Hitcher
I'd been tired, under
the weather, but the ansaphone kept screaming:
One more sick-note, mister, and you're finished. Fired.
I thumbed a lift to where the car was parked.
A Vauxhall Astra. It was hired.
I picked him up in Leeds.
He was following the sun to west from east
with just a toothbrush and the good earth for a bed.
The truth he said, was blowin' in the wind,
or round the next bend.
I let him have it
on the top road out of Harrogate - once
with the head, then six times with the krooklok
in the face - and didn't even swerve.
I dropped it into third
and leant across
to let him out, and saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge.
We were the same age, give or take a week.
He'd said he liked the breeze
to run its fingers
through his hair. It was twelve noon.
The outlook for the day was moderate to fair.
Stitch that, I remember thinking,
you can walk from there.
What Is the poem About?
The poem is about a person,
who is stressed out at
work.
He gets a lift in a hire car and
somewhere near Leeds,
picks up a hitcher who is a
hippie.
He takes out all his
frustration on the hitcher by
hitting him with a ‘krooklok’
and then throwing him out
of the moving car to his
death.
Alternative Interpretation
In the poem, Armitage uses italic writing to make the poem
seem like the subject’s boss is speaking to him on an
ansaphone recording “one
more
sick-note,
mister,
and
you're
finished.
Fired.”
Any other interpretation?!
This could show his frustration with work because he takes
days off.
However, it could also show his jealousy of the hippie
because he doesn’t have to worry about work.
“He was following the sun to west from east
with just a toothbrush and the good earth for a bed. The truth,
he said, was blowin' in the wind,”
‘Hitcher’
By Simon Armitage
LO: to understand the poem ‘Hitcher’ using
TSLAP.
Home learning
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For Monday, compose an analytical critique of
the poem ‘Hitcher.’ (min. 2 sides of A4 page.)
Research the background to the poem , ‘Our
Sharpeville’ by Ingrid de Kok.
We have 8 poems to complete in 3.5 weeks- one
poem per lesson…ahhhh.
HOMEWORK must be complete!
Themes
The themes that feature in the poem are:
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Violence – when he hits the hippie with the krooklok.
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Death – when he kills the hippie and lets him bounce off the kerb.
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Jealousy - when he picks up the hippie and realises he is not tied up
with work like him. He is ‘free’.
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Loneliness – when he is stressed out with work and stays off sick
on purpose by himself.
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Anger – when he ‘flips’ and kills the hitcher.
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Conflict-
The Speaker/Driver
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Unreliable
A ‘shirker’
Tired, stressed.
Frustrated with life.
Brutal
Violent
Lack of guilt of conscience
Gloating
No regard for human life
The Hitcher
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Carefree
Lack of responsibilities or
obligations.
Enjoys life.
Takes pleasure in nature.
A hippie.
What do you think is the Speaker’s
motive for killing the Hitcher?
Language
The poem is written in the first person which
gives it a realistic voice.
Colloquial language is also used, such as ‘stitch
that’ which adds to the realism – as does the lack
of imagery in the poem.
The repetition of the personal pronoun ‘I’ helps
us understand how psychotic and self centred
the character really is.
Takes his
frustrations out
on the hitcher.
The narrator
envies him
I let him have it
on the top road out of Harrogate - once
Stark violent
images- effect?
with the head, then six times with the krooklok
in the face - and didn't even swerve.
The enjambment between
I dropped
the stanzas keeps
the toneit into third
calm and relaxed – making
Enjambmentthe report of violence
effect?
and leanteven
across
more chilling.
to let him out, and saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge.
Echo of the
We were the same age, give or take a week.
Hitcher’s voice,
different language He'd said he liked the breeze
from the narrator
Personification, what effect does
this create?
to run its fingers
through his hair. It was twelve noon.
The outlook for the day was moderate to fair.
Colloquial
languageeffect?
Stitch that, I remember thinking,
you can walk from there.
Why are the
similar ages
interesting?
Return to
normality, details
of time and
weather
Takes his
frustrations out
on the hitcher.
The narrator
envies him
I let him have it
on the top road out of Harrogate - once
Stark violent
images
with the head, then six times with the krooklok
in the face - and didn't even swerve.
I dropped it into third
Enjambment
and leant across
to let him out, and saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge.
Echo of the
We were the same age, give or take a week.
Hitcher’s voice,
different language He'd said he liked the breeze
from the narrator
Personification, what effect does
this create?
to run its fingers
through his hair. It was twelve noon.
The outlook for the day was moderate to fair.
Colloquial
Stitch that, I remember thinking,
you can walk from there.
Why are the
similar ages
interesting?
Return to
normality, details
of time and
weather
Structure
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I let him have it
on the top road out of Harrogate - once
with the head, then six times with the krooklok
in the face - and didn't even swerve.
I dropped into third
The enjambment between
the stanzas keeps the tone
calm and relaxed – making
the report of violence even
more chilling.
and lent across
to let him out, and saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge.
We were the same age, give or take a week.
He'd said he liked the breeze
to run its fingers through his hair. It was twelve noon.
The outlook for the day was moderate to fair.
Stitch that, I remember thinking,
you can walk from there.
Technique
This poem has an unusual structure of five stanzas with five lines of short,
medium, and long lengths. Why do you think Armitage chose to use this
structure?
Why do many of the lines run over into the next? What effect does this
have?
The poem is a ‘monologue’. Written in the first person in the
form of continuous speech the character often leaves clues
about themselves and their story. What effect does this have?
Summary (Personal Response)
Which of the following statements do you
agree with and what is the evidence for
your decision?
1. It’s a poem about how stress can
lead to random acts of violence.
2. It’s a poem which presents a
deeply disturbed man in both a
serious and comic way.
3. It’s an insight into the mind of a
cold, calculating murderer.
4. It’s an extended metaphor: there
is no real victim – the speaker
comes to realise that dreams have
no place in the real world and he
‘kills’ his freedom loving,
imaginative side.
Close Text Analysis
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“saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down
the verge.”
This quote shows the character casually
reporting on his violence, which shows how
psychopathic he is. He also uses the word
‘bouncing’ in his description, which gives the
poem a casual, almost humorous tone.
This makes the report of the violence even more
chilling.