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English Literature

Jean Sprackland: Hard Water

Attitudes, themes and ideas

A person going in umbrella during heavy rain fall

Hard water is used as a symbol for the people and place of the narrator's hometown, and to explore the narrator's feelings. Although the hometown is honestly described as an industrial place, with blunt people, the narrator is clearly very fond of it.

The importance of honesty is a recurrent motif in the poem, not directly emphasised, but indirectly favoured. Honesty and hard water become synonymous (as if one) as the subject of the narrator's respect: "honest"; "frankness"; "It couldn't lie".

There is an idea that "book-learning" is not as important as work. This contributes to a sense of the narrator being an outsider, which is then negated (cancelled out) by her being "marked" by the water. The importance of belonging, and knowing that you belong, is emphasised towards the end of the poem.

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