Backdrop Addresses Cowboy Analyses

1101 WordsMay 10, 20105 Pages
Backdrop addresses cowboy by Margaret Atwood The male hero could be said to be portrayed in Atwood’s poem “Backdrop addresses cowboy” by the cowboy. The cowboy is a clichéd symbol of masculinity made famous by the Western film industry of America. One can immediately conjure him up, square-jawed and handsomely rugged in Stetson and spurred boots, galloping around on his trusty steed rescuing damsels in distress with whom he intends on riding off romantically into the sunset with. This is however not the cowboy that we are confronted with in the poem. In the first stanza he is described as “starspangled” and “porcelain” which are both terms for decoration or ornament. That his grin is porcelain in line 4 shows fixedness, like a doll…show more content…
The first half of the poem addresses the cowboy which we can tell by the words of address “you” and “your” while the second half while still addressing the cowboy is contemplating the speaker, the metaphorical backdrop’s position in relation to the cowboy. The backdrop could be a metaphor for the rest of us, the seemingly unimportant ones, the background upon which the cowboy plays his life. The backdrop is aware of the cowboy’s real nature and is calling the cowboy on it. Instead of “watching… when the shooting starts… I am elsewhere” (line 24) This could be said to belittle the cowboy, that instead of “hands clasped in admiration” at his performance of violence which the cowboy may think heroic, the “I” has better things to do. In the title the backdrop is also given a capital while the word cowboy is not, making him seem inferior when usually a backdrop would be what is unimportant in comparison to an actor. The “I” of the poem is also described as something the cowboy wants but cannot have “confronting you on that border you are trying to cross” in lines 27 and 28 and “the thing you can never lasso” in line 30. This shows that the cowboy is not infallible and once again puts the backdrop in a superior position to the cowboy. The speaker

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