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Identify and Explain The Key Quotes in The Poem 'War Photographer'

In this worksheet, students will develop an understanding of the poem by identifying and explaining the key quotes.

'Identify and Explain The Key Quotes in The Poem 'War Photographer'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Poetry, Poetry Anthology Collections

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'War Photographer', Conflict: 'War Photographer'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'War Photographer' by Carol Ann Duffy, which can be found in your Anthology.

camera

This poem explores the life of a war photographer, who takes pictures of conflicts for British newspapers. The poem takes us inside the man's thoughts and work, creating a sense of the brutality of war and the indifference (not caring) of those who live in war-free zones.

 

War photographers are real people, who risk their lives to take pictures of conflict - they help us truly understand the horrors of war.

 

war planes

 

In order to identify the key quotations in 'War Photographer', we need to understand the meaning of the poem.

 

Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below:

Column A

Column B

Where has the narrator just come from?
The narrator is shocked and saddened by the suffer...
What does the narrator do as soon as he arrives ho...
The narrator has been in a country of conflict, ta...
How does the narrator feel about the conflict he h...
He feels that they do not realise how bad the conf...
How does the narrator feel about the people back i...
The narrator goes to the dark room to process the ...

soldiers

 

Now that you have read the poem, choose one of these summaries, which you think best explains it.

 

The photographer is a priest who has visited war zones and taken photographs of the atrocities. He hopes that the horror he has recorded will make people want to take action to stop it, but, when he returns to England, it only makes people pause for a moment

A photographer is in his dark room, developing pictures he has taken from a war zone. As a photograph develops, he remembers a man who had died and how upset his wife was. He compares this to the safe and comfortable lives of the people in "rural England"

A photographer is developing photos in his dark room of images of conflict. He feels annoyed that only some of the images will be seen and it causes him distress to have to choose which ones are important, when he thinks they all are

Read the first stanza of 'War Photographer'. Can you see where the poet uses religious imagery to describe the developing of the photographs?

 

church candles

 

Read the extract below and underline any words associated with religious imagery.

\"with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows. The only light is red and softly glows, as though this were a church and he a priest preparing to intone a Mass.\"

On the last line of the first stanza, Duffy gives a list of countries. 

 

Why do you think she does this?

 

They are all places that the photographer would like to visit

They are all places that the photographer has visited

This is a list of countries that have suffered from conflict

The photographer would like these countries to help

In the second stanza of 'War Photographer', the poet says that the photographer's hands "did not tremble then though seem to now".

 

This is a contrast between how he felt when he was taking pictures of the conflict and how he feels back in England.

 

hands

 

 

Why do you think his hands "tremble" now? Choose two explanations from the list below.

The tray is heavy to lift

He is in shock after what he has seen

He is injured from the conflict

When he was in the country of conflict, he was too involved in his job to really consider what he was seeing

The last two lines of the second stanza contrast the lives of children in war zones with children in England, by describing what life is like for children in a war zone, using very violent language.

 

 

young boy running

 

 

Which words do you think create the violent imagery in this part of the poem, and which don't?

 Words which create violent imageryWords which don't create violent imagery
"Pain"
"Weather"
"Explode"
"Nightmare"
"Slop"
"Tremble"
"Softly"

What is meant by the phrase "A strangers features faintly start to twist before his eyes, a half-formed ghost"?

old photograph

 

Someone slowly appears in the dark room

An image slowly appears on the photograph of a person who has died

The photographer feels like there is a ghost in the room

The photographer cannot get the images out of his head

Also in the third stanza, the narrator recalls the grief of the dead man's wife. This tells the reader that he was not only upset by the death of the man, but also by the distress caused to the man's family.

 

Which words do you think explain the narrator's emotions here, and which do not?

 Words which explain his emotionsWords which do not explain his emotions
"Helpless"
"Tired"
"Distressed"
"Regretful"
"Shocked"
"Guilty"
"Annoyed"
"Happy"

What is the significance of the word "hundred" in the final stanza of the poem?

 

He has tried one hundred times to get the right image

The poet uses the high number to shock the reader about the amount of "agonies"

The photographer took a hundred images of the dying man

The photographer took one hundred photos

Read the last line of the poem and choose one answer from each column for the following questions:

 

Who is the poet referring to here?

What is the photographer's view of his home country?

He has tried one hundred times to get the right image

The poet uses the high number to shock the reader about the amount of "agonies"

The photographer took a hundred images of the dying man

The photographer took one hundred photos

  • Question 1

war planes

 

In order to identify the key quotations in 'War Photographer', we need to understand the meaning of the poem.

