Cathy Song’s published Picture Bride her poetry book in 1983. Although small, the poem gracefully moves through the theme of womanhood, motherhood, childhood, and family relationships. Song really enjoyed writing about her family. The main focus of Picture Bride was her grandmother. She talked about how she came all the way from Korea. This poem takes a very different look at immigration. Compared to all the stories we have already read in class. Unlike those that focused on being separated from their family. This one starts out happy sounding.
Song wrote, “She was a year younger than I, twenty- three when she left Korea” (Song). Making it sound as if this beautiful young girl left her birthplace to come to the United States. Then readers read the next line, “ the boat waited to take her to an island whose name she had only recently learned,” (Song). This makes it sound like she was not that interested in coming to American. Which is strange because, most immigrants could not wait to get to America. Where it was said to have streets that were paved with gold. A little farther down the poem it says, “And when she arrived to look into the face of the stranger who was her husband,” (Song). It clicks for readers. The title of the poem is not taking about a wedding picture. It is talking about an actual picture bride. A picture bride is when, an immigrant worker, commonly from Japan and Korea living in Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. Would select brides from their native countries via a matchmaker that paired a bride and groom using only photographs and family recommendations.
This sounds like a mix between online dating and arranged marriage. Someone else picks a husband for a young lady, whom she must marry. In the grandmothers case she had to leave everything behind in her country to go to a strange new place and join her husband whom she didn’t know. This poem should be used as a wake-up call to others. Once again showing people that immigrating to America was hard. Now matter how you got here. This story seems to have close ties with feminism. Showing that not giving women a choice in the man they marry is wrong. Women deserve to have just as many rights as men do.
Here is another picture bride story.
Song, Cathy. “Picture Bride.” Picture Bide. 1983. Print.
August Wilson used Troy’s job as a symbol of inequalities that blacks had during the 1950’s in his 1987 play Fences . While the country and made significant changes we still had a long way to go. Blacks were aloud to have jobs just not equal jobs. In the play Troy says, “ I went to Mr. Rand and asked him, Why? Why you got white mens driving and the color lifting” (Wilson). Mr. Rand tells Troy, to take it up with the union. When Troy went to the union they came up with a bunch of lies, which up-set Troy. He didn’t mean to cause trouble he just wanted to give everyone a chance to drive.
In Act One Scene Four Troy gets great news. Troy comes home to his wife and says, “ Mr. Rand called me into his office today… he called me in and told me they was making me a driver”(Wilson). I think that Wilson was trying to show that slowly Americans were breaking down the barriers of racial dissemination.
Wilson also used the fence it’s self as a symbol. Rose loves the fence because it represents that her family’s closeness. It’s like trapping them there and not letting them leave. Sad part is her husband still cheats on her. Also Wilson specifically had Troy and Cory working on the fence when Troy told Cory that he couldn’t play football on even if a college coach was coming to watch the game. If I were Cory that fence would have caused bad memories for my childhood. Then at the end of the play Cory doesn’t even want to go to his owns father’s funeral.
Wilson, August. Fences: A Play. New York: New American Library, 1987. Print.
“Daddy”, by Sylvia Plath caught my eye because of who the narrator is referring to by Daddy. When I read the line, “ I was ten when they buried you. At twenty I tried to die And get back, back, back to you” (Plath). I thought that “daddy” was someone close to her a father figure. Then I read, “ If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two – The vampire who said he was you” (Plath). Now to me this sounds like she is responsible for the “Daddy’s” death. Then she talks about the Daddy as a Nazi solider or even Hitler himself.
Plath was trying to make a point, she is comparing the daddy to a lot of things, but I feel that she was truly trying to show how people are stereotypical towards Germans. In line 29 she wrote, “ I thought every German was you.” Insight of the events that took places in Germany during World War II. Then she makes references to being stuck in barbwire, the Jews, and the Gypsy’s. Finally in the last stanza, “ There’s a stake in your fat black heart…Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through” (Plath). He message is pretty clear.
