest and why. ¡Note the visual clues. . .
Senses – sound & smell ¡ Collect any quotations which give details of sounds and smells. You should also note any examples of alliteration. Alliteration Sounds Smells ¡ You should notice that most of this information is given within the same few lines of the poem. What is happening at this point? ¡ Looking carefully at the quotations you have gathered, explain through analysis how the poet creates a sinister environment. Why do you think he does this?
Sentence Structure ¡Look carefully at the second verse. What sentence pattern do we find between ‘I concentrate… to the stairs. ’? ¡Why do you think this pattern is used at this point? ¡Show the writer uses sentence structure to emphasise the struggle they have going to the bathroom and back. ¡Look carefully at the old man’s speech. What does the punctuation of the dialogue say about the old man’s speech?
Theme ¡Discuss fully how the poet conveys (expresses) his admiration for the old man. You should refer in detail to the ideas expressed in the last 13 lines of the poem. ¡Select three quotations which you think best capture this sense of respect. ¡How does the poet begin to suggest that this man is not entirely alone or disrespected?
Quick Recap ¡On the surface, the poem describes the event of the speaker meeting and assisting an old, disabled man to the toilet. ¡Through this experience, we learn about how the old man is seen through the eyes of others. We then discover what it is like to be in his shoes and realise just how difficult and indeed frightening his life can be. ¡It is clear to us that by the end of the poem the speaker has realised a great deal about the strength of this man and has great respect for his courage.
Critical Essay Practice – Int 2 ¡Choose a poem which deals with childhood, adolescence, family life or old age. Show the poet deepens your understanding of any of these stages of life by the choice of content and the skilful use of poetic techniques.
Option 2 – Int 2 ¡Choose a poem which has as one of its central concerns a personal, social or religious issue. Show the content and the poetic techniques used increase your understanding of the issue.
Critical Essay Practice - H ¡Choose a poem involving a journey which is both literal and metaphorical. Discuss how effectively the poet describes the journey and makes you aware of its deeper significance.
Planning your Response ¡Remember to begin by highlighting the key words in the question. ¡‘Mind-map’ your initial response to the question. ¡Gather possible quotations. ¡Bullet-plan response and think about your structure.
Option 2 ¡ Central concern of the poem – our understanding and treatment of those with disabilities. (1)Through the description of the old man at the start, the poet highlights the extent of his weaknesses. (2)The poet is quick to highlight that despite visible weaknesses, the old man is viewed with fear. (3)In the second verse, the speaker focuses on how difficult life is for this man. (4)Not only is life a struggle for this man, but we are made to realise how terrifying it must be. (5)At the end of this poem, it is made clear that we should respect the strength of those we might consider ‘disabled’.
H Question ¡ Literal journey – accompanying the old man. Metaphorical journey – experiencing his struggle/learning about his life. (1)The journey begins as the speaker encounters and observes the old man, acknowledging his struggle. (2)As he assists the old man, his journey becomes a lesson in experience as he empathizes with the old man. (3)The journey itself is effectively described in a way which deepens our understanding of the old man’s struggle. (4)From his journey with the old man, it is clear that the speaker has learned a great deal about how the old man must feel. (5)Most significantly, this journey ends with the speaker finding new respect and admiration for this ‘disabled’ man.