Re-read ‘Drinking with Hitler’ on page 30. Examine how Sheers portrays power in this poem.
In the poem 'Drinking with Hitler', Sheers presents power as something that can only be acquired by men. The title of the poem refers to war leader Dr 'Hitler' Hunzvi, who led a resistance army in Zimbabwe. The name 'Hitler' has clear connotations of power and dominance, perhaps suggesting that this man obtained power through merciless violence.
The personification of power in the first stanza could show that this man is so strong that even his presence frightens people. The metaphor of the aftershave which women "flounder" in could show that Dr Hitler's power makes him sexually appealing to women. The metaphor of the "firework" could show that the attractive side of him is superficial, and is used to distract women from the brutality that comes with his power.
Sheers portrays Dr Hitler's power as superior to other men in his army. Dr Hitler selects the version of himself he wants to present to the people like a "CD selected", which would show that he has the power to manipulate his emotions to get people to trust him. However, Sheers presents his power as betraying when he describes the "burned writer's homes" and the "scorched huts" which remind him of wounds. This language of pain could signify that Dr Hitler's irresponsible and reckless power causes misfortune to the people around him.
Sheers presents power as exclusive to Dr Hitler, firstly through the title of the poem but also through his choice of lexis when describing Dr Hitler's less powerful counterparts. The interesting choice of phrasing in the line "the men who cradle the fruits of their bruises" which could evoke connotations of childlike vulnerability in Dr Hitler's men. The word "cradle" could be Sheers' method of making the reader subliminally position the men in the army as babies, in comparison to Dr Hitler. The way they also complacently follow Dr Hitler's orders could also suggest a naïve submission to their leader's power.
The first half of the poem could be seen as a conversation between the speaker and Dr Hitler, as if Dr Hitler is proudly recalling the time that the police "beat" his workers. If so, it could be suggested that Sheers is implying people in possession of power will flaunt it to people less powerful than themselves. Dr Hitler is given power over the speaker again when Sheers states that Dr Hitler is "finished with me", because it is Dr Hitler who has the power at the end of the conversation.
Sheers portrays Dr Hitler's power as chauvinistic when he introduces a "Zambian businesswoman" at the bar. Businesswomen are conventionally associated with power, but this businesswoman is belittled as she is described as "film pretty" and "delicate". This could suggest that her power is only an illusion, as her power stems from her good looks, and the word "delicate" could signify that Dr Hitler could easily strip her of any power she has. The language of vulnerability as with the word "delicate" could present the businesswoman as powerless in comparison to Dr Hitler.
Sheers portrays power as something which is earned by the respect of peers, as seen in the line "asked-for laughter" which could suggest that Dr Hitler has power over other people because they are too afraid to resist him or anger him. The word "conducting" could also compare Dr Hitler to a musical conductor in an orchestra, perhaps showing that he has the power to control the way people respond to him.
In the final stanza, Sheers portrays Dr Hitler as having sexual power over women. When describing how Dr Hitler "laid his hand on her thigh" Sheers could be suggesting that Dr Hitler uses his power to impose himself on women without their consent. Sheers ends the poem, perhaps positioning the female character with power when she is "washing him away". This line could suggest that Dr Hitler's power over the women is temporary and easily removed; so easily that all it takes is a splash of water for his powerful tough to be forgotten.