A Loss Of Innocence: Youth’s Ever Changing Role In Society

1371 words - 6 pages

The bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 resulted in the death of 4 young girls. Dudley Randall was able to call upon this as inspiration and thus created his masterpiece “Ballad of Birmingham.” This in addition the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, “fueled his commitment to civil rights.” (Randall Headnote 37) In Randall’s poem, the importance of one playing an active role in society to help shape the future is explored; through the actions of a small girl. Ironically suggesting that revolutions in society which are meant to better the future for youth, affect these youth negatively. Implying that such trauma causes a loss of innocence among the society’s youth, destroying the future stability of a society. Through his symbolism and imagery, Randall is able to show the message of hope and innocence lost by tragedy.
The youth that society nurtures for the advancement of the future are the impression of innocence, and are unknowing the issues that affect society. Randall utilizes symbolism throughout the poem to outline the girl as part of this collective youth model. The reader sees many examples of symbolism in the fifth stanza. An example of this device is “Her dark night hair” (line 17). The effect of this line is to depict the girl as being young and full of life, as the reader envisions the “dark night” colour of the young girl’s hair as being the colour of a long tunnel which signifies the girl’s long future ahead of her. This shows how young these activists are, and communicates to the main idea of youth being involved in the present for their society’s future. Another instance is seen in the same stanza, describing the girl as “rose petal sweet, and drawn white gloves” (lines 18-19). The effect of this imagery is to illustrate the girl as pure and innocent. The “rose petal sweet” suggests the innocence and sweetness of this young girl, who only wants to change her society for the better in a passive manner. Randall depicts her gloves as “white” to symbolize the pureness of the girl, and her longing to not be associated with the misery in the 1960’s. The main idea couriers this relationship of youth being involved in present issues, regardless of their innocence which the reader can foreshadow as being a fundamental theme in the rest of the poem. Up to this point, Randall writes the point as though he was only defining the young girl as innocent, sweet, and involved. The entire tone of the poem shifts from a joyous mood to a bleaker one, as does the day of the event and the life of the girl herself. Although the first instances of symbolism in the poem were positive, the symbolism the reader understands in the final stanza concludes the shift of the poem. The example is shown through “bits of glass and brick” (line 29). The line functions as a dual propose; the stability of society with its promising youth, represented through “the glass and brick”, has now been shattered in “bits”, demonstrating the prominence...

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