Night of the Scorpion

Analysis of Night of The Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel

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Father: Fear and Desperation - Line 37 "Trying every curse and blessing" Line 39/40 "He even poured a little paraffin/upon the bitten toe and put a match to it"

Mother: Pain - Line 34/35 "My mother twisted through and through/groaning on a mat"                                                                                                                Selfless Happiness - Stanza 2 "My mother only said/Thank God the scorpion picked on me/and spared my children"

Child: Fear - Line 41 "I watched the flame feeding on my mother"              Detached "out of body" calm feeling - Line 42 "I watched the holy man perform his rites"

Community: Togetherness - Line 8 "The peasants came like swarms of flies"   Faith in God - Line 19/20 "May the sins of your previous birth/be burned away tonight"

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Father: Scepticism - Line 36 "My father, sceptic, rationalist"                            Willing to try anything to save her life - Line 37 "Trying every curse and blessing"

Mother: Glad to take the pain rather than her children suffering - Line 47/8 "Thank God the scorpion picked on me/and spared my children"

Community: Rallying together/community spirit - Line 29-31 "And they sat around/on the floor with my mother at the centre,/the peace of understanding on each face"

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Human reactions to threatening aspects of the natural world - Line 11 "The Evil One"

Responses of individual and community to disaster - Father gives up his scepticism (Line 36-40) Community rally together and do what they can to help.

Selflessness of parents with regards to children (Stanza 2)

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Title is misleading - places emphasis on the scorpion

First person throughout - makes it personal (though he does use third person too)

No feelings or reactions in the first person, only in the third

Extensive description of the surroundings and events of the evening

Speech at the end is exact, rather than the seemingly random gabbling of the community earlier on in the poem - this makes it more poignant

Contrast between neighbours at peace while the mother groans and twists in pain in front of them

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Style & Structure

Free verse

No fixed rhyme scheme

One really long stanza + one short stanza - Places importance on the mothers words, makes them stick out as the abiding memory that the reader takes away

Enjambement makes the process ongoing - the pain does not stop for a long time, then at the end of the first stanza it is cut off with short lines and a full stop.

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