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Robert Gray Meatworks Essay Outline

You need to see what a Band 6 Discovery essay looks like before you can write your own. That’s why we’ve included one below. We recommend reading it carefully and breaking down what it does so successfully. How is the introduction structured? How does the student analyse evidence? And how do they bring it all together in the conclusion? Once you’re finished, apply the strategies you uncover to your own AOS: Discovery essays. We also have a detailed overview of how to write creatives in our Our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English – Part 6: Writing Creatives.

Essay Question

‘An individual’s experience of discovery is determined by their context.’ To what extent is this statement reflected in your prescribed text and ONE text of your own choosing?


Band 6 Discovery Essay

The unique context of an individual is what defines their process of discovery and in so doing, shapes their perspectives on interpersonal relationships, personal identity and existential outlook. These ideas are exemplified in both Robert Gray’s poems, Diptych and The Meatworks, and Matthew Thorne’s short film, Where Do Lilacs Come From. We see in these texts that discovery can only take place when our context challenges us, whether it is a change in context or the confronting nature of situational context itself. Only then can transformation occur.

The contexts in which the interpersonal relationships of an individual take place are what fuel discoveries to occur. In Gray’s Diptych, elements of the persona’s family life are embedded throughout, in particular the ongoing tension between the persona and his father. The father’s dialogue, “Nothing whingeing. Nothing by New York Jews; / nothing by women,” provides insight into the personality and character of the father. The anaphoric repetition of the harsh, despairing “nothing” portrays the father in his limited relationship with the persona, denoting the disconnect between the two and the persona’s negative perceptions of his father as a result. However, the transformative powers of context are revealed after the character experiences the death of his father. It is only after this event that he discovers newfound feelings towards his father and reconsiders their past relationship.  His death provokes a newfound acceptance and nostalgic fondness within the persona. The accident, “my pocket knife slid / sideways and pierced my hand – and so I dug with that one / into his ashes,” is central to the persona’s final emotional discovery. The mixing of his blood and his father’s ashes symbolically unifies the two, highlighting the change in perspective that has occurred with this change in context. Therefore, it can be argued that an individual only truly discovers his feelings towards others when their relationship is challenged by a change in context. The experience of loss following the death of his father caused Gray’s persona to reflect upon their past relationship and in doing so, he discovers feelings of clarity and acceptance that replaced past feelings of resentment and hostility. In other words, contextual experience has the potential to re-determine one’s interpersonal relationships.


Similarly, Matthew Thorne’s film Where Do Lilacs Come From explores the transformative powers of context. Much like Gray’s Diptych, Thorne depicts a change in context, in particular one that challenges an individual’s personal beliefs, as a fast catalyst to self-discovery. The film follows Chris, an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease, as he struggles with the strain his condition places on his relationship with his son, Michael. This is symbolised by the reoccurring large spaces which separate the two characters in each frame, implying their emotional disconnect. A tracking shot of Chris chasing his younger self down a long, brightly lit corridor symbolises his desire to rediscover his lost memories. The responder is able to gauge from this Chris’ perspective on his condition. Senility is a burden on his identity. However, at the end of the film Michael discovers he is able to reconnect with his father by showing him home movies. The movies, displayed as hand-held camera footage with a muted colour palette evoke the same sentiment of nostalgic fondness that changed the persona’s perspective in Gray’s in Diptych. The restorative experience of bonding is shown by a return to the metaphor of distance as the space between two characters is breached and the pair embrace. Not only does this show the characters re-discovering their love for each other, but the discovery they are still able to bond is a revelation within itself, one that allows Chris to view his Alzheimer’s in a new context. He is able to challenge and transform his personal beliefs of his condition, coming to terms with his ageing as he rediscovers hope. Therefore, not only can a physical change in context shed new light on interpersonal relationships, but the way in which an individual contextualises their unique experience within their own mental framework can transform one’s very identity.


However, a change in context is not the only determining factor of personal discovery. One’s contextual environment alone has the immense ability to provide incentive for internal transformation through the process of discovery. In Gray’s poem, The Meatworks, the persona’s existential contemplation of life and death is entirely due to his experience working at a slaughterhouse. The self-discovery commences at the start of the poem, as the persona reflects upon the other workers and their disregard for the lives of the animals. The compounded sensorial imagery of the passage, “Most of them worked around the slaughtering / out the back / where concrete gutters / crawled off / heavily, and the hot, fertiliser-thick, sticky stench of blood / sent flies mad,” establishes and sustains an oppressive sense of death. The use of alliteration in ‘s’ and ‘h’ creates a cacophony of emphatic sounds which combine to create a disturbing synesthetic response, illustrating the violent nature of death. It is this horrid setting that facilitates the persona’s inner discovery of existential turmoil, and with it a renewed appreciation for life in all its forms. The symbolic gesture of hand washing in, “I’d scoop up the shell grit and scrub my hands, treading about through the icy ledges of the surf”, illustrates the persona’s desire for purification following his change in perspective. The use of personification in the poem’s last line further conveys the persona’s changing belief regarding the lives of animals: “the ways those pigs stuck there, clinging to each other”. The persona discovers that in death, animals and humans are the same. This revelatory, existential experience perfectly exemplifies how the process of discovery is shaped by an individual’s contextual environment. It shows the true transformational power of context to shape an individual’s outlook and their very understanding of life.


