The Gun – Vicky Feaver

The gun is a poem that looks at the change that a gun brings into the speakers life. It also highlights the growing issue of gun violence.


Theme –

  • Masculinity and power: The speakers’ husband shows his power and dominance through the livestock that he brings for his wife to cook. She is almost forced to ‘join in’ because she knows it will please her husband. ‘The Gun’ itself is something that changes their lives and becomes the centre of their relationship. We are shown the power struggle not only between men and women but also nature and humanity. We place ourselves at a higher position than animals and therefore feel that we have the power to take on the role of ‘the King of Death’, deciding if animals will live or die.
  • Sex: The gun has brought something new and exciting into their relationship, ‘like when sex was fresh’. They have spiced up their love life with this sense of danger.
  • Death: Not only the death of these animals but also the death of these speakers’ morals. She initially seems disgusted by what the gun has brought about, but then she starts to ‘join in’. It is the death of the idea that guns were bad.


Tone of the poem –

  • There is an animalistic sexual tone in the poem through phrases such as ‘when sex was fresh’. This use of the word ‘fresh’ gives the image of raw meat and freshly butchered animals.
  • The tone begins quite negative as the speaker feels the gun has placed a ‘shadow’ and dark cloud over her because of the death and destruction it brings. But, as the poem continues there is a change in her attitude, she once saw the gun as something negative but then near to the end states that ‘a gun brings a house alive’.


Structure –

  • The poem contains 2 single lines, which act as topic sentences for the rest of the poem. The poet is able to highlight the significant effect that the gun has on the speaker’s life/relationship.


Techniques –

  • There is a sense of accusation through the use of the word ‘you’ in the 4th Highlights the power that the man has over her and the animals he uses the gun to kill.
  • The poet also uses sibilance, ‘slicing, stirring and tasting- excited as if the King of Death had arrived to feast, stalking out of winter woods’. This sibilance could be used to replicate the sound of the ‘fresh’ meat sizzling and ‘cooking’. It shows the part that the woman plays. The sibilance could also be used to replicate the hissing of a snake to tempt the speaker into accepting and embracing the new power the gun gives her. Like how Eve is tempted by the snake into eating the forbidden fruit.
  • We also see alliteration being used in ‘the fridge fills’, this line could represent the speaker squashing this heap of dead animals into the fridge. Creates a grotesque sound of squelching.


Important quotes:

Imagery is seen through:

‘A gun brings a house alive’

This personifies an inanimate object, which is ironic because the poet is bringing the gun to life while the gun is used to kill. The gun brings a new form of power, power that humans crave.


‘run and flown’

The speaker’s husband began by shooting lifeless, meaningless ‘tins’, to then escalate to killing real creatures that were healthy and had vitality. Their freedom is taken from them. The fact that these animals had ‘run and flown’ could show that they tried to escape the fatality the gun was to bring, but the gun won the power struggle.


‘black mouth sprouting golden crocuses’

Crocuses are beautiful, vibrant flowers but are a deception for they are actually poisonous. Like a ‘polished’ gun appears enticing, it is a deception for it is really a toxic killing machine.


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