In the 1960’s the Ku Klux Klan was a white racist group who were very violent, aggressive and terrorised innocent people. On lines seventy nine to eighty two, we understand that an attack occurs, “A brick fell into the living room like a black body and a riot of drunken curses left the gladioli & zinnias maimed”. This description of the KKK proves that they are very violent. The phrase “Like a black body” shows that they are racist because it looked like they threw a black person rather than a brick. The word “riot” and “drunk curses” gives us the impression of the KKK being out of control.
The poet again shows a description of nature, “left the gladioli & zinnias maimed”. This tells us that the KKK is marching into the black people’s home and is destroying the flowers by stamping on them. The flowers give us a bright and cheerful image, which contrasts with the vicious image of the KKK. Gladioli are spear shaped flowers and this symbolises the violence, which is taking place. In addition, maimed means scarred for life but it is not just meant to describe the flowers but also the black people.
At this point of the poem the KKK are very drunk, we do not know what they are doing but we do know that they are uncontrollable. We understand that their characters are very sick minded and that they are very corrupt, “Double dares took root in night soil”. This quote proves that the KKK is indeed very corrupt because they are daring to do such awful things. This quote overall symbolises revenge. The image of root and soil is effective in such a way because it contrasts with the Gladioli and Zinnias flowers becoming maimed. This could also possibly be foreshadowing the fact that revenge will be taken later on in the poem.
The poet has mentioned revenge and this gives us an idea of the whistle reacting towards what the KKK are doing, “The whistle boiled gutbucket underneath silence and burned with wrath”. This shows that the fury of the KKK committing these terrible offences to the black people is represented by the whistle beginning to boil. It also shows that the whistle was actually silent but I believe this is used to create dramatic effect and the whistle starts to boil slowly, creating a build up of tension. The idea of anger also reflects on the feelings of the black people and the KKK because they may feel angry or furious.
The poet has now decided to re-introduce “Daddy” because the last time he was mentioned was when he kicked the foreman, “but by then Daddy was with Uncle James outside the crossroad”. We now know for sure that “Daddy” and “Uncle James” are preparing to do something, which is not very usual in their daily routine at all. “Their calloused fingers caressing the 38 on the seat of a pickup”. Having been given this information, we now understand that they are carrying a handgun. We can also assume that they are planning to go somewhere because they are sitting in a pick up truck. We can now infer that they are going to take revenge of some kind.
The poet has used the word “Calloused” to describe their fingers because it is known that people with calloused fingers use their hands to carry out hard physical labour. Another word, which is used, is “caressing” which shows that they were handling the pistol eagerly and with anticipation. The poet describes the moon and how it makes “Daddy” and “Uncle James” looks, “Maybe it was the pine scented moon glow that made him look so young and faceless”. This quote is very ambiguous because it does not mean much; however, the next quote clarifies the meaning, “Wearing his mother’s powder blue Sunday dress and veiled hat”.
This quote is very straightforward and is self-explanatory. This is strange because he is wearing his mothers dress, however if you link it to the KKK it makes perfect sense. “Daddy” is on the run from the KKK and he is wearing a dress as a disguise so he is not caught. I believe the reason he is trying to hide could be because he may have shot the foreman and he believes that they are after him for revenge. We come to this conclusion because line number eighty-nine tells us that “Daddy” and “Uncle James” have a thirty-eight (handgun), so therefore this implies that they used or they will use the weapon to shoot someone.
Overall, this poem is about oppression. The poem shows the whistle as a representation of white people controlling black people. Margaret Atwood’s poem “Game after supper” is about a person writing about his or her childhood. The surrounding they are in is described thoroughly and the first line of the poem sets the scene, similarly as “The whistle”. Throughout the poem “Game after supper,” we understand there is a similar tone of inequality although a different type. Another similarity is that both poems are written in a nostalgic way using a child’s point of view.
