In Part II, Stanzas 10,11, 12 & 14 of "They Rime of the Ancient Mariner," retell events and examine imagery in light of effect and purpose.
My son has to analyze each stanza in part II and be able to thoroughly explain the images created and how they contribute to effect, meaning or purpose.
Yes, so the Mariner has killed, for no reason except maybe boredom, an albatross. Things that were going well on the ship's journey, now turned bad. The ship that moved so freely was now stationary, baking in the sun. The implication is that the killing of the albatross caused this awful turn of events. Now, stanza by stanza, the effects:
Stanza 10, the men were desperate for drink and:
The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.
When they look at the sea, all the sea creatures, water snakes, eels, fish, etc., all seemed slimy, gross and disgusting.
About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.
At night, although the creatures could not be seen, the multi-colored water looked like a boiling witch's cauldron. A fantastic and horrifying hallucination.
And some in dreams assuréd were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.
And in the dreams of the suffering men on deck, they were sure that a spirit was following them beneath the ship, causing this curse of the dead albatross.
Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
Blaming the Mariner for their misfortune, the men took the albatross, and, with a rope, hung the dead bird around his neck... a vengeful replacement for a Christian cross.
In Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," he is attempting to create a work of pure imagination. You should be careful not to let rational constraints get in the way of your interpretation. For your son's assignment, go with the images as you read them: slimy creatures crawling upon the slimy sea, electrical discharge shooting/dancing from the mast, a sea spirit following them from the bottom of the sea, etc. These contribute to this work of imagination. In general, these stanzas present the albatross being avenged. Pardon the expression, but these stanzas show all hell breaking loose upon the ship. And his shipmates see the mariner himself as the cause: they hang the killed albatross around his neck, since he is the one who shot it.
I've answered in a way that I think will help your son complete his assignment, but if he needs more detail feel free to email me.