Refugee mother and her child Structure • Written in free verse. There is no rhyme scheme. • The stanza lengths differ. The first stanza is short compared to the other stanzas (explained later) • There is enjambment used, such as in the first stanza, to produce fear and tempo throughout the poem. Analysis The stanza is exceptionally small in length in comparison with the other stanzas. This signifies that even though her son’s life is short and there is little time left, she won’t give up or lose hope. This short positive stanza indicates that there is very little hope or goodness in the lives of the refugees – most of their life is like the struggle depicted in the later on in the second stanza. Portrays a compassionate mother. Another alternative interpretation can be biblical, symbolizing Mary and Jesus. The child is unnamed, making the child universal. Foreshadowing present. This makes us aware that inevitably the child will die and it’s mother will have to forget. Analysis Sibilance is present throughout the beginning of the second stanza. It emphasis the hardships and the living conditions of the camp. Unlike all the other mothers who have given up hope and accepted the fact that their children will die and they can not save them, the mother in the poem still has that little glimmer of hope. This makes both the mother and the poem itself, even more tragic. Analysis The mother is faking her smile due to the overwhelming sadness she has to face in order to keep her mind off the harsh truth. The combing signifies her mother still not giving up complete hope and showing happiness that her child is ALIVE. Contrast to the poem because of the slight happiness present – makes the scene even more touching and tragic. The word ‘ghost’ is repeated in order to emphasize the point the child is dying. Connotation of death. The “ghost of a mother’s pride” relates to the memory of happiness she had with her son before they were in the camp and before her son got sick. The word “skull” also emphasis death. Shows how unhealthy and how sick the child is. Analysis The word “flowers” paints a positive image. This contrasts very sharply with the “grave” in the next line. In these final lines the poet compares the mother combing her child’s hair with the act of putting flowers on a child’s grave. Both are acts of love and show how the mother is caring for her child. The poem ends with the word “grave”. Again, the word carries connotations of death. Ends the poem in a very morbid fashion. Analysis - Senses Throughout the poem, Achebe uses a variety of sensory descriptions to describe the conditions and suffering that they have to face on a daily basis. Examples are ‘odours’ ‘diarrhea’ ‘unwashed children’ ‘eyes’ ‘blown empty bellies’ ‘washed out’ ‘dried up’ Achebe combines touch and smell by using the technique synesthesia. An example of this is “the air was heavy with “odours”, as “heavy” relates to touch and “odours” relates to smell. Another example is “singing in her eyes”. This is effective as it emphasis the conditions that they have to face at the camp.