"Hope" and "Ballad of Birmingham" Comparison

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Erik Estrada
Professor Morean
English 113 SU10 B Term
11 August 2010
Children Remembered
The poems “Hope” by Ariel Dorfman and “Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall display a theme relating to the tremendous love a parent displays for their children and the terrible feeling they experience when they sense their child is in grave danger. In “Hope” the narrator describes the son “missing / since May 8 / of last year” (766). In “Ballad of Birmingham” it describes the story of a mother giving her daughter permission to go to a place where she thinks is safe and in the end, dies in a church bombing that is racially motivated. There are many similarities in both these poems but the one that is clearly present is the grief of a parent when they sense their child is in danger. The authors of both poems are describing real life situations that have taken place in different societies. The grief that the author portrays by the parents is very much real and parents in similar situations can relate.

“Hope” begins by stating how long the boy has been missing. The author writes “After the car left / the car with no license plate / we couldn’t / find out / anything else” (766). In that line the parent describes vivid details about the day their son went missing. This indicates to the reader that the parent(s) has not forgotten that day, which would account for the tremendous love the parent felt as described above. “Ballad of Birmingham” begins with the child at home with her mother. The tremendous love mentioned herein is displayed by the mother and her unwillingness to allow her child to downtown due to the violence. The author writes “No, baby, no, you may not go / for the dogs are fierce and wild / and clubs and hoses, guns and jails / aren’t good for a little child” (769). The mother is being proactive, thus not in a state of panic or worry at this point.

Since “Hope” begins with the son already missing the reader does...
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