This blackly comic poem captures beautifully the way in which someone who feels they might have lived their life in a way that is not constrained by the conventional demands of work and “getting and spending” (as Wordsworth put it) takes revenge on a hitchhiker who has managed just that by attacking him and throwing him out of his car whilst it is moving quickly enough for him to be in “third gear”.
The choice of a dramatic monologue helps Armitage to articulate the imagined thoughts of the man who feels he has missed out on the free lifestyle that only requires “just a toothbrush and the good earth for a bed” (line 8).
Another way of reading the poem is in strictly metaphorical terms wherein the hitcher may well be the speaker himself remembering himself as a before he was enslaved a conventional working life. He may be denying that another side of him actually existed by saying that he and the hitcher are not exactly the same age.
The speaker in the poem is clearly worried about being given the sack from work when he hears an uncompromising message on his telephone answering machine and this is the italicised line 3. He “thumbed a lift” to where his car was parked. This is puzzling because it suggests that he, too, may be seen as a hitcher.
He then described picking up a hitcher in Leeds, a man who was “following the sun from west to east” (line 7), suggesting that his life is dictated by natural rhythms, no the mechanical interruptions of an answering machine or the demands of work. The hitcher quotes the 1960s radical folk singer, Bob Dylan by saying that the truth is “blowin’ in the wind”, / or round the next bend.” (lines 8-9). This incenses the speaker as he resents being reminded of the fact that he is not as free as this man and neither does he seem to have the courage to be like him.
In a shocking display of violence he says, “I let him have it”, going on to detail attacking the hitcher with a “krooklok”, something designed to secure a car’s steering wheel and never intended for use as a weapon. In saying that he “let him out” (line 17) we understand that he means that he pushed him out deliberately. This is an appalling act on top of the head butt and six blows to the face with the krooklok mentioned earlier.
The remainder of the incident is reported as a reflection in the speaker’s rear view mirror. He is described as “bouncing off the kerb” (line 18). The speaker seems utterly unconcerned by this and casually reports, “We were the same age, give or take a week.” His brutality is contrasted with the gentleness of the hitcher who “liked the breeze / to run its fingers / through his hair” (lines 20-22). The speaker then fixes the time of the incident precisely by relaying the weather forecast to which he has clearly been listening on his car radio. This compounds his appalling lack of concerns and the fact that he can be so self absorbed as to observe, “The outlook for the day was moderate to fair” (line 23). This is dreadfully shocking as it uses the language of the shipping forecast to make clear that the death of the hitcher has not spoiled the day; quite the opposite in fact – things could get better.
The concluding statement leaves the reader in no doubt that the speaker is utterly amoral: “Stitch that, I remember thinking, / you can walk from there.” (lines 24-5). The implication is that the hitcher will never be walking anywhere again, even though we are certain that he has died. As mentioned earlier in this commentary, it could be that the speaker has to leave his former self behind and has described this in terms of a murder to draw attention to the effects of a conventional life on the average working person. This may not be acceptable as an interpretation so it is important to arrive at your own conclusion.
Comparison of Stealing and Hitcher Essay
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Comparison of Stealing and Hitcher
In this essay, I will be comparing two poems; Stealing, by Carol Ann
Duffy and Hitcher, by Simon Armitage. I will be using several categories in which to structure my comparison, which include style of language and structure. In this piece, I hope to provide in depth analysis into the narrators feelings and the poets techniques. Finally
I will be making a summary of my comments in a brief conclusion at the end, which will include my thoughts on both poems.
The style of language in these poems have several similarities as well as differences.
Firstly, in Stealing, Duffy has managed to fuse conversational English with typical poetic devices. The poem has been written in a colloquial
style…show more content…
In Stealing, we can easily establish that the narrator is a member of the subclasses. However, he has very complex feelings and many emotions. Duffy gives the narrator the ability to express his thoughts and feelings in a way unlike any other member of the subclasses. She gives him a voice in which he can express himself. For example, the narrator says “a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain”. This is not something we would expect from a person from the same background as the one we assume the narrator has. The narrator speaks in a very eerie and disturbing way. He says “A stranger’s bedroom. Mirrors. I sigh like this - Aah.”. The narrators voice is very significant. It gives us an insight into the reasons for his strange behaviour and increases the drama and bewilderment within the poem. This is the same in Hitcher. The narrators voice gives us an idea of the frustration and anger the narrator is feeling. Like in stealing we get a sense that not all is right within the mind of the narrator.
However, unlike in Stealing, the narrator in Hitcher has many emotions he cannot control and therefore he takes it out on the hitchhiker. “I let him have it…six times with the krooklok in the face”.
The Structure of both poems is in keeping with the style, and content they posses. Both poems have structures which reflect the general atmosphere they have.
In Stealing, the