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In the poem, Ocean Vuong describes the event of meeting his foregone father from the

perspective of a good son, who he finds physically close but emotionally distant to. A tone
of grief and frustration runs throughout the poem through the use of aggressive dictions
and a lack of caricature, both in terms of characterization and the subjects that are missing.

The poem is confined to one setting and has a prominent depiction of violence. The title
Telemachus establishes a war context where an infant son goes search of his warrior-
wanderer father. However, the title doesnt work in isolation, the use of semantic field
builds up tension. Explicitly, an additional layer of cruelty and depression of war is
reinforced by the military weapon like bullet hole, and verbs such as pull, drag, bomb,
brim. All these words contain a harsh and truculent plosive sounds which somehow imitate
the shots of gunfire and rifle, constantly echoing throughout the poem. The father is a
thinly-sketched character who is not involved in the event explicitly. However, it is
presumed that the father has sacrificed himself in the war since the mere answer is the
bullet hole in his back.

Unprefix is a device used by Vuong to emphasize the things that are absent, it is a vital clue
to the message of the poem in terms of how the speaker regards his father as an absent and
distant character. Vuong achieves this effect by a repeated use of disavowal words such as
no longer, never, no and not, which effectively underlines how things are changed after
the speaker finds his father. To illustrate with examples, the absence of his fathers
response after the questioning do u know who I am imply an emotional distance between
him and the father despite they are physically besides each other. It is the distance between
life and death where the father remains unspoken and still. The adjective still connotes to
something unmovable and determined, which links to the cathedral in his sea-black eyes.
This denotes that the father remains religious even after death, he is still faithful and loyal
to his religion. However, from the speakers perspective, cathedral is no longer for man but
for trees, showing how everything has existed before is now absent in speakers view, seen
by the line is now a cathedral for trees. Is now shows a sudden epiphany of death when
his attitude has changed.

The poem is in free verse, with rich enjambment, suggesting the randomness of warriors
getting shot and the endlessness of war. However, there is a pattern change in terms of the
poem form: there is one line Do you know who I am, Ba thats strikingly not enjambed. The
punctuation in the middle is a symbolism of the distant relationship between the speaker
and his father. The two words separated by a comma resembles how the father is isolated
to the speaker. The embedded comma also suggests the speakers fragmented memories
and vulnerability.