In the poem, "To the Doctor who Treated the Raped Baby and Who Felt Such Despair," what is the speaker trying to do in this poem and how is this achieved? Discuss specific instances in the poem for...

In the poem, "To the Doctor who Treated the Raped Baby and Who Felt Such Despair," what is the speaker trying to do in this poem and how is this achieved? Discuss specific instances in the poem for support. 

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Dowling’s sad and disturbing poem, she uses the heinous crime of raping a child to juxtapose how a child should be loved and cared for. Dowling plays with the opposite of tenderness vs. violence in her descriptions.  The poem’s lines are structured to show this opposition with the kindness of patient, loving parents being compared to the required doctoring of a bloody baby who has been violently raped. Each set of lines sets a different and opposite scene.  For example, as the baby is admitted to the hospital in line five, faraway a Karoo shepherd is singing a lullaby to a baby unable to go to sleep.  In addition, in line 15 while the doctor stitched up the baby’s wounds, a parent somewhere was reading another story to a child. These poetic scenes skip back and forth throughout the entire poem showing what is normal in childhood in opposition to the horrors of unimaginable violence.

This structure shows the two extremes between love and hate, safety and fear, and kindness and brutality.  From this structure, Dowling presents a theme that emphasizes the difference between the doctor’s compassion and a parent’s unwavering love, to a violent crime that no one should endure.