Archive for March, 2011

“White Lies” by Natasha Trethewey

The lies I could tell,

when I was growing up

light-bright, near-white,

high-yellow, red-boned

in a black place,

were just white lies.

I could easily tell the white folks

that we lived uptown,

not in that pink and green

shanty-fied shotgun section

along the tracks. I could act

like my homemade dresses

came straight out of the window

of Maison Blanche. I could even

keep quiet, quiet as I kept,

like the time a white girl said

(squeezing my hand), Now

we have three of us in the class.

But I paid for every time

Mama find out.

She laid her hands on me,

then washed on my mouth

with ivory soap. This

is to purified, she said,

and cleanse your lying tongue.

Believing her, I swallowed suds

Thinking they’d work

From the inside out.

This poem written by Natasha Trethewey uses a lot of vivid color imagery and to make the most out of it we should see a little of the author’s background. Natasha Trethewey was born to a black mother and a white father in Mississippi where it was illegal the interracial marriage. Therefore, we can infer she is the girl she refers to in the poem. In this poem, like in the short stories, we see how the society has affected our conduct; in this case, stating that the white race is better or superior than the black one. By this, the girl feels ashamed of her background and lies about it. She denied her heritage to the world since her skin was “light-bright”. Her mother tries to make her a better person by washing his mouth with ivory soap but she then again thinks that it will purified her from the inside out.

As we first read the poem, the white lies refer to the little lies she had been telling that doesn’t mean much, like where she lives and where her dresses are from, but furthermore we realize she thinks that white is better. This can be interpreted as a little contradictory because the WHITE soap purifies you from the WHITE lies. If lies are bad and white is good, then shouldn’t the lies be black? Anyhow, we shouldn’t be ashamed of our heritage even less lie about it because it is what makes each one of us different and unique.

This is Just to Say

As I was trying to understand the poem I found out that the author, William Carlos Williams, is an imagist poet. Imagist poetry paints a concrete picture for the reader while expressing a deeper meaning. While reading the poem, we create the image of the note left asking for forgiveness for doing what was “prohibited”. Even though the person is apologizing, he/she doesn’t regret it because it mentions the sweetness and coldness of the plum. On the other hand when analyzing the meaning of the poem, I remember of the common saying: “it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission”. Maybe this was the case, certain person being afraid of the other’s reactions prefer to left a note and leave instead of staying and confronting it. But then again we can see it as a love gesture between a newly married couple. This kind of poem is widely read and appreciated because it can be interpreted as the person sees it so there is an infinite possibilities of meanings to it.

Deru kui wa utareru -Prompt 3

“Deru kui wa utareru is a Japanese saying used to encourage conformity. Its English translation is ” The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” meaning by this that if you stand out, you will be subject to criticism. The character of Jack Smurch in The Greatest Man in the World is a vivid example of this. He was a young man different from anyone else who broke all the social and cultural expectations the government has imposed on society. Consequently what he accomplish wasn’t worth it since he finish being dead for being himself. Another example that applies to this saying is the character of Miss Emily in “A Rose for Emily”.  In this case is kind of different because it was her father who restricted her and made her who she was, a crazy woman who repulsed men. If she had being a man, she probably had live the life she wanted but her dictatorial father wanted to control her keeping her captive in her own house. At last, there is Miss Brill, an old lady who listen to other’s people conversations and criticizes the old ones for being odd and silent as if they had come from cupboards. Sadly she is just one of them but hasn’t realized it till a young couple where mocking her. In conclusion, society has made all these kinds of expectations for every gender, age, position, etc. but we shouldn’t restrict ourselves by this. We should ask more to life not just sit there and conform with it…

The Red Wheelbarrow Revisited

Now that I have read the inspiration of Dr. Williams to write the poem, it makes me realize that it still have the economical view but from a different perspective therefore the meaning changes. For example, the red wheelbarrow can symbolize the money needed for the girl’s survival. On the other hand, it is too late because the “white chickens” representing the angels are just a few steps beside her bed to take her to rest in peace. Furthermore, the rain water creates the mood in the poem, one of sadness and grief.

The Real Hero-Prompt 2

It is said that Charles Lindbergh is more of a hero than Jack Smurch. Lets take a look on each one of them. Charles Lindbergh was an American aviator who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean and was awarded for it, making him an idol. He came from a stable and wealthy family. He enlisted in the United States Army and served them. Anyhow, Charles Lindbergh was an example to follow.

On the contrary, Jack Smurch was a rascal who flew solo around the world nonstop. He had been in a reformatory, had knifed his school’s principal, and her mother didn’t care about him. She even said ” To hell with him. I hope he drowns”. As Charles, he too was admired by people for his great accomplishment but giving his background and his personality the press couldn’t let a person like him had that kind of fame.  Consequently, the press invented stories about him and tried to make him a man he wasn’t. He denied to pretend what the government wanted him to be and this is for me the real significance of a hero: a person who remains true to who he is regardless what others may say or think.

Sadly, Jack Smurch couldn’t enjoy his achievement because the government couldn’t take his attitude, it wasn’t the society’s cultural expectations of a hero. Therefore, they decided to kill him dropping him off a window but the press made the world believe it was an accident. Jack Smurch was now another victim of the government and press combination. This is not the first time that we see this, for example we have the incident of Cerro Maravilla. In conclusion, we can’t always believe in what the government or press says but in what we most believe is in ourselves, in staying true to who we are.

The Red Wheelbarrow

The poem The Red Wheelbarrow written by William Carlos is of short extent but have so much meaning. The words the author uses (wheelbarrow, rainwater, and chickens) create the setting, a poor old farm, and makes us realize the economical view of the poem. First of all, the red wheelbarrow can be seen as the work we have; therefore if we don’t have one then we are nobody because as the poem says we depend so much on that. The rainwater symbolizes that working isn’t an easy job to do; you have to go through bad times and be persistent no matter what neither how many obstacles you can have in your path like the weather. Finally, the white chickens represent the accomplishment of your work, the hope that what you are doing isn’t in vain. Also it gives you more strength to continue doing your work and not give up.