An Analysis of the Character Phoenix Jackson in "A Worn Path"
by Joyce Kay B. Wampler
Eudora Welty, in her character Phoenix Jackson, creates humanity's counterpart of the phoenix firebird from oriental tradition. Although Phoenix Jackson can not lay claim to the immortality manifested by consuming fiery rebirths (as does the mythological bird), she possesses a fiery spirit and is consumed by love for her grandchild. Ana4rzing the character of Phoenix is pleasurable because the characteristics of her "roundness" are primarily positive, static traits. She is tenacious, confident, wise, and resolute with a clear sense of purpose which guides her fearlessly toward her goal. One word can summarize Phoenix‑‑noble. Even in the one situation when the reader sees Phoenix being sly, her slyness is immediately forgivable. Her slyness is a minor negative characteristic in comparison to her innumerable positive ones and is not a conflicting quality. It is, instead, justifiable in light of the pureness of her motivation‑‑love.
Ihe similarities of the phoenix bird and Phoenix Jackson are readily apparent in the author's physical description of Phoenix; "...her head tied in a red rag," "...a golden color ran underneath," and "...a yellow burning under the dark"(457). Further confirming the parable between the woman and the bird is the cornme made by Phoenix at the spring, "Sweetgum makes the water sweet' (459). (Sweet‑gum K supposedly, the firebird's source of nourishment) Since it is obvious that Ms. Welty has made these comparisons, it is noteworthy that the phoenix, in addition to symbolizing immortality, is said to be a good and wonderful bird, possessing qualities not unlike the eagle's: nobility and powers of endurance. Phoenix Jackson shares these same qualities.
Phoenix Jackson is an old Negro woman (456). Being black and female in Natchez, Nfississippi, any time prior to 1963 was particularly treacherous. Since Phoenix refers to the "Surrender," the reader knows that she lived during and after
the Civil War. This fact confirms that society afforded her little respect. Indeed, the majority ofwhite people would have considered her little more than an animal. However, an investigation of Phoeribes interaction with other (obviously white) characters in the story proves that her noble character commands respect despite her age, race, and sex. For example, when the hunter points his gun at her, Phoenix responds by standing firm and facing him straight on. The hunter's respect is evident in this comment, 'Well, Granny, you must be a hundred years old and scared of nothing' (460). Furthermore, when the elegant lady on the street stoops to tie Phoerlik's shoes, the reader sees Phoenik's commanding, noble character at work. In fact, it would appear that out of a crowd of people, Phoenix actually chooses this one particular woman to lace up her shoes:
She paused quietly on the sidewalk where people were passing by. A lady came along in the crowd, carrying an armful of...presents; she gave off perfume like the red roses in hot summer, and Phoenix stopped her (460).
Tradition says the phoenix bird has an affinity for frankincense, aromatic gums, and spices. It is also worthwhile to note that the "nice lady," as well as the hunter, initially responds to Phoenix In a negative, perhaps derogatory, way by calling her "Granny' or "Grandma." But in the final analysis, the lady is (at least momentarily) at Phoenix7s feet, and the hunter voices his admiration.
Phoenix's physical stature stands in sharp contrast to the enormity of her journey. Welty establishes in the first paragraph that Phoenix is very old and small. Me fact that her walking could be aided and sustained by a thin, small cane made from an umbrella provides the reader with a graphic Illustration of her diminutive size. Her small size, of course, emphasizes, by contrast, Phoenixs giant‑sized determination and perseverance.
Effects of old age, particularly poor eyesight, intensifies Phoenix's dangerous trek. When the path runs up a hill, Phoenix says, "Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far" (457). Poor vision is indicated throughout the story, for example, "Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush" (457). However, one uncanny incident occurs regarding PhoenbCs eyesight. She sees "...with her own eyes a flashing nickel fall out of the man's pocket onto the ground" (459). This episode supports the parallel drawn between
Phoenix and the firebird‑‑she exercises 'bird‑like" vision. Perhaps she has long contemplated what she would do if she had a nickel or a dime. Her eyes are able, therefore, to recognize the quick flashing of silver. After Initiating a plan to remove the hunter from the scene, Phoenix confidently picks the coin up and hides It in her pocket.
