It is told from the beginning of this magazine that FIRE is the Negro Quarterly that was born during a young Negros’ rap hangout. Led by Langston, FIRE is devoted to young Negro artists. Therefore, the poem extracted from FIRE, From the Dark Tower by Countee Cullen, becomes the voice made by Negro artist with the purpose to speak up for Negro people.
It is made obvious due to the background information given about the magazine that this is a poem talking about race. However, the poem wisely uses metaphors and details of African Americans’ characteristics to deliver the message that it is about race talk. For example, the phrases about color are directly mentioned in the poem: white stars, being dark, and dark tower. Furthermore, Cullen features African Americans’, more precisely for its written back during a time in which white people and African Americans had conflict, Cullen features slaves’ life by saying: “Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute.” It is a tradition that after a harvest, the slaves of African descent would get together and play their music where the flute that makes mellow sound is a common instrument to use.
This poem also sheds light on the suppression and negative effect on African American during the conflicts with white people. Starting from the first line, “we shall not always plant while others reap”, Cullen uses this symbolism tells the unfair treatment received by slaves which are that they are the providers of labor while white people are just rip off the result fruits of their labor.
Hope, is another voice I hear by reading this poem. “We are not made eternally to weep.” Eternally means permanently, lasting forever. Through this lie, Cullen is saying that African Americans are suffering, but it is not what they are born to be doing. Cullen denies the inferiority placed on Africans and African descents by white people, from which I drew a sense of hope—at least someone sees through the justice and knows what they are meant to be even if they don’t seem to be so now. “And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.” It sounds like a slogan talking to white people, Cullen is asking those who exploit Africans to wait and see the better result coming after their hope—their next generation.
There are few literature works that use children as the main character in the story to give harmless, innocence or naïve character in the story. Some writers put children as main characters in their works to evoke the idea of kindness, compassion or warmth sensation in an essay. Nathaniel Hawthorne in “Little Annie’s Ramble” involves a child’s character as center story that pictured the innocence and harmless side of a young soul. The story is about a little girl named Annie that interact with an adult gentleman, together they stroll through the street circus in their town. Annie is a little girl that curious out of the crier’s announcement from the distance and try to find out what it is all about. At the same time a man looked at her from across the street and looked at Annie’s enthusiastically to find out what the crier had been speaking of.
The story taken from the adult perspective reminiscing how fin it is as a child and having a child’s mind. The man reminded him of his childhood when he looked back into the time when he was young and connect it with Annie’s curiosity. “She feels that impulse to go strolling away –that longing after the mystery of the great world– which many children feel, and which I felt in my childhood” (Hawthorne). This childhood moments resonance throughout the essay, it almost feels like Hawthorne try to bring readers to their own childhood memories. The reminiscence of the gentlemen brought a up few times in the essay, for example on this passage:
“Here is a shop to which the recollections of my boyhood, as well as present partialities, give a peculiar magic. How delightful to let the fancy revel on the dainties of a confectioner; those pies, with such white and flaky paste, their contents being a mystery, whether rich mince, with whose plums intermixed, or piquant apple, delicately rose-flavored; those cakes, heart-shaped or round, piled in a lofty pyramid; those sweet little circlets, sweetly named kisses; those dark, majestic masses, fit to be bridal-loaves at the wedding of an heiress, mountains in size, their summits deeply snowcovered with sugar!” (Hawthorne).
In this passage, Hawthorne portrays in detail the dream or imagination of a little kid. He pictures how children love sweets and anything that has a connection with sugar. He also put the man in recollection moment when he was a little kid, the naïve feeling as a child towards the sweets. “Little Annie’s Ramble” show the pure innocence character of a child in an adult perspective, where the adult kind of envy how naïve, pristine and unadulterated minds.
In Little Annie’s Ramble, Nathaniel Hawthorne tells a story of an old man taking a stroll through town with a young girl, presumably his granddaughter or someone close to him. The Old man narrates the “ramble,” stopping to consider everything that catches little Annie’s attention. While reading and skimming through this text, the reading voice in my mind is that of a lively and joyful person. The written thoughts of this old man have exclamation points in almost every paragraph. I like that he appreciates the innocence and wide- eyed curiosity Annie has. “Sweet has been the charm of childhood on my spirit, throughout my ramble with little Annie!” This is something similar to what my loving Grandmother would tell my mother after spending an afternoon with my sister and me. There is a pattern in the text makes it an enjoyable read for me. Throughout the stroll, the old man is detailed in his observations when Annie stops to pay attention to something. He thinks about what it means to him, then, what it means in relation to Annie. He then pulls her along so she can experience something else
Little Annie’s Ramble touches on the differences between the way children and adults think. If you’re an adult, this text encourages us to pay attention to our surroundings. We shouldn’t take things in life for granted. There’s nothing wrong with being giddy with excitement or wide-eyed in amazement, these feelings are not supposed to be exclusive to children.
