SHOOTING STARS By Carol Ann Duffy National 5
“SHOOTING STARS” By Carol Ann Duffy National 5 Unit of Work
The Big Picture “Shooting Stars” is a poem that we will be studying for the Critical Reading part of the exam. You will be writing a critical essay on the poem in the exam. This critical essay will be worth 20% of your total mark for National 5.
Setting of the poem • the Holocaust that took place during World War 2 (1939 -1945) • a Nazi Concentration Camp • describes the atrocities inflicted upon the prisoners within the camp
The Holocaust The systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Nazis established concentration camps for the confinement, persecution and murder of hundreds of thousands of prisoners.
The speaker of the poem The poem is narrated from the perspective of an unnamed Jewish female prisoner. She is dead and is “speaking” to another deceased Jewish woman. She describes the horrors that she witnessed and the pain and suffering that she and her fellow prisoners had to endure inside the camp.
Main messages of the poem The central idea of the poem (as conveyed by the speaker) is that we must never forget the torture, murder and genocide that took place during the Holocaust, and that we must never allow this type of tragedy to happen again.
Main themes of the poem • Mankind’s inhumanity. • Human suffering.
We will be analysing and evaluating the following aspects of the poem: The portrayal of the Jewish woman and her fellow prisoners inside the camp. 2) The portrayal of the Nazi soldiers. 3) The depiction of the horrific conditions and treatment the prisoners had to endure. 4) The conveyance of the poem’s key messages. 1)
Remember! For each quote that you focus on, you must do the following: 1. Identify the technique(s) used. 2. Explain how Duffy conveys her ideas using these techniques (Analysis) 3. Evaluate how effective she is in doing so. Where relevant, use the methods we have discussed in class (i. e. close reading and textual analysis skills).
KEY FOCUS 1 How Duffy uses different techniques to portray the Jewish prisoners in the concentration camp.
1. “upright as statues, brave” (5) What is Duffy suggesting about the Jewish prisoners in this simile? What is she telling us about them? What does she want us to think about the prisoners?
1. “upright as statues, brave” (5) Simile Word choice • This emphasises the heroism and courage of the Jewish prisoners. They did not cower in fear when faced with imminent death by firing squad. They were determined not show weakness in front of the Nazi soldiers about to kill them. They stood their ground and they kept their pride and dignity. They remained strong and heroic until the very end, even though they faced such inhumanity. • Reminds the reader that these women should be respected, honoured and commemorated for their defiance and bravery.
2. “Tell them I sang the ancient psalms at dusk” (22) What is Duffy suggesting about the Jewish prisoners in this metaphor? What is she telling us about them? What does she want us to think about the prisoners?
2. “Tell them I sang the ancient psalms at dusk” (22) Metaphor The speaker asks the reader to let the world know that she never gave up her faith, or betrayed heritage, even up to the very end of her life. She asks us not to forget the suffering she has endured. Although her religion was the reason why she was being persecuted by the Nazis and put through so much suffering, she never allowed her inhumane treatment to cause her to give up her faith. She still has absolute faith in her God. She showed great forbearance in the face of horrific adversity. She stood strong and died with her dignity and self-respect in tact.
Writing task- 20 minutes Write a practice paragraph which focuses on how Duffy portrays the Jewish prisoners. Use the notes I have given you on the 2 quotes but do not just copy them. Use your own vocabulary as much as possible. You can also use your own ideas. In your paragraph, focus on the following question: Write about a poem which conveys a strong message to the reader.
KEY FOCUS 2: How Duffy depicts the Nazi soldiers in the Concentration Camp
3. “One saw I was alive. Loosened/his belt” (8 -9) Analyse and evaluate the following quotation, explaining how it effectively conveys the cruelty of the Nazi soldiers.
Word choice Duffy highlights the cruelty and inhumanity of the Nazi soldiers by describing how the speaker is raped before being killed. The soldiers see themselves as being superior to the Jews and they do not regard the Jews as being worthy of any respect as they are less than human- nothing but animals. They believe that they are entitled to mistreat the prisoners and subject them to whatever barbaric and dehumanising acts they wish to. The soldiers use rape as a means of torturing and controlling the Jewish women. They use it as an instrument of war to assert their superiority and dominance.
Although Duffy depicts the rape in a very subtle way, the reader is left with a profound impression of the horrific manner in which the Nazi soldiers asserted their power over their helpless and defenceless victims by violating and humiliating them.
