The selection from Alice Walker deals with the coming of civil rights and the different attitudes of the old and coming generations. Walker portrays the mother figure as supportive and tough; she fills both the masculine and feminine rolls, “With fists as well as / Hands. ” Images to emphasize the descriptions take up their own lines within the poem “Step,” “Hands,” “Doors,” “Shirts,” “Armies,” “Fields,” “Ditches,” “Desks,” and ending with “Themselves. ” This combination of domestic and military objects emphasizes the women’s self reliance and perseverance.
The military focus emphasizes their struggle through a stereo-typically male role while the domestic objects recall the expected housewifery of the period which one would expect. The hands that both iron and break down doors unify the two themes as being different parts of the same people. The theme of the American Dream echoes here; every parent wants their child to see a future better than their past, “A place for us / How they knew what we / Must know / Without knowing a page / Of it / Themselves. ” The speaker sees her mother as being supportive regarding that which she is unfamiliar with, “Without knowing a page” in the interest of furthering her offspring’s chances of success in the world. The poem is unrhymed and utilizes imagery “fists,” “battered down / Doors,” “Across mined / Fields / Booby-trapped / Ditches / To discover books” of a war to express the difficulties with making progress in an oppressive society.
The fact that the poem exists is a self-supportive testament to the ideals it portrays.Morgan GlinesMarch 3 1997AP English