Analysis of Breakfast by Jacques Prevert

 

This poem by Jacques Prévert was written in 1946, one year after the end of World War II. It reflects the predicament of many people after the war. Having suffered a humiliating invasion by the Nazis, French citizens felt disillusioned and displaced after their liberation by the United States in 1944 and at the end of the war in 1945.

This poem contains a situation that comes after some form of conflict, where the man who is eating his breakfast is seemingly opting not to talk to the speaker of the poem which creates an obvious atmosphere of tension throughout the poem, which culminates in the narrator's tears after the man finishes his breakfast and leaves. The obscure conflict should be between a husband and a wife. The fact that neither of them attempt conversation implies that the conflict was serious.

You can watch the poem in video form below:


Overview

Title: A regular occasion where a family gathers for one of the most important meals of the day. However, the usual happiness and conversation is not found here as there is no communication between them possibly due to a conflict occurred between them.

Theme:  Conflicts in relationships, dislocation of relationships due to lack of communication

Tone: Frustrating

Mood: Gloomy, disturbing

Narration: 1st Person

Structure: Clipped – short sentences, Free verse in simple language, irregular size stanzas and lines (suggesting the irregularity of the relationship between the man and the woman)

Main literary technique: Repetition

 

 

Deep end Analysis of the Poem:

 

He poured coffee

into his cup

he put milk

in his cup of coffee

he put sugar

in his cup of coffee and milk

With his teaspoon

he stirred it

he drank the coffee and milk

and he put down the cup

without speaking to me

 

Past Tense: Suggests a bitter past experience of the speaker which she presents in the dramatic monologue form to another person or an audience.

Possessive adjectives: ‘his’ – shows the possessive nature of the man who has no care about the woman nor her emotions. This might be the actual cause for the conflict too.

Repetitive sentence structure: To emphasize the monotonous nature of the situation where man behaves in a same mechanical way like a robot.

Actions without any modifiers: no adjectives nor adverbs to describe the actions suggesting the void of emotions and mechanical nature of man’s behavior.

Kinesthetic imagery: the sequenced actions of the man creates a moving imagery in the mind of the reader.

 

Out of 11 lines 10 lines describe the actions of the man whereas the speaker (probably a woman) is passively observing the actions of the man. The last line shows that the woman was waiting for a conversation with the man.

 

 He lit

a cigarette

he made rings

with the smoke

he put the ashes

in the ash-tray

without speaking to me

without looking at me

 

Visual imagery: ring with the smokes (shows an image of a person relaxing himself on a chair and smoking a cigarette airing rings of smoke into the atmosphere)

symbol: ashes (ash is a symbol of death which shows the death of their relationship)

anaphora: without (emphasizes the irritation of the woman who was waiting for a glimpse from the man)

 

Again the 06 lines out of 08 lines are dedicated to show the actions of the man. The repetitive ideas of woman show her irritation of his indifference to her. His smoking may be a way of releasing his distress or to show disrespect to the person near him. The last two lines further suggests that the man has no concern for the woman.

 

He got up

he put

his hat on his head

he put on

his raincoat

because it was raining

and he went out

in the rain

without a word

without a look.

 

Pathetic fallacy: it was raining (the internal tension inside the house is projected through the nature.)

Symbol: rain (rain is a symbol for an uncomfortable condition. Here the rain symbolizes the unhealthy condition of their relationship – the man going into the rain is the culmination of it)

Anaphora: ‘without a’ – emphasizes her remorseful attitude to the action done by the man. Throughout the poem she has been waiting for the man’s attention which she is not received even at the last moment.

This stanza shows the climax of their internal conflict where the man leaves into the rain without looking at the woman. His leaving is the demonstration of complete rejection of communication with the woman. He leaving the uncomfortable zone into more uncomfortable weather suggests the dislocation of their relationship due to their conflict. His leaving further implies that he is not ready to talk over the situation and come to a resolution. 

 

And I, I put

my head in my hands

and wept.

 

Caesura: ‘And I, I put’ – shows the point where she bursts out her bottled-up sadness.

 

The speaker has been a passive onlooker until the end of the poem. She releases her bottled-up sadness through her eyes evoking sad emotions in the hearts of the reader. Even after the end of the poem, the reader has no clue of the cause of the conflict. However, the reader can assume that it is about something of higher gravity which leaves both of them unable to express themselves properly. However, it could have been changed, if one started braking the shackle by speaking or apologizing.

Is Prévert suggesting that what is described is that condition of one particular family or is he suggesting that that may well be a universal condition of more than a few contemporary French families which reflects the predicament of many people after the war war II?

However, the psychological tension of their relationship is heartrendingly portrayed in the poem suggesting the reader to talk over a cause of any conflict to get a resolution in domestic matters or else it could create havocs in their relationships.

What is your idea of the poem? Please let us know that by commenting below. You can share this using the social share buttons below. Follow our blog to be a part of our #Litspring family.

 

 

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. great work...thnk u sm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, happy you like it.

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    2. It really helped me during my online classes ! I was searching for meaningful analysis ! and this was the one ! Thank you so much !

      Delete
    3. Happy you find this useful.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Great, please tell the reasons to correct the bad.

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  3. This was very useful for me .Thank you sir

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  4. This is great work,it really helped me with my work. And also it's better if u mentioned the poetic techniques too��

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, the poetic techniques are right below the analysis of each stanza.

      Delete
  5. Thank you so much Mr. Sampath. I was seeking for an meaningful and useful analysis all-over the night and eventually I found this. I found it really useful and now, I'm gonna read your all analyses.

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