"ATM" Close Analysis

By using a palindrome structure in her poem “ATM,” Elizabeth Bachinsky was able to emphasize various emotions and ideas through repeating different phrases as well as altering her word choice subtly in the second stanza. For example, in the first stanza the speaker says, “Her husband is a gentleman and, despite all, she loves him. His image / stays in her mind even when he is away in another country.” These opening lines paint the picture of a woman married to a kind, successful man. The speaker describes a relationship where the husband is frequently away from him, and the wife misses him and pictures him often when he is away. However, this concept is altered in the end of the second stanza: “Though his affairs / stay in her mind even when he is away in another country, she knows / her husband is gentleman. Despite all, she loves him. His image.” These lines by Bachinsky describe a completely different scenario where a husband has multiple love affairs with other women, and she is left clinging to the fact that he is a gentleman and that is why she loves him. However, she admits that she does not love her husband, but instead loves his image. By making “Despite all, she loves him.” a sentence on its own, the speaker forces readers to stop on it and ponder what the husband may have done which forces the wife to dwell on and choose to love him regardless. Thus, through simply flipping the first stanza and slightly altering the position of the words, the speaker was able to dictate a completely different situation with new connotations and impressions.

At the same time, the repetition of various phrases forces the readers to stop and consider what deeper meaning may lie behind them. For instance, the first stanza ends, and the second stanza begins, with the words, “What he has split apart he knows is forgiven.” This emphasizes two different aspects of the poem. Firstly, it puts the blame for the split solely on the husband, as well as his own recognition of the blame falling on him. The lines indicate a split within the home or the family that was caused by the husband in the poem, due to his affairs. With this comes the second aspect that is emphasized- even though the husband has caused this, he has been forgiven. Knowing that he has been forgiven for what he has done gives him the option to either change his ways, or continue doing what he is doing, knowing that he will be forgiven again. The structure of the poem allows for various interpretations and different meanings to be picked up on each time it is read, making it interesting and captivating.

Credits:

Created with images by markhillary - "HSBC" • Matthew Paul Argall - "ANZ ATM machine" • Tax Credits - "ATM"

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