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Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Key Themes in the poem 'War Photographer' by Carol Ann Duffy

In this worksheet, students will examine how the key themes are presented, and evaluate their effectiveness, in the poem 'War Photographer' by Carol Ann Duffy.

'Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Key Themes in the poem 'War Photographer' by Carol Ann Duffy' 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 Anne Duffy, which can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your anthology.

 

The poem is written about a war photographer who has returned home and is developing his photos. The process of developing old-style film photos is rather unusual for many to understand today. Old style film is very sensitive to light, so it must be done in a dark room lit with a red light. War photographers do a very dangerous job, many are killed and injured as they must get in harms way to get the photos they are after.


camera

 

The poem focuses on two main themes:

 

The horror of war.

Our lack of care for the people suffering in these wars.

 

In the following questions, you will be asked to think about how the writer presents these key themes and evaluate their effectiveness.

In order to identify the evaluate the effectiveness of the themes in the poem 'War Photographer', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Match the questions to the correct 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 goes to the dark room to process the ...
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 has been in a country of conflict tak...

 

modern day soldiers

 

 

Now that you have read the poem 'War Photographer', which summary do you think best explains the poem?

 

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 photgraph 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 sees them all as being this

The main theme running throughout the poem is the horror of war, which is why this poem is a great fit for the conflict cluster.

 

 

soldier with gun

 

 

The quotations below all relate to the theme of the horror of war, can you match them to the correct evaluation?

Column A

Column B

Fields which don’t explode beneath the feet of r...
People in conflict are often killed on the streets
He remembers the cries of this man’s wife
The photographer has many images of people sufferi...
Blood stained into foreign dust
The narrator describes the terrible violence faced...
A hundred agonies in black-and-white
Families have lost people that they love in the co...

Let's evaluate the effect that the theme of the horror of war has on the reader. Read the following quotation from War Photographer:

 

"To fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat"

 

 

small boy running

 

 

What effect do you think the poet was trying to create here?

 

The poet wants the reader to feel sympathy for the children in war zones and to compare their safety to that of the children in England

The poet wants the reader to realise how children in all countries are in danger of violence

The poet wants the reader to feel angry that the parents in war zones are not keeping their children indoors

Another theme of 'War Photographer' is the indifference to suffering that the poet believes people are beginning to feel. 

 

Indifference = lack of interest, concern or sympathy.

 

The quotations below are all linked to the theme of indifference to suffering. Can you match the theme to the evaluation of effect?

Column A

Column B

"To ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel"
The photographer feels that all of his photos shou...
"Between the bath and pre-lunch beers"
The luxuries of life in England stop people from c...
"His editor will pick out five or six for Sunday...
People in England do not have very serious problem...

Let's evaluate the effect that the theme of indifference to suffering has on the reader. Read the following quotation from War Photographer:

 

 

"A hundred agonies in black and white from which his editor will pick out five or six for Sunday's supplement"

 

 

aeroplanes at war

 

 

What effect do you think the poet was trying to create here?

 

The editor only thinks the images are important enough to be printed in black and white

The editor of the newspaper does not have an issue with throwing away images of the people who have suffered

The photographer wants the editor to include all six of his photographs

Another theme of 'War Photographer' is death, and how the poet has been traumatised by the experience of it.

 

 

illustrated heart on a tree

 

 

The quotations below are all linked to the theme of death. Can you match the theme to the evaluation of effect?

Column A

Column B

"Spools of suffering set out in ordered rows"
The photographer orders the rolls of film in a row...
"Fields which don’t explode beneath the feet"
Innocent people are killed in the conflict
"A half-formed ghost"
There is so much death in the country he has visit...
"Blood stained into foreign dust"
Many of the people he has photographed are "ghosts...

Let's evaluate the effect that the theme of death has on the reader. Read the following quotation from 'War Photographer':

 

"How he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust"

 

What effect do you think the poet was trying to create here?

 

The photographer feels that he should give the wife some privacy and he does not take pictures of her

The photographer is respectful to the wife and they both understand that people in other countries need to see what they are going through

The photographer took pictures without people knowing

Read the following quotation from 'War Photographer', which tells us how the photographer develops the photographs. Can you evaluate the effect of this quotation on the reader?

 

"The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass."

 

 

church candles

 

For this question, you will have to write your own answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

Read the following quotation from 'War Photographer', which tells us about the conflict that the photographer feels with his own country. Can you evaluate the effect of this quotation on the reader?

 

"Fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat"

 

 

young boy running

 

 

For this question, you will have to write your own answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

  • Question 1

In order to identify the evaluate the effectiveness of the themes in the poem 'War Photographer', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Match the questions to the correct 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 in a position to help. 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

 

modern day soldiers

 

 

Now that you have read the poem 'War Photographer', which summary do you think best explains the poem?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
A photographer is in his dark room developing pictures he has taken from a war zone. As a photgraph 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
The poem is about the difficulties a war photographer faces when his job requires him to record horrific events, without being able 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

The main theme running throughout the poem is the horror of war, which is why this poem is a great fit for the conflict cluster.