"I never did go to school" (462), Phoenix tells the reader. Her lack of a formal education is evident in her language
throughout the story. "Don't let none ............................... "... there is
chains ....... and "I in the thorny bush" (457) are three of many
examples. 1he lack of a formal education, however, does not
detract from Phoenix Jacksons recognizable intefligence or
from her wisdom that comes with old age. One clear demon
stration of this occurs when Phoenix, in a split second, takes
charge and controls the actions of a young white man (exactly
her opposite), as well as two dogs. It is noteworthy that one
of these dogs, according to Phoenix, is "...a big black
dog ... scared of nobody" (460). Is Phoenix sly and cunning in
her determination to retrieve the dropped nickel? Perhaps.
But there's no denying that the situation requires a sharp
mind with quick exactness, and Phoenix, despite her age,
rises for the occasion. (And once again she is motivated by
lovej‑ The reader's acceptance of her action is justified at the
conclusion of the story, when Phoenix decides to spend the
coin for a toy for her sick grandson.
The character qualities of intelligence, wisdom and resoluteness are also seen in her Interaction with the attendant at the doctors office. The attendant greets Phoenix with a battery of questions: 'What's your name?", 'What seems to be the trouble with you?", and "Are you deaf?" (461). In contrast, by the end of the nurse's interview with Phoenix, the attendants attitude has changed somewhat because she asks Phoenix, "Could I give you a few pennies ... T "Five pennies is a nickel," says Phoenix stiffly. "Here's a nickel" (462), said the attendant. Here, as in prior situations, Phoenix Jackson is in control, able to direct the situation and able to evoke her desired response.
Phoenbes poverty is Mustrated by the edxeme significance which she places upon five or ten cents. Also, her attire suggests her destitution. She wears an apron made of bleached sugar sacks, and she is quite concerned about damaging her dress or harming her body while crawling through a barbed‑wire fence. She says that "...she could not pay for having her arm or leg sawed off if she got caught fast where she was" (458). Despite Phoenix's destitute situation, her noble character thinks only of bringing happiness to her
grandson when she finds herself with an unexpected ten cents.
Race, sex, age, size, poverty, senility, failing eyesight, lack of status and education are not able to deter Phoenix Jacksorfs courageous resolve. Moreover, her life exemplifies a life of dignity and integrity. For example, she respects and appreciates nature. Upon being entangled by a thorn bush, she quips. '71iorns, you doing your appointed work" (457). She is religious with a keen sense of right and wrong. After she arranges the scenario for taking the nickel, she responds, "God watching me the whole time" (460). There is also an interesting contrast dr‑awn by Phoenix when she speaks of
".. the good Lord ......... and she follows in the very next state‑
ment with a reference to a "...two‑headed snake..." (458).
17his more sharply defines Phoeriix!s clearly drawn lines of
right and wrong. Phoenix feels guilty for taking the nickel,
but the delightful anticipation of putting a smile on her
grandson' s face overcomes her conscience.
Noble character properly balances pride and humility. For example, although PhoenWs clothes identify her impoverished state, they are "...all neat and tidy..." (456). Phoenix7s interaction with the "nice lady" also supports the same traits: e.g., "Please, missy, will you lace up my shoe? ... Do all right for out in the country, but wouldn't look right to go in a big building" (460). The use of "please" and "thank you" exemplifies her dignity. Upon her arrival at the doctor's office, she momentarily forgets why she is there. Welty explains: "Phoenix was like an old woman begging a dignified forgiveness..." (462).
The levity which Phoenix brings to her situations sheds wonderful light on her character. People who can "laugh at themselves" have a healthy perspective on life. A person who can maintain a sense of humor and gaiety in Phoenix Jacksorfs situation is a person who is emotionally healthy with a strong sense of self.
'You scarecrow," she said. Her face lighted. I ought to be shut up for good," she said with laughter. "My senses is gone ... Dance, old scarecrow," she said, "while I dancing with you." She kicked her foot over the ftuTow, and with mouth drawn down, shook her head once or twice in a little strutting way (458).
