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A Boy Named Sue

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Dorvonna Colon

on 28 March 2014

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Transcript of A Boy Named Sue

A Boy Named Sue
Introduction
"A Boy Named Sue" is a relatively lengthy poem by Shel Silverstein. The poem became well known after Johnny Cash made a song out of it on February 24, 1969.

The poem tells the tale of a boy whose father left when he was young and made one contribution; naming the boy Sue. Living a life with a popularly known feminine name, the boy goes to find his father to kill him but ends up accepting his title.
A Boy Named Sue
Figurative Language
Assonance: My daddy left home when I was three, and he didn't leave much to Ma and me
-So I gave you that name and I said goodbye, I knew you'd have to get tough or die
Consonance: Now I don't blame him cause he run and hid but the meanest thing he ever did
-Well he must've thought that it was quite a joke, and it got a lot of laughs from a lot of folk
-And he said, "Son this world is rough and if a man's gonna make it he's gotta be tough
Imagery:And I just hit town and my throat was dry
-He was big and bent and gray and old
-I heard him laugh and then he cursed
Metaphor: Sat the dirty mangy dog that named me Sue
-Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
A Boy Named Sue (Cont'd)

Yeah, he said, "Now you have just fought one
helluva fight, and I know you hate me and you've
got the right to kill me now and I wouldn't blame you
if you do. But you ought to thank me
before I die for the gravel in your guts and the spit
in your eye because I'm the nut that named you Sue."
Yeah, what could I do? What could I do?

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun,
called him pa and he called me a son,
and I came away with a different point of view
and I think about him now and then.
Every time I tried, every time I win and if I
ever have a son I think I am gonna name him
Bill or George - anything but Sue.
Inference
Well, my daddy left home when I was three,
and he didn't leave much to Ma and me,
just this old guitar and a bottle of booze.
Now I don't blame him because he run and hid,
but the meanest thing that he ever did was
before he left he went and named me Sue.

Well, he must have thought it was quite a joke,
and it got lots of laughs from a lot of folks,
it seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
and some guy would laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.
Figurative Language
Simile: He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile

Idiom: He said, "Now you just fought one hell of a fight"
-I got all choked up and threw down my gun

Hyperbole: For the gravel in your guts and the spit in your eye

Shel Silverstein
Dorvonna Colon
Well, my daddy left home when I was three,
and he didn't leave much to Ma and me,
just this old guitar and a bottle of booze.
Now I don't blame him because he run and hid,
but the meanest thing that he ever did was
before he left he went and named me Sue.

Well, he must have thought it was quite a joke,
and it got lots of laughs from a lot of folks,
it seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
and some guy would laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.


Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean.
My fist got hard and my wits got keen.
Roamed from town to town to hide my shame,
but I made me a vow to the moon and the stars,
I'd search the honky tonks and bars and kill
that man that gave me that awful name.

But it was Gatlinburg in mid July and I had
just hit town and my throat was dry.
I'd thought i'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon in a street of mud
and at a table dealing stud sat the dirty,
mangy dog that named me Sue.

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
from a worn-out picture that my mother had
and I knew the scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old
and I looked at him and my blood ran cold,
and I said, "My name is Sue. How do you do?
Now you're gonna die." Yeah, that's what I told him.
Well, I hit him right between the eyes and he went down
but to my surprise he came up with a knife
and cut off a piece of my ear. But I busted a chair
right across his teeth. And we crashed through
the wall and into the street kicking and a-gouging
in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell you I've fought tougher men but I really can't remember when.
He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laughin' and then I heard him cussin',
he went for his gun and I pulled mine first.
He stood there looking at me and I saw him smile.

And he said, "Son, this world is rough and if
a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that name and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die. And it's
that name that helped to make you strong."

In these first two stanzas, it's saying how the narrator's father left and the only thing he did for him and his mother was name his song Sue.


The name got a lot of laughs from a lot of people and whenever a guy would laugh, he'd fight them.
Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean.
My fist got hard and my wits got keen.
Roamed from town to town to hide my shame,
but I made me a vow to the moon and the stars,
I'd search the honky tonks and bars and kill
that man that gave me that awful name.

But it was Gatlinburg in mid July and I had
just hit town and my throat was dry.
I'd thought i'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon in a street of mud
and at a table dealing stud sat the dirty,
mangy dog that named me Sue.
Here, the narrator is now an adult and heas he did so, he got into a lot of fights and he got smarter. He traveled around to hide his shame in his name.

After a long while of traveling, he goes into a bar and sees his father.
Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
from a worn-out picture that my mother had
and I knew the scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old
and I looked at him and my blood ran cold,
and I said, "My name is Sue. How do you do?
Now you're gonna die." Yeah, that's what I told him.

Well, I hit him right between the eyes and he went down
but to my surprise he came up with a knife
and cut off a piece of my ear. But I busted a chair
right across his teeth. And we crashed through
the wall and into the street kicking and a-gouging
in the mud and the blood and the beer.
The narrator knew that the man was his father becaue his mother always kept a picture of him. He greeted his father then said he'd kill him.

He punched his father and they started to fight, ending up in the street.
I tell you I've fought tougher men but I really can't remember when.
He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laughin' and then I heard him cussin',
he went for his gun and I pulled mine first.
He stood there looking at me and I saw him smile.

And he said, "Son, this world is rough and if
a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that name and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die. And it's
that name that helped to make you strong."
The narrator pulls out his gun before his father can and the father smiles.


The father then explains why he named him Sue. He says he wanted him to grow up tough because he knew he wasn't going to be there to raise him. With that name, he managed to get strong without his fatherly figure.
Yeah, he said, "Now you have just fought one
helluva fight, and I know you hate me and you've
got the right to kill me now and I wouldn't blame you
if you do. But you ought to thank me
before I die for the gravel in your guts and the spit
in your eye because I'm the nut that named you Sue."
Yeah, what could I do? What could I do?

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun,
called him pa and he called me a son,
and I came away with a different point of view
and I think about him now and then.
Every time I tried, every time I win and if I
ever have a son I think I am gonna name him
Bill or George - anything but Sue.
The father commends him for fighting well and says he doesn't blame the son for being angry. He wants the son to thank him because all of the strengthhe now possesses was thanks to him naming him. The narrator doesn't know what to do.





Throwing down his gun, the son accepts the man to be his father and realizes why he was given the name and thinks about his father from time to time. Although, he says when he has a son, he'll name them Bill or George but never Sue.
Conclusion
In conclusion, the father knew that he wouldn't be around to raise his only son so he named him Sue to prevent him from growing up soft. Although the son desperately wanted to get back at the man who was at fault for filling his life with insults and fights, he did understand but still says that he'll never name his son Sue.

I feel as though this means he'll be around with his kids so they won't need a feminine name to be tough; they won't need to learn alone.
Thank You~!
Resources:
Poem; http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/shel_silverstein/poems/14827

Other Information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Boy_Named_Sue
Full transcript