 

Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below:

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Where has the narrator just come ...
The narrator has been in a countr...
What does the narrator do as soon...
The narrator goes to the dark roo...
How does the narrator feel about ...
The narrator is shocked and sadde...
How does the narrator feel about ...
He feels that they do not realise...
EDDIE SAYS
Carol Ann Duffy has friends who are war photographers and she has always been fascinated by a job that requires people to record terrible events, without being able to actually help anyone. The poem describes the difficulties of the war photographer as he struggles to deal with moving between a country in conflict, and a peaceful country where people often take things for granted. The poem also asks us, as readers, to think about our own reaction to the images of conflict which we see in the media.
  • Question 2

soldiers

 

Now that you have read the poem, choose one of these summaries, which you think best explains it.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
A photographer is in his dark room, developing pictures he has taken from a war zone. As a photograph develops, he remembers a man who had died and how upset his wife was. He compares this to the safe and comfortable lives of the people in "rural England"
EDDIE SAYS
Nice job if you chose option two! The poem is about the difficulties a war photographer faces when his job requires him to record horrific events, without being in a position to help. Before digital photography, photographs were taken on film. They then had to be processed with chemicals in a dark room. Images developed slowly and had to be hung up to dry!
  • Question 3

Read the first stanza of 'War Photographer'. Can you see where the poet uses religious imagery to describe the developing of the photographs?

 

church candles

 

Read the extract below and underline any words associated with religious imagery.

CORRECT ANSWER
"with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass."
EDDIE SAYS
The photographer is likened to a priest conducting Mass, which suggests that he takes his work seriously and performs it like a ceremony.
  • Question 4

On the last line of the first stanza, Duffy gives a list of countries. 

 

Why do you think she does this?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
This is a list of countries that have suffered from conflict
EDDIE SAYS
Duffy uses a listing technique here, of some countries where people have suffered greatly due to conflict. She is creating the impression that the problem is not just in the country the photographer has just been to but is a bigger problem across the world.
  • Question 5

In the second stanza of 'War Photographer', the poet says that the photographer's hands "did not tremble then though seem to now".

 

This is a contrast between how he felt when he was taking pictures of the conflict and how he feels back in England.

 

hands

 

 

Why do you think his hands "tremble" now? Choose two explanations from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
He is in shock after what he has seen
When he was in the country of conflict, he was too involved in his job to really consider what he was seeing
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation tells the reader that the photographer is deeply upset by what he has seen and is suffering as an impact of the conflict. When he was taking pictures he was focused on his job, and it isn't until he is home in the quiet of his darkroom that the horror of what he has seen sinks in.
  • Question 6

The last two lines of the second stanza contrast the lives of children in war zones with children in England, by describing what life is like for children in a war zone, using very violent language.

 

 

young boy running

 

 

Which words do you think create the violent imagery in this part of the poem, and which don't?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words which create violent imageryWords which don't create violent imagery
"Pain"
"Weather"
"Explode"
"Nightmare"
"Slop"
"Tremble"
"Softly"
EDDIE SAYS
Duffy uses these quotations to shock the reader into realising what childhood is for children living in war zones. She makes the link that children in war zones and in England both play in fields, but that the children in war zones are always in danger of being killed in those fields by underlying bombs.
  • Question 7

What is meant by the phrase "A strangers features faintly start to twist before his eyes, a half-formed ghost"?

old photograph

 

CORRECT ANSWER
An image slowly appears on the photograph of a person who has died
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation is a metaphor to describe how the image slowly appears as the photo is being developed. He calls the image a ghost, as the person has died and is now "appearing" again.
  • Question 8

Also in the third stanza, the narrator recalls the grief of the dead man's wife. This tells the reader that he was not only upset by the death of the man, but also by the distress caused to the man's family.

 

Which words do you think explain the narrator's emotions here, and which do not?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words which explain his emotionsWords which do not explain his emotions
"Helpless"
"Tired"
"Distressed"
"Regretful"
"Shocked"
"Guilty"
"Annoyed"
"Happy"
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? This is a very emotive quotation, as the man is clearly distressed and shocked by the terrible things he has seen. The narrator even feels guilty that he is taking pictures, but knows the wife wants him to, so that people back in England can see what is happening in the war zone.
  • Question 9

What is the significance of the word "hundred" in the final stanza of the poem?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The poet uses the high number to shock the reader about the amount of "agonies"
EDDIE SAYS
This metaphor is intended to shock the reader into realising that the image of the dead man (from the third stanza) is just one of many. The word "agonies" also creates the impression that the people in the war zone are suffering greatly.
  • Question 10

Read the last line of the poem and choose one answer from each column for the following questions:

 

Who is the poet referring to here?

What is the photographer's view of his home country?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The final line refers to readers of the newspaper and those in the wider world. Duffy is suggesting that people have become so used to seeing these images, that they no longer care. The photographer realises how safe and comfortable England is, compared to other parts of the world. Well done, that's another activity completed!
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