I took me a few reads to understand but, I think know what she was trying to get at. Not all Germans liked Hitler. Most people were very afraid of him, comparing him to a vampire, which sucked their blood. He was killing citizens for no reason at all. The people of Germany were happy when he was finally dead. However, notice that the title of the poem is Daddy. It is not something dark, cold, or evil sounding. I believe that is because Plath wanted to show people that just because you are living in the same house or country doesn’t mean you are the same. She was trying to show others that Germans are good people; they are NOT all Jews killing heartless Nazi’s.
Plath, Sylvia. Daddy. 1965. Print.
- Scott Fitzgerald‘s short story “Babylon Revisited, is about a troubled father trying to start over. Charlie Wales, the main character, says he has been sober for a year and a half. But being a “recovering alcoholic for a year and a half he spends an awful lot of time in a bar. For heaven sakes the story opens in a bar. As the story unfolds we find out that Charlie has a daughter named, Honoria. She is currently living in Paris with her aunt and uncle. Acting almost like a foster home by today’s standards. Charlie is trying to get Honoria to come back home with him to America. However, Marion Peters, his sister-in-law is not giving in to this idea. She does not like Charlie at all. Reader’s find out it’s because he locked his wife, Marion’s sister and their two daughters out of the house on a cold winter night. Charlie says she died of heart problems, but Marion doesn’t believe him, “How much you were responsible for Helen’s death” (Fitzgerald).
Although, Charlie he had a rough past he is ready to move on. However starting over is easier said then done. This story is very realistic, there are thousands of parents that have lost custody of their children and fought to get them back. When Charlie finds out that his chances of getting back his daughter are lost he gets extremely drunk. He even mentions,” Again the memory of those days sweet over him like a nightmare” (Fitzgerald).
After reading “Babylon Revisited”, unlike most of the other readings we have talked about I was able to take something away from the story. Fitzgerald is an amazing author, he has written several stories that readers can learn life lessons from. In this story readers can take way that we don’t always get second chances. Charlie will probably never get the chance to raise his daughter, because of his poor decisions in the past.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “Babylon Revisited.” The American Tradition in Literature. New York: Mc-Graw-Hill, 2009. Print.
Jean Toomer describes farming in such a cold, dark, evil way. I think that Toomer’s point was to show that life working on the farm was terrible. Not just working on a farm, but being a slave on the farm. That can come from how he describes the equipment. Not once but twice in the poem does he use black to describe the physical charartiersic of the reaper and the horses. The poem reminds readers how salves were seen as property, much as horses and reapers are. Slave owners did not think that their salves had a purpose in life besides working on the farm. This is what the reaper is representing. The reaper’s sole purpose on the farm is to the crop. While the rat, “And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds, his belly close to the ground. I see the blade, blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade”(Toomer). I believe that Toomer was trying to show how “heart less” farm working made slaves. They would stop caring for the less fortunate. This perception of the poem could also come from a line in Toomer’s, Harvest Song. Which states, “I am a reaper whose muscles set at sundown.” (Toomer).
Jean Toomer was an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance and even modernism. Often writing his poetry, short stories, and essays about African Americans. Toomer’s, “Reapers” reminds me of several poets that we have read and talked about in class. This story can be interpreted in many ways. Some people believe that the field rat represents the slave. While the reaper represents the whites allowing the slaves to be beaten and crushed to death.
We are all dying. As a society we try not to think about this too much. We are have been raised to fear the unknown. For many of us the greatest unknown is: What is life like after death? This often causes a fear of death.
In Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” he talks about how “we” ( the majority of people in society) die in certain ways. Some people what want to go down in a peaceful way, “So that our precious blood may not be shed” (McKay). Others want to go down in a brave way, “If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,” (McKay). Perhaps we can all agree that we want to go down being remembered. We want people to remember us after we are no longer here in this physical world. McKay wrote, “Shall be constrained to honor us though dead” (McKay).
McKay is using an ABAB pattern that allows the poem to flow better. Unlike several of the poems we have covered in class, this poem is pretty straightforward. I’m not getting a sense that he is trying to have a hidden meaning. He just flat out tells readers that he is talking about death. Must of the authors that we have covered try to be discreet about their inner feelings and fears. I really liked this poem, I was able to understand it without having to read between the lines. There’s no need for readers to read this over and over again to get McKay’s point.
McKay, Claude. If We Must Die. Print.
