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Handkerchief – Stability, Reliance, Strength, Durability

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Both Barber in ‘Material’ and Morrissey in ‘Genetics’ present the bonds between parents and their children as unbreakable. ‘Material’ presents ideas about the relationship between her mother and herself; whereas Genetics presents ideas about the direct ties between parent and child, both relying heavily upon symbolism in order to do so.

In both poems, symbolism is used to show the influence that parents have on their children’s lives.


: handkerchief – stability, reliance, strength, durability.

Tissues – fragile, thin uncertain. Lost in time, alone. Made her realise that life isnt permanent, surrounded in fear as to how to treat her children.

Television: new object, completely contrasted to old-fashioned handkerchiefs. Influences of other people, losing control; lack of caring for her children.

Shows complexity of being a parent, but the standard she tries to live up to that her mother held.


  • Physical connection between parents abd child. Literally tied together, bond. Connection of knowledge/identity passed from parents to children.
  • Title – genes, shaped them. Directly influenced.
  • Narrators hands only thing left of parents commitment. Importance of the physical bond, no matter what else , this person is joined and linked to their parents through blood. Strength.
  • Ryhme between stanzas – like between parents over distance.

In each of these poems, the poets present the emotional bonds between parents and children through the use of nostalgia.


  • Longing for childhood, shaped her, safety net. Mother passed away, misses her. Emphasis on the bond between them, unbroken even after death.
  • Doesn’t romanticise it, it was nothing extraordinary but it was special to her. Gentle, love , care, family.
  • Comparison to how it is now, loss of meaning.


  • Memories of her parents being together, longing for their reunion.
  • Impact of divorce on a child, responsibility.
  • Repelled (booklet) weren’t meant to be but resentment?
  • Just friends now. Lack of rhymes = lack of unity between parents. Half-rhymes , accent becomes rhymes. Significance. Finding her identity with the join but also split of her parents.

The final stanzas (or the form?) of both poems are significant in the representation of the continuous connection between parents and children.


  • Mother talking at the end.
  • Possessive – taking control, next life.
  • Has to shape her own children using messages learned from her mother.
  • Last stanza – form.
  • Imperfect ending for the mother, reliance of parents on children too. Connection changesnand matures as grow older, shaped people. Identityy. Scratchy and disposable – hatsh, death or life.
  • Minor details hold importance, shape children. Opportunity.


  • Vilanelle
  • Interlacing words. Identity.
  • Not exact rhymes etc.
  • Circular structure (booklet)
  • Parents quarrying in river – searching for their own identities like the child. Parallel.
  • Disjointed family structure.
  • Bodies of the future.





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