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"Postcard" by Margaret Atwood

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Philip Hudson

on 23 September 2015

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Transcript of "Postcard" by Margaret Atwood

"Postcard" by Margaret Atwood
"Postcard" is about the relationship between a soldier and his/her significant other, who is separated from him/her due to him/her being stationed in a foreign, tropical setting. As implied by the title, this poem focuses on the sentimental transition of emotions via a postcard, from the speaker to the addressee. Using many analogies and metaphors/similes, Atwood reveals the despair and depression from the soldier. Atwood progresses through this poem by explaining how what the soldier’s significant other was seeing on the postcard was a mere illusion compared to what was actually going on in the war-torn country.
Principal Elements
Point of View: Utilizes 1st person point of view, which ties in action with emotion (reveals a more intricate perspective)

Symbolism: The postcard itself serves to represent the duality of the life observed by the sender of the card versus the life perceived to be lived

Imagery: Vividly describing the setting reveals the implication for the sender and addressee to interact
Stanza 1
Comparison: The narrator establishes the sharp contrast between the "postcard life" and the actual life in the region in which he/she is stationed.

"I'm thinking about you. What else can I say?": Implies that previous communication had occurred as enthusiasm is nonexistent, likely due to static environment

Sarcasm: "...backed-up drains, too sweet, ..." sarcasm lightened tone of poem
Stanza 2
Immobility: "I move up, it's called awake, then down into the uneasy nights but never forward"
"In the hold with the baggage there are two prisoners"
"... a race of cripples from the store to the church"

Inhibition of characters described in the letter reveal the innate stagnancy of the narrator's perspective

Stanza 3
Remembrance: "At this distance you're a mirage, a glossy image fixed in the posture of the last time I saw you"

Narrator reinstating his depressed sentiments by pessimistically focusing on her absence rather than future reunions
Romanticism: Narrator includes most romantic insinuations in this stanza
Key metaphors/similes
“Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one day after the other rolling on”

“Love comes in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on & on, a hollow cave in the head..”

"...like a mango on the verge of rot..."
Overarching Sound Qualities/Effects

Love: Throughout this poem, Atwood uses her ability of excellent imagery to show the obvious romance "I'm thinking of you. What else can I say?"

Depression/Separation: Thoughts of never seeing their significant other again.

Anti-war: Against the idea that war is used to repair a man's crumbled dreams

Conflict = Human vs. environment: Narrator against damage to environment

Stanza 2:
"In the hold with the baggage
there are two prisoners,
their heads shaved by bayonets, & ten crates
of queasy chicks."

Atwood uses this quote reluctantly to express a despairing feeling from this soldier from the connotation given on their shaved heads; rather from a razor, a bayonet. (Direct relation to war)
Stanza 3:
"A universe that includes you
can't be all bad, but
does it? At this distance
you're a mirage"
This soldier shows a feeling of anguish and discourage, explained through his/her thought of his/her lover being a "mirage", meaning, she/he is just a mere illusion to him/her at this point in war.
Full transcript