Cordelia the Crude is a play written by Zora Neale Hurston. As the title might suggest, there are several issues and themes surrounding the color of a person’s skin. One of these recurring themes is insecurity. Emma, a black woman, becomes increasingly jealous of another character named Effie. She suspects that her husband john will develop or has developed feelings for Effie because she is Biracial and has a light complexion. These insecurities come to a head when Emma tries to pull her and john from a dancing competition out of fear for the attention he would recieve, specifically from Effe. John not only dances, he dances with Effie as Emma’s replacement. This is the final straw for Emma because soon after they divorced and were apart for 20 years
Emma’s fears may have been irrational but for her they represented a very real advantage that lighter- skinned women have that darker women of color Don’t. Oh, them half whites, they get everything! They gets everything that everyone wants.” Her percieved disadvantage to get some of the things that she wants worries her because it means a lighter complexioned woman can easily take it. In this instance, its her husband, John.
In the reading “Color Struck” by Zora Neale Hurston, it was a play based on colorism and the judgement that black individuals faced in their own communities. Hurston used Emmaline’s insecurity about her own complexion to portray her hatred for fair skinned black women. Throughout the play Emmaline was obsessed with the idea that light skinned women takes everything and they was going to take John away from her too.
Hurston displayed how hatred among these individuals stems from ones’s own hatred, by using Emmaline’s hatred against her in the most contradicting way. Even in her so called “hatred” Emmaline managed to have a baby by a white man thus producing the very thing she hates, a light skinned black woman. Hurston goes even further by extending her jealousy and hatred toward her sick daughter who received compassion from John, a man she “loved” and haven’t seen in over 20 years.
Color Struck’s title focuses on colorism- the idea that people in the black community were judged based on the hue of their skin. Emma, the protagonist, is scared that John, the man she’s in a relationship with, will leave her for a lighter-skinned woman. Throughout the play, Emma exhibits extreme jealousy; a word, and emotion that can be clearly seen throughout the text. Emma even admits to these self destructive feelings when saying to John, “I loves you so hard, John, and jealous love is the only kind I got.” John is constantly reassuring Emma of his love, yet she is still jealous of a lighter-skinned woman named Effie.
In the last scene, John returns after 20 years to propose to Emma and take in Lou Lillian, Emma’s daughter, as his own child. Emma is excited, but wary. As Emma is about to leave to find a doctor to care for her sick daughter, John is tending for Lou Lillian. Emma becomes furious and jealous, once again, and believes John is only tending to Lou Lillian because she is light-skinned. Emma did not realize how destructive her behavior was, not even towards her own daughter. Due to Emma’s jealousy, she faces adverse consequences, such as losing John and tragically losing her daughter to death. While Emma let her insecurities encompass her thoughts and behaviors, those surrounding her were suffering as a direct result of her jealousy.
While reading “FIRE!!”, I was particularly drawn to the play due to my interest in scripts. In “Color Struck” I was admittingly thrown off by the language when I first started to read. It was honestly a bit difficult to read along at first until I got the hang of reading it. Since it is a script, it’s meant to be read out loud and understanding this made the reading experience that much more pleasant. The style of the language is assumingly meant for emphasis on the southern accent for example, “Whut kin Ah do?” (page 10) meaning “What can I do?”. It is interesting how the “broken english” sounds fine when used in spoken word but is much more difficult when written. The emotions, (written like this), also adds to understanding the scenes better as it is more apparent to see the contrast between emotions such as nervous, dull, awkward and etc.
The poem, “From the Dark Tower” by Countée Cullen, felt sad and heavy yet it also showed a sense of hope and potential. The sadness can be felt through the first line “We shall not always plant while others reap”. According to when this poem was written, I assume that the reference in this line has to do with the treatment of African-American slaves. The hope and potential that could be seen is in the last line of the first stanza, “We were not made eternally to weep.” My interpretation of this line is that this is a cry for help or maybe even a cry for justice. Saying they aren’t made to weep forever means that they too have more to live for than the white man’s orders.
