War photographer and war photograph

In the poems ‘war photographer’ and ‘war photograph’ the audience are presented with two poems which express the feelings of the authors towards war. I will be comparing these two poems to find the differences between the narrators feelings. Kate Daniels poem is told through the voice of an American citizen looking in a magazine at a war photograph. Whereas, Carol Ann-Duffy’s poem is about a war photographer developing the photos, that he took previously, in a darkroom. In the poem ‘war photograph’, we get the impression that the poem is narrated by a woman. We see this because the narrator shows compassion and is more sympathetic. We’re feeling sorry for her’.
Women usually show more compassion and sympathy than men, and we know that the author is female, so it is more of a direct viewpoint. She is displaying her views and compassion through the character. However, in the poem ‘War photographer’, we know that a man is narrating it as it refers to a ‘he’; ‘In his dark room, he is finally alone’. In ‘War photograph’ she feels detached from the child as she keeps referring to the distance between them, she feels helpless for the child. She is also appalled at the war as it is killing so many innocent people ‘being appalled at the war’.
The war photographer is also appalled at the war, as he has to see the horrific sights everyday; ‘he remembers the cries of this man’s wife. ’ He is scarred by the things he has seen. We are told ‘he is finally alone’ as if he has been running away from something and now he is happy to be away from the war. ‘Solutions stop in trays beneath his hands which did not tremble then, though seem to now’, this tells us that he did not have the full effect of his surroundings and the horror of it all, but now that he is alone and the photos are slowly developing, he can take it in, and really look at what was there and how terrible it was.

