Maxine Kumin?s, Woodchucks provides an interesting and creative perspective into the mind state of those influenced by nazi warfare. What begins as a seemingly humorous cat and mouse hunt, reminiscent of such movie classics as Caddyshack, soon develops into an insatiable lust for blood. Kumin?s descriptive language provides the reader with the insight necessary to understand to the speaker?s psychology as they are driven beyond the boundaries of pacifism.
The poem does indeed have a rhyme scheme, yet doesn?t conform to conventional forms of rhyme such as A, B, A, B, etc. Rather, each stanza seems to follow the order of A, B, C, A, C, B, which may not be apparent to the reader at first, but doesn?t hinder the poem?s effectiveness. The first stanza begins with the speaker describing their failed attempt at eliminating the pests. The first attempt was described as merciful: ?The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange was featured as merciful, quick at the bone?. However, the following lines offer a bit of humor to the chase as it seems the woodchuck has outsmarted the speaker as a result of their overconfidence: ?and the case we had against them was airtight, both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone, but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.? This first stanza sets the stage for what would appear to be a humorous battle of whits between the speaker and the woodchucks.
The following stanza continues in this vein with the cynical statement, ?Next morning they turned up again, no worse for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.? However, those that follow are slowly indicative of the speaker?s mental deterioration. The sta...
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...arrel in my sleep.? From this statement we can see that his/her lust for blood has completely consumed them, as it remains with them whether conscious or unconscious. The following statement reveals yet another disturbing element of the killer?s psychology. ?If only they?d all consented to die unseen gassed underground the quit Nazi way.? This statement is indicative of many things. One being the speaker?s resentment towards the woodchucks for awakening this side of his/her personality. Another being the tremendous influence of the holocaust. Although the tragedy was thought to have brought about a massive change in the minds of people all over the world, many still believe in it?s prejudice. Finally, I believe that pacifism for many people is a fascade of the post war era and that violence is what many still believe to be the most effective means to an end.
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