Summary Of On The Subway By Sharon Olds

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Julia Ralston Ms. Kristen English 101 9/17/2015 Opposite Worlds In the poem “On the Subway” by Sharon Olds, the author uses specific literary techniques to highlight the different lives and thoughts of African Americans and Caucasians in society. Although the poem depicts a minor situation, the overall message of the text proves to be a major controversial subject. Through uses of imagery, tone and stereotypes the author emphasizes the main theme and gives readers further insight of the opposing thoughts of both races at the time. Imagery can be seen in many occasions to display the contrasting relationship between the two races. In the line, “His feet are huge, in black sneakers / laced with white in a complex pattern,” (Olds 2-3) the author…show more content…
For example, Olds writes, “I am wearing dark fur, the whole skin of an animal taken and used.” An arrogant tone is displayed by the author, which suggests that he or she is of a higher class than the boy. The author assumes he or she is of a higher standard because of a materialistic good, which accurately displays society today. In regards to the way the author feel towards the boy, a sense of fear is instilled. “I don’t know if I am in his power / he could take my coat so easily, my briefcase, my life” (Olds 14-15). An uneasy tone is heard in this line, also highlighting the stereotypical thoughts and feelings toward this certain race. Tone also impacts the story in the following line, “There is no way to know how easy this white skin makes my life” (Olds 26). The tone of this line contrasts with the first example in that it is grateful and appreciative. The author also seems to have a sympathetic tone towards the African Americans. Being near the end of the poem, the tone and placement of this line suggests the author’s realization of his or hers stereotypical thoughts because of the color of the boy’s skin. Because of this realization, the author sees how oblivious she has been to the difficult lives of the African Americans. Through sudden changes in tone, the reader is taken into the altering thoughts and feelings the author has toward the boy, which thus…show more content…
For example, Olds writes, “He has the casual, cold look of a mugger.” An image is displayed which portrays the boy as a criminal because of his outer appearance. Because of his skin color and appearance, he is judged and profiled in a negative light. Following this line, the author reveals her worry about the boy potentially stealing her belongings. Again, the boy is being profiled racially as a criminal. In addition, an example of a stereotype can be seen in the following line, “This life he could take so easily and break across his knee like a stick...” (Olds 29-30) A person of violence and aggression is described in this line. This specific example supports the repetition of racial profiling throughout the poem. The stereotypical thoughts continuously made by the author clearly uncovers not only the race of the author herself, but also the thoughts and feelings she has toward the

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