4. “I heard the click. Not yet. A trick” (16). Analyse and evaluate the following quotation, explaining how it effectively conveys the cruelty of the Nazi soldiers.
Alliteration. Internal Rhyme. The soldiers are playing a game with the speaker. They pretend that their guns are loaded and pull the trigger. She is convinced that they are going to shoot her and that she is going to die. The guards seem to regards the prisoners as being playthings, and that they have a right to tease, humiliate and torment them. They have no qualms about the psychological torture they are inflicting.
The poet draws the reader’s attention to the words “click” and “trick”. We can almost hear the sound of the Nazi soldier pulling back the hammer of the gun and then pulling the trigger, allowing us to imagine the sheer terror that would have engulfed the speaker as this cruel game was being inflicted upon her. She would have been certain that her life was about to end, only to come to the humiliating realisation that the soldiers were toying with her for their own amusement.
Writing task- 30 minutes You are a journalist working for Time Magazine in 1943. You are interviewing a Nazi soldier working inside a concentration camp. Your task is to write a short script of the interview that takes place.
Success Criteria Use the notes that you have on the following quotes as the basis for your script: Ø “One saw I was alive/Loosened his belt” Ø “I heard the click. Not yet. A trick” • • Use your imagination and include your own ideas but be sensible • Your script should include dialogue only
KEY FOCUS 3: How Duffy depicts the pain and suffering inflicted on the Jews in the Concentration Camp
1. “between the gap of corpses” (10) Word choice Emphasises that the Jewish prisoners are constantly surrounded by evidence of death everywhere in the camp. They cannot avoid seeing the murdered bodies of their friends and loved ones and are unable to escape their feelings of grief and sorrow for what they have lost. The huge number of bodies have been left in piles in the open air which emphasises that the Nazis do not respect them or regard them as being worthy/deserving of burial.
Not only would the sight of the dead bodies have been inescapable for the prisoners, but also the putrid smell of decay would have been an everpresent reminder of the horrific fate that awaited them.
2. “strong men wept” Emotive language Emphasises that the pain and suffering that the Jews endured was so horrific that even the bravest and proudest people could not cope with the cruelty and barbarism they saw and experienced in the camp. The physical and mental torture that they have endured has completely broken them and they are no longer able to contain the intense feelings of misery and despair that have built up inside them.
Suggests that they are beginning to lose any hope that their anguish might come to an end and that they are coming to realise that there is nothing that they can do to prevent the Nazis from unjustly and prematurely cutting their lives short. They weep for the life that has been stolen from them; for the friends and family that have been murdered; for the future that they could have had. They weep because they are unable to protect or save the innocent people in the camp who need their help.
KEY FOCUS 4: How Duffy conveys the important messages of the poem
• 1. What message is Duffy conveying in the following quote? “Remember. /Remember those appalling days which make the world/ forever bad. ” (6 -8)
“Remember/Remember those appalling days” -Repetition Duffy pleads with the reader to never forget the atrocities that were committed during the Holocaust where millions of people were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. She emphasises that we must never forget the horrific treatment that the Jewish people were subjected to, and the profound pain and suffering that they experienced.
“which make the world/ forever bad” -Word choice Duffy is suggesting that the persecution that the Jews experienced during World War 2 will be a permanent stain on mankind’s history. Horrific events like the Holocaust prove that mankind will always have a cruel and violent side. Duffy is suggesting that there will always be war, cruelty, hatred, prejudice and oppression.
2. What point is Duffy trying to make here about our attitude towards the suffering of others? “After immense suffering someone takes tea on the lawn”
-Juxtaposition Duffy contrasts/juxtaposes the horrors of the Holocaust with the everyday, mundane activities of life in civilised society. She does this to highlight the fact that so much pain and suffering still go on in the world today, but we in the West are either oblivious, ignorant or indifferent to it. We seem to have forgotten what happened during the Holocaust. We don’t seem to care anymore. We are not able to comprehend the horror of what took place. If we fail to learn from the past then something similar to the Holocaust could happen again.
MOOD AND TONE
• 1. What are the different mood/atmospheres that run throughout the poem? • 2. What are the tones that the speaker uses?
Possible mood/atmosphere Possible tone of the speaker • Death. • Mourning. • Danger. • Fear. • Misery. • Desperation. • Hopelessness. • Despair. • Anguish. Despair. Misery. Hopelessness. Sadness/sorrow. Etc…