(modified from an example found online)
YOUR MARKUPS OUGHT TO LOOK LIKE THE PICTURE ABOVE. WHAT FOLLOWS BELOW IS A BREAKDOWN OF SOME OF THE THOUGHT PROCESS THAT WENT INTO EACH STEP, BUT PLEASE FOLLOW THE MODEL ABOVE TO GUIDE HOW YOU SHOULD MARK UP YOUR POEMS
“Janet Waking” implies a girl waking up.
Janet sleeps in. She wakes up and thinks of her hen. She greets her family, but not her brother. She runs across the yard to the barn. Chucky has died. (Continue, sentence by sentence, through the rest of the poem).
C: Choice of Words
- “Till it was deeply morning” is a play on the word morning/mourning and foreshadows Janet’s grief.
- “Running across the world upon the grass” indicates that Janet’s world consists of her yard and demonstrates her to be a young child, still sheltered from the real world.
- “Venom” is a word that has a significant association with evil.
- “Now the poor comb stood up straight / But Chucky did not” downplays the seriousness of death and interjects dark humor into a situation that is devastating for Janet, yet somewhat comical to adults.
- Ransom puts several light-hearted words and phrases throughout the first five stanzas: “dainty-feathered hen,” “No kiss at all for brother,” “Old Chucky,” “purply,” and “But Chucky did not.”
- The rhyme scheme is ABBA, the final lines of each stanza are shorter. This structure reinforces the idea that Janet’s life is simple and that her worldview is narrow.
- [This is only a sampling of the types of comments you might make on the poem]
The tone of the speaker narrating the poem (Janet’s father) is at first light-hearted while dealing with the serious topic of a child’s first experience with death. The comical understatement mentioned above as well as the familial interaction most significantly demonstrate this tone. The tone of the ending is somewhat more forlorn as Janet’s refusal to comprehend death is a stark illustration of her youth and innocence, both of which will also end with the passage of time.
A significant shift occurs at the phrase “But alas” which indicates a change, and indeed, as Chucky has died and now Janet is confronted with the concept of death, her innocence is changed. Also, the humor disappears after stanza 5.
“Janet Waking” now deals with the idea that she is awakening from innocence to the reality of death.
Understanding death marks a departure from innocence. (Notice: “Innocence” would not be a good theme – it’s only a single word…)
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