Lit. & Comp.
“Nighttime Fires” pg. 587
“Nighttime Fires” is a narrative poem written by Regina Barreca. The poet uses powerful imagery which vividly illustrates the lasting impression made upon a girl whose father seeks satisfaction through witnessing the destruction caused by nighttime fires. The poem creates a picture in the reader’s mind of the father’s character as his grown child still remembers from when she was five years old. Although it is obvious that the father is a victim of an economy that caused him to be without a job, his actions are bizarre and inexcusable. The father takes his family to see fires during the night when they are asleep. He drags his wife and his children out of bed so that he can satisfy his lust for vengeance. The speaker says that all seven children were piled into the car with running noses and wearing only their pajamas. This creates an image of children being ready for sleep, not for night journeys. According to the narrator, this odd behavior started when her father lost his job and had a lot of spare time. During that time, he would wake up late, just “read old newspapers” and “tried crosswords until he split the pencil between his teeth, mad” This image portrays the father filled with anger and frustration. As soon, as the father hears the “wolf whine” of a siren, he wakes his wife up and makes her get their seven children ready to go. The author chooses perfect words to describe the sound of siren. The “wolf whine” creates a picture of a wolf howling to the moon before going hunting. The father is also going on a hunt, tracking the fire engine to capture his prey which gives him a revengeful sense of pleasure. The narrator compares the chase after the fire engines to a carnival. When they follow the fire engines, they “snaked like dragons” and “split the silent street.” This word choice gives the impression of fire engines being sneaky and loud. “It was festival, carnival.” The...
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