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Gwendolyn Brooks - "We Real Cool"

Jan 3rd 2012
by

Caleb Williams

on 4 January 2013

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Transcript of Gwendolyn Brooks - "We Real Cool"

Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool" Group Discussion Project: Social Commentary Brooks's Other Social Commentary Work Wordings and Phrases Within Opening Stanza A Street in Bronzeville Reflected the reality of opression in the lives of urban blacks in the 1940's and the theme of alienation in city life Annie Allen Comments on the role of women
Gwendolyn Brooks discusses the key issue of high school students who drop out of school and end up joining gangs. Her poem follows a group of students who join in a gang and get involved in gang violence, but unfortunately to a faulty end.
The Students go through a peak of success:

"We sing sin. We Thin Gin".

After the intial sensation subsides, they are surrounded by the wrong crowd as the poet describes,

"We Die Soon". Is this piece a historical poem? Can a contemporary reader relate to the situation? Issues Discussed This poem is more of a contemporary poem because it is nonspecific to any era and the issues that is discussed are still relevant today. The issue of high school dropouts are still relevant today but not as much as in the 40's and 50's Persona, Speaker's Voice, and Imagery Gwendolyn Brooks was a black woman who was raised in (vaguely) racially integrated Chicago in the 1930s, and has said that the characters in her poem are also African American. Luckily for us there are audio recordings of Brooks reciting this poem that we may listen in on. What Brooks reveals at her poetry reading is that she happened upon a group of young men playing pool at a pool hall during school hours. Instead of wanting to know what they were doing outside of school, Brooks instinctively wants to know how they feel about themselves, which inspired her to write the poem. Brief History Relationship Between the Reader the speaker is one of the members of this group and comes to realize as the poem closes the affect their actions will take on their lives if they choose not to change. At the beginning of the narration, the reader can assume that this group of teenagers is cocky and believes themselves to be self-reliant, but the further into the poem (and subsequently the further into their adventures) the reader delves, the more the narrator realizes the error of their ways. Persona The persona of this poem represents young, carefree youth during the 1960s. Had Brooks represented middle-aged men with wives waiting at home, the concept behind the poem would have been quaint, but not as alive as she designed it to be. The image of a group of young, vernal men brings the reader back to their inner teenager, while reminding them of the fleeting excitement that these rebellious behaviors offer. Likely shows that the speaker care little for education and is more focused on social activities. It describes the life of young drop outs and their hangout spots. This meaning is intensified by the impetuous nature in which the speaker loses their innocence in the opening stanzas. End Words Brooks uses "we" as her end word to show that you can live and play with a group but you will die alone. It emphasizes the eventual facing of one's consequences Phrase Analysis: "We lurk late" - Makes the reader question the activities of the speaker; are they just hanging out with friends, or are they up to no good?

"We strike straight" - A pool reference. Further illustrating the setting

"We sing sin" - Really makes the reader question the motives of the speaker. It could mean the pool players are gambling or engaging in loud and vulgar behavior.

"We thin gin" - A reference to the cheap liquor served by the beer hall Overall Message Interpretation The teenagers are carefree who spend a lot of their time on the streets and skip school. The rebellious lifestyle they exhibit may cause them to die young, but their willingness to engage in it determines their fate. Poem's Construction Poem contains regular meter with 4 stanzas. Poem is 2-line couplet with an internal rhyme scheme. Ever word in the poem is one syllable. It is pronounced as three beats with a pause.

Every line that ends in "we" is expressing a grace note (a musical note used before the beat) and was written in this form to target youth for its jazzy beat.
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