Liz Lochhead’s poem ‘ Box Room ‘ clearly presents her contradictory thoughts and feelings about an experience. A first visit to a boyfriend’s hostile mother is first presented with great confidence but later becomes an experience of unease and despair. The first few lines of the poem show that the mother is very hostile : First the welcoming. Smiles all round. A space For handshakes. These are non- sentences, like stage directions, which give the impression that the mother is putting on a performance and it was insincere. The girl is very confident of her relationship with her boyfriend.
Although the mother tries to make her feel she is only temporary : He’ll make do tonight In the lounge on the put -u -up. All right For a night or two. This phrase shows that the mother thinks the girl will only be staying for a night or two and then she will have left. The mother also tells the girl she is not the first girl he has brought home: Once or twice before He’s slept there. This emphasises that the girlfriends he has brought home have not became serious or permanent. During the conversation with the mother Lochhead inserts comments showing how confident she is: ( Oh with concern for my comfort )
( Lightweight,glossy, made of some synthetic miracle) These paenthical comments show that the girl thinks the mother is sad and pathetic but she can laugh at her due to her high confidence. The girl feels that her boyfriend has broken free and moved on from his mother. She then uses a metaphor to show that she feels the mothers ‘ pathetic shrine ‘ which she keeps as a memory of the sons childhood. She uses a metaphor to show her confidence as she uses a mocking tone. Despite her original confidence, when the girl is left alone in the room with all his old toys etc she begins to have doubts about her relationship with her boyfriend:
Peace to unpack – but I found none This shows she can’t find peace to sleep from all his old discarded childhood possessions. She then becomes increasingly worried and doubtful about her relationship and how long it will last : Persistent fear Elbows me ; embedded deeply here In an outgrown bed Personification is used here to show the depth of the fear and gives the image that the fear is a living partner in bed with her. The girl then feels she is only temporary and won’t be his girlfriend for much longer: Your bookshelves Are crowded with previous prizes, a selection Of plots grown thin.
The books represent the boys previous girlfriends that his mother hinted about and she worries she will become discarded like the rest of them. In the first half of the poem her parenthetical comments were a sign of confidence and carried a little humour but towards the end they show that she is becoming more insecure: Using a range of techniques – personification, parenthetical comments – Lochhead clearly shows how the girl laughs at the mother but then contradicts herself by taking her comments seriously and wondered if she is only temporary and how long it will be before she is discarded like the rest of his girlfriends.