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The Terrorist, He's Watching

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Sneha Chezhian

on 16 March 2015

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Transcript of The Terrorist, He's Watching

Alliteration and Assonance
The Terrorist, He's Watching
Used to describe the characters
Simple descriptions
Realization of impact on individual lives
What a view -- just like the movies
Birmingham Pub Bombing (1974)
March 8, 1973
What is the poem about?
What is your personal response to the poem?
Tone and Diction: too real
Life is dependent on minute details
Enjoyed new perspective compared to news

Who is speaking in this poem and to whom?
Third person omnipresent point of view
Detached from event
Perspective of actual terrorist, ignores human emotions
no need to distinguish between the terrorist’s perspective and the omnipresent perspective

Third stanza = Terrorist p.o.v
Describes flow of thoughts going through mind of terrorist
Account of the events

Matter-of-fact tone = casualness of the terrorist persona
Both lack emotion
No conscience and morals

Why do you think the poet has written the poem?
Protected lives; “live in a bubble”
Value of life
Precious, fragile
Explores the perspective of a criminal through understatement
No conscience, remorse

The bomb in the bar will explode at thirteen twenty.
Now it’s just thirteen sixteen.
There’s still time for some to go in,
and some to come out.

The terrorist has already crossed the street.
The distance keeps him out of danger,
and what a view — just like the movies:

A woman in a yellow jacket, she’s going in.
A man in dark glasses, he’s coming out.
Teen-agers in jeans, they’re talking.
Thirteen seventeen and four seconds.
The short one, he’s lucky, he’s getting on a scooter,
but the tall one, he’s going in.

Thirteen seventeen and forty seconds.
That girl, she’s walking along with a green ribbon in her hair.
But then a bus suddenly pulls in front of her.
Thirteen eighteen.
The girl’s gone.
Was she that dumb, did she go in or not,
we’ll see when they carry them out.

Thirteen nineteen.
Somehow no one’s going in.
Another guy, fat, bald, is leaving, though.
Wait a second, looks like he’s looking for something in his pockets and
at thirteen twenty minus ten seconds
he goes back in for his crummy gloves.

Thirteen twenty exactly.
This waiting, it’s taking forever.

Any second now.
No, not yet.
Yes, now.
The bomb, it explodes.

Countdown to a terrorist bombing
Describes the detailed events of people entering/leaving
Characteristics and actions of people
Cold, impersonal gaze of the terrorist
1: summary

2: the terrorist perspective

3,4,5: descriptions;
zooms in

6, 7: larger picture

Unreal, does not seem like reality
Isolated/disconnected from scene
Like an audience
Similar to the terrorist
Watching a movie is what we do for entertainment
Terrorist feels the same way
Makes the reader a part of the scene
Yellow Jacket
Yellow = sickliness or weakness
The weak position that the people are in
Put in a position that they can't get out of
Green Ribbon
“Bomb in the bar”
“Thirteen twenty”

Green + Ribbon = youth
Girl is young
Reader feels worried for her as she is so young and has her whole life in front of her
Doesn't matter how old you are, life is precious
"Dumb" = young and dumb and oblivious to situations that an happen in the world around her
Lives in her little "perfect" bubble
Present tense
Relatable, timeless
Put ourselves in situation
See how terrorist visualizes event
No rhyme
Rhythm alternates between fast and slow
countdown effect; slow time
Repetition of time: countdown effect, suspense

He goes back in for his Crummy Gloves
Crummy = something dirty/unpleasent
Gloves are worthless and there was no point for the man to go back in to risk his life
Something he could buy again
Man doesn't know and goes back inside
Rhyme and Rhythm
We'll see when they carry them out
Haunting shows psychopathic attitude towards death of innocent people
People don't want to see someone they hurt
Terrorist's cynical mind showcased here
First sentences are long
End punctuation: monotone, abrupt
What is your personal response to the poem?
Terrorist talks about all the people like they are objects

"The short one", "the fat one" and "the fat, bald one"
Dehuminizing effect
Fits to a terrorists attitude = must detach themselves
Impersonal and Inhumane

Szymborska chooses these words to communicate the message that an act of terror is mindless and robotic.
How does the poet convey the message?
4 car bombs were found in London
2 defused, 2 exploded
1 killed, 180 injured
By Wisława Szymborska
IRA carried out most devastating attack
21 killed, 182 injured
2 of IRA's bombs exploded in pubs
Full transcript