Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye Analysis

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In Making a Fist, Nye uses powerful imagery to convey the message that one should live life confidently and to the fullest. She uses the image of palm trees swirling past the car window to represent the changes in life and how one should learn from them. The speaker gains more confidence as life goes on and must learn by experience. The image of clenching and opening one small hand emphasizes the idea that the speaker must live life fully. The poem is written in free verse with no rhyme scheme, and the author uses a rebellious tone with the image of making a fist. Overall, Nye’s use of imagery effectively communicates the message of living life to the fullest.

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Examining “Making A Fist”

Nye employs visual imagery to convey the message that living life to the fullest requires confidence. In lines 4-6, Nye describes her experience as a child, stating, “I was seven, I lay in the car/ watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.” Through these powerful images, Nye enables the reader to vividly imagine the captivating sight of palm trees swirling in a nauseating pattern outside the car window. This depiction evokes a scene of the speaker on a road trip, observing her past life fading away while embarking on a new journey. Though she remains physically still, the speaker embraces this moment as an opportunity for personal growth and fully embraces life’s potential.

Nye incorporates different techniques to emphasize the message of gaining confidence and living life to the fullest. Alongside visual imagery, there is also a flashback to childhood where she says, “I was seven.” This serves as a demonstration of the speaker’s growth and development over time. Additionally, Nye describes how “palm trees swirl a sickening pattern” to further illustrate the importance of confidently embracing life. Furthermore, she creates a powerful visual image when she writes, “I who did not die, who am still living…clenching and opening one small hand.” This image symbolizes the speaker’s need to learn and experience life fully.

Despite having many uncertainties about life, the speaker understands the importance of embracing life and its opportunities. The metaphor of clenching and opening one’s hand emphasizes this realization. By mentioning lying in the backseat, the speaker highlights that learning experiences occur throughout life. Additionally, the poet’s rebellious tone is evident through the use of the fist imagery and the poem’s free verse structure without a rhyme scheme. Nye further employs imagery to illustrate the necessity of fully experiencing life.

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Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye Analysis. (2016, Nov 05). Retrieved from

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