Themes

A relationship between mother and daughter

The mother’s role in this poem is to protect the child. She waits until the child is asleep so that the act of leaving their home is less upsetting for her. When she is apprehended by the men, she comforts her child and sings to her in an effort to keep her going. The mother in the poem also thinks of her own mother who is over "the other side of the world". Despite the distance, there is a connection between the women as they are united in their desire for freedom and security.

Displacement and identity

This poem begins with the mother and child leaving their home, a place that should be one of belonging and security. The mother is afraid they will be caught and tries to protect her daughter, but to no avail. When they are apprehended, the men want her name, her papers, her licence – anything that identifies her. The implication is that once they have her name, they have more power over her.

Comparisons

This poem fits well with Lucozade and Gap Year under the theme of mother/child relationships. Lucozade places the daughter in the role of rescuer, while in Gap Year Kay explores the connection she has with her son even when he is not with her. It also fits with Old Tongue under the themes of displacement and identity.

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