Effects Poem Analysis by Alan Jenkins

Effects Poem Analysis: Effects is a poem that explores the speaker's broken relationship with his now passed mother. He ‘grew up’ and separated himself from his parents, it is only after they have gone that he realizes the lack of connection he has with them. All he is left with is a bag of her items.

Effects Poem Themes 

Family: There is this sadness around the fact that the speaker was not there for his parents before their deaths.

He ‘grew up’ and separated himself from them, after the death of his father is when his mother's health spiraled down and she would pour ‘drink after drink’.

Even then he ‘didn’t come’ to help. I think that he regrets not being there for them and therefore uses his mother’s material things (‘her watch’) to try and fool himself into believing that he knew his mother. He was more attached to her items than his mother herself.

Illness: The poem highlights how an illness can control your life. The speaker’s mother would once do all the ‘chopping and slicing’ from household work, but after her illness, she was incapable and needed someone else to ‘cook for her’.

Effects Poem

The television that she and her husband once ‘sat together watching soaps and game shows’ became one at which she ‘stared unseeing at’.

The tone of the Effects Poem

There is a sad and accepting tone throughout the poem, as the speaker owns up to the fact that he was not there for his parents when they needed him.

Even though his mother pleaded him not to leave, ‘of course […he…] left’.

Structure of Effects Poem

There is no standard or regular rhyme scheme in the poem which could be a representation of how the speaker's mind was muddled and full of these little jumbled up memories of his parents after their death.

The poem is also made up of 2 sentences, which could be a symbol of the 2 people he has lost in his life and now regrets not being there for.

It is only at the end of the poem that we see a regular rhyme scheme.

This could symbolize the point of acceptance and the speaker regaining control over his life following his parent’s death. He is accepting that he had ‘left’ his mother at her deathbed and all he is left with is her material items.

The things he once used to feel like he knew his mother.

Techniques of Effects Poem

The author shows the divide between generations through the mother’s denial to eat ‘whatever funny foreign stuff young people seemed to eat these days’.

This shows how different she was to her son due to the fact that she was from a different generation, maybe helps us to understand why the speaker felt a lack of connection to his parents. Generation divide.

There is also alliteration used in the phrase ‘knuckles reddened, rough’, this ‘r’ sound is a symbol of how tough his mother was, yet he never gave her credit for all of the things she did.
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