Analysis of ‘A single mum’s Xmas tale’ by Nick Morgan

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(670 words)

In the following piece of writing, I will be explaining the way the writer, Nick Morgan, uses the story of a single mother to highlight what can be the quandary of lone parenting. Ann, now a single mum, is presented as declassed in the world having worked as a secretary and been in a relationship. The reader is to empathise with the single mum being in a predicament where she appears pretty helpless.

The writer starts by telling us of Ann with her ‘pale face weary’. This is the first sentence and the reader immediately conjures up an image of this young woman experiencing difficulties in her life and feeling depressed and tired. It expresses life is a hard struggle for this lady. The ‘old broken guitar with a broken string’ in the corner of the room may be a metaphor for her present situation. She has a casual approach of not looking forward to Christmas albeit resigned to an unexciting one. She is almost excepting she cannot see anyone because she has no money and is a one-parent family. She says it feels like ‘charity’ for her friends to take her out.  She cannot ‘swallow her pride’. The writer is trying to emphasise to us that she has become a victim of her situation. This is further underlined by her ‘reluctant’ manner and the feeling she would ‘be the odd one out’ with her relatives. The haggard image of her is telling.

With James, the little son, the reader is invited to feel the boy is an innocent party to his mother’s situation. With his ‘golden curls’ playing around and reading books, he is shown as a bright little boy although the reader gets the feeling that he is suffering too from his mum’s position. The boy can sometimes be ‘quick-tempered’ and ‘unsettled’ the mother says. The writer tries to make the reader comprehend their predicament where this boy is stuck indoors with his mother all the time with nothing really to do except play with his book to which she says ‘though, it’s not one of mine’. The reader senses she cannot afford anything special for him because of her somewhat desperate position. Obviously, she cannot leave but she feels ‘like I just want to get out’.

As if the mother’s plight was not tough enough, there is the fact it is Christmas. At Christmas, there are plenty of images and adverts of a time of plenty, happy families, and warm decorated houses. Here the writer uses this emotive subject to contrast the mother’s family to others’ experience of Christmas. She is ‘reluctant’ to see her family. Ann’s feeling is that everyone in the family seems ‘sorted’ and it is her, single, ‘on her own again – the odd one out’ which unfortunately only compounds her difficulty at the festive time.

The reader is shown that money is Ann’s main worry. The writer comments on Government policy with ‘it could get worse ‘. The reader is already told of the mother’s financial predicament regarding clothes and toys for her son. James’ clothes are ‘handed down’. To be losing money on her benefit would ‘hit’ her. This conveys that Government policy is hammering the people already hardest hit. The writer points out that she can ‘provide the very basics’. The reader thinks about Government strategies and how they may fail to help women in these situations; reinforcing this impression with the phasing out of her ‘means tested ‘benefit. Ann does not ‘think about the future’.

The writer has made his case for us to sympathise with Ann and James and the situation of single parents. As we leave 2021, from skyrocketing petrol and gas bills to ever-increasing inflation and price increases, this year the UK is seeing a considerable increase in living costs. Single parents are often only just managing to scrape by and people like Ann remain on that financial ‘knife edge’.

Help Single Parents at Christmas. Gingerbread.org.uk provide information to help single parents support themselves and their family.

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