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Literary Analysis Of “Between The World And Me” By Richard Wright

912 words - 4 pages

The past persists in disclosing the forgotten injustices suffered in sacrifice for the preceding generations. In doing so, the grief and mourning in the present invades the soul following the physical evidence of torment undiluted with time. In “Between the World and Me”, Richard Wright identifies the universal truth that in order to truly understand another person's suffering, one must move from mere sympathy to empathy with the sufferer through numerous literary intentions.
Wright utilizes personification to provide the narrator with an amplified empathy through the personal reflection required in order to experience the sympathetic suffering accounted for by the physical remnants of a lynching. In the beginning of the poem, the speaker describes the scene as “guarded by scaly oaks and elms” (ln. 2) thereby stating nature guards and preserves memories of the atrocities of society, despite certain distortions associated with time. By presenting the woods with this lively quality, Wright emphasizes the eerie qualities of the world in preserving the scars of inhumane acts dealt through society’s hand. Once recognizing nature’s preservation of the memories, Wright implies that the speaker remains capable to unearth the scene in which they are to experience sympathy and empathy. The speaker then discovers “white bones slumbering” (ln.4) which presents the bones with the human ability of sleeping. This in return suggests an ironic twist crucial to the development of the poem. By suggesting the bones are in mere rest, this also renders bones capable of awaking from their rest. As the speaker continues, the bones as well as the other elements described suddenly “awake” and reform thereby creating a shift in the visual experience of the narrator.
The intentional shift in visual perspective utilized by Wright further emphasizes the extremity of the connection between the recognition of the scars of injustices that bear potential in the past reemerging through empathy. Initially the first stanza withholds the speaker’s true stance in perception in the present through the declaration that “And one morning while in the woods I stumbled…” (line 1) As the evidence of the lynching becomes overwhelming with vivid imagery, the “cold pity” and “fear” (line 12) associated with knowledge of what likely occurred bears an impression that renders the speaker prisoner to the personal account of the past. Therefore, the shift in visual perspective bears not a contrast necessarily to the person, but a contrast in the setting and experience imagined by the current speaker. The narrator then experiences empathy through “And a thousand faces swirled around me, clamoring that my life be burned” (line 21) Through this imagined shift in perspective, the horrors of the account associated with the past, emerge and reinstate themselves in the emotions of fear and loss...

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