Explore the ways the poet portrays the farmhand in the poem. (Remember to support your ideas with reference to text and comment on poet’s use of language/ structure/ rhythm etc…
A farmhand is physically strong and enjoys working the land. He yearns for love but has experienced a bad situation with girls at a dance. The experience obviously hurt him and so he leans against the door with his friends smoking a cigarette as though he doesn’t care despite the fact that he hiding the hurt inside him.
The first impression anyone would have on the farmhand by reading the first stanza is that he was quite careless, and that he was probably considered to being the ‘cool’ boy in school maybe because he smoked which is the key to being ‘cool’ these days.
It seems as though the farmhand has male friends but is desperate for female friends. It says in the first verse ‘leaning his back against the wall or telling some new joke to a friend’, this tells us that he has guy friends, however in the next verse it quotes ‘the girls drifting like flowers’. This tells us that the girls were very delicate and graceful unlike him. He wants a girlfriend; he wants to be a girl charmer but doesn’t have the confidence or appearance to do so.
This quote makes me wonder if he had any personal problems in the past… ‘Before the music that tears an old wound open’…seeing the girls looking so beautiful probably made him more enviable since he can’t speak or approach a girl. ‘Looking out into the secret night’ perhaps suggests something of the uncertainties that trouble him. He probably has some problems on his mind and isn’t able to talk about them to someone which is probably why he smokes; he is probably trying relieve his stress by smoking.
The farmhand isn’t particularly attractive, ‘his red sun burnt face and hairy hands were not made for dancing or love-making’, he is weather worn, hairy and quite clumsy. These are perhaps things that girls don’t like...
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