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Analyse Language in 'Climbing My Grandfather'

In this worksheet, students will exercise their analysis of language in 'Climbing My Grandfather' (part of the Love and Relationships anthology).

'Analyse Language in 'Climbing My Grandfather'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to practice your language analysis in 'Climbing My Grandfather'?

 

Thought bubble

 

Good! You've come to the right place. All you need to do is refer to the poem 'Climbing My Grandfather' in your anthology! 

 

 

To quickly recap: Written by Andrew Waterhouse, the poem uses extended metaphor as its main device. The speaker 'climbs' his grandfather, getting to know him better.

 

In this somewhat nostalgic poem about an imposing grandfather and childhood memories, Waterhouse uses the imagery and symbolism of mountaineering to showcase a close relationship between the speaker and his grandfather.

 

Pen and spiral notepad

 

Take notes as you do this activity. It'll definitely help you absorb more information if you're writing all the new things you learn alongside. Take your time and absorb the teacher's explanation. It's full of helpful gems!

 

Looking at the quote:

 

'First, the old brogues, dusty and cracked'

 

Brown brogues

 

Tick one box that you think best explains the language used in this quote. Look at the adjectives bolded.

The adjectives give the sense of newness

The adjectives give the sense of wear and tear

The adjectives suggest pain and sadness

The adjectives suggest that the speaker is young in comparison with his grandfather

'...smooth and thick like warm ice' (line 10)

 

What's the significance of the juxtaposition in this quote?

 

Pick one number out of the options below.

 

1. The juxtaposition could suggest that the grandfather's hand is hot and cold at the same time

2. The juxtaposition could suggest that the speaker feels both close ('warm') and distant ('ice') to his grandfather, hence the need to overcome this distance

3. The juxtaposition could suggest that the speaker is distant from his grandfather, therefore describing his hand as 'ice'

4. The juxtaposition could suggest that the speaker is close to his grandfather, hence the adjective 'warm', implying closeness

Pick one quote from below which expresses the speaker's desire to get closer to his grandfather.

'By the overhanging shirt I change direction'

'To an earth-stained hand'

'I rest for a while in the shade'

'I decide to do it free, without a rope or net'

'...to a smiling mouth to drink among teeth'

 

Bottle of still water

 

What is the meaning of this quote? Write down the one number that describes the quote best.

 

1. The quote shows how much the speaker loves his grandfather

2. The quote shows how the speaker seems to nourish and refresh himself by drinking from the grandfather's 'teeth'

3. The quote shows how the speaker seems to nourish and refresh himself by drinking from the grandfather's 'smiling mouth'

 

Pick out three quotes from below which showcase that the poem has a semantic field of mountaineering/climbing. 

 

Climber on rock face

'Without a rope or net'

'At his firm shoulder...'

'Not looking down...'

'Trying to get a grip'

'Climbing has its dangers'

Fill out the table with the language devices that are present or not present in the poem.

 

'...to stare into his brown eyes, watch a pupil slowly open and close'

 

Fill in the blank with the correct four words, from the selection below.

 

Loves, Concern, Sibilance, Pronoun, Adverb, Adjective, Motif, Patience, Hates

'...I can only lie, watching clouds and birds circle'

 

Blue sky with clouds radiating outwards

 

Fill in the blanks with three words out of the selection below. 

 

Unnaturalness, Peacefulness, Anger, Natural, Unnatural, Darkness, Love, Motif, Symbol

We're nearly finished with our analysis. Keep going ... the summit is in sight!

 

Link the correct language device to the quote (all within the last 5 stanzas)

 

We're finally cresting the summit of this activity! Just this last bit to go.

 

Fill in the table, linking the poem's language devices to their effects.

  • Question 1

Looking at the quote:

 

'First, the old brogues, dusty and cracked'

 

Brown brogues

 

Tick one box that you think best explains the language used in this quote. Look at the adjectives bolded.

CORRECT ANSWER
The adjectives give the sense of wear and tear
EDDIE SAYS
Looking at the way the adjectives link together to create a semantic field (words that link to the same theme), we are given the sense of wear and tear. This emphasises that the grandfather is old and that his clothes are worn. How is the grandfather's age specified in this way, do you think? Could Waterhouse be emphasising a generational gap? Think about the idea of the brogues, which are smart shoes worn by older, working men. Why are they cracked, do you think? Does this relate to the 'earth-stained' hands? What occupation do we think the grandfather had?
  • Question 2

'...smooth and thick like warm ice' (line 10)

 

What's the significance of the juxtaposition in this quote?

 

Pick one number out of the options below.

 

1. The juxtaposition could suggest that the grandfather's hand is hot and cold at the same time

2. The juxtaposition could suggest that the speaker feels both close ('warm') and distant ('ice') to his grandfather, hence the need to overcome this distance

3. The juxtaposition could suggest that the speaker is distant from his grandfather, therefore describing his hand as 'ice'

4. The juxtaposition could suggest that the speaker is close to his grandfather, hence the adjective 'warm', implying closeness

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
The juxtaposition (present within the simile) shows quite an interesting relationship between the grandfather and speaker: 'warm' implies closeness and comfort, but 'ice' suggests that there's perhaps some icy distance between the two. Think about it ... why would the speaker feel the need to 'climb' his grandfather?
  • Question 3

Pick one quote from below which expresses the speaker's desire to get closer to his grandfather.

