William Carlos Williams Themes

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Taylor Nalley
English 1003-17
Professor Newman

“Option 4: The Firetruck and the Wheelbarrow”
William Carlos Williams has a tendency to hyperbolize and glorify objects in order to demonstrate their importance to the functioning of human society. This is done to the effect of creating “unsung heroes” out of everyday objects and encourages the reader to understand the value of little things in all situations. Interestingly, he does all of this without personifying his subjects. In “The Great Figure”, Williams describes a fire truck rushing down an urban street in the rain to put out a fire. In “Red Wheelbarrow”, Williams fondly describes how “so much depends/upon/a red wheel/barrow” (Williams). Since both poems are quite brief, one must not only look at the words being used, but the poetic structure itself to find the meanings both works have in common.

“Red Wheelbarrow” plainly states that very much of the way life works in a rural area depends upon the wheelbarrow. Though it is only sixteen words long, the way that the poem is written forces the reader to focus on every single word and its significance to the poem. Its structure, in which every stanza contains a line with three words, and then a single two-syllable word, creates a very unhurried, deliberate flow, stressing the last word of every stanza. This presentation is reminiscent of the slow pace at which things in the country move in a positive manner, because the slow pace allows one to really focus and understand the importance of certain things. It also highlights the simplicity of a rural way of life, where because there is less going on, the duties of keeping a sense of order within one’s environment can rest upon a single object. The wheelbarrow, while seemingly mundane, has stood the test of time and has proven that it carries much of the burden of the rural way of life. In “The Great Figure”, Williams describes a fire truck as it rushes down the street to presumably put out a fire...
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