 

 

soldier with gun

 

 

The quotations below all relate to the theme of the horror of war, can you match them to the correct evaluation?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Fields which don’t explode bene...
The narrator describes the terrib...
He remembers the cries of this ma...
Families have lost people that th...
Blood stained into foreign dust
People in conflict are often kill...
A hundred agonies in black-and-wh...
The photographer has many images ...
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses language to describe the horrors of war and the terrible personal tragedies behind the conflicts, so that the reader will feel shocked enough to take notice. Perhaps almost in an attempt to counter the graphic imagery that we have become so used to seeing, her depictions are subtle and understated and she often leaves the reader to compose their own images.
  • Question 4

Let's evaluate the effect that the theme of the horror of war has on the reader. Read the following quotation from War Photographer:

 

"To fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat"

 

 

small boy running

 

 

What effect do you think the poet was trying to create here?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The poet wants the reader to feel sympathy for the children in war zones and to compare their safety to that of the children in England
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation really creates a sense of the horror of war, as it is describing how something terrible can happen to innocent children who simply want to run through fields. The word "explodes" is a verb used to describe the action of a bomb going off and the word "nightmare" is used to describe how bad life is for people who have to worry about their children in this way.
  • Question 5

Another theme of 'War Photographer' is the indifference to suffering that the poet believes people are beginning to feel. 

 

Indifference = lack of interest, concern or sympathy.

 

The quotations below are all linked to the theme of indifference to suffering. Can you match the theme to the evaluation of effect?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"To ordinary pain which simple we...
People in England do not have ver...
"Between the bath and pre-lunch b...
The luxuries of life in England s...
"His editor will pick out five or...
The photographer feels that all o...
EDDIE SAYS
These quotations all create the impression that life in England is so comfortable and safe that people cannot understand the reality of living in a war zone. For example, the quotation "The reader’s eyeballs prick with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers" develops the theme of indifference, because it describes how people in England are too busy with their own lives to stay upset about the images they have seen. Although their eyes may "prick with tears", this emotion does not last long.
  • Question 6

Let's evaluate the effect that the theme of indifference to suffering has on the reader. Read the following quotation from War Photographer:

 

 

"A hundred agonies in black and white from which his editor will pick out five or six for Sunday's supplement"

 

 

aeroplanes at war

 

 

What effect do you think the poet was trying to create here?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The editor of the newspaper does not have an issue with throwing away images of the people who have suffered
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "A hundred agonies in black and white from which his editor will pick out five or six for Sunday's supplement" shows the anger that the photographer feels towards his editor (his boss, who's in charge of the newspaper). Whereas the photographer views every photograph he has as somebody important, the editor only wants the best photos and does not feel guilty that the images of people who have died will be thrown away.
  • Question 7

Another theme of 'War Photographer' is death, and how the poet has been traumatised by the experience of it.

 

 

illustrated heart on a tree

 

 

The quotations below are all linked to the theme of death. Can you match the theme to the evaluation of effect?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"Spools of suffering set out in o...
The photographer orders the rolls...
"Fields which don’t explode ben...
Innocent people are killed in the...
"A half-formed ghost"
Many of the people he has photogr...
"Blood stained into foreign dust"
There is so much death in the cou...
EDDIE SAYS
Another theme of 'War Photographer' is death. The narrator gives an account of how death occurs in conflict and how the war photographer is traumatised from the death he has witnessed. The quotations above all create the effect that death is everywhere for the people living in conflict.
  • Question 8

Let's evaluate the effect that the theme of death has on the reader. Read the following quotation from 'War Photographer':

 

"How he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust"

 

What effect do you think the poet was trying to create here?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The photographer is respectful to the wife and they both understand that people in other countries need to see what they are going through
EDDIE SAYS
In this quotation, the narrator conveys shocking and emotive imagery of the grief of a wife who has just seen her husband killed. Although the war photographer is aware that this is a very emotional and private time, he also knows that these kinds of pictures that will make people back in England take notice of what is happening in the war zones. Luckily, the wife also understands this and she silently allows him to take the picture.
  • Question 9

Read the following quotation from 'War Photographer', which tells us how the photographer develops the photographs. Can you evaluate the effect of this quotation on the reader?

 

"The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass."

 

 

church candles

 

For this question, you will have to write your own answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: This quotation creates a peaceful and calm effect on the reader, as we realise how important the developing of the photographs is to the photographer. He prepares his darkroom "as though this were a church and he a priest preparing to intone a Mass", this simile creates a comparison of the photographer to a priest. It also creates the idea that the photographer is giving the photos the respect and dignity that the people did not get in death during the conflict.

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one point (AQA recommends that the student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 6.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation.
The paragraph should include a quotation, language technique and some evaluation

  • Question 10

Read the following quotation from 'War Photographer', which tells us about the conflict that the photographer feels with his own country. Can you evaluate the effect of this quotation on the reader?

 

"Fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat"

 

 

young boy running

 

 

For this question, you will have to write your own answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: This quotation affects the reader by creating a sense of frustration that people in safe, comfortable countries do not appreciate how safe they are or how they have "Fields which don’t explode beneath the feet of running children in a nightmare heat". The verb "explodes" is used to shock the reader into realising the violence that innocent children face, and the metaphor "nightmare heat" describes the terrible tragedy that can happen. There is a sense that the narrator is angered with the readers of the newspaper, who do not feel as strongly as he does about what is happening.

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one point (AQA recommends that the student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 6.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation.
The paragraph should include a quotation, language technique and some evaluation.

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