Essay response to “The Schoolgirl Kills Herself after Failing an Exam”
This poem addresses the issue of increasing societal standards on people in Singapore. This poem is written in the Singapore context as the poet mentions the Straits times, a local newspaper. Furthermore, the poem mentions a troubling issue that many Singaporeans face – the “national urge to never stop excelling”. The poem starts with an individual event of a schoolgirl committing suicide after failing an exam, and ends on a more general concept to address to the public about the issue of societal standards on Singaporeans. Just like how the incident is reported in the Straits Times, the poet’s style of writing is more like a newspaper report but reflects the poet’s own opinion as well to show his intended meaning to the public through his poem.
This poet writes in free verse, and the poem, made up of 4 stanzas, does not have any rhyme scheme. This gives off a more real feeling of the incident, hence more like the style of a newspaper report. The poet can also transmit his message to the readers more freely and expressively through this style of writing, as he clearly has an aim to address the issue of people being too pressurized in Singapore society. Furthermore, the poem is written in present tense, highlighting the fact that the issue is very present in our society and although the incident was a thing of the past, it should still be thought about in the present.
The poet makes use of parallel construction. In the first line of the first stanza: “She jumps from the tenth floor … dies and transforms into twelve paragraphs of newsprint in the Straits Times”, the parallelism here creates a steady rhythm, a contrast from what really happened during the girl’s fall from the housing block, which is described as a “brief wild terror of freedom”. The parallel construction continues on throughout the poem, as can be seen in the third stanza: “We feel obliged to … We wish to … we remind...