In my reading of the excerpt of “FIRE!!”, Wallace Thurman’s “Cordelia the Crude” stood out to me particularly. I found this piece to be very striking in the way it portrays the lives of many young African American women in 1920’s Harlem. Thurman uses humor and light diction in constructing his story of Cordelia, a sixteen-year-old girl who became involved in prostitution. One example of this that I found to be particularly insightful into Thurman’s beliefs on this was his use of the terms “game” to describe the relationship between the prostitutes and the men who were with them. After doing a close reading, I focused in on where this term occurs during the text in order to reach a conclusion about the meaning behind it.
When Thurman describes the situation of how the men in Harlem were approaching prostitutes – the particular location he uses in the story is the “Roosevelt Theatre” – he makes it seem playful, describing it as a game. The narrator makes it seem as though Cordelia is teasing him, walking in a way that seemed to be a “sway of invitation” to “play the game”. This specific diction was specifically chosen by Thurman, possibly to remark on Cordelia’s youth, and how the actions in which she is partaking are corrupting her, stealing her childhood, since “playing games” is often associated with youth. Similar to this, along with his allusion of prostitution to a “game”, Thurman also explains how the prostitutes “grow wise” when they have become aware that a man is pursuing them. When the narrator explains his experience with Cordelia, he states that she “let [him] know that she was wise”, meaning that she knew what his intentions were. But, Thurman’s choice of the word “wise”, seems odd for this scenario. This could be because this word has an underlying irony. The fact that Cordelia is “wise” about what the narrator wants from her is indicative of a loss of the naivety and ignorance that are associated with childhood innocence. Thus, Cordelia is an embodiment of the corruption of many young women who crossed paths with prostitution in Thurman’s Harlem.
Ralph Ellison conveys an important message at the beginning of the prolog, from the fourth to the fifth paragraph, that the main character ‘invisible man’ does exist, but he is not visible. His invisibility is caused by people’s failures in identifying their own fallacies which made them not be able to acknowledge the invisible man’s existence.
This conclusion arrived after proving the invisible man’s existence and invisibility during a fight between him and a tall blond man. Ellison carefully hinted readers of the invisible man’s physical existence by describing his actions: “I bumped into”, “I sprang at him”, “seized”, “butted him again and again”, and “kicked him repeatedly” and so forth, which indeed caused the tall blond man “profusely bleeding”. But the invisible man all of a sudden gave upon his revenge when he already got out his knife and was almost about slit the white man’s throat. Why? The invisible man abruptly realized that the white man firmly believed that the invisible man does not at all exist, because the white man still refused to see the invisible man even he was beaten up to the point of death. When facing the threat of death, a rational man can still hold onto his belief must mean that he is deadly convinced by his belief, no matter if it is out of rationality. Just like people who devoted their lives to serve Nazi during WWII, even if the consequence of them holding onto their beliefs, later on, are proved to be catastrophic to the human race, they were unshakeable toward their convictions. There is no point in arguing with a person when he doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of the argument itself. What are you arguing about? Thereby, the invisible man developed a deep sense of shamaness and disgust—that he can change people’s mind. He even felt “amused” by his innocent fancies and the efforts of proving his visibility to people who do not recognize his existence in the first place. But the every fact proves that he does EXIST, it is not the invisible man himself, but the people who made him INVISIBLE. What a brilliant way to name the real criminals of the invisible violence.
“Little Annie’s Ramble” from Twice Told-Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864.
Hawthorne point of view in this story is to tell his readers how beautiful and interesting is it for a
human being to be a child than be an adult. While reading this story, the author wants to remind
us that, as people growing up and getting older, they forgot they were once a child by acting and
seeing things differently that a child could even imagine. Throughout this story, Hawthorne used
the words “little Annie” many times not just to characterize the girl as a child, but also as a
theme such as romanticism in different contexts in his passage to develop his story and to have
his readers’ attention. According to Hawthorne in “Little Annie’s Ramble” he states that “Sweet
has been the charm of childhood on my spirit, throughout my ramble with little Annie! Say not
that it has been a waste of precious moments, an idle matter, a babble of childish talk, and a
reverie of childish imaginations, about topics unworthy of a grown man’s notice. They are not
truly wise who would affirm it.” This demonstrate that the older man did not regret spending any
second of of his time with little Annie. Also having this kinds of moment has always been an
extraordinary and powerful pleasure for him during his early life.