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Commentary on Feet Essay

Feet is a prose talking about a little child looking at his sister’s death. The story is set in a post war period, when poverty and diseases are everywhere. We can know this by looking at the date written under the title, “September 1948”. The story happened in a working class family in Ireland. We can know that it is set in Ireland from the little sister’s name. From the sentence in line 7, “ Una. My younger sister, Una.” We know that her name is Una, which is an Irish name, so we can know that it is an Irish family. It is showed that the family is in working class by looking at the descriptions of the uncles’ work and the mother’s feet. In paragraph 4, it mentioned that the uncles are working in a building site as workers. While in paragraph 5, it mentioned that the mother is wearing low heels and her feet are swollen, which shows that even the mother have been working. This prose is set under a table.

It can be seen in line 5, “Smoky had found me under the table”, that the child is under the table. In the story, the child is the main character. The child is in denial of his sister’s death. We can see this from his action and his mind. First, we know that he is hiding himself under the table, this shows that he doesn’t want to face this tragedy. Secondly, in paragraph 4, we can see the child’s flashback of his past life with the uncles. This showed that he is trying to think of other things so not to remind himself of his sister’s death, which is an action of evading. Last but not least, in the ending paragraph, the sentence “Smoky shook under his fur and whimpered when I pushed him away” showed that the child is suppressing and denying his emotions. We can also see that the child is bewildered as he only has partial understandings. We can know this simply by looking from the angle of the child, all he can see under the table are feet only.

Also, in the last paragraph, the child asked quite a lot of rhetorical questions which showed his perplexity. He is also very naïve and innocent. In paragraph 3, the child misunderstand diseases’ names and we can see that all those associations with the names are based on sensory focus, mainly on sounds and smells which usually is what a child did. The narrator is childlike. The author does not mention a lot about the uncles and the mother. However, from the short descriptions we can know their social status is low as they don’t have nice and expensive shoes. Instead, they wear poor and old shoes which can show their harsh life. Also, the mother was mentioned to be cough-crying, which is an alliteration using fricatives that showed how sad and weak the mother is at that moment. Smoky the dog is a character acting as an Emotional Barometer, reflecting the child’s suppressed emotions which was mentioned in the above paragraph. This prose is written in first person in the angle of the little boy. It is mainly describing about what is happening in the present while having a paragraph being a flashback.

The whole story is mentioning about what the boy see under the table when her sister die and how he feel and think about it. Under the table, he see feet walking around as the ambulance men move and bring the sister away and those of the relatives that are sad and dread. In this prose, we can find some literary devices that the author used and the language and imagery used in this passage. First, the author uses sentence fragment in the passage to increase the pressure and scare in the story. For example, in line 7, “ Una. My younger sister, Una.” Is a sentence fragment that the narrator emphasizes his sister’s name to show how much he cared and missed her. In line 25, “Meningitis” is a sentence fragment with only one single word, which emphasize the danger of the disease, and also showing that the boy actually know nothing about the disease except the name of it. Secondly, the author uses red motif in line 13, “which had a tiny redness in one toecap”, this can also be a symbolism.

Red can symbolize danger and also blood, using colours to show the sister’s death. Alliteration is also used in the passage. It appear in line 17, “Pain and pressure”, which are plosives and also appear in line 44, “cough-crying”, which are fricatives. The author uses quite a lot of sensory appeal in the third paragraph where the narrator is imagining things about the diseases’ names. They are mainly sounds and smells. There is a lexical choice of vocabulary in line 25, “IT had a fright and hiss in it”, this sentences has the word hiss which we usually uses to describe snakes. This shows that the disease is as danger as snakes.

Imagery can be found in the prose too, in the last paragraph, line 48, “the autumn air darkening” using the image of autumn being the period when most living things die to describe the dying image. Last but not least, rhetorical questions can be found in the last paragraph. What ideas did the author expressed through the passage? Poverty is showed in the passage through the shoes of the characters, knowing how harsh the lives of the mother and the uncles have. However, the main idea of the passage is the child learning about the nature of death.

We know that the child doesn’t know much about the disease nor death, having all those questions that have no answers. He has fear and is too sudden to him that he can hardly accept. He is far too young that limited his view point which is expressed by limiting the view point to only seeing feet when being under a table. “Feet” thoroughly showed how the little boy go through his sister’s death with his limited understandings. Having the whole theme about death, “Feet” shows the boy’s fear, confusion, denial and hope.


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