In conclusion, it is highly evident that an individual’s context, whether it be their physical environment, or the experience of a change in context, determines their process of discovery. Robert Gray’s poems Diptych and The Meatworks, and Matthew Thorne’s short film Where Do Lilacs Come From, all convey these ideas to a great extent. In these works responders come to understand how the relationship between context and individual experience define the discoveries which impact interpersonal relationships, personal identity and one’s very perceptions of existence. Only when our context challenges us can we discover, and it is the impact of our discoveries that define who we are and our unique, individual experience.


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Through Robert Gray’s poems Diptych and Late Ferry I have learnt that remembering past events and bring outing a new truth or component to them can animate finds. These remembrances are evoked through the nostalgia shown by the talkers in each verse form. Although the verse forms differ in the sense that one talker intentionally remembers the past. as opposed to the other character that lone thinks of the yesteryear because they are looking with fright into the hereafter. both verse forms still illustrate that finds can be made through retrospect. In Diptych. Gray ( the talker ) is reminiscing about his childhood and his parents. and by making this he begins to hold a better apprehension of them. Whereas. in Late Ferry the talker is watching the death of heat associated with earlier times. by looking at a ferry go forthing port and embarking into the unknown. Through Gray’s usage of assorted techniques including ; centripetal imagination. tone and the plurality shown through his penchant for similes. he furthered my apprehension of the construct of find.

In Diptych. Gray explores the construct of find through his remembrances of his parents. the accelerator for this was the nostalgia for past experiences. The message I believe Gray is conveying through his didactic authorship is that relationships are an built-in portion of find. The realisation that Gray comes to at the terminal of the verse form is that he judged his parents excessively harshly and that they were making every bit best as they could. Grey uses the thought of the diptych ( the two panels joined together by a flexible joint or clasp and linked through a common thought or subject ) as the inspiration for the signifier. The consequence of this is to show the portrayals of both his parents individually and to compare and contrast his feelings towards both of them. The first words of his verse form “My mother” uses a genitive pronoun and initial rhyme to bespeak the personal degree that this verse form operates on. Gray intends this to make a connexion to his audience and himself. Grey utilizations similes in his verse form to show the plurality of his imagination and this is intended to assist the reader understand Gray’s relationship with his parents and his feelings towards them.

In Diptych Gray paints the portrayal of his female parent stressing her lovingness nature. this is apparent when he states “Her attention you could watch re-emerge like the border of tidal H2O in salt flats” . this simile peculiarly illustrates his mother’s resurging. caring attitude in a ocular image. which shows how Grey uses similes in order to break his audiences apprehension of abstract thoughts. Gray’s usage of anecdote straight after this simile highlights the fact that he engages the reader through non-abstract thoughts. Gray farther proves his mother’s protective inherent aptitudes by claiming “It was this made her thrust out the neighbor’s bull fro our garden with a broom” . she did this to protect “her seedlings” . I believe that this anecdote is a metaphor and that “her seedlings” really refers to Grey himself and his mother’s protective nature over him. Gray easy begins to understand his mother’s attitude was merely her manner of demoing her incorruptible attention for him.

This leads him to detect that his female parent was making the best she could for him. nevertheless this realisation differs to the 1 Gray has sing his male parent. Gray describes his male parent as being “a drunkard” . a hapless lone wolf when Gray stated he “often drank alone” and even a racialist and woman hater when Gray claimed he read “Nothing by New York Jews ; nil by adult females. particularly the French” . Despite all this flagitious qualities Gray still says “I had long accepted him…he’d given me. shown me. the best advice” . Grey uses his colloquial tone and linguistic communication throughout the verse form to mime a watercourse of consciousness. The tone is used throughout the verse form as if Gray was himself was explicating these remembrances of his past personally.

The consequence of this is to once more link to the audience. but besides as this is near the terminal of the verse form. it shows he is making a decision about his parents. Even with all his mistakes. Gray cared for his male parent. Grey ends his verse form with “My pocket-knife slid sideways and pierced my manus – and so I dug with that one into the ashes” . The ocular imagination of his blood mixing with his father’s ashes signifies that he is the nexus between his parents and his blood is the consolidative component. Overall Gray has shown how find can be about holding a renewed perceptual experience of the yesteryear and that the impact of these finds can be transforming for the person. Through the nostalgia shown by Gray in this verse form he is able to bring out a different position on his parents and this could merely happen by looking back at his life with retrospect.

In Gray’s Late Ferry. the construct of find differs somewhat to Diptych. In Late Ferry the talker is looking with fright and uncertainness into the hereafter. which leads to them hankering for the yesteryear. Through this nostalgic attitude the talker reflects on the hereafter and discovers that he must travel on from the yesteryear. The ferry that the talker is detecting is an icon of a water under the bridge epoch and is associated with earlier times. In the first stanza the talker describes the ferry traveling into “the immense dark harbour” . this ocular image uses the adjectives “huge” and “dark” which carry intensions of uncertainness and the unknown.

This highlights the exposure of the ferry and symbolizes the breakability of people as we move out beyond our unafraid moorages and into the unknown. This is why I believe the talker had an immediate affinity with the ferry. as they are traveling Forth from the heat and safety they associate with the yesteryear. The talker throughout the verse form juxtaposes natural and semisynthetic imagination. This is apparent in the 3rd stanza when “street lights’ fluorescence over the dark water” is compared to “like chromosomes unifying and dividing” . this simile uses a natural activity to demo the consequence of unreal visible radiations. This apposition shows the speaker’s apprehensiveness to come on and modernness. which once more shows his fright of the hereafter.

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