Phoenix Jackson's courage and tenacity are illustrated repeatedly as she faces crisis after crisis during her journey ‑‑a frozen day in December, animals in the thicket, hills,
thorny bushes, creeks, barbed‑wire fences, a com field maze, superstition, a hunter's gun, a tower of steps, her own forgetfiAness, and failing physical health‑‑all obstacles to be overcome. And that's what Phoenix Jackson does. Welty comments early in the story that "[Phoenix] looked straight ahead" (456). Twice Phoenix herself comments to the hunter, I bound to go on" (459‑60). Therefore, Eudora Welty has created, in the noble character of Phoenix, one who is worthy of emulation and respect. In addition, anyone fortunate enough to be the recipient of Phoenix Jackson's "habit of love" would be blessed indeed.
Jackson's Use of Symbolism and Irony
by Barbara A. Shively
Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery' (reprinted in Laurence Perrine. Literabire, Structure‑ Soiind. and Sense, 5th ed. [San Diego: Harcourt, 19881 180‑186) is a story which depends heavily on the use of symbolism and irony to portray its message. Symbolism alone cannot effectively communicate the theme of The Lottery." It is the irony of the story that makes the symbols meaningful. For example, a gratifying reward for the lottery winner would be consistent with the reader's expectations. In this story, however, the lottery prize is death. This ironic twist gives meaning to tlvt,~
many symbols of death which the reader finds scattered throughout the story. 'vIbe Lottery' is filled with many examples of symbolism and Irony which work together to develop the theme which deals with the uncivilized state of society.
Death is perhaps the most symbolized idea of 'The Lottery." One of the first symbols the reader recognizes in the story is the use of the color black. Black is a universal symbol representing death. It is traditional for people in many societies to wear black clothing or armbands, to ftmerals. A widow is often expected to dress in black for a period of time after her husband dies. In this story, black is the color of the box which contains the slips of paper to be drawn in the lottery (180). The black spot on the paper designates the winning slip. 11his spot is made "with the heavy pencil in the coal company office" (186). Mie coal company is a place where black coal. which is made from things long dead, is taken from a place deep within the earth. The coal company is also the place where the black box containing the black spot is locked up in a safe the night before the lottery (18 1). Thus, the reader finds another symbol of death in the coal company. Me idea of impending death is also symbolized by the pile of stones which the village children have gathered (180). This symbol is defined not only within the context of the story but also within some universal definition in that the
stoning of people was perhaps one of the earliest forms of punishment devised by man.
Tradition and ritual are other important elements In The Lottery." The black box also symbolizes these elements because of the importance which the villagers have attached to the role of the box in the ritual of the lottery. The box was something which had really outlived its useffilness by becoming so dilapidated. The box is described as "growing shabbier each year ... it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or st‑ained" (181). The fact that the box lost its importance in the periods between lotteries is evident from the way in which it was stored: 'The rest of the year, the box was out away, sometimes one place, sometimes another, it had spent one year in Mr. Graves's barn and another year underfoot In the post office, and sometimes R was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there" (18 1). Butwhen W. Summers tried to convince the villagers to make a new box, no one wanted to upset the tradition the old box mpresented. They believed the box was older than the oldest member of the village and contained pieces of wood from the first box made when the village was settled (181). Thus, the reader views the box not only as an Important symbol in the lottery ritual but also as representing something which has outlived its usefulness to society and should have been discarded, but as the lottery itself is a tradition that should have been abandoned.
'ahe LotteW uses certain characters as Important symbols. Old Man Warner is used to portray the conflict between old and young, tradition and change. Old Man Warner has endured. as the lottery has endured, through many years. In Old Man Warner's mind, the very fact that the lottery, like himself, has lasted so long validates its useffilness. He believes that it is the young people who foolishly question the lottery and push for change (183). The fact that "young Joe Summers [is] up there joking with everyone" (184) during the lottery proceedings is taken by Old Man Warner as a sign of disrespect‑‑for the tradition.
