Norman MacCaig 'Aunt Julia' Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Norman MacCaig 'Aunt Julia' Deck (17):

Why is the first line an effective introduction to the poem?

Her name as the first two words immediately establishes her as central concern- stresses her importance to him


“Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic/ Very loud and very fast”

Her name as the first two words immediately establishes her as central concern- stresses her importance to him. Repetition and word choice introduces Aunt Julia as a bold and confident extrovert, but also the overwhelming sense of confusion caused by the difference in language.


“I could not answer her- / I could not understand her.”

Repetition emphasizes speaker’s helplessness and frustration. The dash clarifies the reason why he could not answer her and helps to create a sense of regret. ‘I’ suggests a sense of responsibility for the poet.


How does "she wore men's boots/ when she wore any" make clear what Aunt Julia represents?

Suggests Aunt Julia was hard-working and unconventional. WC of ‘men’s boots’- connotations of strength and practicality. Suggests she was tough and manual.


“I can see her strong foot stained with peat”

Introduces the idea that Aunt Julia represents the highland landscape and way of life. Present tense- ‘can’ – emphasizes the impact she still has on his life. ‘Strong’ suggests his admiration for her and her hard-working nature. ‘Stained’ suggests that she was at one with the landscape and so had become part of it, and it a part of her.


How does the speaker create a sense of childish awe and admiration for Aunt Julia at the end of stanza two?

“While her right hand drew yarn /marvellously out of the air.”


“While her right hand drew yarn /marvellously out of the air.”

Conveys admiration for his aunt and a childlike curiosity. Connotations of ‘marvellous’ – something magical and enchanting.


“In the absolute darkness/ of a box bed”

Usually ‘darkness’ has connotations of loneliness and emptiness. However, the tone of this stanza creates a sense of calm and security which suggests he felt safe and protected with Aunt Jula. Emphasized by alliteration of ‘b’. He felt safe and contained, despite the primitive accommodation.


“Listening to/ crickets being friendly.”

Imagery- personification: helps to create a tone of ease and security. Suggests he felt calm, safe and protected even in the silence at night, but only in her home.


What three images from stanza four suggest Aunt Julia represents an old, island way of life?

“She was buckets/ and water flouncing into them.”
“She was winds pouring wetly”
“She was brown eggs, black skirts and a keeper of three penny bits”


“She was buckets/ and water flouncing into them.”

Metaphor links AJ tp nature. Suggests she was hard-working and practical, comparing her to buckets. The comparision to water also suggests that she was always on the move, as water is free-flowing and moves with the current. Word choice of ‘flouncing’ suggests that she was carefree, joyful and boisterous.


“She was winds pouring wetly”

Imagery: suggests she was powerful, strong and elemental. Once again, MacCaig links her to the landscape that he thinks of when he thinks of her.


“She was brown eggs, black skirts and a keeper of three penny bits”

Imagery links AJ to the landscape again. WC of ‘black’ and ‘brown’ carry connotations of earth and nature and suggest she was practical and basic, part of the landscape and Island life. ‘Threepenny bits’ suggests she represents an older way of life which has been lost and that she was hard-working and thrifty.


“Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic/ very loud and very fast.”

Repetition of the first two lines create a sense of regret that he did not get to know her better because of the language barriers


“By the time I had learned/ a little, she lay/ silenced in the absolute black”

Emjambment of ‘a little’ emphasizes the idea that by the time the speaker had realised, it was too late- regret. ‘Silenced’ directly contrasts that loud AJ from the two lines before and suggests something forced. Creates an accusatory tone which helps to convey the speakers anger and frustration. ‘Absolute black’ highlights the idea that MacCaig feels death is final and he has missed his chance- regret.


‘But I hear her still/ “welcoming me with a seagull’s voice”

Present tense of ‘still’ again highlights the impact she continues to have on his life as he remembers her in the landscape of the highlands. ‘Welcoming’ has connotations of love and affection, friendliness and suggests that he remembers her fondly when he returns to the highlands. The imagery suggests that her words were incomprehensible to him but he still feels close to her through nature.


“And getting angry, getting angry/ with so many questions/ unanswered.”

Repetition emphasizes the speaker’s frustrations that death is final. ‘Unanswered’ has connotations of finality and suggests his regret which lingers on, unresolved.