the cliche kid - carol ann duffy

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  • the cliche kid
    • what is the poem about
      • The poem is a dramatic monologue that is about someone talking to a doctor about their childhood experiences and how that has affected them in their adulthood.
      • The poem may be representing mental illness and how past experiences can affect an individual’s mental state.
    • who is the persona
      • The persona appears to be a man who is confused about his sexuality and doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles.
      • They seem to be traumatised, dramatic and in need of help.
      • They seem to be at a medical facility seeking the help of a health care professional as they think they have a physical illness, which makes them very distressed.
      • They also have confusion of gender roles because of their troublesome upbringing.
    • themes
      • Memories = Much like ‘Stafford Afternoons’ this poem shows how childhood experiences can affect an individual throughout their life.
      • Identity = the poem represents someone with a confused personality who is seeking help to try and help them discover who they are.
    • language
      • Use of ellipsis & Structure = at the end of each stanza it ends with a line and ellipsis
        • “To say goodnight to me, his kiss, his French scent…”
          • The use of the ellipsis at the end of each stanza creates the sense of a child trailing off, therefore representing the persona’s childlike attitude and personality
            • However, it also suggests that there is something else that the persona is not saying so the ellipsis suggests that there is more to the story than the persona is letting on
              • Also the poem has a set structure that is regular in form. This contrasts with the content of the poem as the persona appears scattered and their thoughts are muddled. This could mimic the persona’s desire for normality in their life.
      • Suggestion of mental illness
        • “The fresh-baked grass, dammit, the new-mown bread”
          • The use of the mild taboo “dammit” shows their frustration at themselves because they can’t think of the proper sentences. Also the two cliché phrases that have been mixed together is used to create a deviant collocation, showing deep confusion in the persona’s mind which could show that they are suffering from a mental illness.
      • Resentment = throughout the poem we see that the persona is resentful of their unconventional childhood
        • “Big Bertha ******* out from the porch under the stars.”
          • The use of the alliteration of “Big Bertha” and “******* out from the porch” creates a plosive sound that suggests a resentful tone and that the persona is angry at the thought of their childhood
            • This is reinforced in the 4th stanza
              • “Distraught in autumn, kneeling under the chestnut trees, seeing childhood in the conkers through my tears. Bonkers.”
                • The metaphor of “Seeing childhood in the conkers through my tears” conveys the persona’s sense of despair. The use of the half-rhyme throughout also creates a sense of sadness.

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