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Want to revise your theme evaluation skills in 'Before You Were Mine'?


(Hint, yes you do! Double hint, you've come to the right place to do this!)


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In this activity, you'll be able to practise your evaluating skills concerning key themes in 'Before You Were Mine'. This activity should allow you to develop your understanding of how the writer builds key themes and presents them effectively. 



An evaluation template:


Understanding the poet's intention: In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy presents the theme of motherhood by showcasing Duffy's relationship with her mother when she was a child.


Example: The quote "you'd teach me the steps on the way home from Mass" illustrates this.


Effect: This quote shows that Duffy's relationship with her mother is a close one. It emphasises the happy childhood that Duffy has. We can infer that Duffy enjoyed her time with her mother because she remembers the details of the moment when they were returning from 'Mass' dancing the cha-cha.


Linking the theme to the poem as a whole: The fact that they are coming home from 'Mass' highlights the idea of religion and conventionality. This contrasts the rest of the poem, which shows the mother used to be more unconventional before she had Duffy. In this way, Duffy presents motherhood as something conventional and limiting.



Don't worry about making your evaluations complex and don't get too intimidated by the example above. Choose your own answer, but work towards the sophistication of the example presented here. 


Hopefully, this introduction makes evaluating themes easier to understand. If it's still tricky, don't worry, because the activity is filled with helpful hints and explanations that you can jot down as you go through it. 


Remember, take your time, it's not a race.


You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples.  These quotations are for reference only.


10 questions
The quotations/text used in this exercise are from the copyrighted works of Carol Ann Duffy, 'Before You Were Mine'.