Form and structure

The poem is made up of two stanzas of eighteen lines. Each consists of nine pairs of rhyming couplets. This gives the poem a strong rhythm and strangely jaunty feeling which jars with the growing uncertainty of the young woman. In the first stanza it suggests the mother’s deceptively friendly manner which is filled with double meanings. The rhythm is undercut by the use of enjambment. Almost every phrase is split across different lines, hinting at meanings before the final, surface meaning is completed. The tone of the first stanza is sarcastic and defiant. The speaker mocks the mother and is ready to fight and assert her position.

In the second stanza, the tone abruptly changes to one of uncertainty. The regular and bouncy beat of the poem is increasingly undercut by the alienated and depressed reflections of the young woman as she considers what she didn't know about her boyfriend and the hopelessness of their future relationship together.