The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team

Summer Pearce
Note by Summer Pearce, updated 10 months ago
Summer Pearce
Created by Summer Pearce almost 3 years ago
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Description

Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy's poem, 'The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team', as part of the AQA A-level English Language and Literature 2015 specification (7706/7707)

Resource summary

Page 1

Overview

Dramatic monologue told by a male, adult persona, who is remembering his childhood in the 1960's. There are pop culture references, like the songs and different general knowledge facts he remembers from his childhood. As a child, he was in one of the school teams for the general knowledge television quiz show, Top of the Form. Throughout the poem, he quotes answers to different questions. As an adult, his knowledge from his childhood is outdated; e.g) Rhodesia changed it's name to Zimbabwe in the 1980's. The persona's identity was very much rooted in being intelligent, but now people do not understand what he is saying, he feels disappointed in his current life and nostalgic towards the past. Read the poem

Page 2

The References

'Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Baby Love, Oh Pretty Woman' - titles of songs that were popular at the time 'Top Ten' - radio stations present the ten most popular singles sold during that week 'B-side' - side of a vinyl record, often the song recorded on the B-side is a secondary song that often does not appear on the artist's LP. 'Supremes' - girl group from the 60's ‘Come See About Me?’ - a song by the Supremes, released in 1964 'a steel comb that I blew like Mick' - persona is doing an impression of Mick Jagger playing a harmonica 'No snags. The Nile rises in April. Blue and white.The humming-bird’s song is made by its wings, which beatso fast that they blur in flight.' - all quiz answers 'dominus domine dominum' - different forms of the Latin word for master/sir 'Dave Dee Dozy' - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich were a British pop/rock group of the 1960s. 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Baby Love, Oh Pretty Woman' - titles of songs that were popular at the time 'Top Ten' - radio stations present the ten most popular singles sold during that week 'B-side' - side of a vinyl record, often the song recorded on the B-side is a secondary song that often does not appear on the artist's LP. 'Supremes' - girl group from the 60's ‘Come See About Me?’ - a song by the Supremes, released in 1964 'a steel comb that I blew like Mick' - persona is doing an impression of Mick Jagger playing a harmonica 'No snags. The Nile rises in April. Blue and white.The humming-bird’s song is made by its wings, which beatso fast that they blur in flight.' - all quiz answers 'dominus domine dominum' - different forms of the Latin word for master/sir 'Dave Dee Dozy' - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich were a British pop/rock group of the 1960s.

Page 3

Imagery

"The white sleeve of my shirt saluted again and again," - This links to the military, perhaps suggesting that the persona took schoolwork as seriously as a soldier takes military service. "I smiled / as wide as a child who went missing on the way home / from school." - When a child goes missing, their picture is printed in the local newspapers. This would have invariably been a school photograph. This links to the loss of identity of the persona, as he feels that the picture of the child is no longer him, as the child went missing.

Page 4

Form

Dramatic monologue - taken from a play, strong sense of character, 1st person narrative, personally and directly addressing the readersThe Persona Adult male with a wife and children lost purpose, as his intelligence is no longer valued values intelligence highly - 'my thick kids wince' high self-importance, no regard for others, all about himself - the poem is focussed on how he feels, no mention of other people's feelings being important

Page 5

Structure

There are 4 regular stanzas, each with 8 lines each. This could represent the monotony in the narrator's life, and there is no encouragement to know things anymore. The poem's uninteresting structure perhaps mirrors his reluctance to be anything more than 8 lines, because he receives no encouragement - why should his poem be any different?

Page 6

Tone

Nostalgic - the persona feels unfulfilled in their adult life. Their outdated knowledge is met with confusion and people often misunderstand him. His energetic enthusiasm for knowledge goes unmirrored by his wife, boss and children. He wants aspects of his childhood back; 'I want it back. The captain.' He used to have a purpose and a role in the quiz show, but now he just has to pay bills and make references no one else understands.

Page 7

Themes

Passing of time - the persona wants to go back to his childhood, as time has rendered his general knowledge meaningless. Loss and grief - the persona has lost the praise of people around him. He describes that his 'mother kept (his) mascot Gonk on the TV set for a year', but now his 'thick kids wince.' Love and fondness - The persona has fondness for his childhood, which is evident in how much time he spends talking about it (3 stanzas) compared with how much time he spends talking about the present (1 stanza). Direct address - As a dramatic monologue, the readers gain insight into his life. It illustrates that childhood is often the best part of our lives and our adult lives may be disappointing by comparison. Everyday life/family - speaks of his wife, his boss and his children's reactions to his questions Writing from an outsider's POV - persona Duffy has adopted, as she is clearly not a man Memory - short sentences express individual ones The past - generational references e.fg. 'B-side of the Supremes one' Nostalgia - 'I want it back' Mean time - time robbed persona of his value to people Construction of self - no longer valued, even though persona has not changed their behaviour

Page 8

Comparison

Nostalgia Common theme of nostalgia Same undertone of regret and sense of wanting to change something - the 'captain' wants to change his present, and Nostalgia tells us we can do nothing to return to the past. Both poems show suffering/discontent due to nostalgia; (Nostalgia - 'it made them ill') (Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team - 'I want it back.')

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