Comparing The Sick Equation by Brian patten and Long Distance by Tony Harrison

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Comparing The Sick Equation by Brian patten and Long Distance by Tony Harrison

In this essay I am going to compare and contrast 'The Sick Equation'

by Brian Patten and 'Long Distance' by Tony Harrison.

'The Sick Equation' is about how two parent's intense arguing and

general disrespect for each other had such a damaging effect on their

son's thoughts, personality and life as an adult.

Stanza one gives us some background information to the poem. The poet

mentions the word 'school' in the opening line so we can assume he is

between the ages of ten and sixteen. We also learn that at this time,

his parents are still living together but the house is '…full of anger

and pain.' Which gives us an indication of how he feels about his home

life. The poet assumes from his past experience that he can't go with

anyone because his equation is broken. He feels it is better being

one, rather than being two and trying to make things work because

someone will always end up being hurt.

Up to stanza five, Patten describes how he pushed away anyone who

wanted to love him and how he always thought that marriage would end

in divorce. He has very low self-esteem. He would rather not be loved

at all than be love by someone, only then to be rejected by them.

However, in stanza six, we find out that he has completely turned his

life around and has found someone to love.

In contrast, Harrison writes about how loving his parents were and how

his father still loved his deceased mother and did things he would

have done if she were still alive.

Stanza one gives you details of what the father did/does for his wife.

This shows what a loving relatio...

... middle of paper ...

...ll know phrase but Patten uses it in a

very sardonic tone of voice because in reality, his childhood home was

anything but sweet.

In conclusion, I would say that I preferred 'Long Distance' by Tony

Harrison because it paints a picturesque view of what everyone's

childhood should be like - warm, loving and stable. I also like it

because I think it has been very cleverly written. Just when you think

you know what Harrison is trying to tell you, just when you think you

can sympathise with him about his love for his father and his torment

at watching his father's extreme grief, the poem jolts you. The last

stanza tells you that the poem was never just about the father. It's

about Harrison and his won struggle to accept the finality of his

parent's death and his own refusal to see them as 'disconnected' from

his life.
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