Father and Child

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Father and Child
This poem has two parts to it; I Barn Owl and II Nightfall. Both poems revolve around the relationship between father and child. In the first part, Barn Owl, the child is young and foolish and needs to be protected by the father. In the second part, the father is old and weak and needs to be protected by his middle-aged daughter. The ‘Barn Owl’ opens at daybreak, with the young persona creeping through the house with her father’s gun while he sleeps thinking that his daughter is innocent and compliant. The persona creeps down to the barn where she spots an owl perched on a high beam. She is the “master of life and death” as she stands holding the gun pointed at the owl. She shoots and watched as the owl tumbled and fell onto the loose straw below. Her father reaches her side, hands her the fallen gun and tells her “End what you have begun”. She shoots a second time and the owl finally sleeps. In the second part ‘Nightfall’ nearly forty years has passed since the events of the first part. The roles are now reversed. The parent is now the weaker one who needs to be protected by the middle-aged child. The poem opens with the poet saying that forty years have passed since the events of Barn Owl. The poet then goes onto share her thoughts on her father’s impending death. She fears that there is not much time left for the both of them. In stanza three she addresses her father; he protected her when she was young, but now it is her who needs the protection. The poet then describes the landscape around her. The poem ends with the poet saying that children, even when they become older cannot recover from the sorrows of losing a parent. In the opening stanza of Barn Owl, Harwood has used juxtaposition. The persona, a “horny fiend” has been juxtaposed with the “obedient, angel-mild” image her father has of her. It creates a sense that the child wants to prove herself to her father, to prove that she is not an angel as her father seems to think she is....
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