The City Planners By Margaret Atwood
Like 'The Planners' by Boey Kim Cheng, ‘The City Planners’ by Margaret Atwood also addresses the effects of rapid urbanization and the monopoly of the planners.
1-2) Atwood describes the sights that meet her eye as she cruises along a residential complex on a bright August Sunday.
3-4) She feels offended by the uniformity she sees and the fact that the people living in cities accept the uniform structures as their homes.
5-6-7-8) She describes rows of houses surrounding landscapes that are all predetermined to look alike and she even personifies these structures by giving them the ability to scorn (to make fun of) a slight dent in her car door! She finds the level of uniformity very amusing but irritating at the same time.
9-10) Atwood finds it very ironic that unlike the homes in the olden days, she is unable to pick up any sounds or movements of people living in these structures. She strains her ears to try and hear a shout or the breaking of glass.
11-12) The only sound the poet picks up is that of a lawnmower that seems to be following the dictates of the planners by cutting through the grass in predetermine lines.
13-14) She says that the driveways of these residences are so neatly planned that they are guaranteed to prevent accidents or chaos because they are so uniform.
15-16) Much to Atwood’s disgust, the roofs of all these houses are inclined at the same angle to keep the hot sun away.
17-18-19-20-21) The poet notices that the only things that differentiate one house from the other are things like the smell of different oils in the garages, a sudden splash of paint which she compares to a bruise and other differentiating factors like the way the plastic hoses are coiled.
22-23-24-25) However Atwood believes that if one were to carefully stare beyond the windows, at the landscape that lies behind these 'homes', it is easy to see cracks in the structures. Metaphorically she refers to how the money spinning real estate dealers build for the sake of monitory gain, without thinking about the safety and security of the structures or the people residing in them.
26-27-28) She believes that some day in the near future the houses will capsize and disintegrate into vast seas of clay just like the polar glaciers that no one is noticing at the moment.
29-30-31-32-33) Margaret Atwood, like Boey Kim Cheng, calls ‘The City Planners’ political conspirators. She calls them insane, their only interest being swindling people of hard earned money. She says that these people operate from and build on land that is not even surveyed for proper and legal real estate development. She says that they work independently and individually, and cut off from one another, thus living in their private worlds where they conspire and plan profitable investments.
34-35-36) Atwood believes that these political conspirators are constantly planning and identifying new suburbs that they can create in all directions, to make their money. She believes that they claim and reclaim landscapes that actually need to be preserved.
37-38) The poet reveals her disgust for the city planners who are constantly creating new suburbs and congesting the city in their crazy quest for power. Each one lives in a private world and the only intent is to give into their incessant need to profit from everything they lay their hands on.
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I have successfully developed and imparted the ICSE, IGCSE and IBDP English and History syllabi. My endeavour is to make support material available to students, who find the prescribed content, analysis and collation of information particularly challenging.
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The City Planners explores a global warming angle in the theme of man vs. nature. Expressing a horror at the calm neatness of suburban neighborhoods in the face of environmental disaster, the poem subtly uses the metaphor of a glacier to remind us of the slow effects of global warming. Oil, shown as spilled in garages, also reminds us of the hidden environmental disaster that lurks beneath the seemingly safe and controlled suburban environment. The...
The City Planners explores a global warming angle in the theme of man vs. nature. Expressing a horror at the calm neatness of suburban neighborhoods in the face of environmental disaster, the poem subtly uses the metaphor of a glacier to remind us of the slow effects of global warming. Oil, shown as spilled in garages, also reminds us of the hidden environmental disaster that lurks beneath the seemingly safe and controlled suburban environment. The ending of the poem shows how easily a natural disaster can destroy that safety and make a mess of the social planning.