A Difficult Decision

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Katana Misa
Mr. Baits
AP English
8 April, 2013
A Difficult Decision
In Richard Wilbur’s poem “A Barred Owl” and the poem “The History Teacher” by Billy Collins, both describe adults attempt to protect children from fears that are known and unknown to them, sugar-coating real life events that could harm the children’s innocence. An elementary school teacher in “The History Teacher” tries to shelter his students from what he thinks would affect the children’s view on the world while parents in “A Barred Owl” assure their “wakened child” that the “boom of an owl’s voice” are simple questions from a curious “forest bird”. Both writers convey that grown-ups who try to preserve the innocence of children only delay the inevitable. Richard Wilbur depicts a common situation of a frightened child in the dark of the night seeking guidance from mom and dad. The writer distinguishes the mood and setting with lines such as, “The warping night air,” or, “darkened room.” Wilbur uses these lines to help the reader understand the mood of the poem by using certain diction to portray the fear that is present within this child’s bedroom. The meaning of each line is enhanced due to the author writing in an AABB rhyming pattern; emphasizing the significance of each rhyme such as the lines, “The warping night air having brought the boom of an owl’s voice into her darkened room” or, “Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear, can also thus domesticate a fear” and even, “Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.” By Richard Wilbur displaying a simple situation of a scared child, he displays the actions parents take in order to ease and comfort a child to not only preserve their innocence but to also take away any fear a child has while dealing with this type of situation and many others. In the poem, “A History Teacher” by Billy Collins, the writer illustrates a casual classroom full of ignorant children being educated by their...
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