Question: Describe one important decision in the written text. Explain how that decision changed at least one important relationship or character
Often the people who need help are the ones that do not bring to attention that fact. In “Stealing”, a poem written by Carol Ann Duffy, a thief steals various objects and talks to an unknown person - which is an important decision as it is an attempt to reach out for help, breaking his lack of communication and self-isolation. With this decision, we can see the thief’s nature change from the self-obsession to the acknowledgement of the wider world.
In the first stanza, the thief shows a withdrawn personality and attempts to isolate himself from the audience and the person whom he is presumably conversing with. The first line starts with a rhetorical question “The most unusual thing I ever stole?”. With the usage of a rhetorical question, the audience will feel alienated from the thief as this question is posed so that only the thief is able to answer it. It can be seen from this that the thief is not used to communicate, and so his method of speaking up is to have an unbalanced monologue. To strengthen this argument, the thief uses the pronoun “I” throughout the first stanza instead of more inclusive pronouns such as “we” or “us” - allowing the audience to interpret that the thief is out of his comfort zone and normally only considers himself. This is an important decision, however, as if the thief did not speak up, his isolation from the world will prevent anyone from helping him with his problems - thus we are encouraged to help others open up on their thoughts and feelings, even if they struggle.
Later in the poem, the thief makes the decision to recount his actions - hinting at his attempts of reaching out, but failing to get the points across. To describe his breaking and entering of houses, the juxtaposition “mucky ghost” is used. Ghosts are often unseen - and carry burdens of emotions, alluding that the thief thinks of himself as invisible to society, thus giving more weight to his decision to reach out as it is not a thing he usually does. On the other hand, ghosts can also be destructive - suggesting that the thief is only able to express his feelings through destruction. Mucky has a negative connotation (again to do with destruction) and coupled with “ghost”, we can see that although the thief does actions to reach out for help, others only see the surface and not the ghost of his emotions behind it. Through the decision to talk about his actions, the thief is showing the world what he is trying to express, and by doing so, he is opening himself up and becoming less isolated. The audience is reminded to look beyond the actions of others, as we are often presented with only the image of things and make false assumptions.
In the last line, the thief changes his mindset and is able to acknowledge the world, although he is still apprehensive on how well others understand him. With another rhetorical question “You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?”. First of all, the inclusive pronoun “you” is used - as opposed to the beginning of the poem, where he isolates himself from the audience. With the inclusion of the audience, we can see that through this decision of reaching out has caused him to open up to those around him, although he wonders if the audience is truly able to see him through his actions. Secondly, this rhetorical question is posed so that others can answer it, in comparison with the first rhetorical question where only the thief is able to answer. The thief is opening up and allowing a more balanced conversation to take place - allowing the reader to see that change is possible and to do so only requires a tiny change in mindset. We need to be open-minded to communicate.
Reaching out from isolation is an important decision, albeit a very hard decision that requires encouragement from others and willpower from the victim of isolation. “Stealing” is a poem that allows the reader to consider the ones around us, and to recognise that different people have different ways of reaching out - so that we must look beyond their actions and encourage them to speak up and reconnect with society. It also is an encouragement to those who need help, and to empower them to accept help when presented.
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