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Naming myself by Barbara Kingsolver
Transcript of Naming myself by Barbara Kingsolver
By Caitlin Draper, David Puglisi and Rachel Krause
In Kingsolver's poem Naming myself, the narrator speaks of his ancestors and his family name. He explains how his grandfather came from Virginia during the time of slavery, and his journey in leaving that life behind. The narrator's grandfather stole a horse and fled to marry a Native American woman, something which was never forgiven. His grandfather created a new name for himself and a new identity, however the narrator illustrates how the Native American side of their heritage has been buried, and his new found desire to uncover that part of their identity. He explains how even if he were to shed his current name, that part of his ancestry would always be a part of who he is.
The main theme in the poem is finding one's identity and the desire to know where one comes from. It is a struggle for both the grandfather and the narrator to obtain a grasp on who they really are, and what name or identity they should acquire.
Figurative Devices Used
- Personification is used when the narrator states: "He lost his family's name and invented mine, gave it fruit and seeds." This is an example of personification because a name cannot actually produce fruit
- Imagery is used when the narrator recounts his experience with his grandfather when he says, "I have touched his boots and mustache, the grandfather whose people owned slaves and cotton," because it appeals to the reader's sense of touch.
-Personification is used when the narrator states: "I could shed my name in the middle of life," this is an personification because the narrator can not literally shed his name.
-Simile is used in the opening lines when the narrator says: "I have guarded my name as people in other times kept their own clipped hair." It is a simile because it's comparing keeping clipped hair to keeping the heritage of a name.
-Personification is used when the narrator says: "Believing the soul could be scattered if they were careless." because a soul cannot literally be thrown in various directions.
-Personification is used when the narrator exclaims: "I could shed my name in the middle of life, the ordinary thing, and it would flee along with childhood and dead grandmothers". This is personification because a name, a childhood nor a dead grandmother cannot actually run anyway from someone or something.
peppered- sprinkled colours on an image or a scene
Cherokee- Native American people historically settled in southern United States
Limbo- an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition
restless- characterized by or showing inability to remain at rest
scattered- thrown in various random directions
Throughout this poem there are many images that are felt, heard, tasted and smelled. This poem is very descriptive and provokes many thoughts and feelings when I read it. For example, when Kingsolver says "until one peppered, flaming autumn he stole a horse" I taste the hot spices of pepper and feel the cool air of autumn on my skin. I also picture the colourful leaves on the ground. I can smell the hot apple cider and pumpkin pie that my family is enjoying on Thanksgiving weekend.
In the line "He lost his family's name and invented mine, gave it fruits and seeds." I picture images of seeds being planted in the ground and growing into a new life. I have a feeling of being born again and rejuvenated.
Images That are Felt, Heard, Tasted, and Smelled
I have guarded my name as people
in other times kept their own clipped hair,
believing the soul could be scattered
if they were careless.
I knew my first ancestor.
His legend. I have touched
his boots and mustache, the grandfather
whose people owned slaves and cotton.
He was restless in Virginia
among the gentleman brothers, until
one peppered, flaming autumn he stole a horse,
rode over the mountains to marry
a leaf-eyed Cherokee.
The theft was forgiven but never
the Indian blood. He lost his family’s name
and invented mine, gave it fruit and seeds.
I never knew the grandmother.
Her photograph has ink-thin braids
and buttoned clothes, and nothing that she was called.
I could shed my name in the middle of life,
the ordinary thing, and it would flee
along with childhood and dead grandmothers
to that Limbo for discontinued maiden names.
But it would grow restless there.
I know this. It would ride over leaf smoke mountains
and steal horses.