Another symbolic character is Tessle Hutchinson. Though it is not evident until almost the end of the story, she is really the primary symbol around which the theme of the story revolves. Tessie represents the scapegoat. 'Me scapegoat is a universal symbol which dates back to ancient times. OriginaRy, a goat was selected to take on symbolically the sins of people. Like the scapegoat, Tessie is the one chosen to take on the sins andsubsequent punishment of the villagers. She
is the token sacrifice which is offered as atonement for the collective sins of all. These sins also are symbolically represented by the bits of paper which are dropped to the ground and blown away after the drawing (185). Near the end of the story these same slips of paper are later seen mixed with the pile of stones (186).
The ironic twists the story takes provide the basis for the interpretation of the symbols used throughout the story. The use of irony starts with the title, "Me Lottery." The reader's expectation that the prize awarded to the winner will be something ofworth is dispelled near the end of the story when the tragic reward to the winner of the lottery is revealed. Other ironies are used frequently to build the readef s expectations of something which is very different from the reality of the situation. 'Me story is set on a beautiffil, clear and sunny summer's day (180), the type of day in which the reader would expect only good things to happen. The cheerful mood of the crowd and the playffilness of the children contribute to this expectation. But the expected does not happen, and the reader realizes at the end of the story that this is a day which is truly tragic. The fact that conducting the lottery is a very complicated learned behavior is also ironic. Learned behavior should represent a societys advancement in knowledge and refinement, but in this story it seems to be a better reflection of the villagers' stupidity and societal regression.
Certain characters and their relationships with others are also used to portray irony. One such example of irony is Nk. Summers, a round‑faced jovial man who conducts square dances. But he is also the person who prepares the death notice by marking a piece of paper with a black spot and then overseeing the selection of the lottery's victim. Me character of Tessie also portrays irony when her jovial mood changes to one of bitter resentment at being chosen the lottery's winner. The lottery was ftm‑filled entertainment as long as she expected the prize to be awarded to someone else. The lottery only became unfair in Tessie's mind when the outcome affected her personally. Me expected love which is usually found in the mother‑daughter bond is replaced by Tessie's desire for her own married daughter to take another chance at becoming the lottery scapegoat (184). The love of a child for its mother is twisted into something horrible when "someone gave Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles" (186) to throw at his mother. At the beginning of the story, Ws. Delacroix seemed to be a good friend of Tessie's. But at the end, the reader finds that Ws. Delacroix "selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands" (186). Old Man Warner
believes that the viRagers will become more barbaric if the lottery is discontinued. In reality, there could not be a more barbaric ritual than that of the lottery.
Even the idea of death itself takes on a certain irony in this story. 'The Lottery" is a story in which death is the culmination of a symbolic societal ritual which has its basis in ancient traditions. Me original concepts associated with a scapegoat and its sacrifice are ones of rebirth and the forgiveness of sins. But in reality, much of the ritual of the lottery had been forgotten and Its meaning lost. The present function of the lottery, as presented in this particular story, seems to be one of death for the purpose of entertainment, rather than as a means of rebirth and the forgiveness of sins. The mbdng of the slips of paper with the pile of stones near the end of the story may be seen as the final ironic combination of two symbols. This symbolic combination emphasizes the fact that, rather than being a resolution of the vil.1agers' sinfulness.Tessies death is actuaRy a perpetuation of their sinfulness. Sinfulness is a term often equated with a barbaric, uncivilized society. Since to be civilized means to be brought out of the savage state‑‑to be educated and refined‑‑the vffiagers in 'The Lottery," by continuing to practice an old ritual which has lost its Intended meaning, find themselves becoming less, rather than more, civilized.
In‑Class Theme on Decision‑Making in
"A Domestic Dilemmal " "The Guest," and
"The Japanese Quince It
by Joyce Kay B. Wampler
The ability to make decisions is an important. inescapable
necessity for a liffilled life, a life which enjoys
contentment and a strong sense of self‑worth. Decision
making in its process, produces some amount of cognitive
dissonance; but, in the long rim, the dissonance is overcome
by a sense of balance and emotional well‑being. This
hypothesis is revealed in three short stories: "A Domestic
Dilemma," 'The Guest," and 'The Japanese Quince."
(Reprinted in Laurence Perrine, Literature* Structure, Sound,
and Sense, 5th ed. [San Diego: Harcourt, 19881.
