Talk By Terrance Hayes Analysis

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Silence vs Speech Society establishes a distinct line between silence and speech. “Talk” by Terrance Hayes shows readers the effects of silence and speech in the midst of injustice. Silence enables individuals to reflect and act upon concepts and ideas while speech enforces communication and clarification of thoughts. Although silence and speech are both means of developing ideas, they convey different meanings. Silence equates repression while speech equates expression. Through the use of description/imagery, tone, and figurative language, Hayes reveals to readers that silence represses the communication of thoughts while speech expresses the communication of thoughts. In “Talk” Hayes’s use of description and imagery displays the speaker’s…show more content…
The speaker friend M demonstrates racist behavior which he chooses not respond to. “We slipped into our uniforms and jogged out on the court to play together” (8-11) exemplifies the speaker’s passive attitude toward the situation. His unresponsiveness shows his need to suppress his thoughts. “The point is we slipped into our uniform harmony” highlights the speaker’s suppression. The symbolism of “uniform harmony” as conformity and consistency informs readers that the speaker’s passivity exists in his need to conform and comply to maintain the “solid, functional structure” (Trammell) of harmony. The reality is that he identifies as “one of the members of The Dream” (17-18) which causes him to suppress his thoughts and emotions to preserve the functional uniformity of the team. Although silence has the power to suppress his thoughts, it also has the ability to develop them. Through the speaker’s silence his contemplation is evident and “as he reflects he begin to peel back the layers of his own reality and questions” (Trammell) which unveils the reality of his suppression. “Would I be the kind of black man that believes silence is worth more than talk” (29-30) displays the internal struggle of whether to stay silent or speak out in the midst of injustice. He contemplates on whether he has become the kind of black man to believe “silence is a kind of grace” (30-33). Equating silence to grace reveals a…show more content…
Throughout the poem the speaker struggles between suppressing his thoughts and expressing them. Hayes uses the title to signify the importance of speech versus silence. “Talk like nigger now” (1) initiates the concept of speech in the poem and how it functions as a means of communication. The speaker’s friend M “raises the point of the power of words” (Trammell) which expresses his thoughts on dialect in relation to race. M’s ability to communicate this concept enables the speaker to obtain a clear vision of how M equates speech to race. The speaker’s silence suppresses his thoughts on this concept of speech in relation race which prevents him from communicating the truth. The poem warns readers of the dangers of silence. Silence is translated as disregard as the speaker “pretends not to hear him” (6) which gives the impression that he has overlooked the situation. When an individual chooses silence as opposed to communicating the truth, they fail to express their thoughts. The speaker’s silence disguises his thoughts and presents a falsified version of himself. The inability to communicate and express his thoughts impairs their relationship which is symbolized through the “loss of their friendship” (35). It is through speech and talking that he is able to stand up for himself and be assertive. He clarifies the situation in a direct and concise approach by expressing that “he heard

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