A Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday Analysis

Strange fruit

Strange fruit is a song/poem by Billie Holiday which talks about the lynching mob. We have read it and heard it and this is my response to it, which includes how the imagery is explained, the message of the poem, how successfuly the point has been made and the differences between the poem and the song.

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The poem describes a gory image, Negroes hung from trees by the lynching mob. This scene is a horrible one to make into a poem, and writing techniques are used to make it even more horrible. Juxtaposition is one of the main ones. An example of juxtaposition in the poem would be;

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

By using juxtaposition, details of the scene stand out. The first couplet is also ironic, the first line telling about a `pastoral´, happy scene of the `brave south´, and the second line telling us about mangled body parts.

Another technique used in the poem is repetition. Here is an example of it in the poem;

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to rot.

Repetition is effective here because it makes the words seem like a chant about what will happen to the hanged Negroes, in which ways they ill be affected by the elements as if they were fruits. It makes it all seem creepier.


The message this poem is trying to convey is about the cruelty of humans, with the lynching mobs and the Ku Klux Klan. It tells us about human intolerance towards different people, of our prejudices, as if slavery hadn´t ended and we stil thought of black people as good only for work and serving people, like animals. It tells us about the way humans treat things they fear or don´t understand, controlling them and keeping them chained. It also makes us think about how we behave towards other people, and gives us hope because things have changed.

How succesfully the point has been made

The message is clear throughout the whole poem, keeping us thinking all the way about it and about the awfulness of the actions commited at the same time. The tecniques used while writing like personification, juxtaposition, repetition, rhyming couplets or alliteration make the point stand out clearly, and makes the poem creepy and horrible, which just makes us think more about how horrible it is what was done back in the times of the Ku Klux Klan, so I think the point has been made quiet clearly.

Differences with the song

The song by Billie Holiday makes us think differently about the poem. It is very personal, as if Billie Holiday had experienced the effects of the lynching mob second hand. It´s also very sad, and makes the lyrics even creepier, more real and sinister if possible. It´s interesting how, instead of making the more gory parts louder and more obvious she says them softly and quietly, as if she were telling you a secret.

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A Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday Analysis. (2017, Feb 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-strange-fruit/