Martin Meadows, the major character in "A Domestic Dilemma," illustrates the on‑going results of his inability to make a decision. As he vacillates between intellect (knowing what he needs to do) and emotion (allowing love and/or desire to stop him), the quality of each family member is adversely affected. Fits indecisiveness results in his own emotional disturbance, a risk to his children~s mental and physical health, and the wasted vigor and giftedness of his wife. Some excerpts validate these points: "In this last year nearness [at home] brought only a sense of tension..." (97); "Andy had managed to plug in the Christmas tree lights" (98); "...she [Emily] made no friends In the suburban town. She read only magazines and murder books" (101). Everyone would have benefitted if Martin had decided to get professional help for his wife. Interestingly, the setting in this story gives the reader sharp imagery of the dilemma, the "warmness" of the south is far removed from the "coldness" of the north‑‑as far as emotion can be from the intellect.
Daru, the leading character in "Me Guest," attempts to move himself to a place of safety, a place where he would be removed from having to make major decisions (he was a Frenchman living in Algeria; this divergence of cultures
created his dilemma). He soon discovers that decision‑makIng cannot be eluded.
Daru's dilemma becomes more complex as a result of spending time with the Arab. Instead of treating the Arab as a prisoner, Daru treats him like a friend and guest. 11iis would (perhaps) not be a problem if Daru were to make a conscious decision to aid in freeing the prisoner. Instead, however, Daru prefers to maintain his position of being "removed" from the situation. However, the dissonance Daru experiences is exemplified in the following quote: "But It bothered him because it imposed on him a sort of brotherhood he refused to accept.... Men who share the same rooms ... develop a strange alliance ... they fraternized ... over and above their differences..." (194).
Toward the presumed end of the conflict, when Daru has equipped the Arab for his walk toward imprisonment or freedom, Daru is again challenged to take a stand: "[Looking at the Arab still standing on the edge of the hill] ... Daru felt something rise in his throat'(196). But instead of committing himself, Daru "swore with impatience, waved vaguely, and started off agairf' (196). Ultimately, Darus indecisiveness results in someone's deciding for him. In an Ironic twist, the Arab's brothers announce, 'You handed over our brother. You will pay for this" (196). Daru, by maldng a decision, would have ended his internal conflicts and saved himself a lot of future grief.
Tandrarn and Nilson In '71he Japanese Quince" are, like Meadows and Daru, men with internal conflicts. Also, like the other characters, instead of making a decision to overcome their dilemma, they remain in their stagnant places of isolation which result in emotional stress which has, manifestations of physical illness. For example, "...a peculiar sweetish sensation In his throat, and a feeling of emptiness just under his rib" (62). Tandrarn and Nilson, as well as Meadows and Daru, reach a crisis in their dilemma‑‑places where conflicts could end. In this story, the Japanese Quince symbolizes this place of potential resolution. However, neither of the men has the courage to decide to overcome tradition, thus improving their physical and emotional existences. 'Iheir inability to express their feelings (i.e., to make a positive decision) causes the quality of their lives to continue to deteriorate.
These three short stories graphically reflect the results of indecisiveness: no decision is a decision of sorts. And although, in the initial stages, not maldng a decision appears
to be the easiest thing to do in the end, it can prove fatal to one's emotional and physical health.
Explication of "To His Coy Mistress"
by Marlene Bnznmer
Tiine is of the essence in Andrew Marvell's 'To His Coy Mistress" (reprinted In Laurence Perrine, Literabire, Structure. Sound. and Sense, 5th ed. [San Diego: Harcourt, 19881580) as the eager lover pursues his shy mistress. 'Ihe title itself immediately leads us to believe that the lover's task convincing his lady to yield to his desires, will not be an easy one. But this clever lover, pleading with his lady, supports his case with the persuasive argument that their love is limited by the brevity of time. Ibis poem is written using Iambic tetrameter couplets. The poem also contains couplets to emphasize a major idea. If time were not limited, then the lover would pursue his lady for all eternity. However, because time Is limited, the conclusion is that the couple must make love now before it is too late. Three distinct sections of the poem Introduced by "had, " 'but, " and "now" support the lover's views.
