Don Paterson – The Thread – Essay in progress

Fatherhood is shown in “The Thread” in the way the writer worries about his son. For example, Paterson says, “All that trouble just to turn up dead.” The use of italics for this sentence indicates that Paterson’s fear is in the past, and that his son has now recovered. The sense of worry about his son is shown in the weakness of Jamie when he was born. We see this weakness in the line, “the thread… they don’t know how it held”. In this example, “the thread” is clearly a metaphor for Jamie’s life. Both his life and a thread are thin and fragile and can be easily broken. This shows how close to death his son was, and how worried the writer was. Paterson’s worry at this time in his life was that his son would die as soon as he had been born. He explains that Jamie, “ploughed straight back into the earth”. This is a metaphor, showing Jamie’s birth like a plane-crash. The word “ploughed” has connotations of destruction, as though his landing was violent enough to break up the earth. In addition, “into the earth” has a clear connotation of someone being buried, suggesting that Jamie was nearly born into the grave.

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