Commentary on Two Hands

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Two Hands The poem Two Hands examines the intricacies of the relationship between a father and a son. The use of contrast and synecdoche emphasises the fact that the son always fell short of what was expected of him in comparison with his father. The title, Two Hands, is extremely apt. When we think of two hands we think of two similar hands that belong to the same person, however, in this poem the two hands belong to very different people. This emphasises the connection as well as the differences between the father and the son. The two hands are a metaphor for the father and the son. The metaphor is appropriate as both their professions, a surgeon and writer, involve them using their hands a lot. Though they are both similar, in appearance, they are very different hands for while one leads ‘a scalpel an intricate dance’ the other can ‘save no one, serve no one’. This shows the low opinion the son has of himself when he compares himself to his father’s high standards. He feels as if he is living in the shadow of his father’s achievements. The contrast between the two hands is brought out through their similarities when the poet says- ‘Who would have thought\ hands so alike – spade palms, blunt fingers short in the joint – would have no more in common?’ The hands are both compare to something useful, a spade, which suggests that both the poet and his father are equally equipped to achieve great things and despite this the son still falls short of his father’s achievements. The word ‘dance’ is used twice in the poem, once to describe the movement of his father’s hand and once to describe his, this suggests that the poet believes that in some way he can measure up to his father achievements. The use of the word dance to describe the father’s job has a negative connotation, making it sound frivolous and shallow. This links to the following line where the poet says that

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