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Hanging Fire Essay

1156 words - 5 pages

Self-centered Teen or Thought-invoking Speaker : "Hanging Fire" by Audre Lorde The speaker in Audre Lord's poem "Hanging Fire" is extremely self-centered. Does this limit the poem's ability to say anything of general value? A simple read of "Hanging Fire" by Audre Lorde might lead one to conclude that there is no real value in this self-centered poem. However, upon critical analysis, one can obtain valuable insights from the poem. The 14-year-old speaker deals with major issues that plague the adolescent generation such as peer acceptance, race and gender inequality, sexuality, death and communication with parents. In the following paragraphs, I will demonstrate the ...view middle of the document...

Another line in the poem states that "I should have been on the math team/ My marks were better than his". The use of this incident is very creative because it deals with two issues: racial inequality and gender inequality. The speaker feels the unfairness of discrimination because she believes the spot on the math team should have been for her but, instead, was rewarded to the boy due to her gender and the color of her skin. This line provides the reader with an example of the oppression and hardships the speaker is suffering as a black girl in school. The speaker later states in the poem, "There is nothing I want to do/ And too much/ That has to be done". She recognizes that it will be hard to step forward and join the fight to have society accept equality. In fact, at times the speaker feels the task is too hard and that she does not want to try at all. Her adolescent desire to be accepted in society without ridicule further impedes her efforts to overcome the oppression.The third issue in the poem is sexuality. In the third line, the speaker states "The boy I cannot live without /Still sucks his thumb / In secret". It is here that she tells the reader that she is not comfortable expressing her different views about her sexuality. The "boy I cannot live without" refers to the boy inside her and the reader sees that the speaker is aware that her feelings, emotions, and preference to the female sex must remain a secret for fear of scrutiny and non-acceptance. The secret thumb-sucking may refer to her insecurities of being gay. The speaker feels compelled to live a lie to avoid further shunning by her peers and society. The statement in the poem "Suppose I die before graduation/ They will sing sad melodies/ But finally/ Tell the truth about me" describes the unveiling of the truth of the speaker's secret life upon her death and so reinforces the fact that she is not ready to publicly acknowledge her sexuality.Another topic in the poem is the communication problem between the speaker and her mother. Each of three stanzas ends with the same two lines: "And momma's in the bedroom/ With...

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