9 terms

'The Identification' by roger McGough

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Summary :
in this poem Stephen's father has been asked to identify his sons body as there has been an explosion. At first the father is in denial that this could possibly be his son, however, as the poem goes on he starts to discover items that belong to Stephen such as the scout belt, penknife and key ring which make him realise that this really is Stephen's body. The poem uses dramatic monologue. the key themes to the poem are denial and grief.
'So you think it's Stephen. Then I'd best make sure. Be on the safe side as it were.'
The technique used is a metaphor. Stephen's father is constantly asking questions as he does not want to believe the fact that his son is dead. It shows that he is trying to play down the seriousness of the situation as he is in denial. The phrase, 'Be on the safe side as it were' shows that his use of language is cold and emotional. He is using cliché to block out his real emotions. This makes me feel sympathy for Stephen's father as it shows that he has never been in a situation like this and does not know what to do or how to react.
'Ah, there's been a mistake. The hair you see. It's black, now Stephens fair...
The technique used is contrast. There is a contrast between black and fair. Black symbolises bad and fair symbolises good. Stephen's father is in denial here as he is trying to make out that this is not his son as Stephen has fair hair. Stephens father uses denial to cope with his grief. This makes me feel sadness as it must be a very hard thing to identify your own son's body.
'The face. Is that a face I ask? That mask of charred wood, blistered, scarred'
This is a metaphor. A human face is being compared to a mask of charred wood. Stephen's father is shocked here, he can't believe that it is a face because of the burns. The word choice of 'mask' conveys that this does not look like a human. The words 'blistered' and 'scarred' suggest pain. This makes me feel sympathy for Stephen's father as it must be really upsetting for him to see his son's body in such a bad way.
' At the age when boys get clothes conscious now you know.'
This shows that Stephen was a teenager as he was starting to care more about his looks and the way he dresses. It also shows just how young Stephen is. The fact that Stephen is only a young boy makes getting over his death even harder as he will miss out on most of his life which makes me feel sorrow towards Stephen's father.
'Pull out every splinter of hope.'
This quote is a metaphor as Stephen's father is comparing his hope to a plank of wood. If you pull out a splinter from a piece of wood then it will fall apart, meaning that all of his hope is crumbling and slowly falling to pieces. Also pulling out a splinter is painful, however it will eventually heal. This helps me to understand the pain that Stephen's father is going through. I feel sorry for Stephens father as he has giving up hope on the fact that this could possibly not be Stephen .
'Cigarettes? Oh this can't be Stephen'
Cigarettes symbolise the side to Stephen that his father did not know about. He is refusing to acknowledge that Stephen would go against his father and do something that he was not aloud to do. This makes me feel sympathy as he must be feeling betrayed by his son but he tries to hide it by using denial.
'But that's his penknife. That's his alright. And that's his key on the key ring Gran gave him just the other night.'
Pen knife and key ring represent the good side of Stephen. The Side of Stephen his father knew. The fact that Stephen was given a key ring shows that he is trusted by his gran. This is a recent memory for Stephen's father. Stephen's father is grieving here as he is starting to accept the loss of his son. I feel sadness for Stephen's father as loosing a child must be one of the worst things that could happen to a parent.
'I think I know what happened... about the cigarettes. No doubt he was minding them for one of the older boys'
Stephen's father now accepts that this is his son, but he has to make up an excuse about the cigarettes so that he can remember Stephen in a good way. This must be a very difficult thing for Stephen's father to do and I feel distraught for him as his world must be upside down.