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Analysis of Quickdraw
Carol Anne Duffy's poem `Quickdraw' is about a couple that seem close to breaking up.
A quickdraw is a shootout in the western films. In this poem, Duffy uses that as a
metaphor to portray the couple shooting cold, harsh words at each other over the phone.
In the first stanza, the persona of the poem is carrying two phones, a mobile and a
landline phone, in the pocket of her trousers. She's all alone. Suddenly one of the
phone's ring. The narrator is hurt by what is said to her.
"I wear the two, the mobile and the landline phones, like guns, slung from the pockets
on my hips...'' is a reference to quickdraws as seen in western films. It also shows that
the speaker of the poem was waiting for the phone to ring as she has already got her
phones out and ready, this shows that she's worried and desperate, just waiting for a
call. "I'm all alone" implies that the narrator seems vulnerable and insecure. The phrase
"You ring, quickdraw, your voice a pellet in my ear, and hear me groan." This gives the
message that though she's desperate to receive the call, it is like a bullet in her ear
showing love is painful.
The second stanza is about the argument between the couple of the phone. The
short sentence "You've wounded me" shows that within a short time the person on the
other line has managed to hurt the persona. "Next time, you speak after the tone. I twirl
the phone, then squeeze the trigger of my tongue, wide of the mark." This phrase uses a
lot of imagery. When she "twirls the phone" and "squeeze the trigger" the words used
show the reader that the fight was like a gunfight. "Squeezing the trigger" is what you
would do to a gun before you release the bullet so maybe Duffy was trying to show that
the narrator was getting ready for her turn to hurt her lover. However when she
"squeezes the trigger of her tongue, wide of the mark" it tells me that she shoots her
words but she misses completely. This means that she tried to retaliate to her lover by
saying something cold towards them but it doesn't affect them at all. "You choose your
spot then blast me..." says that though what she says doesn't hurt the person on the
other line, he picks his words carefully and "blasts" her with words.
The third stanza starts with an enjambment "..through the heart." Enjambment is
also used between stanzas three and four as well. This could be to portray the broken
state of their relationship. Duffy may have also used words like "alone" and "concealed"
apart through enjambment to show the persona's weak state. "And this love, high noon,
calamity, hard liquor in the old Last Chance Saloon" are all references to Western
movies showing that the argument on the phone is like a quickdraw battle. "In my boot,
another one's concealed." This shows me that the persona was extra desperate as she
had another phone ready to use.
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In the final stanza, the narrator is in an extremely weak state, you can see she is in
pain as she drops to the ground. "Down on my knees, I fumble for the phone, read the
silver bullets of your kiss." "Kiss" suggests that the narrator's lover sent her a text,
apologising perhaps as the vocabulary coming from him doesn't sound as harsh.
However, the reader can see that even the apology just hurts the persona more
because of the use of "silver bullets.…read more