Explication of James Wright's
"Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio"
The poem's title seems to depict a harvest scene with foliage falling from the trees, the end of summer, preparation for winter, Autumn Begins. But this seasonal change in nature's life cycle occurs metaphorically in Martins Ferry, Ohio, Wright's hometown, which already gives an introduction in itself to the changes, which occur there. The feelings and emotions which affected him. He was born In Martins Ferry, Ohio on December 13, 1927. His father worked at a glass factory; his mother at a laundry. Both parents did not attend high school; jobs must have been extremely scarce for the couple to acquire. (qtd. in website). "Pollack's nursing long beers in Tiltonsville" is used to describe the unemployed. Pollack labels a native or descendant of Poland which seems to denote these people. Their lack of employment is made clear in the following lines of the poem when two other stereotypes are introduced with their occupations mentioned. This is the first clue to the underlying idea that this poem concerns life during the Great Depression. Throughout the Great Depression it was difficult for anyone to find a job, let alone a job with security. The Negroes, with their gray faces symbolize the tough and sordid laborers in the blast furnace. The "ruptured night watchmen" indicates hostility in their lives. Their occupation isn't gratifying. The idea occurs and reoccurs to them that, presently, they have jobs, a duty in life. The jobs are kept even though all the recollections specify a life without satisfaction or pride. The definition of ruptured from Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Edition indicates their breach of peace and their openness to hostility. The Pollack's drink to escape their worries. The long beers indicating the idea that their worries are always present and never ending because they nurse the beer. Desire to escape life's strife. They strive towards...
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