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“The Loner” – Written by Julie Holder

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“The loner” is a poem revolving around the experiences of one boy’s isolation in a school playground. Written by Julie Holder, the poetic techniques within this poem such as alliteration, rhythm, similes and metaphors exemplify its slow and doleful tone and, when collaborated, add to the overall effect of the poem. It’s explores the environment surrounding the character and his response to the seclusion. Considerable emphasis has been applied to the movement of the poem to capture the readers understanding of the characters true thoughts and feelings. A theme that is portrayed throughout the poem is belonging. In this case the boy in the picture does not suit to the environment he is in which causes him to be an outcast and not belong.

The purpose of the poem is to illustrate clearly to the reader the situation occurring in depth and how it effects the people involved which was the boy, the main subject of the poem, and the place, which is the school playground. Despite the fact that crowds of people surround him he continues to feel left out. This feeling of loneness and not being able to belong is expressed through the different mood settings. The solitary disposition of the loner is conveyed as cheerless and distressing giving his character a bleak tone as opposed to the atmosphere of the children in the playground, which is more full of life and excitement. The contrast between the two moods is to emphasis the sense of desolation felt by the character and reveals the gap separating the two sides.

In the first stanza, the poet describes the boy’s actions. She uses words such as “smack” and “scuffs” that carry a harsh effect to depict the boy’s frustration and attitude as result of the segregation. In the line” and other boredom-beating tricks”, the alliteration of the letter ‘b’, which produces a sense of dullness, adds weight to the characters apathy and, in doing so, institutes within the character an urge to release the accumulating tension inside but being unsuccessful, he remains ‘ the loner’.

Throughout the poem certain questions arise as to what the poet means to convey. For example, “watch this space”. This line leaves the reader with an indefinite ending. It be can interpreted that children have written this in remembrance of him and the friendship that might have been, or it can mean that they are ridiculing him by initiating the fact that he was ‘ the loner’. In that it can also be saying that the space where the boy used to stand is personified as something bad, negative, a zone where people should ‘ watch’ out for or they may become what he was.

The situation of the character in the poem is closely related to the position of a child’s real first day at school experience. This connection allows the reader to understand distinctly the thought and emotions of a boy left in discretion. The loner is portrayed throught the perspective of a child in the same playground as himself. He is seen to be submissive and afraid to interact. He is trapped in his own shell of darkness where he is protected from the outside world, a place where he seeks to hide from being exposed: “His loneliness is his shell and shield”. His attempt to shield himself is a way to avoid the rejection that could result if he tried to open up to the crowd, causing confusion and hesitation. In the line” We passed him by and never speak”, the poet highlights the fact that the children are disregarding the loner, not giving him the attention he needs. Yet ” He wasn’t there at the wall today” gives the different impression. The children’s recognition of the loner’s absence proves that they did take into consideration his presence. Ironically, though. The sole reason as to why he is considered a ‘loner’ comes from the fact that he himself believes that he is a loner, and eventuating from this, rejects the friendship offered to him. This rejection is what drove the children to see him as ” the loner”.

“Though sharp as a knife.” ” Strife doesn’t last long”. The simile used in this line describes the lonesomeness the loner is faced with and the discomfort he is facing. The work knife adds the painful effect.

The playground is described as a lively joyful place, “We passed him running, skipping, walking”. The children are having fun; ” There is shouting, laughter, song”. Their optimism is shown through these actions, allowing the reader to feel the enthusiasm filling the playground. This image of playground is completely different in comparison to the description of the loner.

At the end of every stanza, a conclusion is summed up referring back to the loner. For example in the third stanza, the poet depicts the children walking in groups, creating a sense of unity and then suddenly refers back to the loner stating his situation, hence intensifying the contrast between the crowd and himself. ” And neither he nor we will yield”. The words “he” and “we” empathizes the characters loneliness; he being a singular noun and we a plural. This line also gives the reader the impression that there is an on going battle between two sides as to who will decide to join the other first, that is whether the loner will join the children or the children will choose to join him.

As the poem goes on, a clearer understanding of situation develops and the emotions and thoughts of the character’s personality, and is effective in ensuring the reader conceives the correct perceptions on what Holder is trying to portray. The first stanza is a perfect example on the use of imagery by the composer. She, very specifically, describes the lonesome feeling felt by the boy and how he is dealing with solemn isolation and he’s desperation to become apart of a circle of friends. The sense of not being able to blend and fit in amongst the others students lives him to feel that he does not belong in this playground where he is invisible and unwanted.

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