May 31, 2011
Close Reading of a Poem
ON THE AMTRAK FROM BOSTON TO NEW YORK CITY: BY SHERMAN ALEXIE On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City is an emotionally provocative poem by the Native American Indian writer, Sherman Alexie. It describes a train journey from Boston to New York City in which an elderly white woman excitedly points out historical sites to her fellow passenger, a younger Native American Indian. The poem demonstrates how narrow minded the American Indian finds the white American culture; for, it does not go beyond any history prior to their coming to America. The white woman is only able to have a limited understanding of her surroundings; however, the Indian’s perspective is far greater and is able to incorporate over 15,000 years of history into his thinking. The poem has a tone of bitterness to it, as we follow the Indian’s thoughts of what he thinks of the white woman’s site seeing antics and how clueless he finds the white American people as a whole. This bitterness lends an undercurrent of sadness to the poem; for, it also displays how the White Americans and Indians seem to live past one another. The poet invokes various forms of imagery and symbolism in order to demonstrate the stark reality of the poem to the reader. The poem is written in blank verse. This means that there is no set rhyme scheme or metre to the poem. The poem is divided into nine stanzas of four lines each and it concludes with one single line stanza. The first nine stanzas with their four lines each, demonstrate the narrow mindedness of the white woman and the thinking of her fellow white Americans; while, the final one line stanza is an attempt by the poet to show that the Native American Indians are both separate and have a broader scope than the white Americans. Yet, the use of the blank verse form by the poet, suggests that there is room for imaginative speculation on the poem....