Theme of Death as Explored in Crabbit Old Woman, Remember, and Refugee Mother and Child

Theme of Death as Explored in Crabbit Old Woman, Remember, and Refugee Mother and Child

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In the three poems Crabbit Old Woman, Remember, and Refugee Mother and Child, the similar theme is death. Remember is a sonnet by Christina Rossetti, which goes into the thoughts of a dying woman imploring her lover to forever remember her, only to change her mind after the volta. Phyllis McCormack’s Crabbit Old Woman tells of an old lady’s opinion on her nurses’ perception of her. Refugee Mother and Child, written by Chinua Achebe, is an emotive poem which depicts a mother’s unwavering devotion towards her dying son.

In Remember, there is heavy repetition of the word ‘remember’. This emphasizes the main objective of the poem, which was to tell the narrator’s partner to never forget her. The first ‘Remember me’, is almost like an order, although it is in no way threatening or commanding, more desperate. The use of ‘me’, a personal pronoun, gives the poem a more intimate tone. This makes the reader feel like they are delving deep inside the narrator’s thoughts, and they are on a very private level of her mind. The repetition displays her protective, almost selfish attitude towards her lover, as she does not want her partner to move on without her.

The allusion to the Rossetti’s and her partner’s future is even more heartbreaking and poignant. Although she does not directly address it, the reader knows that her partner had imagined a happy ending for them, rather than a tragic one, as she writes ‘You tell me of our future that you planned’. The powerful, direct use of ‘you’ almost feels like the narrator is addressing the reader, creating a close relationship. Again, the use of ‘Remember me’ sounds like the narrator is pleading for her lover to remember her, which causes the reader to feel her pain.

The use of an euphemism ...


... middle of paper ...


...luded to when she mentions ‘carcass’ and ‘battered heart’. Then, she implores once more for the nurses to get to know her, ending with a defining ‘see ME’. The reader again feels pity for her and her desperation for the nurses to see her for who she really is.

All three poems deal with the theme of death in different ways, although they share various devices. Both Rossetti’s Remember and McCormack’s Crabbit Old Woman are laced with a desperate tone - in one, a woman begs her lover to remember (and then forget) her, while in the other, an old lady begs her nurses to see her as a human being. In contrast, the reader is hit with a harsh reality in Refugee Mother and Child, as Achebe describes chillingly the conditions of the mother and the child which leads to death. However, all of the poems do have a poignant tone at some point, taking on death with a brave face.

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