“How it will End” By Denise Duhamel’s – Poetry Explication

Love has often been an overarching theme in poetry. Masterpieces have been written to describe its intriguing nature and how it is, primarily, the spice of life (Hirsch & Duke University, 2013, p. 45). Nonetheless, there are moments when this fiery passion inadvertently fades away, paving the way for a certain level of vulnerability that was hitherto unknown to the subjects. Such is the case in Denise Duhamel’s “How it will End,” an expertly written poem in which the poet explores the intricacies and realities of a relationship wrought with debacles.  The purpose of this poetry explication essay is therefore to provide an in-depth assessment of the elements and literary techniques employed by the author in developing the plot and other structural features.

Firstly, the poet makes use of two unique scenarios to develop the plot and also to bring the couple’s issues into perspective. The first scenario is that of the narrator and her husband describing their walk at the boardwalk. They seem happy together, especially considering that the tone is casual, yet very indulging. After a short while, the second scenario is introduced when they witness an altercation between a lifeguard and his girlfriend. No sooner had they started analyzing the bickering couple than they decide to develop a story line to describe what the bone of contention between the two might be. It is succinct that each party picks a side on the matter in a bid to discern the problem as portrayed in the poem: “I’m angry at him for seeing glee in their situation // and say, ‘That’s your problem—you think every fight // is funny. You never take her seriously,’ and he says, // ‘You never even give the guy a chance and you’re always nagging, // so how can he tell the real issues from the nitpicking?” (“How It Will End — How It Will End — Denise Duhamel,” n.d.).  It is through these scenarios that the couple is able to realize that they too have unresolved issues that need to be addressed promptly.  The poet uses an unusual word and stanza choice that creates tension while allowing the reader to acknowledge the complex nature of the conflict.

Duhamel’s poem also uses irony as an element vital in the development of the plot. Explicit use of this technique is meant to provoke the reader’s faculties, making them think deeply about what is being said and the implications of this particular disposition. The couple begins their observation by taking note of the problems experienced by the lifeguard and his girlfriend. They clearly take an interest in this fight and are even ready to pick sides and point the possible flaws that may have resulted in this sad state of affairs: “My husband says, “Boy, he’s sure in for it,” and I say, “He deserves whatever’s coming to him.” My husband thinks the lifeguard’s cheated, but I think she’s sick of him only working part time or maybe he forgot to put the rent in the mail” (“How It Will End — How It Will End — Denise Duhamel,” n.d.). The irony of this particular case is that they too have unresolved issues that are eating into their toxic relationship that may soon result in a failed marriage. The author manages to capture the reader’s awareness that would ensure that they pay attention to details while also presenting an “ironic gap”. By so doing, the author allows readers to reconcile their interpretation with that of the characters, making certain that they find a compromise that would result in a cordial resolution.

Thirdly, there is an air of suspense throughout the poem meant to attract the reader more to the subject matter. The judgmental couple apparently has a lot of issues that are periodically swept under the carpet and avoided at all costs. However, their encounter with the other couple at the beach is a wakeup call for them also to interrogate their relationship and the course it seems to be taking.  The suspense begins right from the beginning, with a title that will, sure enough, leave any reader wondering whether this problem-ridden relationship will survive the storm that it is currently in. Similarly, the ending is filled with suspense since the lifeguard and his girlfriend reconcile while they are left wondering what their next step would be considering the new found realization: “I don’t know why you can’t admit she’s a killjoy,” and then out of the blue the couple is making up. The red flag flutters, then hangs limp. She has her arms around his neck and is crying into his shoulder. He whisks her up into his hut. We look around, but no one is watching us” (“How It Will End — How It Will End — Denise Duhamel,” n.d.). The use of a red flag and a rough current as symbols further complicates the text since readers would not know what to expect ultimately. The author succeeds in developing the plot with language that is both casual and fluent meant to enable readers to interpret descriptive stimulus.

In finality Denise Duhamel’s “How it will End” delves into love and the issues that arise in relationships. The author uses double scenarios, irony, and suspense as elements to add dramatic panache to her piece. By so doing, she produces a masterpiece that explores grave matters that are rarely broached.


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