Judith Beveridge challenges our understanding of the world by revealing hidden sides of our society through confronting images throughout her poems. The reader is revealed with number of issues such as animal cruelty and psychological torture. These issues are related to the gender of the character with the cruel attitude toward nature and the society. This is evident in the poems “The Two Brothers” and “Fox in a Tree Stump”. “The Two Brother” is a poem which uses natural speech rhythms, tone and informal language is used to create an understanding with the reader.
Reader is shown the brother’s cruelty but is also shown their brittleness and insecurity. The brothers’ cruelty is connected with their gender. This is shown in line 3-5 which says, “Had shown me themselves, grinning queerly as when they’d shown me lizards they’d killed, or sparrows they’d slowly bled with a needle. ” These lines show vivid and disturbing images of boys’ violence, this is then enhanced by alliteration of the word ‘S’ in “sparrows they’d slowly bled. ” In the lines, “shown me themselves” implies that such violence is a characteristic of being a male in our society.
This idea of cruelty being a part of male’s characteristic in our society is shown again in line 13 which says, “Would dare each other any taste, any soft clot, any ugly act. ” This line tells the reader that the brother’s would do anything and challenge each other for dominance which also implies that these characteristics of challenging each other for dominance is a part of a male’s life. In the last stanza the reader is given the idea that the brothers haven’t achieved anything and that the reader should feel pity for the brothers rather than looking at them as wrong, heartless human beings.
This is shown by persona saying “Touched themselves through the emptiness of their pockets, scared they’d find the prize of nothing. ” This quote evokes sympathy for the brothers through the word choice “emptiness” and “prize of nothing”. She also suggests that masculinity to cruelty is ultimately a hollow power. Just like “The Two Brothers”, “Fox in a Tree Stump” is a poem with a creature commonly thought of as a pest is projected as the innocent victim of male cruelty. This poem is about an unwanted intruder on the farm.
The poem records the memory of a painful loss of innocence for a sensitive nine- year old, who must choose between invoking her uncle’s anger and going against her own mortality. In this poem the uncle has taken it upon himself to teach the child some of the harsher realities in life. Uncle leaves the child to smoke out the unfortunate fox and kill it with a tree branch. Therefore, the child is forced to shed its innocence. The uncle’s dominance is shown over both the girl and the fox. The dominance is linked to the uncle’s gender.
Even though the uncle is domineering and cruel, yet Beveridge does not blame him for his act, the poet blames the uncle’s nature as shown in stanza 2 by a quote which says, “His voice harsh, kelpie- cursing would not understand if I let the fox run to the bush. ” This was also shown in The Two Brothers as at the end of the poem the brothers were not blamed for their action but instead were felt pity for. Fox in a Tree Stump ends with “I was a child praying for the dark each time the sun caught my uncle’s eye. ” The persona prays for something like this to never occur in her life again.
Children are usually afraid of the dark and hope for sunrise but in this quote dark means release from uncle’s domination and from the fear of further killings. Judith Beveridge has challenged the understanding of the world in which we live. “The Two Brother’s” and “Fox in a Tree Stump” both show male dominance over neglected creatures in the society and over females. Beveridge has also challenged my understanding of the society which we live in by raising issues such as physiological torture, animal cruelty, homosexuality and rape throughout most of her poems.
Courtney from Study Moose
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