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Representing Violence in Roderick Ford's 'Giuseppe' and Vicki Feaver's 'The Gun'

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The juxtaposition between the surface presentation of violence in ‘Giuseppe’ by Roderick Ford and ‘The Gun’ by Vicki Feaver is immense, the writers explore the varying effects that violence brings within the individual poems. ‘The Gun’ creates an excited and admiring approach towards violence whereas ‘Giuseppe’ shows utter loathing and regret into events that unfolded in the past regarding violence. The presentation of violence in ‘The Gun’ is subtle, ominous and almost inferred whereas in ‘Giuseppe’ the blatant, rough description of the events highlight the writers explicit disgust. By reading both poems the readers attitude and reaction to violence is explored and tested through the different approaches into narrating violence through fictional ideas.

One of the main contrasts between the two poems is the effect the violence has on the narrator. In ‘The Gun’ there is surprising escalation in the level of violence the gun executes, at the start of stanza three the narrator talks about how at the start the gun is “Just practice” then by the end of the stanza the gun has “shot clean through the head” of a rabbit. This is the narrator’s way of showing the addictiveness of the gun and how one thing lead to another almost seamlessly. The short, blunt words ‘shot clean’ shows lack of emotion and detachment from the event, there is no great detail other than the obvious, the narrator uses short words to showcase the speed of the event, the rabbit gets shot and then they move on, simulating an advancement towards the next kill as the hunters are now already addicted to the guns power. The excitement portrayed in ‘The Gun’ is opposite to the energy that ‘Giuseppe’ presents. Ford presents a though provoking and hesitant approach to violence with Uncle Giuseppe not being able to “Look me in my eye” with the narrator then saying “for which I thank god” this presentation of shame and guilt is evident that the attitude towards violence is negative, the writer isn’t proud of the violence that has taken place and instead tries to hide it and seeks forgiveness from god. The religious imagery involved shows the writers true remorse, upon reflecting on the acts that have taken place, he is so scarred and effected by the violence he turns to a religious power for help and guidance to get through the events. The only use of religious imager in ‘The Gun’ was when the writer talks about the cooking of the dead animal as “excited as if the King of Death had arrived to feast”. The ‘King of Death’ could be a link towards Satan or the Grim Reaper, but it is evident that there is a link to an evil and dark power, which is opposing to god and light, this character dwells in death and darkness, and is excited for death which is brought by violence, represented in this poem by the gun. The writer connects themselves with death by using a simile, this shows that the writer similarly dwells in death and actively looks for it and wants it, which then again links back to the addiction with the gun that took place in stanza 3.

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From the start of ‘The Gun’, violence is presented and is made to stand out. Immediately in the first two lines the poet establishes a sense of tension and danger. There is a gap between the first line and the second of the poem “Bringing a gun into a house-Changes it”. Feaver could just as easily have written the sentence as one line, not two. The use of enjambment shows the addictiveness of the gun from the start, the narrator mindlessly flows in thought about the gun and this is represented in the seamless flow of lines. We are introduced to a second person, the poet’s partner, ‘you’ who has brought in the gun. Unhurried lines show unhurried action. The poem’s contradictory theme is suggested here, the gun which brings death then brings life into the couple’s relationship, it freshens It up and gives it a new lease of life. The gun is itself ‘like something dead’. In the last four lines of this stanza there is a tightening of syntax and attention. Shorter lines are adding to the ominous details and signal the gun’s potential danger, ‘jutting over the edge’, for example, implies wrongdoing, crossing boundaries. The phrase “Over the edge” implies losing control, falling into the addiction to violence, the inability to stop. The poem is written in free verse. No metre or rhyme scheme determines either line or stanza length. Or the overall length of the poem. This structural looseness means the lines in the poem are hard to predict, similar that to the re-coil of a gun, or the aim of a gun. The poet increases the foreshadowing by the use if the word ‘shadow’, and it is a common poetic metaphor for a ghost, the possible ghosts of the animals that have been killed. “A gun brings a house alive”, the gun is a bringer of death it’s illogical that it can bring something back to life, like a miracle cure. There is a change of tone at this point in the poem as well, up until this line the attitude of the poem’s speaker about then gun to the gun remained unclear. Now, it seems, the speaker is not appalled as we might have first concluded despite the vast amount of blood and the dead animals the gun brings they are rather excited, caught up in the increased intensity that the gun has brought to the couple’s life. Within ‘The Gun’, violence is portrayed positively, the narrator is bragging about the effects of violence and how addictive it is, showing her desire and affection for the change the Gun has brought into her life.

