Language analysis of “Self Employed” by David Ignatow

Loneliness and independence are both things that are revealed through this title. The word “employed” suggests that the poem may be work related because the word means to give work to someone. “Self” suggests that it is just him. If it is correct and it is just him it would shows that he is lonely. Together the words “self-employed” show that he works for himself. To work for yourself you must not rely on others and that shows to be “self-employed” he must be independent.

The author tries to say that he felling unhappy. This is show by the first line where he begins by saying “I Stand and listen”. This phrase suggests he was speechless. There are several ideas for why he may have been speechless maybe he was upset or perhaps he was just listening to someone talk and was unable to answer. However, he then says, “head bowed” which suggests he is feeling a bit down; in other words sad or it could perhaps show that he is ashamed of something. Both these reasons could also justify why he is speechless. Maybe he is too sad or ashamed about something he has done and as a result is speechless.

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He then says “to my inner complaint”. The word “inner” suggests it his conscious or something inside of him. The word “complaint” suggests that he is arguing. Together they show that his conscious may be arguing or not agreeing with him. Linked with the previous lines this would suggest that he is either ashamed or sad about something and that his conscious is reminding him or arguing with him about it.

David Ignatow than tries to suggest that he has lost something precious. This is shown when he says “searching for a lost coin”. The word “coin” suggests that he is talking about something valuable as coins have value. He also uses the word “lost” this suggests that it is something he previously owned, as you cannot lose what you never had. “lost coin” shows that shows he is looking for something he used to have that was valuable to him and because this poem is related to work, maybe he lost a lot of money.

The phrase “searching for a lost coin” again shows he may be ashamed or sad. This is because to be looking for a “lost coin” you must be looking down. And in most cases when you are slouched and have your head down you are feeling a negative emotion which in this case could be sad or ashamed.

Personally, I believe he begins to explain what he is ashamed about by saying, “You’re fired I yell inside”. The word “fired” when put into a work context suggests that someone was sacked. The fact it says, “I yell” suggests he was shouting at someone else meaning he sacked an employee. This shows that he has “fired” someone. He may be ashamed about the fact he has fired someone and made them jobless.

This linked with the last line “lost coin” suggests that maybe the person who was sacked could’ve been very valuable to the business. This may also add to the fact he felt ashamed. The fact he fired someone who could have been valuable.

The author tries to show that his guilt is growing by saying “I’m letting you go without notice or terminal pay”. The fact that he has fired a person without giving them a notice or a final payment makes him ashamed and feeling guilty of himself. On top of this, he said “another chance to make good”. The word “another” suggests that he may have done this more than once. If he had done this more than once, he may have felt this guilt before as well and the fact he still carries on doing it might make him feel even worse.

The author tries to describe what the guilt is making him want to do. He does this by saying “I watch myself standing at the exit…about to leave”. This suggests that he is about to quit his own job. One reason he may want to quit is that he doesn’t want to sack any more people because he feels ashamed and guilty.

Ignatow gives a reason as to why he may have stayed doing this job for so long, he does this by saying “wave myself back in wearily, for who else could I get in my place”. This suggests he is staying because he believes no one else would do this job for the same reason he no longer wishes to do the job. This could be a false excuse. On the other hand, the reason he is still carrying on with this job is the money.

Towards the end, his mood also changes. He changed his mood from wanting to leave his job to having second thoughts about his job and maybe considering to stay.

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