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I looked over the poem "With the Shell of a Hermit Crab." The story is pretty simple. A man finds a hermit crab in a shell. The life of the hermit crab is then revealed to the reader as a sad and lonely creature that lived a life full of desire. An image of what surrounds the beach the man is located at. It then ends with a description of the human taking the crab's life.
From the beginning, I could see the Marxism in the poem. "This lovely little lifeâ€¦" (p. 552, line 1) shows that each life is small in comparison to some, but it is still a valuable and beautiful thing. The rest of the beginning stanza continues to show how the "small people" are looked at by others. People are usually unaware of how a little life handles his or her job. The last line best shows how the common people proceed to die; one of the common folk usually dies alone.
The second stanza starts on a whole other idea of Marxism. I believe the second stanza is about the common person's life. The life, like in the stanza, is about one person spending an entire lifetime trying to find a way to make his or her name memorable. Whether it is through hard work or touching someone's heart, one tries all of his or her life, but usually ends in failure. At the end of the stanza, Wright personifies the idea of a short life. A candle flame is a common metaphor for a short life. I believe this metaphor was used on purpose because of it being so common and the idea of the second stanza also being quite common.
The third stanza is about how the world reacts when a common person dies. It is actually quite simple; the world keeps on going while few people wonder about things revolving the person of death. The people feel alone in this world that demands people to work his or her finger to the bone until he or she dies. The third line of the third stanza names specifically the city of the dead. I think this tells of how people feel that work in factories in the cities. The term walking dead best represent these poor souls. Children in the city seem to be best represented in this stanza because when a parent dies, a child feels alone. The city is a hard place, so I suppose that is just the image I get.
The fourth stanza is the most confusing to me. If you look at the image from the standpoint of the hermit crab, the rivers and sea is like the idea of population of the Earth. One small crab in an ocean of creatures is similar to a factory worker within the entire world. Because the factory workers are so common, they do not get as much credit as the fewer yet richer. Marxism is about the smaller man needing to get more credit, so it makes perfect sense. The first two lines of the stanza are much harder to try to understand. I looked at it over and over, and I realized what I think it means. When you look at a person's face, one can see a life story. One can see the wrinkles of stress, of pain, and of joy. The idea of this face having so much of a life behind it can be overwhelming to anyone besides the wearer.
The last stanza is about death once again in a sea of deaths occurring in the world. The flicking out the light I believe is removing the hermit crab's life. He feels as though he is taking away its pain and helping it escape the hard life that will precede him soon. Some believe that this is much easier than actually dealing with the hard life that occurs without having any affect in the world. The man then proceeded to look at the shell of the crab. One can see an animal's life through its shell like one can see another's life through his or her face.
The American identity is very easy to see in this poem. Most Americans are hard workers that want to make a name for him or herself. In the end, most people just work until they cannot work anymore, whether it is because of disabilities or death. The world is a cruel place, and people live but a brief moment. The description of the cities of hell is better connected to the American cities of the past, with the factories with few limitations and rules about them. I feel it still can be connected to cities of today, considering that the people are the same as they were back then.
My interpretation of the text is important because I am a common man. I am one of those poor American souls that search for purpose only to be damned into hard work and no name for myself to leave for all to know. My life will be short lived just like many before and many after me. I am the type of person that is meant to read this poem. I am common, and I am proud.
In conclusion, Marxism is found all throughout "With the Shell of a Hermit Crab," whether it is the lack of recognition, the short life, the hard work that many must put into living, and so on. Using either some image of nature, an image of a hellish city, or the night sky, metaphors show how a setting can be put in terms of Marxism's ideas. One should enjoy what he or she has rather than searching for something that cannot be accomplished. Everyone's life is a candle quickly burning out. Without the many stars, the night would be much darker. However, this also means that one does not easily notice a star disappearing or appearing from the night sky.