CORRECT ANSWER
'I decide to do it free, without a rope or net'
EDDIE SAYS
Through the metaphor of mountaineering, the quote at the beginning expresses the speaker's desire to get closer to his grandfather. The fact that the speaker decides to climb his grandfather (look at the symbolism behind this, as he's not really climbing his grandfather, but using this idea to symbolise his desire to get closer to him) without any 'rope or net' stresses how wholeheartedly the speaker wants to delve into discovering his grandfather and form a closer bond with him.
  • Question 4

'...to a smiling mouth to drink among teeth'

 

Bottle of still water

 

What is the meaning of this quote? Write down the one number that describes the quote best.

 

1. The quote shows how much the speaker loves his grandfather

2. The quote shows how the speaker seems to nourish and refresh himself by drinking from the grandfather's 'teeth'

3. The quote shows how the speaker seems to nourish and refresh himself by drinking from the grandfather's 'smiling mouth'

 

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
Remember that this poem is an extended metaphor: everything that is said is symbolic and has a deeper meaning that reflects the speaker's attitudes towards his grandfather. So if the speaker is stating that he drinks from his grandfather's 'smiling mouth', this suggests that the speaker symbolically nourishes and refreshes himself through his grandfather's smile. There's a sense that the speaker depends on the grandfather for sustenance, or that the grandfather is a provider. Also, look at the continuous verb 'smiling'. What does this suggest about the grandfather's personality? Happy, right?
  • Question 5

Pick out three quotes from below which showcase that the poem has a semantic field of mountaineering/climbing. 

 

Climber on rock face

CORRECT ANSWER
'Without a rope or net'
'Trying to get a grip'
'Climbing has its dangers'
EDDIE SAYS
Remember, a semantic field is a bunch of words/quotes that display a theme/motif in the poem!
  • Question 6

Fill out the table with the language devices that are present or not present in the poem.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, the table has got you thinking about the SIGNIFICANCE of certain language devices over others. Why do you think certain devices are used and how do they ADD to the overall attitudes/ideas in the poem?
  • Question 7

'...to stare into his brown eyes, watch a pupil slowly open and close'

 

Fill in the blank with the correct four words, from the selection below.

 

Loves, Concern, Sibilance, Pronoun, Adverb, Adjective, Motif, Patience, Hates

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Look at the significance of the quote, especially the stress on the DESCRIBING words: the adjective 'brown' and the adverb 'slowly'. These stress the care and patience that the speaker takes in watching his grandfather. There's something very ordinary about this quote, from the simple process of a pupil adjusting to the changing light to the description of grandfather's eyes as 'brown' (the most common eye colour). Yet, to the speaker, who stares and watches his grandfather, this isn't an ordinary process. He's marvelling at his grandfather's every feature as he 'climbs' him, getting closer and closer to knowing him. 'Brown' eyes are also considered quite comforting and kind ... more so than if the grandfather had 'blue' eyes, which are often considered beautiful but slightly intimidating.
  • Question 8

'...I can only lie, watching clouds and birds circle'

 

Blue sky with clouds radiating outwards

 

Fill in the blanks with three words out of the selection below. 

 

Unnaturalness, Peacefulness, Anger, Natural, Unnatural, Darkness, Love, Motif, Symbol

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Near the end of the poem, we get a dawning sense of peacefulness and fulfilment, as if the speaker has actually physically exerted himself by climbing his grandfather. The relationship between the physical and emotional is constantly reinforced in the poem. So, throughout, we have to remember that any references to the physical (ie: 'wrinkles', 'eyes' 'climbing') actually has a deeper, symbolic meaning in the relationship between grandfather and grandchild!
  • Question 9

We're nearly finished with our analysis. Keep going ... the summit is in sight!

 

Link the correct language device to the quote (all within the last 5 stanzas)

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
There's a lot to unpack in that last bit of the poem, but it's not as hard as it seems when we pinpoint the key themes of the poem and how they are reflected through language! Think about the relationship between the speaker and his grandfather. When you get past all the symbolism and metaphors, it's easy to delve into the MEANING of the language used. How do certain language devices deepen the meaning of the poem? How is the relationship presented? How do these language devices add depth to the speaker's feelings about his grandfather? Lots of questions have been asked here! Try to jot them down. Come up with your own answers. Hopefully, this will prepare you for the evaluation activity.
  • Question 10

We're finally cresting the summit of this activity! Just this last bit to go.

 

Fill in the table, linking the poem's language devices to their effects.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Well done on completing this activity! That was quite a climb! Remember that every device in the poem needs to be evaluated, reflecting on its effect on the reader and identifying the attitudes of the poet! Try to keep these in the back of your mind, and be creative when you think about the different possibilities! Yep, an extended metaphor and semantic field of mountaineering is used in the poem. How does this add depth? Consider how Waterhouse juggles physical closeness with emotional closeness. Do you think his extended metaphor makes the point that emotional intensity is just as difficult as physical intensity? Look at the adjectives and adverbs he uses to describe the grandfather. Why are they used in so much abundance? Do you think this stresses the speaker's fascination and love/respect for his grandfather? Likewise, what do the present continuous verbs do to enhance the relationship in the poem? They create an ongoing, immediate effect! But why does Waterhouse create this effect? The poem's in the present tense for a reason ... perhaps to heighten the sense of adventure! Jot down some of these devices and reasons so you have enough practice to evaluate further. Have fun with it and use your creativity!
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