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Flashcards in In Mrs Tilscher's Class Deck (31)
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You could travel up the Blue Nile

Second Person/Metaphor

"You" - the use of second person invites the readers to picture themselves in a primary school environment where they probably had made positive memories and had a positive relationship with their teacher.

"Blue Nile" - suggests that the students were so captivated by the way their teacher taught that they felt like they were truly there.

"blue" symbolises calm and peace that Duffy felt in Mrs Tilscher's class.

The word choice of "travel" could also be a reference for the children's journey from childhood into adulthood.



Word choice

suggests the rhymes and songs we known so well from childhood.


Tana. Ethiopia. Khartoum. Aswan.

Minor Sentences

The minor sentences emphasise each place individually showing that the way in Mrs Tilscher taught was effective. Could also be a reference to the idea that a child's memories are short and sharp.


Skittle of milk


References that the amount of milk that children recieved was very small. Calling it a "skittle" makes it sound more fun as it is a game Duffy used to play when she was in primary school.


the chalky Pyramids rubbed into dust


Mrs Tilscher drew Pyramids for the children so that they could imagine what they looked like and then she rubbed them out. Just as quickly as the lesson about the Pyramids was forgotten and the children moved on, so too did the children's innoncence fade as they moved on from childhood into adulthood.


A window opened

This is the first mention of the outside world implying that Mrs Tilscher was slowly introducting the children to the outside world.


The laugh of a bell swung by


Shows that there is a cheerful atmosphere as the children's happiness and laughter is echoed throughout the corrridor.


Enthralling books.

Short sentence/Word choice

"Enthralling" suggests that Duffy was captivated by reading and therefore, even in primary school she had a particular interest in literature.


The classroom glowed like a sweetshop.


Just as a sweetshop is bright, colourful and the children love it so too, did the classroom become an environment that the children were excited about.

"glowed" could be a reference to the children's eyes which were 'lit up' from excitement.


Sugar Paper. Coloured Shapes.

Short sentences

Emphasises that the classroom was a magical place for the children and the use of the short sentences highlights that the memories from childhood are just snapshots.


Brady and Hindley faded

The mention of the Moors murders shows that anything evil that happened, the children ignored or would forget about it as their childhood was too beautiful to dwell over the evil parts. The fact that there is evil and that they are beginning to acknowledge it shows that they are slowly beginning to grow up as they begin to have a better understanding of the world around them.


like the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake

Just as a mistake can be rubbed out so too, was the thought of evil and murder eradicated from the safety of the classroom.

The fact that it is "uneasy" shows that the idea lingers on and that the children are growing up as they begin to understand that the world is not a perfect place.


Mrs Tilscher loved you.

Short sentence

Creates a clear statement that Mrs Tilscher clearly cared for her pupils.


Gold star


Duffy was honoured to be rewarded by her teacher. The fact that it is a "gold star" reminds her of a magicians hat, thus implying that the classroom seemed magical to them.


The scent of a pencil, slowly, carefully, shaved.


Just as a pencil can be sharpened "slowly, carefully, shaved" so too does a child's mind mature gradually as he sharpens his knowledge of the outside world.
The fact it was "slowly" suggests that the child was thinking about things when he/she was sharpening the pencil.


A xylophone's nonse

Word choice

"nonsense" suggests that the xylophone was played by a child and was therefore played poorly.


Over the Easter term the inky tadpoles changed from commas into exclamation marks.


"the Easter term" reflects Spring time which is a time during which animals develop hence, implying that the children have began growing up.

The metaphor of the "inky tadpoles" refers to the children which are beginning their transition from childhood into adulthood.

The fact that they are commas symbolises that as children, their lives were rather peaceful but now as they grow up, their lives are becoming more chaotic as is suggestsed by the "exclamation marks" which could also be a reference to how teens stereotypically have a cheeky attitude and mood swings.


freed by a dunce

Word Choice

"dunce" shows that the children are growing up as they begin to understand the pecking order.


Jumping and Croaking


The children are compared to frogs as frogs grow up quicky.

The children are "jumping" which suggests that they are becoming rowdy as they grow up.

"Croaking" references to their voices breaking as they grow up.


A rough boy told you how you were born

Word choice

"Rough" suggests that as Duffy is beginning to understand about the outside world, she is beginning to feel less safe.


You kicked him

Shows that Duffy is in denial of sex and shows that she does not wish to grow up.


Stared at your parents, appalled, when you got back home.

Duffy was horrified to findo out that her parents had been involved in such as 'disgusting act'.


Feverish July


Just as July is hot and clammy so too, did the growing up children begin to sweat more as they began to enter puberty.


Air tasted of electricity


Suggests that there is going to be thunderlighting.

Just as the when there is thunderlighting, it is warm, tense but some excitement to see it so too were the children feeling scared but looking forward to growing up.


Tangible alarm


It referneces to the school bell which is loud and signifies a change - a change of class or class to break. Therefore, the alarm symbolically also represents that it is time for the children to change and grow up. As it is an "alarm" it also suggests a warning of the future.


untidy, hot, fractious

Word choice

Suggests that the children are starting to go through puberty and that they are becoming more aware of their own bodies.


heavy, sexy sky


Suggests that as the children are gathering a better understanding of the world and the sexual aspect of it, they are begininng to feel pressured.


Mrs Tilscher smiled and then turned away.

Word Choice

The fact that Mrs Tilscher just "smiled" and never said anything shows that she cannot protect the children from the world anymore and that they have to grow up by themselves which is making the students feel anxious as they always thought they would be safe because of Mrs Tilscher.


Impatient to be grown


The fact that the children cannot wait to finally be adults creates a contrasts with the beginning of the poem when the children were in denial of the sexual aspect of life and murder. They have understood that this is just part of the world and now they are more intrigued by it.


The sky split open into a thunderstorm.


Implies that as the children grow up their lives are going to become more turbulent as it will be filled with drama and mood swings and they will not know what is coming at them in the same way you don't know what will happen during a thunderstorm.