Summary Of On The Subway Sharon Olds

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After reading this poem, the narrator and the man he sees on the subway live in two different worlds which most of us live in. Sharon Olds is a Caucasian woman who lives in a world where “life is easier for her”, which she states in the poem referring to her white skin. The African- American man she meets on the subway is describes as a less wealthy mugger. Olds uses many contrasts to develop both portraits of both worlds of herself and the man by using her strong tone and imagery. On the Subway contains stanzas that can give the reader an image of both Olds and the man on the subway. For example, Olds mentions that she is wearing a dark fur coat which is the “whole skin of an animal being taken and used”, to imply that she is wealthy, hence…show more content…
In the beginning of On the Subway, she comes off as stereotypical and derogatory. She begins with derogatory slurs by saying “The boy”, which is almost like talking down on him. She alludes to slavery many times in the poem when she says “His feet are huge, in black sneakers laced with white in a complex pattern like a set of intentional scars.” Intentional scars indicates that she is referring to slavery since many African Americans were being whipped and they would receive whip lashes from their masters. She also alludes to slavery towards that end when she mentions “the way his own back is being broken” again referring to the whip lashes. Her tone becomes stereotypical when she mentions that the man has “a casual cold look of a mugger, alert under hooded lids.” Hooded lids suggests that the man’s eyes is not completely open and she becomes suspicious of him. She also accuses him of being a mugger who she thinks will steal her things and take her life. Throughout the poem, Olds emphasizes the point that she has more power over the African American man who she accuses as struggling. Surprisingly towards the end of this poem, her tone implies hope. She is determined for the change of the way race is being divided by saying “rich as the heart of a seedling ready to thrust up into any available light. Olds hopes to seek for light in this tragic society after using derogatory and racial slurs earlier which

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