p.p1 in his futile attempt to stop the

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Carol Ann Duffy explores the theme of conflict in her poem ‘War Photographer’ through the effective use of metaphors and imagery. The photographer morality is put to test because of his profession. He has to overcome his instinct to help the people in pain to be able to take photos of the chaos and turmoil found on the war fields to raise awareness to possibly stop the conflict. The poet compares the photographer to a priest as the photographer develops the film in the form of a ritual. He sets out the ‘spools of suffering’ in ‘ordered rows’ to achieve a sense of order to the chaos in the pictures. Furthermore, the sibilance in the phrase ‘spools of suffering’ helps establish a negative mood in the reader’s atmosphere. Additionally, the phrase ‘ordered rows’ could be an example of the poet’s use of imagery as it creates an image of a cemetery with ordered rows of headstones. The photographer overcomes his instinct to help the people in need of help in the phrase ‘his hands which did not tremble then’. The photographer is forced to distance himself from the people in his pictures in his futile attempt to stop the war. Moral conflict is also depicted in the phrase ‘his editor will pick out five or six’ from ‘a hundred agonies in black and white’. The editor is forced to go through hundreds of images of suffering every day and is forced to pick out the few that portray conflict most gruesomely. In the metaphor ‘a hundred agonies in black and white’, the poet might be using ‘black’ and ‘white’ describe the image in order to develop the idea that the viewers won’t be able to see the full story as it is in ‘black and white’. 

Another reading of the poem ‘War Photographer’ could be to show that the photographer’s work is futile and hopeless. The poem could depict the photographer’s emotional conflict as ‘the reader’s eyeballs prick with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers’. The phrase trivializes the pain and suffering portrayed in the images by showing that the readers are only moved momentarily. Another show of the photographer’s futility is in the ambiguous phrase ‘solutions slop in trays’, the literal meaning refers to the chemicals used to develop the film but the other reading of the dual meaning phrase is to show the photographer’s hope that someday, his photos will give rise to the resolution of the physical conflict that is being presented.