Casehistory: Alison (head injury) – U.A. Fanthorpe *(H)


Here is a very high band, higher tier response comparing two poems: Look at what it does well and compare that to your own essay writing: what could you do to improve your textual analysis to this standard?

Compare the ways the central characters are presented in
“checking out me history” by John Agard and “Case History:
Alison (head injury) by U. A. Fanthorpe.

The poems “Checking out Me History” and “Case History: Alison”
both use many different techniques and linguistic features in evenly
effective and successful ways to present their central characters
throughout their piece. “Case History: Alison” relies mostly on the
tone set in the poem to convey its characters’ attitude and
message, whereas the poem “Checking out me history”, relies more
on structural techniques and the language featured to put across its
own characters’ different views and ideas.
The ambiguous tone that “Case History: Alison” is flooded with is
shown through the confused emotion in the poem. Alison is happy
about her past life and who she used to be; “a bright girl she was”,
but she regrets what has happened and who she has become; “shall
never get over what I do not remember.”, These two diverse
feelings of reminiscence and regret suggest why there may be two
main characters in the poem instead of one and why they contrast
so much. It also helps show the confused and uncertain voice and
the helplessness of character after the “injury”.
However, the clever use of dialect in “Checking out Me History”,
shows us that the central character in this poem is very proud of his
culture and his roots which along with his dialect have fitted
together to become a huge part of his identity and distinguishes him
as an individual. It also implies that he is not willing to change in
order to conform to society. The lack of punctuation grabs our
attention as not just a way in which the character/writer has chosen
to “rebel” but instead as a representation of the fact that a poem
without punctuation is just like written history without black people;
incomplete. This implies that the character feels that black people
are just as important to history as punctuation is to a piece of
writing. Both these features in the poem show the character’s lack
of regard for the Standard English language and his nonconformist
The poems mutually employ metaphors and similes to help stage
their central characters, In “Case History: Alison” the character
describes herself as being “Enmeshed in comforting fat”, This
indicates that her being fat is comforting for her; she feels it
protects her and makes her feel safe by hiding her away from the
real world. The fact that she is comforted by the fat may also imply
that she believes Her “new” self is just like fat; reliable and stable
and she knows she can count on her new self just like a person
relies on fat to provide energy.
Although “Case History: Alison” does not ultimately rely on structure
and Diction to portray the central characters’ thoughts and feelings
like “Checking out me History, the way the writer has played with
personal pronouns and third person pronouns all the way through
the poem emphasises the fact that the head injury has made Alison
feel that she is not the same person anymore.
The use of third person as well as personal pronouns show that the
character has a split personality and it also highlights the irony of
the poem because although she is referring to her old self using
third person she is still the same person that she was before. This
emphasises the fact that she feels she can never be like she used to
and that the person she was and the person she is now are no
where near alike.
Even though the structure of the poem does not grab our attention
immediately the way it Starts with a personal pronoun “I” and ends
with third person “she” shows the character’s uncertainty towards
who she is; it may represent the confusion of a person with a head
injury. Also, Instead of starting from the past and leading up the
present day, the character has done the opposite and has told the
story of who she is and then who she used to be before the
accident. The fact that she has ended it with mentioning her past
indicates that she feels her past self is gone and that her past life is
Both poems use different techniques to create a sound that
influences the way the thoughts and feelings of their central
characters are presented. “Checking out me history” uses repetition
and no punctuation to create an ongoing sound which implies that
black history is also on going and black people are still making
history repetitively. Whereas, in the poem “Case History: Alison”,
there is an absence of regular rhyme, but there is half rhyme, for
example, “morning” and “mourning” this links in with the fact that
She’s also only got a part (half) of her memory or that she only
remembers half of her life and that the missing parts don’t mean
anything to her; like how she can not remember the death of her
father, even though she knows she should be mourning like her past
self must of done and felt something for his absence but because it
is missing from her memory it has left her feeling indifferent.
From this we can see that these two poems both present their
central characters very effectively in a way that engages the reader
and portrays their characters’ thoughts, feelings, and emotions
clearly and effectively. This means the reader is able to understand
and even in some cases relate to the characters staged in the