The rain steadily beats down hard on the widows and roof of an old farmhouse. An impatient family sits at the kitchen table waiting for the rain to cease. As the rain starts to let up, the family notices the old wheelbarrow. The color faded and no longer cared for, no one bothered to put the old wheelbarrow inside the barn. Suddenly the family notices something different. The wheelbarrow looks new. The storm had washed away all the dirt and grim. The wheelbarrow is now red again.
As the poem states, “a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water”(Williams). I can picture this in my head. The wheelbarrow was washed clean by the rain, and now is good as new. William Carlos Williams was using personification here by describing the wheelbarrow. I think he is comparing it to a person’s life. In life we become very worn out, we work too much, and get old. We lose our ‘shine’.
“The Red Wheelbarrow” reminds me of something that would have been written by Robert Frost . This is because he uses simple language. The poem is actually one sentence long, broke into 4 stanza, it’s a free verse poem but still flows well. We have disused in class how a young child could be given a Frost poem and understand the meaning. Also like Frost I believe this poem has two meanings. The first is simple, that the wheelbarrow is now clean. The second is much more complexe. Telling the story of how a second chance in life is all you need to make a difference. To have a new out look on life.
Williams, William. The Red Wheelbarrow. 1012. Print.
The crunch of dead leaves is a sound all to familiar to someone that grew up in Illinois. To someone who grew up outside of Illinois it might just bring back memories of trick-or-treating, football season, or various pumpkin spice flavored…everything. However living in Illinois it is just a painful reminder for what is about to happen.
The life and joy in people, along with nature is slowly dying. People no longer enjoy walking outdoors, there are no children playing in the afternoon until the sun falls below the horizon. This is exactly what Ezra Pound was trying to portray in “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” the wife is trying to tell her husband about her feelings on their dying relationship. She is doing this by relating them to the seasons. In the beginning of the poem their relationship is like summer. She talks about how they had fun, “ … pulling flowers….playing horse….playing with blue plums…”(Pound). They were very care free and enjoyed the summer much as a child would.
Later in the poem you can see that their love has begun to die. The wife says, “…The leaves fall early this autumn…”(Pound). Just like in Illinois fall means that the weather will only get worse, it only goes down hill from there. With the husband being on a business trip for the last 5 months. The couple has started a new season of their marriage. The relationship can only get better when the husband comes home. Much like Illinois welcome spring with open arms, she wants to know what way he will be coming home so that she too can welcome him with open arms.
This is a similar style to some of Robert Frost works. Using nature to represent the characters thoughts and feelings. Often dealing with the narrator feeling isolated, this poem also makes me think of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles. The main character Mrs. Wright is thought to have grown so lonely that she changed into a different person and became depressed. I think this sounds much like the river merchants wife. She used to pick flowers and have fun outside, but now she lets the moss over grow and becomes depressed.
Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a prime example of naturalism. She actually wrote this story to prove how destructive it was treating women with post-partum depression they way society believed was correct. In the story the unnamed women, was diagnosed with depression by her physician who was also her husband. He as well as other doctors in this time period believed that the best way to treat depression was for the patient to rest and have little human contact.
For the narrator, this meant that her husband took her to a large house in the country and basically left her they’re with his sister. Jane, the sister-in-law, was going to act as the maid. We learn that she isn’t supposed to be writing, for it might make her to tired. Elsa, has a secret. She has been hiding her journal from her husband and sister-in-law. This represents that she feels like she not only needs to hide her thoughts and feelings but that she also does not trust anyone.
When Gilman released her story people were horrified! They couldn’t believe that treating the woman’s “depression” only made her worse. She says, “ I’ve got out at last in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (Gilman 697) She feels so lonely and depressed that she thinks she has become an imaginary women stuck inside the wallpaper. In her mind the only way to set herself free is to tear down the paper and run.
Thanks to Gilman, society acted on her message and began to reshape how they treated depression. No longer were patients forced to stay alone in bed. Doctors were soon advising their patients to get up and do things. Support groups formed so that people could talk about their thoughts and feelings with others. Gilman showed that because the narrator had no society around her at all, it caused her to lose her mind. She could not escape her treatment, everyday becoming trapped with in the walls of the yellow wallpaper. Gilman changed the way the doctors treated depression for good.