'Turns' by Tony Harrison

Essay by tuttebelUniversity, Bachelor's January 2007

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In Harrison's poem "Turns", the cap is an important motive. It has a changing meaning what will be explained in the following paragraph. The title is very interpretable and will also be reviewed. ....

The cap could be a symbol for the speaker's admiration and proud for his dad and the working class. This is perceptible in the first stanza, where the speaker wears the cap with a sense of admiration. He wants to be like his father, to be working class. The meaning changes when the poem changes; when the father dies. The cap lies upside-down, what is a visual image of the change. It looks like he is a beggar, what changes the speaker's attitude. He feels as if his father is humiliated by this fact and by the staring crowd. His attitude towards the middle class gets even more negative in the last stanza. The meaning of the cap seems ironic: the speaker collects money with the cap from the crowd, as if his dead father is a street artist.

The harsh words like 'trap' and 'busk' show that he is angry because of his father's death. The cap seems to show their growing connection the son feels, because of the father's death.

One meaning of the title could be related from the sentence: "(...) made me look more "working class"(...) bridge that gap!)" This shows that his father is working class and he is not. T Harrison used to be working class until he went to grammar school and became middle class. When assuming that this is an autobiographical poem we could assume that the speaker undergoes the same change and this could be the meaning of the title.

When the father is found dead is the change in the poem.