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Exploring Themes in Poetry

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English Bazinet

on 23 July 2013

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Transcript of Exploring Themes in Poetry

born Joy Nozomi Nakayama in Vancouver, B.C on June 6, 1935
Daughter of Japanese immigrants to CA
Sent with her family to an internment camp for Japanese-Canadians during WWII
Her writing often focuses on the lasting scars of racism
A member of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia
Exploring Themes in Poetry
Biography of Maya Angelou
Alone
Biography of Joy Kogawa
Where There's a Wall
where there's a wall
there are words
to whisper by a loose brick
wailing prayers to utter
special codes to tap
birds to carry messages
taped to their feet
there are letters to be written
novels even

on this side of the wall
I am standing staring at the top
lost in the clouds
I hear every sound you make
but cannot see you

I incline in the wrong direction
a voice cries faint as in a dream
from the belly
of the wall
where there's a wall
there's a way
around, over, or through
there's a gate
maybe a ladder
a door
a sentinel who
sometimes sleeps
there are secret passwords
you can overhear
there are methods of torture
for extracting clues
to maps of underground passageways
there are zeppelins
helicopters, rockets, bombs
bettering rams
armies with trumpets
whose all at once blast
shatters the foundations

• The setting of the poem is during WWII
• Joy was 6 years old when she was first put into an internment camp
• Internment camps were known to abuse Japanese people and they separate families; all their properties would be taken away and auctioned off.
• Joy and other Japanese experienced racism and discriminated from ‘Canadian’
Historical Context
Theme
General Message
When a society expresses racial oppression, it forces the people affected to feel isolated from the rest of the society.
Even though some things may seem impossible to overcome but there are always solutions and possibilities to pursue the matter and reach your goal, just as one would overcome a wall to reach the other side.
Stanza ONE
Stanza TWO
"where there's a wall, there are words to whisper by a loose brick wailing prayers to utter" giving human qualities of speech to bricks > Loose bricks symbolize the Japanese behind the wall who were vulnerable and weak. It makes a reference to the bible< HOPE> Asks for support and hope from God> prayers
Stanza THREE
can hear and understands the reality and what others think of them and WHY OTHERS do this to them.But the terror forces her to lose trust in her religion and she was in a daze,



"on this side of the wall I am standing staring at the top lost in the clouds I hear every sound you make but cannot see you."
Stanza FOUR
Imagine someone trapped inside the wall because of taking the wrong direction and a voice muffled, very faint. almost unreal. "I incline in the wrong direction a voice cries faint as in a dream from the belly of the wall."
"Faint as a dream" : Having difficulty believing the reality
"the voice that comes from the belly of the wall" : Personifying the idea of freedom
The Catcher in the Rye
THEME: ISOLATION

COMPARISON
C
O
N
T
R
A
S
T
Wall is a metaphor for emotional and political barriers placed on people
"armies with trumpets whose all at once blast shatters the foundation" alludes to the bible story- Wall of Jericho
"Where there's a wall" is repeated to emphasize blockade. Oppression and struggles.
To show two separate paths to overcome an obstacle: non-violent and violent to push for a change
Historical Context
"...special codes to tap, birds to carry messages taped to their feet, there are letters to be written, novels even" It is an imagery of carrier pigeons used in war. Symbolizes the prayers being sent to God and how the Japanese want freedom and they want others to understand their hardships + goals
The poem's general message and the metaphorical wall show the theme of isolation. Holden isolates himself from the rest of the society because he wants to protect himself from the ugliness and corruptions in the world. He wanted to stay unique but to fit in at the same time on his own unique terms which leads to his isolation and depression.
Poem describes the lost hope many people have, they lost their homes and their freedom when they are being put into japanese- internment camps. Holden loses his identity as the "catcher in the rye" when he acknowledges that it is useless and hopeless to try to cease children from 'falling' into adulthood since their transition cannot be prevented.
There are many possible solutions in life and Joy chooses to believe in God. She sees the barrier in my path but Id's pursue the path no matter what. Holden, however, takes the wrong direction in life. He chooses to escape from reality. He says he would like to live as a deaf-mute. He is unaware that he, himself, is the one who is falling into corruption of his own ideologies.
HOLDEN
“I figured I could get a job at a filling station somewhere, putting gas and oil in people's cars. I didn't care what kind of job it was, though. Just so people didn't know me and I didn't know anybody. I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn't have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody. ...Everybody'd think I was just a poor deaf-mute bastard and they'd leave me alone.”
HOLDEN
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff ... That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."
“The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.” (Salinger 211)
- His obstacle to grow up and find his place in society
thus prevents him from interacting 'normally' with the other members of society
- His goal as being the catcher in the rye is his own fantasy
- real goal= accept the realism of the world and conformity as well as his own transition into adulthood
- He longs for companionship but at the same time his protective wall prevents him from such interaction
JOY'S ISOLATION
HOLDEN'S ISOLATION
- Political Barriers: Others believe that Japanese were their enemies and the gov't uses the wrong way to protect them
- Racial Discrimination: Japanese were forced to stay at internment camps and they weren't allowed to enter white's property
- Obstacle to fit into the white society
- Her ultimate goal is equality of race and gender as well as peace

