How I Learn to Sweep

Good Essays
My mother never taught me sweeping… is the opening line in Julia Alvarez's poem and the one that stand out most in my mind. In the opening line Alvarez use powerful word such as Mother, Never and Sweeping to engage the reader and control the sway or sweeping motion of the poem. The word Sweeping stand out the most, because to sweep means to clean out at dirty place, to rid one's self of dust. The poem gives the imagery that the Alvarez is ridding herself of dirty. The sweeping motion continues throughout the poem is lines such as propellers swept like weed under Sea, I step and swept, and, I got up and swept again. The Poet's use of nature is also very interesting, representing nature in the form of innocence being corrupted.

The first line of the poem tells us that the poet never learned to sweep. It also suggests that the poet is a child, because of the tone the mother is using with her. Children are innocent, but are sometimes exposed to things they should not be, such as violence, sexual content and crime. The medium for such exposure to children is unsupervised television. At an early age children are not taught how to deal with such imagery. (Especial in the Time period Alvarez Grew up.) Hence the line "My mother never taught me to sweeping". Such exposure usually robs children of their innocence. It is usually left up to children to make decision about imagery they see at a young age. Each child is different so, the individual child will make different decision about what to do with the images they see on television. Some children may emulate what they see on television, while other may block it out all to together. How children deal with such negative images influences how they will deal with life. Exposure to death and violence at such an early age can be very traumatic for children. Parents act as the buffer between the children and the images they are exposure to. One of the roles of parents is to make sure that children are not expose to, too

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    The literal interpretation of this poem is a little girl who uses her finger to write her name in thick layers of dust, and her mother comes along and dusted her signature away. However, I think the figurative meaning is as a young woman who wanted to be an author she made a point to get her opinion on paper whenever she could, in attempt to try to make her mark on the world. However, her mother discouraged her dream. Her mother did not strive for individuality as Alvarez did. Instead, she spent her life trying to maintain a clean appearance, wiping away all signs of…

    • 448 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Signatures and Apples

    • 777 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Alvarez uses personification and hyberbole to describe the mother’s cleaning. The speaker saw “[m]y name was swallowed in the towel . . .” (line 13), expressing the way her mom wiped away her name with the dust-cloth. This example of personification reveals how the speaker feels threatened with a loss of significance. Her mom cleaning and wiping away her name seems to take away the unique individual she is. The towel being capable of swallowing makes it seem hungry to devour her identity. Another description involves hyperbole: “[T]he pine grew luminous” (16) exaggerates the way the furniture shines after being dusted. It also exaggerates the mother’s extent of cleaning. Cleaning becomes the mother’s identity in the poem. As she wipes away her daughter’s attempts to use dust in a creative way, she is staying true to who she is. The mother has accepted that her role of simply contributing to the beauty of the pine furniture is the proper one.…

    • 777 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the poem, there are many phrases that play on imagery to convey a sense of culture and family. One phrase from the very beginning writes, “I am from clothespins, from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.” (1-2). Firstly, these are all things that most families traditionally have within their homes. Also, Clorox gives the idea of strong-smelling, making it memorable and able to connect back to family. In the first stanza, she writes, “I am from the dirt under the black porch. Black, glistening, it tasted like beets.” (3-5). This gives the author a chance to connect with a more down-home style of family and way of life. Also in the first stanza might be one of the more powerful uses of…

    • 411 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Communication What?

    • 1411 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Without inspiration, any type of art would just be nothing but a small showing of skill without its individual story. Amy Tan once said, "The goal of every serious writer of literature is to try to find your voice and your art because it comes from your own experiences, your own pain." Amy Tan herself writes all of her work with her mother in mind as the reader. Her mother is her inspiration. In "Mother Tongue," Amy Tan talk about all of the Englishes she was raised with. These include normal English and her "mother tongue" English, the way she spoke to her family, which shaped her first outlook of life. Along the essay, Tan sends a strong message of how we ought to view people by their individual and beautiful side, not by their shortcomings. A quote in Munoz’ story that relates is, “ Spanish was and still is viewed with suspicion: Always the language of the vilified illegal immigrant, it segregated schoolchildren into English-only and bilingual programs; it defined you, above all else, as part of a lower class.”(72) It is sad that in our society today things like this happen, that we still judge people by their skin color or the language they speak, or even by their name. This relates back into Amy Tans’ story also, on how certain people are denied some rights because their language is not up to our standards. For example,…

