Tag Archives: Casehistory: Alison (head injury)

‘Casehistory: Alison (head injury)’ by U.A. Fanthorpe

The poem, ‘Casehistory: Alison (head injury)’ is a dramatic monologue from the point of view of a woman who has had an accident and suffered a brain injury which has resulted in some memory loss.

The narrator reminds me a lot of Lucy, the female lead played by Drew Barrymore in the film 50 First Dates (2004). Just like Alison, Lucy’s memory of the previous day resets when she wakes each morning. In the poem, Alison is told each day that her father has died and each day this is new and shocking information for her. Similarly, in the movie, Lucy meets Henry (Adam Sandler) one day in a diner, yet the next day she has forgotten him and it becomes a shock when he talks to her in such a familiar way:

I put the text from the poem into a word cloud generator called Wordle. Wordle takes the words from the poem and presents them in a ‘word cloud’ based on the frequency of each word: the more times a word appears in the poem, the larger it appears on the word cloud.

This is a great way to see repetition, which helps you see which words are important in the poem. It also helps you see the types of words that appear more often, which can help you work out the major themes in the poem. You can try this with any of the poems to see the sort of patterns of words that appear and help you understand the themes.

If you click on the thumbnail of the ‘Casehistory: Alison (head injury)’ word cloud below, you can see what sort of words appear most often. The most regular words the pronouns ‘I’, ‘she’ and ‘her’. What does this tell you about the themes and ideas within the poem? Perhaps that the theme of identity is important to the narrator? Perhaps she is confused about her identity as it changes between first person (‘I’) and third person (‘her’, ‘she’)?

Wordle: Alison Fanthorpe

Other words that have a fairly high frequency are ‘bright’, ‘girl’, ‘smiles’, ‘faith’ and ‘future’. Can you make any links between these words? What do these words suggest about the other themes in the poem?

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