This is different to war photograph, as in that poem, the woman can only imagine the horror that’s there. She only knows what’s in the picture and doesn’t have the memories and stay behind getting the picture which has more of an impact. As it isn’t her country or people she’s knows fighting, she has no personal involvement in the war and is merely just an observer, like her character. Both poems describe our lack of care and compassion for the people suffering in the war and the horrific state some of them are in.
However, in ‘war photograph’ it describes in detail how she feels and gives an emotional response. In war photographer, Kate Daniels uses lots of language devices and effects, such as oxymoron’s, rhetorical questions and repetition. She repeats the word ‘running’ throughout to add emphasis on the fact that she is running away from the destruction and devastation around her. ‘She is running from the smoke’ ‘She is also running from the Gods’ ‘She is running – my God – to us’. It resembles her desperate attempt to run away from the bombs going off behind her.
She uses rhetorical questions ‘how can she know what we really are? ’ She uses ‘what’ instead of ‘who’ as we look like war hungry soldiers, the Americans are responsible for this picture. We seem not human. Rhetorical questions also make us think more and reflect on what we have done. It engages the reader. In War Photographer Duffy uses repetition in her poem on the words ‘he’ and ‘his’. The photographer doesn’t have a name and the use of these words makes us feel more detached from him as we don’t know his name and we don’t feel familiar with him.
We are given the feeling of detachment in the poem ‘war photograph’ by using imagery ’10,000 miles away’ ‘In another world’ ‘on another Continent’. She is far away and we feel helpless. Kate Daniels makes us look past the picture. ‘She keeps on running, you know, after the shutter of the camera clicks’. She is telling us that everything doesn’t just become better after the photo has been taken, the girl is still homeless and running for help. Imagery is used in the poem, ‘naked child’.
We get the image of a naked child, which shows vulnerability and the fact that it is a child makes us feel sorrier for her, as she can’t look after herself. ‘A naked child is running’; because she is running, we know she is scared of something, which makes us even more pitiful towards her. ‘She is also running from the God’s’ this is extraordinary as God is seen as someone to turn to for help, not to run away from, God is never on the losing side. ‘the God’s who have changed the sky to fire’. We realise that there is lots of destruction and fire around, it makes us imagine that the sky is orange with fire.
As she says ‘God’s’ she must not be a Christian, as Christians only believe in one God. Imagery is used in ‘war photographer’ by using metaphors ‘A strangers features faintly start to twist before his eyes, a half formed ghost. ’ He uses this metaphor to describe the pictures being formed, it makes us see it more vividly and feel as if we’re there. ‘Solutions slop in trays beneath his hands’, this if course is talking about the developing liquid in the tray, however, solutions has two meanings and this could suggest the solution of the war, which of course, he doesn’t have. In black-and-white’ is suggests the pictures are in monochrome, but it could also mean the comparison of good and evil from both sides of the war, this is allegory. ‘All flesh is grass’, we think of grass as fresh and bright, this juxtaposes the flesh that he compares it to. Flesh is rotting and means death and devastation, whereas grass is alive. It covers the Earth, meaning that if flesh is grass then flesh must be covering the Earth under his feet. Alliteration is used in ‘war photographer’, for examples; repetition of the letter ‘s’ – ‘she . . . smoke . . . soldiers . . . sister’.
The repeating of the letter ‘s’ makes it seem harsh as it’s a harsh letter to pronounce, this resembles the harsh effects of the war. This technique is also used in ‘war photographer’ ‘Something is happening. A strangers features faintly start to twist before his eyes. ’ Repetition of the letter ‘s’ makes it seem harsh and negative, just like the war. ‘Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. ’ This is tripling and alliteration. He says the cities in a blase way, it is just another city he’s seen and he doesn’t care about them , he just says them like the clicker of his camera – fast and sharp.
This is intertextuality as it refers to something known, Duffy tries to bring alive the thought of war which makes it more tangible and easier to relate to. As war photographer is written by a woman, the poem is more sympathetic. ‘We’re feeling sorry for her’, as the character in the poem, we are guessing, is also a woman, she can give direct opinions on the war. The poem ‘war photographer’ starts off with the line ‘In his darkroom, he is finally alone’. This tells us straight away that he wanted to be alone, he must want to get away from something.
The key word here is finally as it depicts the fact that he has been waiting to be alone for a while. This also shows that he has no emotional attachment to where he has come from, and as though he didn’t want to help the people suffering in the war, just to get back to the peace and quiet of his studio. He states the places that he has been to in a blase way that also makes it seem as though he has no emotional attachment to the places but just tells them as if they mean nothing ‘Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. ’ He states them with full stops between them, so you say them quicker, but you have to pause in between each city.
These short sentences also juxtapose the long sentence that was used before, ‘The only light is red and softly glows, as though this were a church and he a priest preparing to intone a mass. Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. ’ She does this to emphasise how blase the cities are, as she has put no affection into describing the cities. ‘All flesh is grass. ’ This short sentence tells us about the horror that there is flesh pummelled into the Earth and how gory the settings are around him. Grass is usually so fresh, clean and full of life, yet it juxtaposes with the rotting, bloody flesh that surrounds him.
He says it shortly, with no description of what effect that had on him, or any distress it may have caused. It seems like the horrible things he has seen have no impact on him, or they do, but as he is a man he does not want to sound ‘soppy’ or ‘soft’. The fact that it says ‘He has a job to do’ backs up the fact that the surroundings don’t have an impact on him and he only gets the picture and leaves, he doesn’t get any feelings towards these people, he just wants the money. He describes that he must do the job whether he likes it or not, ‘to do what someone must’.
This gives the impression that he realises he cannot get emotionally attached as it is only a job and he needs to do it on a daily basis. He doesn’t particularly want to do the job, but he has to, as many people don’t want to do it. ‘The readers eyeballs prick with tears between bath and pre-lunch beers’ this shows that the author is trying to get out a point of view that even though it may affect you for a little bit, unless you were the one of the people who actually got injured in the war, or lost somebody close to you because of it, you won’t be affected by the war.
In the poem ‘war photograph’, the author seems to try and get the message across that no matter how far away from the war you are, it will always have an impact on you. She describes this well as the poem about the effect a photograph has on a woman, the woman being herself. ‘All over the country we’re feeling sorry for her and being appalled at the war’. This line is similar to Carol Ann Duffy’s line about the reader’s eyeballs pricking with tears. Kate Daniels relates the poem to us using ‘we’re’; this makes us feel as though we are more involved in the poem.
Its describing how we are affected even though we are no way near the war zone, and probably don’t know the people involved in it either. Daniels feels sorry for the girl and realises how terrible we are to let this happen in the first place ‘How can she know what we really are? ’ She is so horrified at us that she says ‘what’ instead of ‘who’, as if we are some war hungry monsters. She thinks that we should be ashamed of ourselves for letting this happen. ‘From the distance, we look so terribly human’. Carol Ann Duffy clearly feels something in common with the subject of war.
She uses her own opinions and experiences through the character to explain her views of how us British people just sit and look at the pictures but don’t know the reality of the situation. She judges the photographer as both a priest and a journalist. She uses a simile which compares him to a priest, this shows us how seriously he takes his job and also how he stands up for those who cannot help themselves. She describes his studio to resemble a church with a dim red light, which could resemble a lantern, which most churches have.
The image is also suitable as he tries to get the message across how fragile life is. She has a passion for the war and feels that we do not think about the suffering enough. The reader’s response to the pictures in the paper, do not affect the people in the war, however, the sufferers of the war still let him take pictures to show other countries what is happening to them. We only get affected for a little while, but soon enough, we have forgotten about the tragedies out there.
Kate Daniels tries to get the message across to us that no matter how far away from the war you are, there is always some way you will get attached. She makes reference throughout the poem on how detached she is from the war, but she still describes the impact it has on her. She gets her feelings across directly through the character in the poem as they are both female so she can get her opinions through. The picture has a lasting impression on her, we know this because she thinks to herself about the picture and asks rhetorical questions ‘how can she know what we really are? ’.
A modern audience reading ‘war photographer’ would feel sorry for the war victims as we just do not know the reality of the situation they are in, but as in the poem suggests, we will have forgotten about it soon enough. A modern audience reading ‘war photograph’ would also feel sorry for the war victims. We feel especially sorry for the little girl in the poem as she is young and helpless. Daniels describes this picture as it shows a vulnerable and feeble young girl, which we feel more sympathetic towards. She does this to get the message across of how bad the war is that it is harming young children that aren’t even taking part in the war.
Both poems try to show us the horror of the war and how it should have an impact on you. In ‘war photographer’ she describes how we will just forget about it and care about other things instead, whereas in ‘war photograph’ she describes how it will have a lasting impression on you. In both poems, the authors get their opinions across through their character, which gives a more honest opinion. We know that no matter how far we are away from the war, it will always have an effect on us, whether or not it is temporary or permanent.

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