The opening lines of the poem initiate the main themes; “Black bull” introduces one of the themes which are gender stereotyping. This suggests the bull is powerful, strong and very angry. Females are then introduced in the poem, “eggs and milk”. This suggests females are pale, delicate and easily broken. The poet highlights the theme of stereotypes by placing “black bull” above “eggs and milk”. This is to effectively state that the black bull is on top of eggs and milk which emphasises on the importance of gender stereotyping.
The second theme is introduced which is innocence and experience, “They call him Bob – as though perhaps you could reduce a monster with the charm of a friendly name”. Tone her is cynical. The bull has been given a cheery, friendly name which is a irrelevant name for the harsh animal. The key words of the quote are “monster” and “friendly”. This is a very striking contrast between the idea of the name Bob being friendly, cheery and approachable, but in actual fact behind the cheery name lays a monster. The quote, “at the threshold of his outhouse”, is the turning point in the story.
This is a symbolic quote that states you must go over a line before starting a new life. In the poem a young girl is standing in the area between safety and danger. The line is significant as the pause creates a series of tension building up to a sense of danger. The girl’s initial perceptions of the creature are conveyed in, “At first only black, and the hot reek of him…” The girl’s sensory impressions of the bull are that the word “black” represents danger. The words “hot reek” represents the smell and stench of the bull.
Her over all sensory impression is the smell of the bulls pungent aroma that is its natural smell and the limited sight gives her a sense of the unknown danger. The poet continues to reference the main theme of gender stereotyping by developing it, “We was immense”, This quote highlights masculinity and power. It shows that males are bigger, more powerful and the dominate gender. The theme of innocence and experience is also developed, and the bull and the girl are compared to each other. The girl is full of fear and innocence. She is extremely intimidated by the bulls presence.
The poet powerfully, reinforces the contrasting thematic dichotomies suggested in verse one. In the first instance this is done by including details in verse two which contract with details from the first verse. The poet has reinforced the theme of innocence and experience as he shows that the bull knows he is restrained. Also reinforces the theme of gender stereotyping – girl and boy. This is done as it is dark and the girl cannot see what the bull is doing, whilst the girl is unaware of this, the bull is trying to break free from where he is chained up too.
The poet condenses the contrast by highlighting them in a few lines of verse two. “ I had always half known he existed” Here, the poet points out that the girl had always knew the bull was there, just she had never seen the bull and didn’t want to come to terms with the reality. Verse three is effective as it shows that the girl is fearful of her encounter with the bull. The girl is terrified by the bulls presence and runs away from the farm. She runs past a group of boys.
Here the writer links the bull and the boys together by the use of harsh sound effects. It is important that this link is made as it makes a direct comparison between the bulls aggression and the boys cruelty. It highlights that they both share the same characteristics. Finally, the girls attention is redirected to the parlous state of the eggs and milk, due to the flight, “scared of the eggs shattering” While she’s too busy protecting the eggs it shows the reader that females are protective towards anything precious.
In the girls eyes the eggs and milk are precious, and she wants to protect them from any harm. “in case the milk should spill” The precarious position of the milk is highlighted in the small hands of a weak girl, who has been charged with the responsibility of looking after the eggs and milk. She is protecting what is important to her. The poet seems to be suggesting that her experience shows that females are scared of males and have to protect themselves from any harm. Females protect all forms of life, they are caring and sensible creatures.