The poem vividly escribes his/her fears and the impact that the presence of the police officer has. Gay does not spend much time on the setting because that is completely the title’s purpose in this case. Since the title tells the reader of the time, town, and state, there is no reason for Gay to describe it in his short poem. The author uses different poetic devices throughout the poem. He has three different similes in the seventeen line poem. ‘When rages grows hot as an army of red ants” (1-2) is the first poetic device I encountered when I was reading.
Red ants are often generalized to be hurtful and the color red is ften associated with anger and heat. For the narrators rage to be growing as warm as not a single red ant, but an army, shows the severity of their rage. The narrators blood was beginning to boil from answering the police officers questions. Ross Gay spoke about the narrator’s body shaking with incredible imagery. When read it, I felt as if I could relate perfectly to what the speaker was experiencing.
Although our fears were different, can inform you that in the past I have encountered the same shaking as the On September 24th, 2013, I received a phone call to wake me up from my nap, to receive horrific ews about one of my really close friends. I experienced the same shaking sensation like never before. As naive as am, I simply thought I was cold, so layered up and went back out to be with the group of common friends that we shared and to be with his family. When walking, I began to sweat from all the layers I was wearing. Gay wrote”… he quakes emerge, sometimes just the knees, but, at worst, through the hips, chest, neck, until, like a virus, slipping inside the lungs and pulse… ” (2-7) and since Ive experienced it before, I knew exactly how the narrator had felt. It felt as if the greatest of nxiety took over the narrators body and I could relate to just that. The shaking towards the end Of the poem could also be seen as personification by Gay, where instead of the body shaking, the shaking was traveling through the body. Gay says “… before the shiver catches my hands, and he sees” (15-16).
By giving the shaking the human quality of catching the narrators hands, it is another literary technique, personification. Another one of the main devices used is symbolism. The fear caused by the police officer could have symbolized a number of different things. It could be a ymbol for how the government and law officials hold a great deal of power over the civilian’s heads. Many people argue their rights to keep guns in their possession because they do not feel as if only the government and law officials should hold powerful weapons such as pistols and so on.
After several horrific shootings over the years at schools, movie theaters, college campuses and countless other places, many people believed it would be better for citizens not to be able to carry guns to “protect” themselves. The fear felt by the narrator could be because they once owned a gun, and it was aken away from them and now only the law enforcers holding the weapons, making the protagonist anxious. Or maybe the fear is a symbol of the narrators conscious that actually did something so horrible, at one point or another, and lives with the guilt and fear on a daily basis.
Their crime could have been minor in retrospect to other crimes like shoplifting or rolling through a stop sign and feels as if thats why he is being pulled over. The way the narrator reacted could be seen as his consciousness. If the narrator was a woman, she could be scared due to her insecurities of a man having not nly physical power over her, but also having the law on his side. A female narrator saying “l imagine things don’t want to and inside beg this to end before the shier catches my hands, and he sees, and something happens” (12-17), would be given more attention compared to a man saying the same thing.
If the narrator was a man, it would seem odd for the narrator to be so afraid of a police officer unless they were hiding something, running from something or simply were terrified of the government. Some people watch many drama television shows like Law and Order: SVLJ, Dexter, and Breaking Bad. Maybe, the male narrator was just letting his imagination run wild after being consumed from these dramatic shows. The author chooses to not specify whether it was a male or female narrator speaking of the officer.
By not choosing the gender of the narrator, Gay left the door open for the reader to decide and by that creating a deeper meaning to the plot of the poem. Although this is a short poem, there are so many different meanings that can come from the piece. With different literary poetic devices such as similes, imagery, and symbolism different people take away different things from the poem. One of my classmates saw it as an xtended metaphor after searching for a deeper connection with the author. After some research on the author, we came to learn that the author was half white and half black.
If we assume that his physical appearance was more black than white, this entire poem could turn into a matter Of racial iSSUe. The police officer could have been racially profiling and pulling the driver over simply because they were dark skinned and not having further reasoning behind it. However, I believe the meaning is a little simpler than that. The poem is either a woman afraid of a man how has a great deal of power over er or a man that has a great deal of guilt after doing something wrong.
There are countless stories of women being taken advantage of and this could have been another version of one from Ross’s past or one from his imagination. The way that the driver had reacted to the police officer pulling them over did not seem odd to me at all. Even if there was not a deeper meaning, would have reacted the same way and I know from experience that other people would react very similarly. Some people are not afraid of the police officer but the results of what’s about to happen. If I were to get a icket for speeding or being pulled over in general, my parents would never let me hear the end of it.
I’ve been in the car with my mother when she got pulled over and she went into a full on panicking state before the police officer even made his way to her window. Although it was her first time being pulled over, she got so anxious and worried in a very short amount of time. Whether it was a man or a woman, in both cases, the narrator could just be afraid Of the government and lavv enforcers having the access to information that they could use wrongfully against them, and weapons that could harm hem, as well as the connections to cover their tracks if they were incredibly corrupt.
There have always been stories of cops gone wrong. Recently there were these stories all over the news of an innocent 1 7 year old being gunned down by a white police officer. When he was walking through a gated community and was going to buy some snacks, he was shot and killed. There have been several incidents like this in the past. People wrongfully killed for no reason at all. This could be another source of the fear felt by the narrator. Since Gay could racially be categorized as African American, the author could e a part of himself, if he lives with this fear of being wrongfully accused.
It is not common knowledge to know that America has a past involving segregation and racism. The way history is taught in schools is so that the harsh reality was downplayed and made to seem better than it was. African Americans were beat, and held at such a low level of class compared to the rest of the citizens of the country. Racism was built into society and some people might feel as if that racism has never died down. When traveled to the South, it was evident the difference of views on different topics. Currently, here are still huge differences between the views of the different states.
For example, the gun control issue in Texas compared to New York. In Texas, it is very common for people to own guns but if someone in New York City had a gun like they did in Texas, they would get into serious trouble. Another issue that is obviously different is the view of African Americans. Although it should be common for everyone to live together in harmony, like we all believe and assume we do, that would only be in an ideal world. There are still high schools to this day that although, the graduating class ill be integrated, and the classes themselves are segregated.
In Georgia, there was only their first integrated prom in 2013. There were reports of it all over the news, as if it was a huge deal because of the integrated prom that seems so normal to people in New Jersey. Regardless of the life believed to be lived by people are over the world, there is always corruption that has yet to be proven wrong, and righted. The driver could have been an African American from the south that was making his way somewhere in the North when he was pulled over by the police. He could have not realized that the olice from the North have different views from the South.