•poem was published in 1975, although the book I Know the Caged Bird Sings in which the poem is featured was published in 1969
•personal reflection of things she has learned along the way
•when she was three her parents' marriage ended resulting in her dad leaving her and her brother who was only four at the time with their paternal grandmother
•after being sexually abused she was mute for about 5 years and discovered her love for literature

•born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St.Louis, Missouri on April 4th 1928
•sexually abused and raped as a child by her mother's boyfriend
•experienced racial discrimination
•values of a traditional African American family
•celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Stanza One
Stanza Two, Four and Six
Stanza Three
Stanza Five
-as she is laying in bed she thinks about the events of the night before
-she is trying to find a home for her soul
" How to find my soul a home"


"Where water is not thirsty"
- personification because water is being given human qualities
-symbolizes something really wrong that's going on

"And bread loaf is not stone"
-biblical allusion
-reference to the Bible, Matthew 4:3 when Satan tries to tempt Jesus into turning stones to bread and fails when Jesus doesn't comply with his request

-she spends hours thinking about everything until she comes to a conclusion that the only way to survive is to surround yourself with people
-"I came up with one thing And I don't believe I'm wrong That nobody,
But nobody Can make it out here alone."

-"Alone, all alone"
-alliteration

"alone" "nobody"
-repetition
-speaker repeats lines from stanza one

-talks about how everyone needs companionship
-" Nobody, but nobody Can make it out here alone."

- "There are some millionaires With money they can't use"
-shows that money doesn't bring you happiness
-being rich and successful won't help you be happy, people will
-simile
-comparing the wives of millionaires to banshees that are part of an Irish legend (female spirit that warns of a death to come in the house)

-"Their children sing the blues"
-children are feeling so isolated despite being rich
-everyone in the family does their own thing, no one interacts with each other

- "nobody Can make it out here alone."
-once again Maya Angelou emphasizes that one cannot live alone and be happy
-you need people in order to feel pure happiness

-"Now if you listen closely I'll tell you what I know"
-After speaking about her troubles throughout the poem she is about to let us in on her secret

-"Storm clouds are gathering The wind is gonna blow"
-foreshadowing something bad that is about to happen

Overall the poet is really trying to emphasize the importance to interact with others in order to be happy and get through the hard times in your life. Isolating yourself from everyone else will not help. The world is suffering and the only way to make things better is by helping each other out
Theme of Isolation
Isolation is the complete separation from others or the state of being isolated
Alone vs. Catcher in the Rye
COMPARE
CONTRAST
• speaker struggles to find his or her soul and knows that the only way is to interact with people
• " How to find my soul a home Where water is not thirsty And bread loaf is not stone I came up with one thing And I don't believe I'm wrong That nobody, But nobody Can make it out here alone."
• Holden struggles to find himself as well throughout the book and seeks companionship
• Holden says to Mrs.Morrow "Would you care for a cigarette?"
• Later on in the book when he comes across Sunny he says, "I don't know. Nothing special. I just thought perhaps you might care to chat for a while."

• Maya Angelou talks about how isolation is affecting us and it's only going to get worse.
• She says, "Storm clouds are gathering The wind is gonna blow The race of man is suffering And I can hear the moan 'Cause nobody, But nobody Can make it out here alone"
• Holden isolates himself by constantly judging everything and everyone around him and calling them phonies. He is always unhappy with things and how the people around him act. He alienates himself to protect himself from turning into them
Full transcript