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Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde

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by

Anissa Olson

on 8 February 2015

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Transcript of Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde

The poem...
Conclusions:
Fear
Claim: "Hanging Fire" uses many instances of seemingly harmless fears, but also fears of death to show that this girl is going through some serious suffering.
Helplessness
"Hanging Fire" emphasizes the worries of this girl that symbolize how helpless she feels.
Loneliness
Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde
"Hanging Fire" is about...
A fourteen year old girl's stream of consciousness. This includes all of the turbulence she is experiencing. She has all the typical teenage worries and fears. On top of that she is lonely and becomes helpless. This is a dangerous combination that causes her serious pain.
There are
three
main issues she is suffering from...
Loneliness
Fear
Helplessness
Claim: "Hanging Fire" uses hints of loneliness to add to the suffering and pain the girl is experiencing.
"and momma's in the bedroom / with the door closed"(lines 10-12).
Evidence 1:
Evidence 2:
I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his thumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if i die
before morning
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed.

I have to learn how to dance
in time for the next party
my room is too small for me
suppose i die before graduation
they will sing sad melodies
but finally
tell the truth about me
There is nothing I want to do
and too much
that has to be done
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed,
Nobody even stops to think
about myde of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed.
"...but finally / tell the truth about me"(17-18)
Evidence 3:
"Nobody even stops to think / about my side of it"(24-25)
Lone bird: The girl all alone.
Loneliness Symbolized...
Evidence 1:
"I have nothing to wear tomorrow" (31)
"I have to learn how to dance / in time for the next party" (12-13)
Evidence 2:
"what if I die before morning" (8-9)
"suppose I die / before graduation" (15)
"will I live long enough /to grow up" (32-33)
Eyes: Fear in her eyes all she sees is darkness (death and sufffering).

Fear Symbolized...
mouth: No one hears her suffering.
Door: The door is shut and her mother is on the other side with no idea what she's going through and wouldn't even know if she died.
Other birds flying: Everyone else is happy and has no idea what she's going through
Evidence 1:
"my room is too small for me" (14)
Evidence 2:
"how come my knees are / so ashy" (6-7)
Evidence 3:
"and momma's in the bedroom / with the door closed" (10-11).
glass case: her room being to small for her,
Helplessness symbolized...
fire: death and all her worries that are consuming her.
curled up, not doing anything because she feels stuck and helpless.
Ashy knees from praying
The girl is going through a lot and no one is there for her.
The repeated placement of the line "and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed." (10-11) shows the emphasis on the power of rejection and isolation (blamed mostly on the mother).
The first image depicts her loneliness, what makes everything so painful.
The second image depicts her fears and how serious they really are.
The last image shows us how helpless she feels because she has all of these fears, but is isolated so there is nothing she can do.
Never underestimate the power of rejection and isolation. combined with fear and helplessness it can mean serious pain and suffering.
Poetry Analysis/Images
By Anissa Olson

Works Cited
Lorde, Audre. "Hanging Fire."
Poetry Foundation
. 2015. Web. 9 February 2015.
Full transcript