In ‘Giuseppe’, the title of the poem is simply the first name of the speaker’s uncle “Giuseppe” without giving him a title, such as ‘uncle’ or even ‘Mr’. This could show that the speaker feels disconnected from his uncle by the story he is telling, as he does not acknowledge their family relationship. This blunt way of addressing his uncle could also suggest the speakers anger when learning of his uncle’s actions. Ford’s poem has an irregular structure and is full of enjambment and caesuras. The use of enjambment and caesura, for example, “She, it, had never learned to speak, because she was simple, or so they said”, creates pauses in the middle of phrases, implying that the speaker’s uncle is reluctant to continue telling his story due to his guilt, or fear of judgement. The use of lists helps to show the confusion over what the mermaid is. “Was butchered…by a doctor, a fishmonger, and certain others” doctors are for humans, so then a fishmonger is mentioned because supposedly that is the alternative for a fish. But the mermaid is neither and this creates problems. It could relate to war because sometimes there is not a certain category it can be put in and not a valid excuse that can be made for it, sometimes it is just immoral. This is a clear reflection of the narrator’s beliefs, that the killing of the mermaid was not justified, and the violence used was unjust. This is further supported using dehumanisation in this poem. One example is the changing of pronouns in the second stanza. “She was not a woman in their eyes anymore” the she becomes an ‘it’. This is because if she was not a human then it made the uncle feel better about killing her because she was not one of them, this again relates to war and about how if you see the opponent as different to you, not one of you, then killing them doesn’t feel as bad, whereas in reality they are still human regardless of the country they are fighting for. The presentation of the narrator’s view on violence is partly achieved through the contrast between what happens and the tone in which it’s described. The language is deliberately flat and factual, concentrating on actions without comment. While the violence in this poem is carried out by key members of the community, most confusingly by the doctor and the priest. But no one else, including the narrator’s uncle, tried to intervene and stop the murder of the mermaid taking place, they did it out of desperation to stop starvation. The poem ends on the word ‘God’, reminding us of how far the ‘characters’ have moved outside moral boundaries. “But he could not look me in the eye, for which I thank God”. Which implies that the speaker recognises his uncle’s remorse for what he has done, and is grateful for this, as it means that he can retain some humanity. The use of violence isn’t admired in this poem, it is shunned, and it shows the effect of violence and how it negatively impacts humanity, stretching generations and this is shown through the pain and guilt the narrator is feeling when hearing his uncles story.

‘The Gun’ and ‘Giuseppe’ both present and show the ideas and effects of violence. ‘The Gun’ focuses heavily on how the gun can provide food for the household and how it can add to the sex life of the couple, it admires and glorifies the gun and the violence it ensues. Whereas, ‘Giuseppe’ is full of guilt and remorse of the action’s humans took out of greed and desire, it does not encourage the use of violence and indeed condones the unjust and unprovoked murder of a mermaid. This is how the authors presented violence in ‘Giuseppe’ and ‘The Gun’.

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Representing Violence in Roderick Ford’s ‘Giuseppe’ and Vicki Feaver’s ‘The Gun’. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/representing-violence-in-roderick-fords-giuseppe-and-vicki-feavers-the-gun/
“Representing Violence in Roderick Ford’s ‘Giuseppe’ and Vicki Feaver’s ‘The Gun’.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/representing-violence-in-roderick-fords-giuseppe-and-vicki-feavers-the-gun/
Representing Violence in Roderick Ford’s ‘Giuseppe’ and Vicki Feaver’s ‘The Gun’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/representing-violence-in-roderick-fords-giuseppe-and-vicki-feavers-the-gun/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
Representing Violence in Roderick Ford’s ‘Giuseppe’ and Vicki Feaver’s ‘The Gun’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/representing-violence-in-roderick-fords-giuseppe-and-vicki-feavers-the-gun/
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