Refugee Mother and Child by Chinua Achebe

Refugee Mother and Child by Chinua Achebe

 In th poem "Refugee Mother and Child" by Chinua Achebe the sadness of death is shown by creating a tragic atmosphere by introducing shocking images and strong words.

 At the beginning, in the first stanza, the author strikes us by telling us the child will soon die; "for a soon she soon will have to forget." This strong image of a mother and her son is more touching
than the "Madonna and Child." The use of alliteration in "a son she soon" reinforces the idea of proximity of death.

 The author uses simple and strong vocabulary, giving more emphasis to what is actually said than to the way it is said. This also helps in creating the tragic atmosphere by the use of words such a "diarrhoea" or "dried up ribs" or "washed out bottoms." we can clearly see that the child is suffering from starvation.

 "When the poet mentions the "ghost smile", she tries to express that there once was a "smile between her teeth", but now it is slowly disappearing, referring to a ghost,  but something still remains, she still remembers or longs for "her mothers pride" .

 The fact that "Most mothers there had long ceased to care but not this one" reinforces the idea that she still wants to share time with her son .

 A very shocking image used in the poem is the one where the mother combs her son, "as putting flowers in a tiny grave",preparing him for his funeral.

 The author expresses the sadness of death by showing the way a mother says goodbye to her son.  
Have a little read: ... Analysis of "Refugee Mother and Child" By Chinua Achebe The success of the poem Refugee mother and child lies within Chinua Achebe's ability to present an interfering, yet authentic and compelling poem. His own literary language is blended in with images and descriptions that create a sense of compassion for the unfortunate refugees. By skillfully contrasting the imagery of life and death, showing irony of singing in the mother's eyes, and cleverly foreshadowing, Achebe effectively helps to direct the readers towards the eventual death of the mother's child in the poem. Using literary devices such alliterations, contrasts, imagery, tones and symbols, Achebe proficiently specifies the ultimate destinies of the protagonists in the poem. Achebe starts his first stanza with the imagery of the famous painting of "Madonna and Child". This metaphor of the painting symbolizing a great mother, and Madonna being Mary, the mother of Jesus here, expresses a divine, soft and tender feeling because in the bible Mary has always been a character of love, loyalty and honesty, which is reinforced with the rhyme in the second line of the first stanza between tenderness and forgets. The rhyme manages to reinforce this because it has a flowing and delicate sound, which symbolizes Mary. The two words "tenderness" and "forgets," also have a contrast; forget being gone and tenderness showing a current situation. Achebe uses this contrast to show, distinction between the refugee mother and Madonna, but it immediately hints on the destiny of characters in the story. Mary's child, Jesus passed away, and it seems to be that the refugee mother's child is also going to depart. However, the writer clearly distinguishes images here. With a very compassionate stanza in the poem, the second stanza changes into a very different setting; "The air was heavy with odours/ of diarrhoea of unwashed children...". This line shows the imagery of a dirty refugee camp in contrast to the first stanza. Diarrhoea and odours give a very poor idea of how life must be in the refugee camp. This contrast was probably set up to really express the terrible state of the refugee camp, as the poem started in a beautiful compassionate way, therefore suddenly changing to the deprived scene of the refugee camp, emphasizes on its terrible state. Achebe also uses vivid phrases and words "unwashed children with washed out ribs", creating sense impressions. The repetition of wash emphasizes on

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