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How is the theme represented (positively negatively, inspiringly, simply, humorously)...

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rainbow224 | Student, Grade 11

Posted July 2, 2013 at 12:15 PM via web

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How is the theme represented (positively negatively, inspiringly, simply, humorously) in the poem "Smalltown Dance" by Judith Wright?  

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 2, 2013 at 2:45 PM (Answer #1)

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The poet in Smalltown Dance wants to add humor to this poem by representing it as a dance. The visual picture of the sheet-folding as they stand "arms wide: together: again: two forward steps: hands meet your partner's once and twice.." together with the tempo of what sounds like a line dance is humorous. The fact that the sheet is then folded away, is confusing for the reader as the women need to make it understood that life is not a dance and there will come a time for packing your dreams "on a cupboard shelf." 

In the second verse, there is a playfulness and it's almost like a nursery rhyme as an opportunity presents its self - " ..waiting green. Run, run before you're seen." Nursery rhymes are often told when trying to lessen the seriousness of a situation. It was hardly funny for the "Old Woman who lived in a Shoe" and no less for the women trapped in their existence. They will reveal the seriousness of the situation in the third verse as even those who manage to "struggle from the peg" are limited and "don't travel far."

Finally, the women reveal the fruitlessness of the search for freedom, the main focus of this poem, and "those beckoning roads to some impossible world" are too overwhelming, adding a sadness to the poem's theme of how difficult it is to escape a mundane existence when you come from a "small town."

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