Poetry Analysis- Olive Senior Gardening in the Tropics

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Examine Stereotypes of Caribbean masculinity and femininity that Olive Senior seems to be commenting on.

In the section Gardening in the Tropics Senior appears to examine stereotypical notions of Caribbean men and women. Within the title of each poem, Shango: God of Thunder and Yemoja: Mother of Waters, traits of the men and women of the region are echoed, along with reflections upon our African lineage. Shango Orisha in the religion of the Yoruba people is a warrior deity, sky father and represents fire, male sexuality and power. He was once the fourth King of the Oyo people who was deified after death. Shango as King and as a God represent different elements of masculinity. As a King he was a womanizer who had three wives, he ruled over his people and women stringently, he was a fierce warrior, and a ruler who was quick to anger and tantrums. As a God he represents harsh judgments through fire and thunderbolts but is merciful, warning first of actions that are unpleasant to him through his voice (thunder). He also grants gifts of illumination, helping his followers to see the fallacy and reality of their perceptions. Both aspects of Shango as King and God are resounded in Senior’s poem as well as Caribbean reality. Within the poem, Senior speaks of Shango as being a womanizer, sweet mouth and smooth talker. It is said that the girls like him despite knowledge of his three wives. This description applies to Shango during his mortal life, as he was known as a notorious womanizer. It also reflects men within our society. I have personally come into contact with such men in my family circle. These men gather woman as though they are trophies, with each “trophy” knowing its place and being quite aware that it is among many in the womanizer’s trophy case. They are polished with compliments and false promises, and seem to be always competing to gain the womanizer’s sole admiration, doing what he sees fit. This reality is identified in stanza six (6), lines one...
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