In the poem “Be Nobody’s Darling,” Alice Walker emphasizes that an individual should think for oneself and to be one’s own person rather than try to conform to societal norms. Walker’s laconic yet assertive writing style, further combined with repetition and extensive imagery, highlights her complex view of her meaning of the word outcast: one who embraces individuality and independence.
Walker’s strong belief in singularity is reflected in the conflicting imagery between the persona of independence and solidarity. For example, “the crowded river beds” of “impetuous fools” represents the people who conform to society. In a more in depth view, the river bed represents the flow the of the bulk of society who elect against individuality, thus have no power over their placement in the future. While on the other hand, the ones who embraces individuality are characterized as having a “merry gathering on the bank where thousands perished” (l .2). The people along the banks have the freedom of life’s decisions, as they can easily walk away from the banks, where as the people in the riverbeds do not have the independence to make decisions for themselves. Moreover, the direct characterization of using the word “merry” contradicts the word “impetuous,” emphasizing the contradictory connotations of the imagery of the river.
Furthermore, Walker asserts that one should embrace one’s individuality and differentness. She boldly notes to the readers to “take the contradictions of life and wrap [them] around like a shawl”(ll. 2-5). Walker makes this comparison to provide the connotation of security and safety that a shawl provides, compelling the readers to not only envelope uniqueness but present it to society as one would wear an article of clothing to reflect one’s personality. Additionally, based of Walker’s blunt tone the reader is able to grasp the full extent of her message: to be one’s true self. The readers are to take her words as figure of wisdom and authority rather than an imperious nature. The repetition of the phrase “be nobody’s darling; be an outcast” (ll. 1-2), invokes the general theme of this poem. She directly states to the reader to be an independent and isolate yourself from the society.
The speaker evokes a variety of emotions, portrayed by the mood, in the readers. Although Walker view of independence is optimistic, she portrays a sadness that comes with the isolation that independence stimulates. She depicts this through her diction of the word “uncool.” The use of the parenthesis around uncool draws attention to the word and communicates to the reader that it is a comment made towards the outcasts of society. The speaker presents to the reader that individuality comes with a price of being seen as uncool or a pariah, which induces a sense sorrow, however this is worth the self pride one can achieve with the knowledge that they are standing up for their own personal beliefs. The poet insights confidence in the readers to overcome the negative aspects of isolation and attain individuality.
Walker displays the conflict between conformity and individuality; communicates to the readers that there can be hardships because of the isolation from being an outcast; one should embrace thinking for oneself. Walker effectively emphasizes this message because she insights an emotional connection with the readers and in which the readers can infer that she has personally experienced the trauma she so eloquently writes about in her poem. In my opinion, this poem is worth reading. Even though “Be Nobody’s Darling” is a concise poem, the poet enlightens the readers of the view of an outcast on society rather than the view society as on the outcast.