An Analysis of Pulled Over in Short Hills by Ross Gay

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Ridha Farooq 
ENWR 106 – 27
Professor Patterson
February 27, 2014
Essay 2, Draft 3
Analysis of “Pulled Over in Short Hills, NJ, 8:00 AM”
“Pulled Over in Short Hills, NJ, 8:00 AM” is a short poem from Against Which by Ross Gay. The poems literal meaning is quite straight forward, taking the reader on a trip to experience the situation through the eyes of the narrator, who had been pulled over early in the morning by an intimidating police officer. The narrator could either be a man or a woman in this case because it was not specified throughout the poem. The poem vividly describes 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 often associated with anger and heat. For the narrator’s rage to be growing as warm as not a single red ant, but an army, shows the severity of their rage. The narrator’s blood was beginning to boil from answering the police officers questions.

Ross Gay spoke about the narrator’s body shaking with incredible imagery. When I read it, I felt as if I could relate perfectly to what the speaker was experiencing. Although our fears were different, I 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 news about one of my really close friends. I experienced the same shaking sensation like never before. As naïve as I am, I simply thought I was cold, so I 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“…the 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 I’ve experienced it before, I knew exactly how the narrator had felt. It felt as if the greatest of anxiety took over the narrator’s 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 symbol 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 taken 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 narrator’s 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...
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