The Field Mouse Notes

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  • Created on: 23-05-11 16:48
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The FieldMouse
Themes: Nature, Death, Danger, and Politics
The poem is an extended metaphor for the harshness of life and the cruel way we can
treat each other. ­ mouse represents the innocent people who have been killed.
It is an allegory relating to war in Yugoslavia in 1990s
The sense of something bad is focused on with `the radio's terrible news' which is not
specified, so the other sound, the radio, gives off unpleasant sounds in the form of terrible
news occurring around the country on another typical day. They are away from this `terrible
news' as they cut hay down at the other end of the meadow.
Language
Metaphor `its wave breaks before the tractor blade' emphasising the vastness of it and
the fact that it does blow in the wind looking like a sea or ocean. The neighbouring farmer in
his field creates a cloud of lime, which sends the sweet smell across to their field in the form
of `a chance gift' (a metaphor), which they happily receive. Tractor blade ­ constant
weapon
Personification `the killed flowers' personifying the flowers as if dead. Shows how
barren and dead the homeland had become.
The child carries a `quivering mouse', which is nestled into his hands. There is still life in the
mouse as its eyes are described as `two sparks burning' but there is a loss of hope `we
know it will die and ought to finish it off'.
Euphemism: "Finish it off" ­ Clarke avoids using `kill' or `murder' as she feels guilty for
causing its death.
The pain the mouse is in `it curls in agony big as itself' is so vast that it is as much as the
size of the mouse, so it is immense. Life seems to be going as `the star goes out in its eye'
showing the end is close.
Personification the fields hurt' is a personifying of the feelings created by the death of
the mouse, as when the harvest is brought in animals who have lived in the protective world
of the crop are now exposed to the elements and are often killed by the farm machinery.
Onomatopoeia: "The air stammering with gunfire" ­ This creates the sound of a gun firing.
Simile: "Their bones brittle as mouseribs." ­ The children are weak and vulnerable like
the mouse in the field.
`my' last line ­ always constantly arguing about whose land it is.

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Structure:
Varying line lengths ­ To suggest that there is no order in a war-torn country.
No set rhythm ­ pattern of natural speech as if Clarke was talking to the reader.
Using wildlife to represent bigger political events seems to be a favoured technique of
Clarke.…read more

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