The lover begins by fift‑ting with his lady, speaking to her heart and not her mind. He tells her all the things she wishes to hear and desperately longs to believe. He assures her the geographic limitations, he on the Humber River in England and she by the Indian Ganges River, would not impose any major obstacles to their love. Referring to the biblical themes 'before the flood" and "till the conversion of the Jews," the lover convinces his lady of his sincerity which encompasses the beginning to the end of time. In expressing his affections, the lover exaggerates his lady's physical qualities. emphasizing that they deserve to be admired hundreds and even thousands of years before she consents to his desire, and he, of course, would expect no less. However, he presents her with the qualifier: "Had we but world enough, and time. "
"But" introduces the second segment of the poem as the lover's tone becomes more serious. He shifts his persuasion from the emotions of his lady's heart to the reality ofher mind. Stressing the fact that time is limited and man is mortal, he states: "Time's winged chariot [is] hurrying near; / And yonder all before us lie/ Deserts of vast eternity." The lover finally plays again on his lady's emotions in stanza three,
her that her coyness is not practical. wise. or in her best interest. Draping her dreams with a shroud of fear and loneliness, the lover presents his lady with a morbid image of life from the grave. He darkens her thoughts with a haunting vision of a prIvate vault, void of her once youdiffil beauty and of his constant devotion. As a final attempt to persuade his lady, he attacks her most cherished possession as he pathetically pleads his desire: 'Worms shall try/That long‑preserved virginity./And your quaint honor turn to dust,/And into ashes all my lust." FInaly, having sung praises to his lady's heart and having presented the harsh facts of reality to her conscious mind, he now appeals to her eager emotions. While she is young, willing, and sexually aroused, he implores her to make love with him. Rather than talking about their love, he urges that they should now act, devouring their time 'like amorous birds of prey." Perceiving his lover's readiness to make love. he continues to cement her commitment by telling her they should join all their "strength"and "sweetness"Into one being. Calming her fears, he assures her their pleasure will withstand any of life's barriers when he asserts: "and Iwe shall] tear our pleasures with rough strife/through the iron gates of life."
Me lover concludes his persuasion to Iiis lady by referring to the god Apollo as a ftnal tribute to their love. Me lover speaks to his lady, proclaiming, 'Thus, though we cannot make our sun/stand still, yet we will make him run." Perhaps the couple's passionate desire cannot stop time, but they can make it appear to race as fast as their hearts as they now make love.
by Michael L. Huning
n Linda Pastan's poem "Ethics" (reprinted In Laurence Perrine, Literature‑ Structure. Sound‑ and Sense, 5th ed. [San Diego: Harcourt, 19881 795‑796), the speaker looks through the eyes of a female student of ethics. Every fall, like clockwork, the ethics teacher poses the same scenario to her students, one that will test their values and expose their individual ethics. The teacher asks, "...If there were a fire in a museum which would you save, a Rembrandt painting/or an old woman who hadn7t many/years left anyhow"? This tormenting situation would challenge the average man's scruples but was quite ineffective with these restless and uncaring students. Unable to make a sincere decision, many students would just alternate between choices whenever the annual crisis chose to surface in the mind of the teacher.
To instill compassion in her students, the teacher would ask them to imagine a close relative, such as a grandmother, the victim in the inferno. This alteration of the scenario did little more than allow the student to ponder how her grandmother had found her way from the kitchen to this "...drafty, half‑imagined museum" (12).
The speaker finally makes a feeble attempt to solve this emotional bind by allowing the old woman in the museum to decide for herself whether she wishes to live or to die. The teacher counters this proposal by stating that the option of allowing the old woman to choose is but a creative way of relieving the student of "...the burden of responsibility' (16). Now, in the fall, many years later, the speaker finds herself to be that old woman standing in front of a Rembrandt. She now feels the drafty museum and the cold floor beneath her, the feeling which was burned into her mind so often during her youth. 1he painting that she chose to save every now and again in the past, now begins to become animated before her, burning and consuming the canvas that it was painted on so long ago.
It is here that the speaker realizes the frustration of her youth and inability to make a decision of the heart. It is
because "...that woman and painting and season are almost one and all beyond saving by children" (25).
