Wislawa Szymborska

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Compare the observations of the terrorist and the narrator in "The Terrorist, He Watches."

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The observations of the terrorist in the poem “The Terrorist, He Watches” are callous and detached, as indeed are those of the narrator, who treats the forthcoming terrorist outrage as something you'd see in a movie.

In that sense, neither the terrorist nor the narrator, who's watching the terrorist as the bomb he's planted is ready to explode, are showing much in the way of humanity. A bomb's about to go off, which will cause death and serious injury, and yet both treat the whole thing like it's a gigantic spectacle.

Unsurprisingly, the terrorist has profound contempt for the people he's about to attack; he wonders whether a girl with a green ribbon in her hair was stupid enough to go into the bar where he's planted his bomb. Contempt is then followed by cold-blooded callousness as he says that we'll find out when they bring out the bodies.

But then the narrator doesn't seem to be all that concerned about what's going to happen. They simply observe, in a matter-of-fact way, that the terrorist is on the other side of the road and is therefore protected from the force of the imminent bomb blast.

The narrator comes across as a voyeur in search of excitement. Our initial impressions are reinforced by their observation that “it's like the pictures.” The narrator treats the whole scene like it's something out of a movie, something not real, just an entertaining spectacle. Though the narrator may not be a terrorist, they have a similarly callous attitude towards humanity.

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