The Devil Language Analysis

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"The Devil’s Language" is a poem from "White Noise," the third section of her debut collection, A Really Good Brown Girl (1996). Exploring the meaning of Métis identity in modern Canada through “a series of dualities,” Dumont refers to “the Great White way of writing English” as a means by which she has been “measured, judged and assessed,” implying that she has been found lacking when measured to those White standards. Through repetition of “Great White” and using capitalization to invoke the image of a Great White shark, Dumont contrasts the great poets of predominantly White English literature, such as T.S. Eliot, who is referenced in the first line, with a violent predator. English as an instrument to silence Indigenous voices is a recurrent…show more content…
In this instance, being unable to speak English could cause English speakers to view her father, incorrectly and unfairly, as less intelligent. Dumont addresses this directly, asking “how many of you speak Cree?” to highlight a disconnection between the “Great White way” and the “voice that rocks you and sings you to sleep”; while Cree may be spoken by fewer people, it symbolizes home and “your mother’s tongue” to those who do. While Cree represents comfort, English becomes a predatory, devouring force to Indigenous individuals. Delving deeper into the representation of Cree as not inferior but neglected, Dumont asks if there is a “Received Pronunciation of Cree” or a “Chief’s Cree,” and in doing so demonstrates the extent to which conversational English is considered less than “the King’s English,” and the extent to which Cree will always be thought of as inferior when scrutinized by the colonizers. Language is established as a hierarchical tool to oppress or render as Other individuals who are not a part of the dominant group in order to assert that dominant group’s power over every aspect of life from the “first day of school” and “fingernail checks,” to the lifelong…show more content…
Her poems express the poet’s ambivalent relationship to the city, a place that gives him anonymity but also isolates him from his roots. Dumont’s collection, called A Really Good Brown Girl, emphasizes the poet’s ongoing struggle to find a place for herself within a predominantly white urban society by adapting the vocabulary, behavior, and attitudes of those around her. By being as she ironically calls it, a "really good" girl, Dumont is able to "survive in two worlds and in a white classroom" from childhood through to adulthood. In a poem called "It Crosses My Mind," Dumont’s speaker argues that the existing categories of identification do not adequately convey the complexities of being an urban Métis woman: It crosses my mind to wonder where we fit in this ‘vertical mosaic,’ / this colour colony; the urban pariah, the displaced and surrendered / to apartment blocks, shopping malls, superstores and giant screens, / are we distinct ‘survivors of white noise,’ or merely hostages / in the enemy camp. . . .

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