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The story starts with the introduction of the main character, Wing Biddlebaum, who is bald and fat. He lives in a small house outside Winesburg town in Ohio. By his looks, he seems very old as he is bent and forty years in age. His hands have a tendency to move in rapid gestures while talking in addition to being frightened throughout. The themes of the book include life in death where the characters reminisce their lives in which they failed. The remoteness of the Winesburg denotes a background where life is isolated and truth is scarce hence the absence of differentiation between realism and fantasy. Hands utilizes the third person unseen narrator who despite not participating in the story is able to read the characters’ thoughts and feelings.
The Lynching by Claude McKay (1890-1948)
This is a short poem that analyses a scene where lynching has taken place. Lynching is a form of imputing judgment on a person by a large group of people as a form of punishment. The man spirit of the man who has been lynched is likened to smoke ascending to heaven to God. He experiences excruciating pain as he burns all the night long and yet does not gain forgiveness form God or men. As the lynched man body remains are charred the people come in the morning to view this horrifying site with women showing no sorrow and the little men celebrate this achievement. The main theme of the poem is justice which gets accorded to the lynched man. Forgiveness of sins and fate are also expressed. The poem is meant to discourage mob justice since it is cruel.
The Swimmer by John Cheever
The story is set in Westchester County suburbs with focus on Neddy life. He is young and outgoing and loves swimming. This obsession sees him gate crashing in to his neighbors, chatting and drinking all in pursuit of his desire. Upon finding a dry pool belonging to Welchers he tries in vain to place long forgotten memories. This is the turning point of Neddy’s life as he tries to come to terms with things he has already taken for granted or forgotten. The main themes include realism as well as the connection between wealth and happiness. The author’s uses a lot of symbolism to express these themes and also myths that people embrace that could have a negative impact on their lives. Other main characters are Shirley Adams and Grace Biswanger who are used to bring about the relationships in suburban America.
Middle Passage by Robert Hayden (1913-1980)
The poem relates to the Middle passage that slaves in the eighteenth century used to pass through on their way to America. This passage proved fatal to many as it involved going through dangerous sea voyages which sometimes claimed their lives. The slaves were oppressed as well as being forced to hard work and they had to rely on their faith for survival. The poem brings to light other merchandise that was involved in the trade like gold and ivory. As was common during those sea trips, many slaves suffered sicknesses and the risk of being thrown in to the sea once discovered as useless. The poem introduces many parts of Europe, Africa and America where ships docked to await cargo. The poem assumes a sad tone and a longing that only hope in Jesus could provide. Songs are used as a style in this poem.
Howl by Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
The poem is divided in to three parts. Part one relies on Ginsberg personal experience with what he termed as the best minds. These people were composed of musicians, drug addicts, poets and patients and it is in an ironical way that he refers them as best. The Beat Generation was composed of such people all united in a common cause. The poem assumes repetition of some words so as to create a rhythm or a beat. The second part is a critique of industrialization and the way such industries oppressed men and the poet sees this as a sacrifice. Part three is mainly about his insistence to support his friend who has been in hospital. Ginsberg utilized rhythm well in this poem so as to emphasize the irony of life as well as repetition. He brings in to light the plight of men by deducing some scenes from the Bible to portray people’s fate and hope.
Coal by Audre Lorde
The poem is about the two ways in which we look at objects in real life. Such objects may sometimes expose two different aspects as the poet brings about in the poem. Coal for instance despite being black brings out diamond which looks like glass and is beautiful. The same character can be seen in people’s conscience with the true self as what we actually are and the physical as what others see. The poet uses this style to encourage everybody to be proud of that inner self as she has; it is the only time one gets freedom. A number of styles are used including imagery and similes to bring out the theme of self revelation. It should strike one as amazing how coal in its blackness can bear diamond which is magnificent, hard and enduring; feature that each person should embrace and all in love.
Cathedral by Raymond Carver
The story is based on the many relationships a single character can have with the rest of the world. It is about an unsatisfied man who meets his wife’s blind friend and how three of them manage to live on while at the same time teaching the man a lot he never knew before. This happens as the man tries to describe a cathedral to the blind man a task he attempts in vain. Eventually, both are forced by the circumstances to find means of communicating even if it takes anything unimaginable. The story focuses on of opening our hearts so as to experience that which we rarely know exists and in itself is an amazing fact. Themes include reality, communication and language, alcohol abuse and marriage all of which contribute to their life. The styles involved include imagery and symbolism through which the author builds is hilarious story.
How to tame wild tongue by Gloria Anzaldua
This book focuses on the Mexicans view and expression on fields such as education, music and communication. The author having enrolled in an American school and speaking Spanish finds so many difficulties in this new environment. The idea of speaking fluently and without any foreign accent seemed to be deeply rooted in America as does other aspects of culture. There is also a bias towards women especially by insistence of their requirement to stay mute and not to talk much or ask questions. It is also about the struggle to overcome language barriers by gradual introduction of a language one can identify with amidst oppression. The theme of alienation is portrayed as the Chicanos are neither accepted by their people nor the foreigners and are torn between. The author presents her plight by comparison and imagery.
Dear John Wayne by Louise Erdrich
In this poem the poet uses imagery and symbolism to bring about the idea of Native American view of the white Americans. It is set in a scene where a group of natives are on a car’s hood and are watching the American movie star John Wayne on the movie screen. They see the image as big to mean how they fear or even adore the white man who despite oppressing them is able to come up with amazing things. The Indians despite indulging in white man things and amusements are still wary of the effect this has on their lives and are proud to be themselves. The poem is full of ironies as well as it tone being sarcastic. This shows the effect colonization had on the natives that they feel as if haunted by the things the white man brought to them.
Crow Testament by Sherman Alexie
The poem is in form of a symbolism of Native American suffering since the white man came in to their land. It uses animals in this case crows and falcons as imagery to express the oppression these people encountered during the white man settlement. The Native Americans were cruelly mistreated in their land and often found they are helpless in such situation. The theme of oppression is clear by the way the crow is lifted and struck as well as being denied food; here seen as salmon. This aspect is taken to the extent of worshiping the falcon, white men, and even to sacrifice to them. The natives in their helpless state can only curse as they are forced to fight each other after indoctrination only to realize they are still suffering. The styles used include repetition and metaphor. The tone of the poem is sarcastic.
Forgetfulness by Billy Collins
This poem features the theme of forgetting to bring out this aspect man undergoes as he ages. The idea of memory loss is usually attributed to age and it happens gradually as the poem depicts. Starting with small and obvious things the memory gets deprived off its strength to recall objects, name, events and place. There is also a pain experienced when such a phenomenon occurs in the many struggles one has to make so as to connect to the world again. The tone of this poem is sad as is full of melancholy; that past when everything come by easily. The styles used include free verse, metaphor and allusion to express the forgetful nature of man. Mythology is also used whereby Greek myths are incorporated as such are learnt in youth and help one to grow in mind.
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