    • 1411 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    From the minute I read the title of today's poem, I knew I was going to enjoy it. I chose this poem because the title reminded me of a very familiar childhood movie, The Sandlot; because of this I thought I could interpret it the best out of all of them. This poem is unique in that the title is actually the first two lines of the poem. Right from the start the title says a lot. The title is very direct in the way it leads into the poem. Readers don’t have to guess what this poem is going to be about. Also, almost everyone that has lived in some kind of neighborhood can relate to it. Anyone that has had a mean neighbor can in some way share this type of experience. Or maybe it’s just a memory of that one house everyone knew you cannot go around or into; parents are always telling their children to stay away. The image that almost immediately popped into my head was The Sandlot.…

    • 506 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In some ways she really is like Cinderella because she had been wealthy until her father died and now she was a servant. It makes sense that she didn’t know how to sweep. I think most people can relate to feeling embarrassed by not knowing something. I was happy when Miguel teaches her how to sweep. I makes me think that they are going to end up together in the end. When Miguel was not able to get a job because he was Mexican it made me feel angry. It is hard to read stories about prejudice. Even though there are laws against prejudice, I think that it maybe that this is not very different then it is…

    • 660 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Connecting the snoring, the rain and Mama’s hair is to give the scene a calming and cozy atmosphere. This section of “Hair” compares all the safe and comforting things in Esperanza’s life to convey that when she experiences them it makes her feel secure. This is similar to a security blanket that children have as a baby, they hold them to feel safe when their parents are not close or all the time. Esperanza expressing that her mother’s hair comforts her, shows how close she is to her mother because just looking at her hair makes her feel safe. However, this was not the case for many children in Esperanza’s position, numerous parents would have financial and marriage problems at the least and when the stress would build up, they would take it out on their children. Many children needed something like Esperanza’s mother’s hair so that they would feel safe without looking for another more harmful way to distract themselves from the pressure of their daily lives. Furthermore, Esperanza was extremely fortunate because her parents loved her and was for the most part safe at home. The effect of linking Esperanza’s father’s snoring, the rain and her mama’s hair on the audience was to create a soothing ambience and take a break working about growing up and the dangers in that process. This chapter was the most serene chapter so far in the book because she is talking about peaceful things in her life. On the contrary, the other chapters (so far) have been discussing growing up and the pressures of developing into a woman/adult. The author wanted to discuss these pleasures to take a break from her troubles so that the story would not become dark. In conclusion, the author wrote the book like how Esperanza lived and thought, she was constantly reminded of the troubles of maturing, but had reminders, like her mother’s hair, that would ease her stress and remind her it was…

    • 328 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The poem itself is discussing a man's journey from birth to death and how all around him life is interpreted by material possessions. At the beginning of the first stanza, the sentences have been made very short and simple, as if to demonstrate the thoughts of a new born child. The first voice that the baby hears when he is born is Bobby Dazzler, one of Australia's first game shows. The very first thing that the baby hears is not the voice of his mother, nor the voice of his father, but the voice of materialism. This first stanza instantly creates the feeling of a home in the 1950s, where television was something new. The ellipsis that connects the first and second stanzas demonstrates a change in time, in this case, a change of a couple of years.…

    • 1438 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    House On Mango Street

    • 749 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Esperanza’s great-grandmother “looked out the window her whole life, the way so many sit their sadness on an elbow” (Cisneros 11) and Rafaela—her neighbor—“gets locked indoors because her husband is afraid Rafaela will run away since she is too beautiful to look at” (Cisneros 79). Themes of spousal abuse arise as the home becomes a “prison…guarded first by domineering fathers, and second by domineering husbands” (Pagán). Esperanza does not experience this imprisonment herself, but vows to get “[A] house all my own…Not a man’s house. Not a daddy’s” (Cisneros 108). This promise comes after Esperanza sees the other female figures in her life being oppressed, particularly Sally—a classmate—who “got married…young and not ready…she is happy…expect he won’t let her talk on the telephone. And he doesn’t let her look out the window” (Cisneros 102). Esperanza’s refusal to conform to her cultural belief is a result of the homes being a symbol for imprisonment and…

