'A Black Man Talks of Reaping': Figure of Speech, Irony and Characterization

Good Essays
A Black Man Talks of Reaping

Figure of Speech
In Arna Bontemps’ poem, “A Black Man Talks of Reaping”, he uses many figures of speech like metaphor, personification, overstatement and synecdoche.
Metaphor is the tool Bontemps uses in his poem. For instance, “Wind or fowl” (line 3) metaphorically refers to white race who are every where and can take the profit of African American race away like a wind blows grains away or like a bird intends to steal seeds of a farmer by pecking them away. Therefore, “the grain” (line 3) represents the speaker’s benefit that he gets from his hard work and effort, as the same as the word “reaping” in line 7. The “seed” (line 6) means his hard work to improve black people’s life. He dedicates so much like he scatters seed throughout the land with the hope of its bountiful output: the better life of the blacks. This has a similar meaning to the word “orchard” (line 9) in the last stanza. “Bitter fruits” (line 12) refers to what his children get from those seed he has planted: worthless outcome the future generation gets as a result of his dedicating work. It is the rancor like what he has got for all his life. As a whole poem, he compares the plantation of black slaves to their bitterness they face due to the white people.
There are other kinds of figures of speech. For example, a personification in line 3: “That wind or fowl would take the grain away”. “From Canada to Mexico” in line 6 is an overstatement showing how much dedication he has for his work to improve the African American life. And in line 7, Bontemps uses “the hand” as a synecdoche to represent not only the speaker but also all black slaves in America who experience the bitterness of being taken advantage by white race despite their hard work. Irony The irony in this poem is a situational irony describing the unbalance between the effort the African American people have made and the gain that they get back. Bontemps compares the bitterness of black people’s

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    a black man talks of reaping I have sown beside all waters in my day. I planted deep, within my heart the fear that wind or fowl would take the grain away. I planted safe against this stark, lean year. I scattered seed enough to plant the land in rows from Canada to Mexico but for my reaping only what the hand can hold at once is all that I can show. Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields my brother's sons are gathering stalk and root; small wonder then my children glean in…

    • 569 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    simple. Arna Bontemps’s “A Black Man Talks of Reaping” creates a searing picture of not reaping what you sowed by alluding to the times of slavery through metaphor, imagery and diction. While Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “A Negro Love Song” paints a delightful image of a man and woman in love with its trochaic rhythm. It shares the use of imagery and diction with “Reaping” but it also uses tone. To begin with the theme of Bontemps’s “A Black Man Talks of Reaping” is not about reaping what you have sowed.…

    • 906 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    conditions were very harsh. The Analyzing of two different poems A Black Man Talks of Reaping by Arna Bontemps and A Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes helps us better understand the difficulties in Harlem during the 19th century. The comparison of the similarities and differences between both creates a solid and experienced idea for the reader to understand. The fact that in one poem the author ‘speaks’ and the other one the author ‘talks’ can prove different experiences that these authors have lived…

    • 600 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Figures of Speech

    • 1196 Words
    • 5 Pages

    FIGURE OF SPEECH : A mode of expression in which words are used out of their literal meaning or out of their ordinary use in order to add beauty or emotional intensity or to transfer the poet's sense impressions by comparing or identifying one thing with another that has a meaning familiar to the reader. Some important figures of speech are: simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole and symbol. Adjunction: Adjunction refers to a clause or a phrase, usually a verb, that is added at the beginning…

    • 1196 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    FIGURES OF SPEECH

    • 1048 Words
    • 12 Pages

    FIGURES OF SPEECH 05/04/2010 AcademicWritingSkills FIGURES OF SPEECH A figure of speech is a rhetorical device that achieves a special effect by using words in distinctive ways. ways 05/04/2010 AcademicWritingSkills FIGURES OF SPEECH y y A figure of speech is a use of a word that h diverges d f from its normall meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning n t based not b s d on n the th literal lit l meaning m nin of f the th words in it such as a metaphor, simile, or personification…

    • 1048 Words
    • 12 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Figures of Speech

    • 1232 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Figures of Speech Resemblance A. Simile - A simile is a figure of speech that directly compares two different things, usually by employing the words "like" or "as". 1) They fought like cats and dogs. 2) She is as thin as a toothpick. 3) Geoff is handsome as a prince. B. Metaphor - A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." 1) Life…

    • 1232 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Figure of Speech

    • 2215 Words
    • 9 Pages

    List of Figures Of Speech Personification Personification is all about adding a human trait to an inanimate object or an abstraction. For example: The picture in that magazine shouted for attention. Simile A simile is a figure of speech that compares two unrelated things or ideas using "like" or "as" to accentuate a certain feature of an object by comparing it to a dissimilar object that is a typical example of that particular trait. For example: as big as a bus, as clear as a bell, as dry as…

    • 2215 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Figure of Speech

    • 2890 Words
    • 12 Pages

    Figure of speech From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Figures of speech" redirects here. For the hip hop group, see Figures of Speech. A figure of speech is the use of a word or words diverging from its usual meaning. It can also be a special repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words in it, as in idiom, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, or personification. Figures of speech often provide…

    • 2890 Words
    • 12 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Figure of Speech

    • 1064 Words
    • 5 Pages

    1. Alliteration The repetition of an initial consonant sound. is a term that describes a literary stylistic device. Alliteration occurs when a series of words in a row (or close to a row) have the same first consonant sound. For example, “She sells sea-shells down by the sea-short” or “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers” are both alliterative phrases. In the former, all the words start with the “s” sound, while in the later, the “p’s” take precedence. Aside from tongue twisters, alliteration…

    • 1064 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Figure of Speech

    • 1155 Words
    • 5 Pages

    FIGURES OF SPEECH Idioms or figures of speech are combinations of words whose meaning cannot be determined by examination of the meanings of the words that make it up. Or, to put it another way, an idiom uses a number of words to represent a single object, person or concept. Unless you recognise when an idiom is being used you can easily misunderstand the meaning of a text. An idiom is a figure of speech that is used to help express a situation with ease, but by using expressions that are usually…

    • 1155 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays