Analysis Of A Mother In A Refugee Camp By Chinua Achebe

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‘A Mother In A Refugee Camp’ is a tragic and emotive poem, written by Chinua Achebe. The poet describes the hardship of refugee camps and the difficulty of accepting the death of those you truly care about. The poem exemplifies this struggle by describing the mother’s love for the child through direct description of the “mother’s pride” and her “tenderness for” her son. The word “pride” makes her feelings clear and the use of the comparison to “Madonna and Child” amplifies her tenderness. The poet lists tactile imagery which emphasise the mother’s loving actions, “she had bathed him And rubbed him down with bare palms”. The unusual image of “-humming in her eyes-” suggests a mother’s lullaby. The use of the dashes breaks the poem’s rhythm, bringing out the mother’s emotion. It is tragic that she can’t bring herself to sing but wants him to rest peacefully.

The poet compares this mother to other mothers in the refugee camp to amplify her love for her child and therefore the suffering she has to go through while watching him die. The other mothers are described by the poet as having “long ceased to care”, suggesting that they have tragically given up their jobs of motherhood, heartbreakingly accepting the death of those close to them. However this is contrasted with this mother’s lovingness and refusal to accept the death of her son, portrayed through the short and sharp phrase “but not this one”. Ugly, disturbing, and brutal images of camp-life such as, “the air was heavy
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