Close Reading of a Poem

1264 words 6 pages
Close Reading of a Poem
Maria Clinton
ENG 125
May 31, 2011
Tiffany Griffin-Minor

Close Reading of a Poem
ON THE AMTRAK FROM BOSTON TO NEW YORK CITY: BY SHERMAN ALEXIE
On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City is an emotionally provocative poem by the Native American Indian writer, Sherman Alexie. It describes a train journey from Boston to New York City in which an elderly white woman excitedly points out historical sites to her fellow passenger, a younger Native American Indian. The poem demonstrates how narrow minded the American Indian finds the white American culture; for, it does not go beyond any history prior to their coming to America. The white woman is only able to have a limited understanding of her surroundings;
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In stanza six and seven, the Indian continues to ruminate on Walden Pond and he is angered and embittered when thinking about Don Henley campaigning for Walden Pond not to be exploited and for the surrounding area to be preserved. The Indian states vehemently that “If Don Henley's brothers and sisters and mothers and father hadn't come here in the first place then nothing would need to be saved.” This outburst by the Indian shows how the Indians saw the coming of the white people to America, they believe that they destroyed the land and its natural beauty through their drive to construct and make business opportunities out of everything. This leads the reader to imagine what the land must have been before the coming of the white people.
Although, the Indian is angered and embittered by what he is thinking he remains curious and calm on the outside. He says that, “I respect elders of every color”, once again displaying his cultural heritage. The reader also gets the feel that the Indian is subtly pointing to the white American people who do not have such a strenuous belief system in place and whose youth often act disrespectful towards their elders. The Indian brings the white woman “an orange juice”; while, drinking a diet Pepsi himself. The orange juice is a symbolism which indicates that the Native American Indians have provided the white Americans with a way to preserve and look

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