Midterm Break Analysis

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The use of language and structure to present the speaker’s eventual affirmation of his family role in Digging and Mid-Term Break

Through the poems ‘Digging’ and ‘Mid-Term Break’ of Seamus Heaney, he explores one’s eventual affirmation of his role in the family despite the initial disappointment and guilt. “Digging” reflects on the traditional peat extraction which was commonly used for fuels by farmers during Heaney’s time. This emphasises the legacy of his family in relation to farming. The title ‘Digging’ underlines the metonymy in the last line, substituting Heaney’s pen to his forefathers’ spades. ‘Mid-Term Break’ conveys a distressing family incident, although conversely mid-term breaks are normally associated with a joyful mood. Heaney expresses the moment of loss and the disorientation of the family members as a result of the tragic event.
The flashbacks in ‘Digging’ successfully highlights the heritage of the speaker’s family’s inveterate farming business as the poem presents both past and
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The first five stanzas of the poem revolve around the speaker’s emotional turmoil via various literary techniques throughout the poem. The onomatopoeia “knelling” is the sound of a bell ringing, especially in funerals, foreshadowing death and creating an ominous atmosphere. Elements of guilt appear as the speaker is described to be “embarrassed” as old men stood up to shake his hand and “whispers” secretly informed the visitors that the speaker was the eldest son and that he was “away at school” as if it was a secret. This implies that the speaker felt ashamed and guilty by the fact that he was absent his brother died. Just as disoriented he is, the speaker is shown to keep a cruel distance from “the corpse” as he fails to come to an acceptance of his death. This again reinforces Heaney’s intent that he was disheartened and bewildered from the initial shock from his brother’s tragic
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