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Afro-American Poetry A poem Brother by James Weldon Johnson is a very complicated and emotionally rich one. It contains numerous comparisons and details, and a reader gets many ideas and impressions out of it. The main theme of the poem is alienation and rage that the black people experience. However, in this case, it is impossible to say alienation OR rage, as they experience them both.
All of us have these feelings to some extent, and the color of our skin has nothing to do with it. One of the most valuable things about this poem is that not only does it describe a situation, but it also introduces the entire deepness and complexity of it. The author makes some feelings and impressions very provoking. A good example of this is the description of peoples eyes in the very beginning of the poem. There is a saying that eyes are the mirror of peoples souls and hearts. Sometimes, eyes express things that cannot be expressed in words This is why this description in the poem is so important.
A man is described. His eyes have no spark in them, no glint that shines. Readers can only guess that such a person may be disheartened by somebody or something. It is a wonderful thing to have a light in the eyes and if the person doe not have it, something must be definitely wrong in his / her life. Further, the author tells us what is wrong: Of some wild animal caught in the hunters trap. This person is compared to a wild animal, which was bereft of freedom, which freedom is the most important thing for it.
This is the reason he seems to have no interest in life any more, and this is the reason he is so ultimately said. In this poem, James Weldon uses many emotional and aggressive elements such as: See! , Look in his eye! , Speak, man! , Speak out! , Ha! Hear that shriek! and so on.
It is probably his way of making the poem even more vivid and alive it feels as if he is trying to establish some kind of a dialogue between the poem and its reader. Some interesting thoughts about struggle for survival, evil forces and a downward pull are also represented in Brother. It is certain that the author does not only speak about a physical struggle, but most importantly, about the mental, the spiritual one. To prove it, he says: The ancient trait which fights incessantly against restraint balks at the upward climb. The poem is very interesting to read also because it keeps your attention very sharp till the very end. At times, it is hard to predict the outcome, and this is very intriguing.
The story has its beginning (a set of circumstances people live in), and it has its end (the outcome, the resolution of the conflict). For example, the last verse tells us that the revenge was depicted. Yes, it must be cruel; yes, it must seem to be inhuman and barbarous. However, there is a good reason for these people to act in this way, to be so brutal and non-forgiving. Summing up all the impressions that Brother by James Weldon gives, it is important to note that the author managed to express his idea rage and alienation in a very original way. For example, when describing revenge and its motives, the author does not advocate the good, he does not seem to protect it that much.
It is true that not of all us share the philosophy of forgiveness, but James Weldon is way too aggressive in some cases. Sometimes, it even seems that he promotes aggressive and brutal ways of acting for people who were hurt or deprived of something for no reason. In the poem, the kind of rage the depicted people have is not just a rage, as described in everyday life. These people are completely blinded with rage. They seem to live with one single purpose: to see their adversaries cries, pain and agony. They gratify themselves in such a way, satisfying their desire for answering to those, who made them cry and suffer.
The question the poem arises is whether revenge is just as evil as the reason for this revenge, the wrong-doing that called for this revenge. Sometimes it even seems that the difference between the victim and the evil-doer simply vanishes, as both plant in their hearts and acts. There are not so many people who can keep silent and not stand for themselves, but the question is how to measure this revenge, when it is enough and time to let it just go. In many cases it would be simply impossible to do for most of us.
There are things that people usually just do not forgive to others. Our world is very far from perfect, and even though it is wiser and more human to forgive, there is something in us that just will not us do that. The last line of the poem definitely needs to be underlined: Brothers in spirit, brothers in deed are we? These words illustrate that a group of castigators has their emotions, feelings, and particular relationships. They support each other. They help each other.
Even though they are a violent group of people, they still have their own moral values. They, themselves, are the only people, who can help each other in this on-going fight with evil and oppression.
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