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‘The Melon grower’ by Alice Oswald explains the slow decline in a couples marriage. ‘The melon grower’ is the man, Oswald uses his care for the melons to demonstrate the mans disinterest in his wife and his lack of emotion towards her. As the poem leads on through the twelve stanzas it becomes increasingly sad and disfunctional however in parts showing a comical side. The frequent use of the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ in the poem proves the disfuntion and seperation of the couple as their marriage falls apart.
The 12, 3 line stanzas are biographical. The story has been told to the author from the prospective of the wife who is clearly unhappy in her marriage. We don’t know fully how her husband is feeling about the disintigration of his marriage, only of his obssessive interest in his melons.We are given a brief insight into his emotions when he was in church and he sang ‘O Lord how long shall the wicked….?” and then, He prayed, with his thumbs on his eys. Were we given a glimpse of his own dispair?
In the first few opening stanzas there is a sense of seperation through the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ there is no ‘they’ showing that they no longer spend time together. The wife seeks the husbands attention as he spends the majority of his time out of the house with his plants ‘She threw a slipper at him’ this domestic item contrasts with the plants and highlights the difference between their seperate lives, it is almost as if she is physically throwing the house at him in despiration.
The poem doesn’t just describe the end of the friendship and communication of the couple but also the end of their sexual realtionship ‘If I can sex’ he said ‘the flowers, very gently i’ll touch their parts with a pollen brush made with rabbit hairs.’ this qoutefrom stanza 5 highlights the abscence of sex within their relationship, he is more intimate with the melons.
Stanza eight shows us the passing of time, the relationship still limping on, with him remaining ever neglectful of his wife’s even his daughters, feelings, burying his head and hiding in his green house. He cares for his melons with the utmost care and gentleness which is at odds with the decay of his home and his l
I feel that Oswalds sympathy lies with the wife. I feel as a reader, sympathy for both charaters. The misunderstanding, the lack of communication, her anger, his apparent apathy toward the problem, all leading to the slow crumbling of their relationship.
Within the last two stanzas Oswald creates a contrast between the two, first of all she paints an image of softness with the nets and fruits ‘big at ease’ but then writes the last stanza about the wifes final despair with the melony aroma suffocating ‘…the whole place’ becoming sinister.