Peer pressure is the theme of Al Pittman’s poem, “Cooks Brook”. The poem is about a group of young people who jeopardize their lives, when pressured by their peers, accept a dare, and dive from a high cliff into a rocky pool. Metaphor, simile, and image is used effectively to illustrate that peer pressure can sometimes lead to taking dangerous, life-threatening risks.
Pittman’s choice of diction clearly shows the danger involved in giving in to peer pressure. The simile, “as the water parts like a wound” is foreboding, suggesting injury to the person if they dive in. The parting water is compared to a wound, effectively illustrating the danger involved in diving into this seemingly perfect surface with its “shelf of rock … below the surface.”
The dive into this unknown surface allows the narrator to confront his “demons” which obviously caused him countless hours of interrupted sleep. The metaphor, “you daringly defied the demons / who lived so terribly / in the haunted hours of your sleep” points out the internal conflict the narrator went through the night before this death-defying feat, and the nights after the event, as he hauntingly relives it time and time again. His conscience is compared to demons who consume his sleep time. However, this recurring nightmare is the only alternative, because “it would be better to die… than it would be to climb / backwards down to the beach.” The peer pressure is more powerful than the danger.
As fearful as this event may be for the diver, the image, “then sailed arms outspread into / the buoyant air” effectively describes that moment of freedom he feels as he knows he has answered the dare. However, he knows that the danger of succumbing to this peer pressure is fool-hearty and unsafe as he is “surprised …/ to find (himself) alive” after each dive.
Combined, these devices are used to illustrate the theme of peer pressure and its effects on our daily lives. As illustrated in “Cooks Brook”, Pittman...