Thursday, December 22, 2011


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Change can be a negative experience and unwillingly forced apon its victims. Texts that explore this concept include “In the Park”, “Sky High” and “The Glass Jar”.

In the poem, “In the Park”, the woman copes with change very badly.

She has become unfashionable, ‘her clothes are out of date’, and she sees her children as almost the enemy. Her ‘two children whine and bicker’ because they are unhappy as she ‘sits in the park’. This is a stark and abrupt sentence, showing her lack of movement and engagement with her children.

When an old love from her past passes by, he doesn’t find her important to him and she ‘[feigns] indifference to that casual nod’. Their relationship has been reduced to banalities ‘How nice, et cetera’. She realises that he’s glad they are not still together, as the change from when she was younger has been a negative one.

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She has lost her sense of identity as an individual, and this is reflected in her conversation, where she only talks of her children.

Harwood uses figurative language to convey how the woman’s energy has been drained and how she is no longer a person in her own right. “They have eaten me alive”, she thinks.

In the poem, “The Glass Jar” by Gwen Harwood, the boy’s change is also a negative experience.

He tries to trap sunlight in a glass jar to protect him from the monsters during the night.

The boy’s fears are represented as creatures and symbols from horror and hell. There he imagines the “trident and vampire fang”.

He becomes trapped in his fear, and when he awakes, his hope is dashed and he ‘[falls] headlong’, as his glass jar fails him. In desperation he goes to his parents for comfort, ‘the last clearing’, compared to the ‘thicket of his fear’. He finds his father having intercourse with his mother and this changes the boy, he is traumatised. There is a loss of trust, as he feels betrayed by his parents, ‘his comforter in his rival’s embrace’.

Harwood uses religious imagery throughout the poem to emphasise the change, which is the loss of innocence and trust. In the first two stanzas the imagery is full of light and goodness, ‘host’, ‘to bless’, ‘holy’. This is contrasted to later on, when she uses more demonic and evil imagery such as ‘faithless’, ‘ring of skeletons’ and ‘malignant ballet’.

When the next morning arrives, the boy sees the world as a hostile environment with ‘ravening birds’ and a ‘jeering sun’. Which before had been his savour or god. It was the “host” trapped in the monstrance of a jar.

Harwood symbolises the boy’s loss of innocence and trust is by the ‘crumpled scarf lying next to the glass jar’.

Similarly, in the short story “Sky High”, the character’s change also involves a loss of childhood innocence.

The woman changes from being carefree and adventurous as a child, to a maturer adult, with gained responsibilities, burdens and therefore limitations, “too many things tying me to the ground”.

As a child, reaching the top of the washing line gave her a sense of accomplishment and euphoria, “I am flying”. As she aged, she lost her childhood energy, imagination and daring.

Now the washing line is only used for its functionality. “Where I was once the curious onlooker, I now write my own semaphore secrets in colourful t-shirts and mismatched socks”.

The author uses the metaphor of the aged washing line, “sagging wires”, to personify the woman’s change. The washing line is a reflection of her own state of aging.

The woman still has a yearning to be carefree as she used to be. There is ‘a small pilot light burning inside’, but with change she has learnt to be more responsible and realistic.

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