Although this poem is very much a visual narrative lending itself to imagery, it also speaks a symbolic language that communicates more than the poetic surface can hold. Beneath the mantle of blank verse and narration lies a rich bed of symbolism that speaks to the heart through the words rather than to the mind.
"Ethics... opening scene is in a classroom, one not so different from today's, filled with students who have come, by obligation or interests, to learn about ethics. This classroom symbolizes life in its simplest form. We are the children here, trapped within the four walls of the world, obligated to live life as we are taught, for we know no better way. Daily we are asked to judge, as were the children in the poem, to weigh the consequences of our actions and to make the dot decision. The choice between saving an old woman and a Rembrandt painting is quite simple. The secret lies in the choice of feeling or thinking.
If one were to think about the situation, the answer is quite clear. Even a layman can discern that a fully intact Rembrandt is worth a hundred times more in dollars than the charred carcass of an old woman and that the publicity would make the savior a celebrity from that time forth.
If, on the other hand, one were to have compassion for the situation, the answer is also quite obvious. Whether the old woman's birth certificate is about to expire, or whether she is a close relative, is of no consequence. The feelings of the heart value life over the inanimate and will do all that is necessaiy and possible to preserve it.
The indecision on the part of the student symbolizes the struggle between mind and heart as does the restlessness caused by the students' sitting in the hard chairs. The chairs are the reinforcement of cold, hard facts, numbers and logic. These are the elements which society believes are the essence of making a sound decision.
The poem's jump of about fifty years represents the way the elderly tend to see life. 'Me student is now an old woman and ironically finds herself in front of the Rembrandt, in that drafty museum, which symbolizes how life tends to stay the same the more it changes. She describes the painting and depicts an image of the end of living and the end of the world.
It is here the speaker realizes the relation of the painting, the old woman, and the season. It is here she sees the intertwining of thoughts and feelings and is saddened because she has wasted her life struggling between heart and
mind as time crept along. She sees that people today are useless and unable to change the world around them. The indecisiveness of society has come from the struggle between the heart and the mind and the inability to resolve the matter, a struggle which results in the worst state of all, indifference.
In‑Class Comparison of
"God's Will for You and Me"
and "Pied Beauty it
by Connie Accurso
od7s Will for You and Me" is a poem about the way the Gauthor perceives God's desire for our lives. "Pied Beauty" shows us how to appreciate the variety in Go(Ts creation. (Both poems are reprinted in Laurence Perrine, Literature* Structure, Sound, and Sense, 5th ed. [San Diego: Harcourt, 19881 735).'Me theme of each poem is similar, but the poets use vastly different styles of writing. It is easy to conclude that the two poems reflect human beings' relations with God. It is at this point, however, that the similarity between the two ends.
The author of "God's Will for You and Me" paints an image of a perfect world. When one first reads this poem, It might strike one as being delightful because the words tell of a world that all human beings would want to live in. Not only does this perfect image emerge but the repetition of the words "Just to be..." may Indicate that this perfection is easy to attain. After thirteen repetitions of "Just to be...," however, the reader is left with no real meaning Imprinted in his or her mind. The author uses no means of imagery or symbolism for the reader to ponder. In fact, the reader could have a tendency to wonder if the goals of the poem are possible when he or she reads such lines as "Just to be cheery when things go wrong" or "Just to drive sadness away with a song." The idea expressed sounds all well and good, but is this superior goodness true to life? Is this the way we think about our relationship with God? It seems somewhat contradictory because no matter how one wishes that life could be perfect, it is not; therefore, finding any depth of meaning in this poem is difficult. The last line, as well as the title itself, states, 'That is God's will for you and me." If the reader has a firm belief in God, the question left from reading this poem could be this: "If God wants all this goodness and perfection in my life, why do I have so many problems?" 1he answer, of course,
is that we do not live in a perfect world but in an imperfect one.
