The poem, Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio by James Wright is very unpredictable. First time readers will think that this poem is like many other conventional poems that describe the positive or negative aspects of autumn. However, there is nothing but the word autumn itself on the title that refer to this season. This poem, instead, remarks the harsh and unfair reality of the working-class minority groups who are constantly marginalized within the society. This poem also emphasizes how sport, specially football, and alcohol are a form of escapism for some factory workers.
Wright grew up in a poor family. His father worked in a glass factory and his mother did laundry. From a very young age he witnessed the struggle of working class people. Growing up in a poor and underprivileged neighborhood, Martins Ferry, Ohio, had a remarkable influence in his life and career as a writer. Most of his writing focuses marginalized groups within the society.
In ...view middle of the document...
Yet when they realize that is not the case, they take refuge in the alcohol to forget for a while their miserable and struggling lives.
Wright identifies “Polacks” and “Negroes” as one of the most marginalized groups of his time. Polack and Negroes are offensive terms to refer to polish descents and African Americans. These minority groups worked in factories or other blue-collar jobs with low salary, long working hours, minimum or not worker compensation, and poor working conditions. Their lack of life chances or social mobility contributed that these groups often seek in alcohol and sport an easier way out of social-economic pressure.
Wright argues that their misfortune does not only affect their self-esteem, but also their families. “All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home’’. They perceive themselves as losers because they are not able to provide their family a better quality of life. However, their wise do not really care about not having enough money; but rather they prefer having their husbands by their sides, loving them. They had been “dying for love” because their men had been too distracted drinking and daydreaming forget their unkind and unmerited situation.
In the last stanza of the poem, he opens up with the word “Therefore”, an unexpected word in poetry. “Therefore” is commonly used in mathematics and in logic to draw a conclusion after presenting reliable and accurate evidences. However, in poetry this word is not, neither poetic nor stylish, but Mr. Wright apparently uses it to draw us to some conclusion. It may be that the same fathers, who are ashamed, feel sorry for their sons because they too will be going through the same awful experience. That is what Mr. Wright may refer when he says “Their sons grow suicidally beautiful”. When their sons enter into adulthood will be also be victims of social inequality.
In the poem, Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio , Wright argues that discrimination and social inequality will persist from generation to generation. Sport and alcohol act as a temporary distraction from reality, but the self fulfilling prophecy of the minority groups is most of the time stronger that their dream of socio-economic mobility.