Power And Powerlessness In Mother In A Refugee Camp

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In the poem Mother in a Refugee Camp, the themes of power and powerlessness are shown at the same time consistently throughout the poem. The powerless aspect is shown by the mother’s lack of ability to help her child, as he is described as ‘her tenderness for a son’ that she will ‘soon’ have to ‘forget...’ This foreshadows the inevitability of his death and shows the difficulty of the position his mother is in, having to helplessly watch her own son perish. This is also further foreshadowed when the poet describes the mother’s actions towards her child: he says she is ‘combing’ the ‘hair left on his skull’. The symbolism of ‘skull’ is used as a representation of death and mortality, it displays the rapidity of his hair loss and emphasises the dangers of his starvation and protein deficiency. However the word ‘combing’ is used to show the mother’s unconditional love for her child and how she will always care for him and never give up hope, this antithesis fabricates an element of power in the poem, and demonstrates the powerful effect of a mother’s love towards her child. This is also exhibited when the poet describes her as bathing her child amidst the ‘heavy odors’ of ‘diarrhea’, as she is ‘rubbing him down’ with her ‘bare palms’. The use of sensory imagery here to describe their surroundings also emphasises how the mother will always love her child unconditionally. The end of the poem contradicts this moment of hope by ending on an extremely solemn tone, with the use of

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