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Facing It Analysis

By Jamie Commander and Mary Garnet

Jamie Commander

on 14 December 2012

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Transcript of Facing It Analysis

Facing It Analysis By Jamie Commander
and Mary Garnett My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way—the stone lets me go.
I turn that way—I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair. Facing It He becomes one with the memorial and becomes overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of all the names of those who died in war. He tries not to cry. He tells himself, I am stone. Then he reasons that he is flesh, human, and it is impossible not to feel emotion. He sees a woman come in and also become overwhelmed as she tries to "erase the names" of loved ones. Literal Meaning The overall symbolic meaning of this poem is that losing the ones you love is incredibly hard and brings much grieving, but in the end you need to stop wishing they weren't gone, except the reality, and move on. The title “Facing It” is very significant because when you tell some to face it, it’s telling them to except the reality of something, which in a sense is what the poem’s metaphoric meaning is. Metaphorical Meaning What images does the poem evoke?- It evokes a face fading into black granite, someone crying as their reflection in the stone looks back at them, being inside the Vietnam Veteran Memorial and looking at all of the 58,022 names of the people that gave their lives in the war, images of a pale veteran staring at you, and a woman stroking a boy’s hair.
How do these images make you feel?- These images make me sad and remind me of sorrow and loss. This poem talks about the names on the wall of the people who died and it breaks my heart reading about the woman trying to erase the names on the wall and brushing the boy’s hair. by Yusef Komunyakaa What words make you think of something else or that have strong positive or negative connotations?- The words my black face fades could also mean that is gets cleared of all emotion or that he becomes one with the granite. The phrase “I half expected to find my own letters in smoke” might mean that he had a close call with death during the war. The name Andrew Johnson probably was a loved one or a good friend.
What sounds in the poem (including onomatopoeia) add to the general meaning?- There aren’t any sounds in this poem.
What other poetic elements have the poet used?- There were many implied metaphors and an extended metaphor.
How do these elements add to the feeling or the meaning of the poem?- The metaphors describe the lost crushing feeling he feels while in the memorial and helps show what he is thinking and how hard it is for him.
Finally, consider the poem’s form and discuss what, if any, impact the form has on the meaning. Being a free verse poem impacts the meaning because it doesn’t have rhythm or rhyme to identify the mood of the story therefore the poet can take the poem whichever way he wants and he took it in a sad mournful direction. How do the type of words (short, long, harsh, soft) used fit with the meaning of the poem?- Most of the words in this poem are short and harsh because he is still grieving and is upset at himself for not being able to let it go.
What is the rhythm of the poem and how does it affect the meaning?- The poem has a random rhythm but flows smoothly Did it make you stop and think?- This poem made me stop and think several times about the meaning because it was a sad story and could have many meanings.
Could you identify with the subject?- Yes. I have had a couple loved ones die and it’s hard to let them go and move on.
Did it have a universal message with which you could identify?- Yes. I believe the universal message is that no matter how hard it is to let go of our loved ones, to be happy in life we have to learn how.
Would you like to read more poems by this poet?- I don’t know if I would like to read more poems by this poet because this one is really sad. Yusef Komunyakaa emphasizes his ethnicity at the very beginning of his poem "Facing It" in the first lines: "My black face fades,/hiding inside the black granite." In these lines the word "black" has been repeated twice, in reference both to his own skin color and the color of the memorial. By doing this Yusef has identified himself as an African American and forged a connection between himself and the memorial through similarities of color. This connection is extended through word choice, as his face "fades" and "hides inside" the granite. The outline of his face that allows him to be identifiable and distinct from the memorial vanishes, and he and the memorial have in effect become one congruent entity. This melding together is not only on a superficial level, as his face goes "inside" the granite, delving beyond the surface into the interior of the rock.

I agree with the analysis of this part of the poem because it shows his
connection to the memorial and some of the
emotions he was feeling As a Vietnam War veteran himself, it’s pretty difficult to fathom how Yusef Komunyakaa felt when he saw the names of his dead comrades listed out in front of him. Detailed in his poem “Facing It”, Yusef Komunyakaa recounts his experiences from the war along with the emotions running through his mind as he gazes at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. One of the first connections Yusef makes with the memorial is that it is black, as he associates that with his own race. As his “black face fades”, he can more clearly see the names of the casualties listed upon the wall: all 58,022 of them.
It’s obviously apparent that Yusef is experiencing a drastic emotional toll while he’s visiting the memorial. He says that he touches the name of Andrew Johnson, then in his mind sees “the booby trap’s white flash”, creating an implication that he somehow knew the fallen soldier. As he looks around the memorial, he begins to make associations with everyday things to war-like imagery. Suddenly he visualizes a “white” (again referencing race) veteran’s figure float closer to him and stares through him like a window, finally revealing the white vet has no right limb. Yusef makes a connection with this man because he too has a lifelong injury of war, not physical but emotional. In the reflections on the black granite wall, Yusef continues to see images from both the war and modern-day reality. Lastly, Yusef most likely projects his unreachable wants onto a woman at the memorial as well

I agree with this analysis because it says about how he touches the name Andrew
Johnson and how he sees the booby trap's white flash which shows he probably
was close to Andrew. Analysis Analysis Red = Extended Metaphor Yellow = Simile Orange = Personification
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