"Pied Beauty," (Perrine 735) in contrast, describes with a great deal of imagery an imperfect world and shows how God fits into this world. 'Me title itself implies that imperfection is beautdW. Webster defines "pied" as "covered with patches or spots of two or more colors." Certainly the world is made up of patches, of spots, and of people of different colors. "Patches and spots" can let the reader's mind fill with images of imperfection in the world as a whole or confine his or her thoughts to his or her personal life. The first line gives praise to God for "dappled things," for imperfect things. Instantly the reader knows that this poem speaks of real life. 'Me phrase 'landscape plotted and pieced..." not only paints the image of our landscapes in both farm and city as being torn up and no longer perfect in God's eyes but also can suggest to the reader that, though the landscapes of our lives are no longer perfect, we can thank God for them. Me author says that "all trades, their gear and tackle and trim" are reasons to thank God. No matter what the job is in this world, no matter what goes along with thatjob, it serves a purpose, and for that purpose R is considered beautffW.
'Me second stanza in "Pied Beauty' speaks to the reader about contrast in life. "All things counter, original, spare, strange..." are reasons to praise God. Whether one goes against something, as the word "counter" implies or whether something is "original" or perhaps "spare," meaning actra, the reader is reassured that it is beautiftil to God. Me real heart of the poemis found in the words 'With swift, slow‑, sweet, sour‑, adazzle, dim;/ He fathers‑forth whose beauty is past change." Despite the fact that life is full of contrast and change, God comes to us with unchangeable, fatherly love. The author presents life in its changeable and somewhat unstable way so that the unchangeable God can be more ftifly appreciated.
'Me use of imagery and symbolism in "Pied Beauty'makes for more interesting and meaningftd reading than is found in the first poem. 'Ihe repetition of sound, rhythm and meter in "God's Will for You and Me" makes the poem boring and uneventful. The reader is left with no real image to hang onto and a feeling that this imperfect world should be perfect in every way. "Pied Beauty," on the other hand, tells the reader of real life and shows how the infinite variety in life is something to be thankful for.
An Analysis of the Use of Irony in Wilfred Owen's "Dulce Et Decorum Est"
by demefte SkeUy
Est," (reprinted in Laurence Perrine, . Sound. and SenSe, 5th ed. [San Diego: Harcourt, 19881514), Wilfred Owen takes the reader to the battlefield during World War 1. The title and the final lines of the poem are taken from a Latin quotation which translates thus: 'It is sweet and becoming to the for one's country. Ms quotation conjures up images of heroes, bravery, and men charging headlong into battle for their country. However, in reading the poem, one discovers that Owen is using the title and closing ironically because the poem is not about heroes but about the misery and death experienced by soldiers who are retreating fromthe front line of battle.
For example, Owen's use of comparisons and imagery is very effective in bringing to life the real hardships and sufferings of soldiers during a war. `1he troops in his poem are not heroes standing erect and charging their enemy. `Ihey are soldiers who are "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks"(1) and are retreating, with the battle raging on behind them. These men are so weary that they have become almost immune to the sights and sounds of the war. Details such as "Men marched asleep" (5). "went lame" (6), "blind" (6), and "deaf even to the hoots/Of gas‑shel1s, dropping softly behind" (7‑8), serve well to characterizejust how haggard and demoralized these men have become. However, there is still one element of the war that pumps enough life into these soldiers to allow them to fit their "clumsy helmetsJust in time" (10): the fear of the horrible death which comes from mustard gas. Owen describes the panic of soldiers trying to fit their helmets as "An ecstasy of fumbling" (19). However, one soldier is just not quick enough and breathes the gas, and Owen uses vivid imagery to detail the man's gruesome death The dying soldier is "yelling out and stumbling/And floundring like a man in fire or lime" (11‑ 12). The soldier's lungs have been destroyed by the gas; hence he appears to
put the dying man into a wagon, they could hear ,at every jolt, the blood/Come gargling from the froth‑corrupted lungs/Bitter as the cud of vile incurable sores... "(21‑24). 'Ihe young man dies for his country, but his death is not sweet.
In the final stanza of the poem, Owen appeals to his readers who have never been in battle or seen innocent young men the to refi‑ain from bring to these young men by telling them that "it is sweet and becoming to the for one's country' (28). He wants his readers to know from his poem that war is a rotten "bill of goods" sold to young men who see war as a chance to show their bravery, strength, and honor for their country. These young men yearn to become heroes. However, there are very few heroes in war but much misery, horror, and death. Mis is the irony that Owen wants his readers to realize about war: War is not glorious. War is hell.