Powerful Emotion in Louise Gluck's The School Children
In the poem The School Children, author Louise Gluck successfully creates for the reader an image of the children, their mothers and the position that they hold in their society. Her simple, yet descriptive words suggest a more in depth meaning that allows one to look past the simple story line of the poem and actually look into the entire situation the poem discusses. The story line simply tells of mothers who pick apples and send their children off to school with them, in hopes that they will receive an education in return. After completion of the poem, the reader comes to the realization that the apples are the center of the poem, around which the true meaning revolves. Through seemingly simple words, Gluck conveys a meaning to the reader throughout the poem that is camouflaged, so to speak, within the apples, as well as within her words.. Gluck’s use of simple diction and imagery deceptively display the powerful emotion, desperate hope, and passionate meaning held within the apples.
In the first stanza, Gluck describes the apples the mothers have collected as ?words of another language?. This tells the reader that the apples have another meaning, they are used for expression, possibly an expression of the mothers? thoughts, feelings, or intentions. This line alone allows the reader to question what the apples actually represent. By describing the apples in this way, Gluck tells the reader that the apples mean more than what the surface of the poem tells us, we can then infer that the poem itself also has an alternate meaning. Therefore, with this line, Gluck is not only beginning to use descriptive diction to imply meaning, but also to excite the reader?s curiosity about what the poem is actually implying.
The second stanza of the poem provides an understanding of all the information in the first stanza. We learn that the children are going to school ?on the other shore? and that at their school awaits ?those who wait behind great desks to receive these offerings?. Describing the school as being located ?on the other shore? emphasizes that there is distance between where the children come from and where they go to school. The distance can be viewed, not as a physical measurement , but as a cultural gateway.
The idea that the second stanza implies a cultural gateway can be deciphered after we learn that inside the school are ?those who wait behind great desks to receive these offerings?. The imagery used in this line obviously describes teachers, the fact that they are behind ?great desks? implies that they are superior to the children and their mothers. Therefore, we can infer that the distance ?on the other...