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"Kitchenette Building"

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William Milburn

on 2 February 2017

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Transcript of "Kitchenette Building"

Analysis: Stanza One
"We are things" - "we" signifies a collective, or human quality but "things" contradicts this. "Things" tend to signify object.

To compare yourself to an object is kind of devaluing. Humans tend to think they're more important than mere objects.
"Kitchenette Building"
Gwendolyn Brooks

Analysis: Stanza One
Gray = Melancholy

"Dream" - what was once envisioned is perhaps not as "strong" as the demands of making rent, being a "feeding wife", "satisfying a man" - being a suitable housewife

It's nice to dream but the expectations of reality will always be present
Analysis: Stanza Two
Given the context of the actual Kitchenette Buildings we can infer the following:

Brooks' use of garbage as a symbol makes a strong statement about the poor. Brooks compares the garbage to perspectives of the poor – something that is taken out, forgotten about, and no one wants to deal with.

However, Brooks suggests that if given the chance the poor can do something remarkable with their lives.
Analysis: Stanza Two
Brooks poses an important question in this second stanza: is a dream able to rise above the day-to-day stuff without getting squashed by it?

What about having barriers such as poverty in your life? Does this squash dreams?
Analysis: Stanza Three
The note of suspicion : “even if” the residents of the kitchenette building were willing to allow the dream into their lives, “to let it in” and tend to it, Brooks sees no guarantee that it could still overcome the very real obstacles of the previous stanza.
First, listen to the audio of Gwendolyn Brooks reading her poem:

Then, with a partner, or a group no more than four, work on completing the TP-CASTT sheet for, "Kitchenette Building"
Analysis: Stanza One
"Involuntary plan" -When you think of the word "involuntary" you think of something that's done without conscious control.

But when Brooks places these words next to each other, they take on a new meaning: the "involuntary plan" is something the people in this poem don't plan to do themselves, but kind of have to go along with.
Some background...
Kitchenette buildings were tiny, usually one-room, apartments that shared bathrooms and kitchens with several other families.

"Their emergence began alongside discriminatory housing practices in Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s."

Often, poor African-American families lived in these buildings, and they were cramped and very challenging places to live in.
Analysis: Stanza Four
"we wonder" - the possibility of a dream, but then the poem shifts to say that they don't do it for very long, and not very well.

So while they might entertain the idea of a dream, it's not for long and not very well-thought out

People in this situation need to stay present to survive
Analysis: Stanza Four
"Number Five": Not referring to the person by name, but by unit number - repetition of "dehumanization: notion
The final line replaces the thinking about dreams with thinking about the lukewarm water. At first it looked like a dream might have a chance in this poem, but eventually it's replaced by a more immediate, practical desire—the desire to be clean and warm
Analysis: Stanza Four
Full transcript