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Explore How Themes Develop in 'Climbing My Grandfather'

In this worksheet, students will evaluate how key themes develop in 'Climbing My Grandfather'. Students will be able to look at consistent key themes in the poem, how they change and why.

'Explore How Themes Develop in 'Climbing My Grandfather'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Year:  GCSE

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Climbing My Grandfather'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

Want to revise how key themes develop in 'Climbing My Grandfather'?


Thought bubble


This activity will help you understand how Waterhouse's language choice and tone develop these key themes in the poem. In other words, what is the effect of these key themes on the reader? What exactly is Waterhouse trying to show about these key themes? First, let's identity the main themes in the poem.


Familial Love

Mountaineering/ Mountain Climbing






Childhood Memory/Nostalgia


This activity is designed so that you not only identify these key themes and ideas in the poem according to the language Waterhouse uses, but explore how these themes develop in the poem. So how does Waterhouse develop one of these themes in his poem?



Here's an example of an evaluation on the theme of mountain climbing/mountaineering


Waterhouse uses the imagery of mountain climbing, through extended metaphor, to symbolise the relationship between the speaker and his grandfather. The quote "reaching for the summit" near the end of the poem really showcases how the speaker seems to view getting to know his grandfather as a physical feat, which requires activity and exertion.There is also an element of danger to the experience of "climbing", shown by the quote "climbing has its dangers". This theme of climbing or mountaineering is symbolic. It represents the adventurous relationship between the speaker and his grandfather; it also represents the ups and downs and adventures of any emotional relationship. Waterhouse tells us that relationships aren't easy and require an element of adventure and exertion. But, once conquered and achieved (once the speaker reaches the "summit"), the nature of the relationship becomes much more peaceful and uplifting, "the slow pulse of his good heart".


If you want to make this activity more of a revision exercise, then jot these themes down. If you want to use this activity to test yourself, then go ahead and try to memorise these key themes/motifs. 


It's up to you how you want to use this activity!



Remember, it's not a race. So take your time with each step!


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


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