Stealing by Carol Ann Duffy is written in first person narration. The speaker indicates directly to the reader that the most unusual thing he ever stole was a snowman. The speaker describes how he did so and how thrilling it was to learn that the children would cry in the morning as a result of the theft. He also informs the readers about other things he stole, which were frequently of no use to him. He rebutted why he was acting in such a way because he was bored and sick of the world.
At the end of the poem, he suggests that the reader cannot understand his outlook. This poem is basically an informal and casual speech, in which the speaker communicates directly with the reader. As revealed from the last sentence, “You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you? “, the speaker is addressing to the reader and requesting them to respond and be involved. Sometimes, we can even hear the real-life voice of the speaker through the use of onomatopoeia.
For instance, “I sigh like this-Aah”, which appeals to the reader’s sense of hearing, making the sigh more impressive and forms9 a strong impression in the mind of the reader. The application of pauses, further demonstrates that the speaker is interacting with the reader, as in a speech, we will not be able to complete our speech in one breath, there must be pauses. Furthermore, although the poem is written in five equal stanzas, there is no regularity in the lines.
Sometimes, the end of one line runs into the next line or the line may stop in the middle of the sentence. This special arrangement not only indicates the casual tone of the speaker but also points out that the behavior of the speaker was very strange and irregular. The speaker in the poem is pessimistic and regards himself as a failure, as he assumes he might learn how to play a guitar after he stole one. We can sense that the speaker longs for a glamorous life, as he desires to be able to play a guitar and be as genius as Shakespeare.
Though the speaker has the motivation to life an upright life, he lacks the determination and courage to turn his thoughts into action. Instead he ruins his life by committing theft, which reflects his negative view towards life. He even stole things that were of no use to him to idle his time away. For the snowman, “he didn’t look the same” and is left with its “lumps of snow” at the end, this is a metaphor to reveal the uselessness of his action to steal the snowman.
Furthermore, the speaker is also a loner and yearns for companionship. He claims “I wanted, him, a mate with a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain. ” No matter how miserable the children will be because of his inconsiderate action, he doesn’t care, for he is in need of a mate. Moreover, the poem is mysterious and contains many factors of unknown. The identity of the thief is not exposed. His or her age, appearance, position in society are never mentioned in details. Mysteriousness is further built-up through the setting.
The venue of the occurrence of the theft was left unknown, the readers only know that the atmosphere was creepy as it was midnight with the winter moon. Special literacy techniques are used throughout the poem. Metaphor is used in line 13, “I’m a mucky ghost”, as in the eyes of the children, the victims, the speaker is a mucky ghost which is even worse than human beings and is disliked by others. Repetition of the word “again”, emphasizes that the speaker is kicking the snowman repeatedly and is trying hard to destroy it, neglecting the feelings of the children.
The use of full stops also helps the reader to picture him getting his breath back between each kick. As for the camera, there is a symbolic meaning behind. He pinched it because all his memories are recorded in it. As we learn from the poem, his life is a piece of boredom so there are no events worth remembering. Therefore, he wanted to pinch a camera. Lastly, in the last two stanzas, run-on-lines were used to state that the thief’s life drags on and on and seems endless, monotonous and purposeless.