Summary of a Poem The Cockroach

The persona is watching the cockroach as if it is a human being not a trifle insect in an objective view. This foreshadows the twist at the end which is that the poet is the subject of the poem. The persona can even sense how it feels and thinks; ‘he seemed quite satisfied’ ‘he looked uncertain where to go’. These illustrate that the cockroach begins to feel distracted and confused suggesting that the persona involves his thoughts to it. Therefore this, in turn, involves the readers in the poem furthermore.

The cockroach is an extended metaphor of the persona and human being. The cockroach moves through ‘a path between the wainscot and the door’ which symbolizes a steady path that people follow early in life. But, ‘soon he turned to jog in crooked rings’ suggests human being’s confusion in later life reinforcing a sense of confusion.

… Through the allegory in “The Cockroach” Kevin Halligan reflects upon the value of life and the many challenges we face.

Structure, tone and language techniques draw attention to the amount of detail and lessons that can be observed through an usually overlooked insect. The hyperbole of “a giant cockroach” conveys the closeness with which the persona is observing it, showing the reader the irony in his fascination and interest with this seemingly insignificant pest.

The repetition of the insect here and in the title reinforces its importance, suggesting that this is also a device allowing one to reflect upon life.

The unusual image of a lone cockroach that the persona empathises with highlights his feeling of loneliness; that they are considered an annoyance draws parallels with his despondency and identity crisis.

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