English Literature





How is a child’s view of the world explored in ‘Climbing My Grandfather’?

3 years ago


1 Reply




Ona Thiel

1 Answer

David C Profile Picture
David C Verified Sherpa Tutor ✓

CELTA-qualified Teacher of English and English Literature Graduate

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Hi Ona! Here are a few ideas worth considering:

The verb tenses used throughout the poem are present simple and present continuous, suggesting that the child is perpetually in the midst of discovery and experimentation. The young narrator has no preconceived notions but is discovering the topography of his grandfather spontaneously, and, like the reader, in real time. This conveys a sense of youthful naïveté and gamesome adventure.

From an early age children develop their motor coordination skills and learn to negotiate the world around them, primarily through touch, feel, and sensory experience; this explains the plethora of ‘tactile’ verbs in the poem - ‘reaching’, ‘feeling,’ ‘scramble’, ‘traverse’, ‘climbing’, and ‘pull myself up.’

Note, too, the reflexive pronoun in the final example listed above- ‘pull myself up’; this, along with the opening line (which introduces the extended metaphor of free climbing) relates to a burgeoning independence characteristic of early childhood. ‘I decide to do it free.’ Growing up involves gradually shedding the restrictions that were originally placed on us to ensure our safety, like learning to ride a bike without stabilisers.

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