Themes

The themes of the poem are the essential presence of violence in everyday life and the idea of social responsibility – to what extent do we have a debt of care to our fellow human beings?

There are contrasts throughout the poem. The couple appear happy and in love but their lives are shattered by a cynical act of violence. Meanwhile the thieves look on, uncaring and the drivers in their cars divert their gaze so that they don't become involved.

There is a matter of fact, newsy tone to the poem which makes us react strongly to the violence contained within. Morgan's anger is apparent. He is asking us what we would have done if we had seen this incident. He makes us consider whether, like the drivers, we would have continued on our business or whether we would have come to the aid of the couple. He asks us to contemplate whether or not it is society's responsibility to take care of those who need our help.

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