"Shooting Stars" by Carol Ann Duffy is a poem in which we are presented with several complex ideas. This dramatic monologue recounts the last moments of a Jewish woman's life, who was tortured in a concentration camp during World War II. This poem presents us with the simple ideas of genocide, the attempted extermination of Jews by the Nazis, and how the Holocaust has been a history lesson for us. However, when we look beneath the surface of this text, the difficult ideas of the scale of human loss and suffering, the Nazis capability to take part in this atrocious act, and our inability to learn the lesson history has taught us are revealed.
The narrator is a Jewish woman who spends the last few years of her life in a concentration camp. The genocide the narrator had consume her life is more complex beneath the surface. We all know the Holocaust killed millions; however, the sheer amount of human loss and suffering is unfathomable. This is first made evident when the narrator lists just a few names of those who have lost their life:
"Rebecca Rachel Ruth
Aaron Emmanuel David"
The Holocaust is so often seen as a tragic event which took the lives of millions, predominantly Jews. The writer is reducing this genoice to the individual casualties. These six names represent just six lives: this shows us how incomprehensible it is to imagine millions upon millions of dead individuals. The alliteration of the letter 'r' in these names brings our attention to this list and suggests it will go on and on. The poet's use of listing and alliteration engages us in the poem and makes us think more about genocide, and how hard it is to truly understand it. The narrator directly addresses us and confronts us with a provocative and uncomfortable question:
"How would you prepare to die,
on a perfect April evening?"
The poet uses irony here between the juxtaposition of death and renewal of spring. We cannot prepare ourselves to die, yet millions attempted to when they knew their death was inevitable. We cannot grasp the scale of human loss and suffering. The poet's use of irony engages us in this dramatic monologue and reveals genocide is not as straightforward as we originally thought.
It's hard for us to understand how this atrocious genocide could be permitted to happen, or what might have induced the Nazis to systematically murder those who were Jewish. The title of the poem, "Shooting Stars", are usually used to explain meteors which have burnt out. However, in this poem it is a euphemism: shooting the tattooed stars on prisoners' head was a popular game amongst the Nazis. The poet's us of this euphemism catches our attention and makes us wonder how the Nazis could be capable of committing such crimes. Concentration camps are dark and depressing; however, the poet mentions "The soldiers laughed". This blunt description of torture shows us the Nazis are more complex than we originally thought. We can't understand how they would be capable of feeling even the...