The poem “Game after supper” sets the scene at the beginning with the line, “This is before electricity, it is when there were porches”. With this quote we have evidence that this poem is set in the past because “before electricity”, would have been decades ago. It could also be set in an isolated area or the countryside rather than back in time. The idea of the poem being set in an isolated area reflects Margaret Atwood’s life because she was brought up in an isolated area in Canada. The poet notes that there are porches, “On the sagging porch an old man is rocking.
The porch is wooden; the house is wooden and grey:” This quote tells us that there is an old man who is lazily resting on the porch and is rocking. This implies that he would probably be sitting on a rocking chair. This image of a man relaxing gives us the impression that there is a slower pace of life because this old man has plenty of time to relax. The poet goes from describing the porch to the house. The house is probably a type of log cabin and we can assume that the house is very old. The
poet creates atmosphere through the description of the house, assuming it is old creates a spooky kind of atmosphere. Atwood continues the description of the scene, “in the living room which smells of smoke and mildew, soon the woman will light the kerosene lamp”. Atwood uses this quote and it implies the inequality between the male and the female. We know that Margaret Atwood is a feminist writer; this is why this line is significant because it shows that a woman is indoors doing the housework whilst the man is relaxing outside on the porch doing absolutely nothing.
This example of inequality shows how the male figure of the household is in control, however he does not seem interested in helping out with the chores. In the first three stanzas of the poem “Game after supper”, the poet has chosen to write from third person, however the rest of the poem is first person. This is very unusual because it starts off as a narrative poem and then changes to a conversation with the reader. The person in stanza four could be a boy or girl but it has not been stated.
“There is a barn but I am not in the barn; there is an orchard too, gone bad, its apples like soft cork but I am not there either”. This stanza alone is completely different to the poem “The whistle” because the person is talking about what they see whereas in the poem “Game after supper” the person is talking about what they are actually doing. This image of the person playing a game is very child like and makes the reader a lot more interesting because of the change in view of writing, the reader would wonder why there is a sudden change in view which will lead to the audience to carry on.
The use of the word barn tells us that the poem is set on a farm. Margaret Atwood has used a simile, “its apples like soft cork”. This simile is very effective and emphasises the texture of the apples. This creates a sinister mood because apples are grown on trees and this implies that the area could be a forest or alternatively the trees create shapes from its shadow and spooky sounds from the wind blowing. The poet also uses the language devise, repetition. The poet is repeating the fact that the person is not in the barn, twice.
This gives us an image of a playful game such as hide and seek, which when thought about is not played alone. We notice the reason for the title “Game after supper” is that somebody is playing a game after suppertime. We know it is suppertime because stanza three quotes, “the woman will light the kerosene lamp”. This proves that it is becoming dark for the woman to light the lamp. This is different to “The whistle” because we understand the reason for the title instantly after reading the first line.
Throughout both poems, the natural environment has been used as a way of building atmosphere. The effect it has on the reader is that it makes the setting very calm and peaceful, but in the case of “The whistle”, it hides and also contrasts with hatred, anger, fury and other negative emotions. These are the different ways nature is personified to create different images. The narrator’s cousins are introduced in stanza five and it seems as though they hide in many different places, “I am hiding in the long grass with my two dead cousins, the membrane grown already across their throats”.
Here the quote talks about the person finding his or her cousins. The quote mentions that the cousins are dead. This change of tone is strange, however there are two things, which could explain this. The first is that the two cousins could have been murdered, the second could be that they passed away just before Margaret Atwood wrote the poem. I believe it is more likely for them to have been murdered because we also learn later that their throats have been slit. This means that it would have been impossible for them to talk or cry for help.
This image of their throats being cut is very effective because it symbolises the fact that women do not have a say and cannot talk because their throats are slit. The metaphor, which describes this, is, “the membrane grown already across their throats”. With this evidence, I can also imply that the children that are hiding and seeking are all females because they are scared of the men and have a lack of confidence within them. This would make sense because Margaret Atwood is a feminist writer whom is against inequality between males and females.