Analysis: "Ballad of Birmingham"
In "Ballad of Birmingham," Dudley Randall illustrates a conflict between a child who wishes to march for civil rights and a mother who wishes only to protect her child. Much of this poem is read as dialogue between a mother and a child, a style which gives it an intimate tone and provides insight to the feelings of the characters. Throughout the poem the child is eager to go into Birmingham and march for freedom with the people there. The mother, on the other hand, is very adamant that the child should not go because it is dangerous. It is obvious that the child is concerned about the events surrounding the march and wants to be part of the movement. The child expresses these feelings in a way the appears mature and cognizant of the surrounding world, expressing a desire to support the civil rights movement rather than to "go out and play." The desire to no longer be seen as a child and have her voice heard by those being marched against and by her mother (who can also be seen as an oppressive form of authority in this poem) is expressed by the first few lines. The opinion of the child is much like that of all young people who want to fight for their freedom. The mother, however, refuses to acknowledge the child as anything but a child is a major conflict in this poem. Because she refers to her as "child" and calls her "baby," it is clear that the mother does not take the child's pleas seriously. The mother is certain that she knows what is best for her child and that the child's feelings and ideas are unimportant. The way that she brushes off the child's request with a statement of how the march is not "good for a little child" shows the mother's inability to see her daughter's desire to go march as anything more than a childish fancy. The mother's attitude toward the march is an unreasonable fear for her child's safety, a state of mind that alludes to her detachment from the events and opinions that fuel the march....
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