Prejudice In Sharon Old's Poem 'On The Subway'

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21st Century Prejudice Whether or not you want to admit it, we still judge people on the color of their skin. Ask yourself this question; Late at night if you saw a suspicious looking individual wearing a hoody and baggy clothing, would you feel more threatened if they were black or white? The poem On the Subway by Sharon Olds reveals the true thoughts of a white woman in the late 1980’s while on a subway with an African-American boy. Through tone, physical descriptions and philosophical thinking, this poem reveals honest thoughts on what discrimination is today. In the beginning of the poem, the narrator contrasts herself and the boy through physical depictions, “in black sneakers lace with white in a complex pattern like a set of intentional scars.” (lines 2-4). She uses the lacing of the sneakers as a comparison to slavery; the scars represent the hard past of discrimination. The use of the word intentional brings to light what happened was not an accident and was done with a purpose. In the beginning of the poem, she sets up a theme of contrast, “We are stuck on…show more content…
She knows that the color of her skin makes her life easier and that his life has been filled with trial and hardships. “this life he could take so easily and break across his knee like a stick the way his own back is being broken” (lines 29-31). These lines sound like she is wondering why he hasn’t done anything yet. For years his back has been broken and been discriminated and this is his time to fight back. It also shows her prejudices of him that just by looking at the color of his skin she thinks the boy is going to harm her. She starts to put herself in his shoes and realizes that his ancestors could have been slaves and that her ancestors could have benefited from their slavery. She is trying to understand the connection of their two races and finds the truth is that they are connected through

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