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Early purges

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Robert Ingham

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Early purges

By Seamus Heaney The Early Purges Main Themes Literary Techniques Imagery The main theme of the poem is about growing up and the loss of innocence. The speaker, who for the first half of the poem, is a child who lives on a farm and witnesses death for the first time:
"I was six when I first saw kittens drown."
The words that show the speaker is looking back at his childhood are "was" and "first". "first" shows that the speaker has seen many deaths during his time on the farm. Throughout the poem there are many uses of characterisation, the one that stuck out most for me was Dan Taggart, as his portrayal seems to contradict itself. In the first part of direct speach when he says:
"the scraggy wee shits"
This portrays Taggart as a sick, cruel man who enjoys drowning kittens; however, later on in the poem he says:
"Sure, isn't it better for them now?"
This line shows that Taggart is compassionate. This may also contribute to the little boys overall confusion. Many techniques are used through the duration of the poem, these include:


Word choice


Direct Contrast An effective use of imagery in The Early Purges could be this:
"Turn mealy and crisp as old summer dung"
as it paints a clear picture in your mind's eye through use of many descriptive words. The words "mealy" and "crisp" are used to portray a disgusting and manky object, in this case, the dead cats. Characterisation Word Choice Similes Direct Contrast Word choice is a key feature to the poem as without it most of the descriptions would not carry as much weight or meaning; also there would not be as many connotations to analyze. "...But their tiny din
Was soon soused." The word "din" is used to describe an annoying sound, and when the "din" has been "soused" it gives emphasis to the sound ending by using such
a posh word. There are a couple of uses of direct contrast in the poem, though, the one line that caught my eye in particular was:
"Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead."
In this case of direct contrast, the most important words are "glossy" and "dead". The reason for this is that "glossy", when used in the context of cats, means that the cat is healthy; The words healthy and dead are not usually heard in the same sentence. Similes are used to show a likeness to something without the subject itself being anything to do with what it is being compared to, for instance:
"Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone"
This is a simile as the kittens are not gloves but share similar characteristics, possibly the appearance of wet leather. By Robert, Ellie, Murray, and Lewis (watched)...
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