John Steinbeck's "The leader of the people."
The main idea of the story is to show the contrast between big dreams and reality. Grandfather is unable to grasp that his dreams of the West and going across the plains are over and that reality has come. Grandfather goes to his daughter's farm, where he is despised and bad-mouthed by his son-in-law. "Then we came down to the sea" This is where he is dreaming of a past that's was wonderful but after hearing his son-in-law badmouth him he realizes his dream has come to an end and reality has set in. He wipes his tears and says "That's what I should be saying instead of telling stories" (Steinbeck). This is a realization of how different his dreams are compared to reality.
Robert Hayden's "Middle passage."
The central issue of the poem is the process of change and permanence among all humans. The poem does this by using elements of the slave trade. The nature of the theme shows the voices of the slave trade victims; assault and the concept of evil human treatment as the slaves' voices pray for human progress. "We pray that thou wilt grant, O Lord, safe progress to our vessels bringing heathens' souls to thy chastening" (Hayden). This statement is an image of the tribulations faced by the slaves and shows how life may have problems, but humanity holds on to hope and anticipation for better life.
Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays"
The main issue in the poem is Respect, love, and gratitude for parents. The narrator describes how responsible his father was. "Sunday's too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blue-black cold" ( Hayden). This shows the love, respect, and sense of thankfulness accorded to the narrator's father for his active role in their family as well as his responsibility. He recognizes the efforts of his parent for the work he does.
Randall Jarrell's "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner."
The poem spotlights how death destroys humanity. Mortality is clear since warfare is also an issue and the two go hand in hand. Jarrell paints a picture of life and death, mostly death. He emphasizes mortality by making the poem's speaker a dead soldier. "I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. When I died, they washed me out of the turret with a hose" (Jarell). The poet shows how death wipes out humanity from the face of the earth. It depicts how humanity is vulnerable to death and mortality.
Richard Wilbur's "The Death of A Toad."
The main issue pointed out in the poem is death. If the plight of humankind is likened to the toad's, then the picture painted by the poem is that man is a mere victim of the world. " A toad the power mower caught, chewed and clipped off a leg" (Wilbur). This is coupled with the illusion that the human spirit hopes for a more powerful spiritual existence which may not be possible in the physical world. The poem expresses how the human being is taken away from earth by death even though they crave immortality and stronger spiritual existence.
Aapone. "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner." The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, 9 Apr. 2014, www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/death-ball-turret-gunner.
"The Death of a Toad by Richard Wilbur." Poetry Foundation, 6 Apr. 2017, www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=24922.
"The Leader of the People." University of Minnesota Duluth, www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/tbacig/cst1030/1030anth/steinbec.html.
"Middle Passage by Robert Hayden." Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43076/middle-passage.
"Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden." Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46461/those-winter-sundays.
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