In “The Child Who Walks Backwards”, Lorna Crozier conveys a case of neglect and child abuse, to see the harsh truth of this one needs to focus on what they witness and look focus on a deeper meaning in what they are told. The author conveys this idea through the use of structure and from, figurative language and character. Right of the bat the author uses specific wording to make the reader begin to question the neighbour. “My next-door neighbour tells me.” (Crozier, 1) the use of the words “tells me” (1) creates a sense of distrust in the line to come. These words create a stronger feeling rather than using the word says. It makes the reader wonder if the neighbour is being completely truthful or not. The constant concept of the child being clumsy throughout the text also begins to make the reader question what is really going on.
In every stanza there are mentions of various injuries to the child “Trips.” (13), “Cracks.” (13), “Smacks.” (14), “Burns.” (16) the vast injuries that accumulate hint at abuse and neglect. The injuries get progressively worse throughout each stanza. “The casts that hold his small bones.” (24) the mother should be teaching her child to be more safe and precautious but because she is neglecting him the child’s injuries become more severe. The author uses figurative language in the mothers speech to make it appear as though she is claiming things are out to get the child as a way of covering up the truth. “Cupboard corners and doorknobs have pounded their shapes / into his face.” (5) the personifications used makes it appear as though the house is deliberately trying to injure her soon, when in reality that is not the case. “Sparks burn stars in his skin.” (22) again giving human qualities to non-living things are used as explanation for injuries that only a person could create. “Sits and stares at flames / while sparks burn stars in his skin.” (22) the alliteration catches the readers attention to make them concentrate on what the mother is telling the neighbour. Phillip 2
The language used hides what is really going on giving more reason to doubt what the mother is saying and realize her child is being abused and neglected. Evidence of true character makes it very clear that the child is not clumsy and something bigger is going on. In actuality the child shows no sign of being a klutz whatsoever. “This child who climbed my maple / with the sureness of a cat, / trips in his room, cracks / his skull on the bedpost.” (14) the next-door neighbour witnessed the child showing clear signs of coordination and agility making the mother’s claims happen to the child not add up to what is being visibly seen. It does not make sense that the child can so easily climb a tree but be so clumsy at home, this makes it quite apparent that the mother is lying about what goes on in their home.
“While she lies / sleeping.” (31) the diction the author used of the word “Lies.” (30) creates a separate meaning to the line, being that the mother lies and lies asleep while these injuries take place. The fact that these things happen while the mother is asleep means that someone other than the child’s mother is abusing him. “He walks backwards.” (19) walking backwards makes the child come across as clumsy until you look deeper into the text. People walk backwards when walking away from someone, the child is not clumsy he is backing away from his abuser. In “The Child Who Walks Backwards”, Lorna Crozier conveys a case of neglect and child abuse, to see the bitter truth one must focus on what they see and looker closer to find a deeper meaning in what they are told. The author conveys this idea through the use of structure and from, figurative language and character. To conclude deeper meanings can be found from the text that support the idea of child abuse and neglect.