    • 749 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    My favorite thing that we read was Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out. I also chose this poem because Shel Silverstein is by far my favorite poet. I love Shel Silverstein's poems because they are funny and they always have a secret message or life lesson. I liked this poem because it was funny and makes you think about the trouble you get when you don't do your chores or do what you are told. This poem also makes you think about what might happen when you don't do your chores. This poem teaches kids that responsibility will make their lives easier and better in the future.…

    • 370 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    From lines 7 to 11, the mother, fear of bothering the person sitting in front of them, slapped the child's hands away. With line 9 "hush-up of your questions" the poet is trying to make an analogy, as if "slapping hands away" (8) is what adults usually do. They don't want their children to meddle into other people's business, and in order to do that, we must not reach out to others. "What if reaching out in turn could cause the children pain", is usually what the parents are thinking about. But children are too naïve to think that way. In line 11 "why it doesn't come off" proves this innocence.…

    • 491 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Living in poverty and women being oppressed by men is a common a theme one can see. Esperanza dreams of having a house she can call it home. Women have dreams where they wish they could be something more than just a housewife that is stuck in an endless cycle. Esperanza has a friend who tries to be two things at the same time. Alicia is a woman who has barely started to study at a university. Her mom has died and she is now the one that has to wake up early to do things her mother would do. Her father is not encouraging of Alicia being something other than a woman who has responsibilities at home because that is a woman’s place. Alicia is someone who, “doesn’t want to spend her whole life in a factory or behind a rolling pin...she studies all night..is afraid of nothing except of four-legged fur. And fathers” (31-32). Alicia is a young lady who is determined to continue studying even without the approval of her father because she wants to be more in life than someone with no further education. Complications like acting as a mother, does not stop her from pursuing something she desires even if she is afraid of her father who presumably wants her to quit going to school. Alicia does not want to be overpowered by men that tell women what to do and if having to deal with housewife duties and studying all night to get what she dreams, then she must undertake those…

    • 1136 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The second stanza tells of slamming doors, angry feet, and slamming dishes. This portrays the behavior of a schizophrenic person. It is reckless for no reason. This is a symptom called "catatonia" CITATION Psy14 \l 1033 (Psych Central), which is when the subject moves excessively and has violent behavior. The greasy stains spreading on the cloth is imagery for disease spreading over the body.…

    • 722 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In The 70's Poem Summary

    • 393 Words
    • 2 Pages

    This poem was published in 1978 by Joyce Carol Oates. I chose this poem because it very much speaks about the traditional roles of men and women, specifically towards married men and women. We can use Gender lens to further analyze the poem. In the 70’s, that was the time where women are fighting for their equal rights similar to men. Now if we compare women today from the 70’s, we can really see a very big difference of our roles nowadays. Before, women who are married are expected to just stay at home and men are expected to work, earn and feed the family. The author clearly showcased on her poem what women really feel as a full time mother. It seems nostalgic, but deep inside, there’s no sense of joy and contentment in what they do, “simple,…

    • 393 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The daughter says “She erased my fingerprints/ From the bookshelf and the rocker” (9-10). The fingerprints that the mother is erasing is the daughter’s individuality. Fingerprints are the one thing that allows someone to be an individual, and the mother is erasing the chance of that. The daughter says “My named swallowed in the towel/ With which she jeweled the table tops” (13-14). The mother is literally taking away her name, the one thing that makes her who she is, this is making the daughter feel trapped and restrained. She is unable to express herself, and exclaims “But I refused to with every mark/ To be like her, anonymous” (17-18). These are the most powerful lines in the poem, the daughter is saying to matter how hard her mother tries, and the daughter will still fight to be an individual. Through all the obstacles her mother creates, the daughter is still striving to be herself, and to break out of her mother’s…

    • 770 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays