Hitcher by Simon Armitage

An analysis and background for the poem 'Hitcher' by Simon Armitage. These notes include an analysis of the background of the poem, the use of language, the themes and advice on which poems this poem can be compared with. 

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  • Created by: SazzyT
  • Created on: 22-02-11 17:08

Background

  • As a post-graduate student at Manchester University Simon Armitages MA thesis concerned the effects of television violence on young offenders.
  • Until 1994 he worked as Probation Officer in Greater Manchester. His work in this field inspired many poems including Hitcher.
  • The poem comes from 'The Book of Matches'
  • Poems from this book are supposed to be read in the same time a match burns.
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Themes

  • Disturbed characters-  this poem is an inside to the thoughts of a psychopath, which is capable of killing a stranger by letting him 'have it' 'six times with the krooklok in the face'. This could have been trigered by being 'tired and under the weather', this could be a reference to a mental condition.
  • Comparision of attitudes- the narrator is bitter and irritable he thinks 'stitch that' 'you can walk from here', he is also cold and removed, because he can commit a murder 'and not even swerve', while the hitch-hiker is in touch with nature and a hippy, with only 'the good earth for his bed'.

 

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Structure

  • It is a monologue which gives us the inside thoughts of the adopted persona.
  • When read aloud the poem sounds like natural speech.
  • The poem has five stanzas all of which have five lines, the third line of each stanza is the longest. The last word of each of these lines incapsules the theme of each stanza. For example the last line of the third line of the third stanza is 'krooklok' which is the weapon which is used to murder the hitch-hiker.
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Use of Language

  • 'Fired'-  could have triggered the violence or his boss realised that the narrator is abnormal.
  • 'Truth'- in this monologue he is confessing to the murder of the hitch-hiker.
  • 'Krooklok'- weapon used to kill the hippy, everyday object.
  • 'Verge'-  where he dumps the body, also could mean that he is on the point of a nervous breakdown.
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  • The title of the poem 'Hitcher' sounds like ' HIT YA' which is the way the narrator kills the hitch-hiker, so the title gives an idea of what is to come
  • Colloqualisms such as 'stitch that' make it sound like natural speech, so the poem sounds like the ramblings of a madman.
  • The word 'ansaphone' is used to show the reader the local northern accent.
  • The words 'blowin' in the wind' are used by the hitch-hiker to show that he is a hippy which listens to Bob Dylan.
  • 'Round the next bend' could be a reference to the narrator going mad.
  • 'the outlook was moderate to fair' is a reference to the car radio and what is was saying at the time of the murder, it could also be the narrators outlook on life because he does not consider the consequences.
  • 'you can walk from here' show
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Which poems can this poem be compared with?

  • 'Havisham' by Carol Ann Duffy also is about a disturbed character.
  • 'The Laboratory' by Robert Browning is also about murder.
  • 'On My Last Sonne' by Ben Johnson is also about death.
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