The poem "The interrogation" by Edwin Muir is about the different ways that people deal with and react in different situations. I think this poem is about a few emigrants who are illegally crossing the border to enter a country they are not lawfully permitted to. The interrogation that the poem talks about is the questioning that these people are put through by the law enforcement troops that these emigrants encounter at the border.
We know that the poem is about this illegal emigration because at the beginning of the poem states, "and then came the patrol;" This confirms that there is a governmental group of people involved. I think the central opposition of the poem is about courage and fear. The way these people choose to handle the 'interrogation' determines whether or not they will be able to cross the border. If they answer with courage and confidence then they will be much more likely to be allowed through as opposed to if they answer with fear. We know that they reacted unwisely in this scenario because the poem says they "hesitated" in their approach to crossing the border. This is what led them to be interrogated by the "patrol".
This has a direct relation to real life; you are more likely to succeed in things that you handle with courage then those that you handle with fear, as fear leads to suspicion. These people are doing an illegal act and we know that they handle the situation with the wrong approach. We are further confirmed that what these people are doing is illegal when the poem says "Must come out now, who, what we are," It conveys a sense of deception to the readers. I also think that according to the poem some people, that were confident and came as families were let through to cross the border with ease. This is supported because the poem says, "The careless lovers in pairs go by,"
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Near the end of the poem, the poet talks about the response and state of mind of these emigrants. The poem tells us that these people are getting more nervous as they are being questioned more and more. This is a build-up in the poem and it demonstrates how the people are increasingly getting more nervous as this interrogation progresses. We know so from the following lines,
"And the thoughtless field is near.
We are on the very edge,
Endurance almost done,
And still the interrogation is going on."
There is a contrast between the different groups of people shown in this poem because the people that are going in "pairs" tend not to "hesitate" when they cross the border, whereas these other people do. This is a contrast between the different ways that people handle situations. We can assume, from the evidence that I have given that it is an interrogation that questions the actions of these emigrants and why they are trying to cross the border. These would be regular routine questions. The fact that the poem is written using "we" shows that there is more than one and perhaps it's a gang or group of people. However, the impression that is given to the readers is that these emigrants are innocent people just looking for a new home, rather than a group of criminals.
The poem is written in clear language and has a lasting effect on the readers. It demonstrates how actions can determine where different people will end up in the long run. It gives the readers a chance to think of how and why some of the people were held back and interrogated while others weren't and crossed this road without difficulty. The effect of the courage and fear aspects is significant and seems like it was the main intention of the reader to highlight those features in the poem. They happen to be very effective techniques in catching the reader's attention. However, the poem is not so predictable and changes its style in which the points are pointed out to the reader often.
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