Father and Child: Personal Analysis

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The first person narrative poem ‘Father and child’ by Gwen Harwood, is structured in two sections each with seven stanzas and six lines. It focuses on an individuals revolt against authority and the consequences of such an action, as well as an insinuation of the imminent death of a parent. Harwood uses persuasive and implicit means to “mirror” the loss of innocence and its effect on the sense of appreciation or acceptance of the complexities existing in the wider world. Overall, ‘Father and Child’, demonstrates the individuals pursuit of power over the authoritative figure through defiance in the form of rebellion and destruction of authority. Through this Harwood challenges widely recognised stereotypes of purity and innocence associated with young girls and has also enriched my own perception on the connection between childhood memories and their effect on shaping an individuals identity.

Harwood depicts the memories of the persona in the first section, ‘Barn Owl’, where the loss of innocence due to childhood naivety is illustrated to be the foundation of the persona’s development of identity. This is shown when the persona shoots the “Owl” with the gun of the “father”, a representation of his power and authority. Here, the owl epitomizes both wisdom and authority, which the child seeks to resist. Thus in their mind, the child is destroying authority. The diction of ‘Barn Owl’, unlike its counterpart, is much simpler and holds an essence of child-like awareness, for example, the short and monosyllabic language of “Let him dream of a child Obedient,” shows the persona trying to exhibit an image of cunning and rebellion, however it is obvious to the responder that the persona is prying into complexities the she does not completely understand. As the responder I can understand the persona’s refusal of authority and therefore forgive the childish ignorance which can be relatable to anyone. The following lines where the father regains the power and instructs the...
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