Brooklyn Cop – Analysis and Evaluation Worksheet Stanza One 1. Look at lines 1 – 4. Do you think that this is a stereotypical image of a policeman? Choose two quotes, and explain why they make you feel this way. (3) Stereotypical – “built like a gorilla” = he is big and strong / “.. but less timid” = brave Non-stereotypical – “two hieroglyphs in his face that mean trouble” = he is looking for trouble (1 mark for each quote and linked opinion) 2. Quote the line that shows that the divide between civilization and violence is only ever paper-thin. (1) “he walks the sidewalk and the thin tissue over violence” (1 mark) 1. What technique is this? 1) Metaphor (1 mark) 3. Consider what you learn about the cop at home. Quote a line that shows the difference between his personality at work, and that at home. Explain your answer fully, including how you feel about the character. (3) Whilst at work, he is fearless and savage. But he loves his wife and is afraid that he might be killed in the line of duty (1 mark) – “.. when he said ‘see you babe’ to his wife, he hoped it, he truly hoped it” (1 mark). This makes us feel sorry for him because his love for his wife means he is vulnerable. (1 mark) 4. The poet changes from saying the cop is “like a gorilla” to being “a gorilla”.
Explain fully how the techniques have changed, and why you think the poet does this. (2) The poet uses a simile at the start of the poem, but towards the end of stanza one he changes the comparison to being a metaphor (1 mark). This strengthens the image and emphasises the savage, bestial and primitive nature of the cop. (1 mark) Stanza Two 1. Think about the place names in the poem – what kind of area is he policing? (2) The poet mentions “Phoebe’s Whamburger” and “Louie’s Place” – these sound like they might be mafia diners or places where gangsters might hang out. (2 marks for any suitable ideas with evidence) 2.
Explain how the word “plunge” is effective. Include comment on connotation and denotation of the word as well as the structure. (3) “Plunge” means to fall quickly (1 mark). It has connotations of falling, uncontrollably, perhaps from a great height into something terrible (1 mark). . The poem highlights the word so that the physical structure of the poem almost mirrors the idea of falling through the “thin tissue” into violence. (1 mark). 3. How does stanza two remind us of the themes of the poem? (1) Stanza two reiterates the theme of violence, and shows how quickly the cop could be thrust from safety into chaos. 1 mark for anything describing how violence is always present in the cop’s world) Stanza Three 1. What do you notice about the structure of this stanza? (1) The whole stanza is written as a rhetorical question. (1 mark) 2. Explain the significance of “gorilla with a nightstick” (2) The cop is described as a gorilla, which has connotations of being primitive and savage. It is significant that he has chosen a nightstick, because stereotypical police would have a gun. The Brooklyn Cop has a nightstick, perhaps because he enjoys being able to use it to violently beat up criminals. 1 mark) The poet may also intend it to be a phallic symbol, to emphasise the masculinity of the cop. (1 mark) 3. Show how the poet tries to get us to sympathise with the cop (4) MacCaig tries to get us to feel sorry for the cop by reminding us that his “home is a place he might, this time, never get back to. ” This is perhaps the only place he is happy and safe and so we sympathise with his dangerous life. (2 marks) The poet also asks “who would be him”, which makes the reader consider how hard it would be to live the life the cop does. (2 marks) (1 mark for each quote,1 mark for each reasonable explanation)
Stanza Four 1. Who is the poet referring to as “victims”, and why do you think they are referred to as such? (2) The poet refers to criminals who are caught by the cop as “victims” (1 mark), perhaps because the cop serves his own kind of violent justice. (1 mark) Overall 1. Why do you think the Brooklyn Cop remains anonymous? (1) I think that not knowing his name emphasises how isolated he is from society, and makes the readers sympathise more with him (1 mark) 2. How successful do you think this poem is in conveying a complex picture of the cop? (4) MacCaig is successful because he presents us with a realistic character.
On one hand, he is almost a comic book superhero: he is “built like a gorilla” – huge and strong, as he bravely “walks the sidewalks and the thin tissue over violence” to keep us safe. On the other hand, he has a vicious, violent streak. He likes brutalising people, and the line “two hieroglyphs in his face that mean trouble” suggests he seeks out fights. Yet at the same time, he is tender with his wife, calling her “honey” and his fear that his “home is a place he might, this time, never get back to” tells us that he is vulnerable. (two marks each for suitable quote plus explanation)