Shooting Stars by Carol Ann Duffy Critical Essay

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Shooting Stars By Carol Ann Duffy
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“Shooting Stars” is a horrific and moving poem written by Carol Ann Duffy. She adopts the persona of a female Jew speaking out from beyond the grave about her terrifying ordeal before she died in the Holocaust. A powerful impression is left on the reader after reading Duffy’s dramatic monologue and visual descriptions of her ordeal and immense suffering. She urges the reader to remember what the Jewish victims were forced to go through, and begs us not to turn our back and forget. -------------------------------------------------

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The adopted persona of a female Jew leaves us with a powerful impression of how horrific and brutal times were during the Holocaust based on her personal experience and suffering. -------------------------------------------------

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“After I no longer speak they break our fingers/ to salvage my wedding ring”

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This illustrates the sheer lack of compassion and care the soldiers had towards the Jewish people. The words “Break” and “salvage” Shows us how the soldiers violently removed an item of value from the dead without a care. The impression we’re given is that the soldiers cared more for the valuables and earning a profit, than for human life itself. The wedding ring is a symbol of eternal love and suggests that this woman was obviously married and had a family that were all being affected. The first two lines create a vivid picture of the soldier’s inhumanity towards other human beings, the unthinking, uncaring cruelty with which one race imposes on another.

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The extreme of the soldiers’ inhumane acts heightens, when in stanza two we learn just how brutally they treated their victims.

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“One saw I was alive. Loosened/his belt”

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The enjambment between the words “loosened” and “belt” brings our attention to the horrifying fact that the soldier may have been about to hit her with it, but the following sentence implies something much more disturbing.

“My bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear.”

If we use letter inversion for the words “ragged” and “gape” they become “gagged rape”, which portrays another reason the soldier was loosening his belt. He raped the poor woman before she died. The enjambment used in this sentence could be seen as the passing of time for the woman, and how the realisation of what was about to happen to her, actually happened. Due to the immense suffering, and the amount of sheer terror the woman was forced to feel and go through, she loses control of her body:

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“My bare feet felt the earth and urine trickled/down my legs until I hear a click. Not yet. A trick…”

The soldiers’ have completely degraded the Jewish woman right down to the “untermenschen” (Sub-human) status because of their inhume acts of torture. They have terrified her so much; she no longer has the control over her own body and therefore soils herself through fear.

The overall wickedness of the soldiers is brought to our attention further when the Jewish woman witness’s the death of a young child;

“Between the gaps of corpses I could see a child/the soldiers laughed…/they shot her in the eye” -------------------------------------------------

This illustrates that the ground was covered in bodies. But the worst part, is that there was a young child standing in the middle of all the dead victims. A child is a symbol of innocence, and should in no way be a witness to such terrifying and horrific events, let alone be a part of it....
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