In the poem Vantage, Trethewey contrasts landing on the moon with the racial climate tension in the 1960s. Earlier in the poem, Trethewey comments on the many different ways of seeing the launch(binoculars, telescopes, etc.) and how that alters “our vision”. This relates to the bigger message in the poem because Trethewey is showing that for some, the year 1969 is the year that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon but others only see the racial tension evident through the racial slurs they would be called. The speaker of the poem states that she doesn’t remember the moon landing because she was more concerned about the ruling of Loving v. Virginia and the racial tension throughout the country that impacted her and her family directly.
This is a deep and meaningful topic to cover in a poem and Trethewey is effective in using rhetoric and literary devices to express her point. Trethewey utilizes pathos when she speaks about the slurs she would be called as a young child. She emphasizes that she was just three when that happened to appeal to the audience and make everyone understand how her childhood innocence was shattered as she was made aware of racism at such a young age. That paragraph, paragraph fourth, heavily uses pathos as it appeals to the emotions of sympathy and anger that a young child(much less anyone) should be called slurs. Additionally, ethos is another method Trethewey uses as she sets herself to be a reliable source. Trethewey uses exact dates, the year 1969, and threads in historical events like the case ruling of Loving v. Virginia. In the poem, Trethewey also includes two quotes from Kennedy as a way to cite him but also, once again, to establish her credibility. Lastly, a great deal of symbolism and metaphors emerge from this poem. Trethewey references the Sea of Tranquillity throughout her poem to show this idea of ultimate peace without discrimination. This Sea of Tranquillity is an important message Trethewey leaves her readers with because it is the hope of an imagined world of peace and an end to the racial tensions she underwent as a child.