Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Michael Waskiewicz Literary Analysis

Hughes "Theme for English B," Clifton's "this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)," Alvarez's "Queens, 1963," and Harrison's "Fork" can all be compared and contrasted in different ways.  The narrator in every poem has trouble fitting in, whether it is at school, or due to their race.  "Theme for English B" and "Queens, 1963" have to do with the topic of race, while "this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)" and "Fork" have a lot to do with surviving high school.
"Queens, 1963" is the observation of a newly arrived immigrant to the United States.  The narrator speaks of the house across the street, which recently sold to a black family.  Racism is shown all throughout this piece, but specifically when the narrator says that the police patrolled their block after the black people moved in, and would go as far as following their car down the street.  None of the neighbors really talked to their new black neighbors, because they "didn't want trouble."(line 18)  The narrator also speaks of Mrs. Bernstein, who was the first Jewish person to live on that block.  Mrs. Bernstein spoke of the poor treatment she got, specifically from Mrs. Scott.  Overall, the narrator speaks of the racism that was show towards any neighbor who was an immigrant, and was not from America.  "Theme for English B" also speaks of racism.  Hughes, the speaker, talks about how he is the only colored student in his English class.  He speaks of how everything is different for colored people.  He specifically says that "being colored doesn't make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races."(lines 25-26)  His instructor is white, so he thinks that he is not going to do well in this class, no matter what he does, because he is colored.  Hughes says towards the end of the poem "I guess you learn from me - although you're older - and white - and somewhat more free."(lines 38-40)  In these lines he is talking about how white people have more freedom, and are given everything a little bit easier than colored people, and this was completely true when this poem was written in 1949.  Both of these poems have to do with the idea of racism, but Clifton and Harrison's poem deal with a different theme.
Both "this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)" and "Fork" have the same idea about surviving high school.  Clifton's poem has to do with a young colored girl in high school speaks of discovering who she is and surviving high school.  She says that in the beginning she was bright and shining, but by the end she says she is just barely surviving.  Clifton uses repetition by saying "i survive survive survive."(lines 19-21)  This emphasizes that the speaker is barely hanging on, trying to survive.  "Fork" describes a student who is does not like his teacher, and is struggling in his English class.  His teacher has described him as "hopeless," which makes him resent his teacher.  He feels left out and picked on by his teacher.  He gets back at his teacher in his own way, by stealing a piece of nice silverware from his teachers house.  Both of these poems are extremely different, but at the same time they both share the same concept of trying to survive high school.
The narrator in every one of these poems is trying to deal with some type of adversity that they are facing, whether that is racial adversity, or just trying to survive high school.  None of these poems come to a conclusion about what happened to the narrator in the end, but they can all teach a lesson.  People should not be looked down upon for any reason, whether its them being a different race, or just because they struggle with something that may come easy to others.

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