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Expect Nothing by Alice Walker

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Petra Perez

on 18 March 2015

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Transcript of Expect Nothing by Alice Walker

Early Life
Early Life Cont'd
Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
Expect Nothing by Alice Walker
BY: Petra Reyes-Perez

What this presentation will cover:
Brief cover of Walker's personal life
Literary techniques used in "Expect Nothing"
What I found: My critique/reaction to the poem
My Process

Born February 9th, 1944 in Eatonton, GA
Youngest daughter of sharecroppers; mother worked as a maid for supplemental income
At the age of 8 she was shot in the eye by a BB gun; felt disfigured... Found solace in reading and writing
Re-read the poem many, many, many times.
Researched Walker's background to gain some insight into a possible meaning to the poem.
Read the poem aloud; read it in different ways/styles to get a "feel" of the poem.
Identified different literary devices used.
Re-wrote the poem as if I were the author/speaker.
Read quotes:
“For in the end, freedom is a personal and lonely battle; and one faces down fears of today so that those of tomorrow might be engaged.”
Grew up in racially segregated South and attended segregated schools
Valedictorian of her graduating class
Attended Spelman College on a scholarship, later attended Sarah Lawrence College in NYC
Visited Africa as part of a study-abroad program
Graduated in 1965
Worked as a Social Worker, teacher and lecturer. Became active in the Civil Rights Movement
Mini Analysis
Works Cited
My Critique
Felt the poem was beautifully written
I was able to relate a little bit
Liked the choppy lines; felt it added that worn-out feeling
Appreciated the speaker's honesty and straightforwardness
To me, the poem was coming from someone that has had many hardships, and developed a "thick skin", a shell... not able to rely on anyone
I believe it n help readers realize the impact of generosity and kindness, or lack thereof
"Alice Walker." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Feeling Powerless. Digital image. Inspiring Quotes By Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015. <http://inspiringquotesbywomen.com/category/alice-walker/>

Don't expect anything from anyone.
If compassion is available, take minimal amount
Don't ever beg for compassion.
Showing need is weak.
Use past disappointment to make you tougher.
Have goals and dreams, but keep them to yourself.
Ask big life questions.
Mini Analysis Cont'd
: "Tiny Human midget"... Maybe the incredible fact that human life even exists at all...
"Parka for your soul"- Emotional/strength barrier

"Wish for nothing larger, Than your own small heart, Or greater than a star" Have hopes and dreams, but don't wish too big ... "Make of it a parka, For your soul."

Free Verse

The speaker rhymes only once in the poem... "
Stop short of urge to plead, Then purge away the need.
" ... Emphasizes the central idea, and is possibly the thesis of the poem.

Words and phrases like "frugally... On surprise" add to the poem's mood. The words also add a hint (to me) of heartbreak and tiredness.

Short, brief sentences/lines... Allows reader to recognize the speaker's
(Straightforward, can be seen as pessimistic).
Came from the anthology Revolutionary Petunia
** Poems consisting of similar themes and ideas:
of "Expect Nothing" is "Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed"
"These poems are about revolutionaries and lovers- about how both in revolution and in love, loss of trust and compassion robs us of hope."
Full transcript