Analysis Of Mari Evans 's ' The Maid '

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When In Rome,” by Mari Evans, is an exceptional poem, demonstrating the struggle of African Americans in a white man’s world. The conflict between the two characters Mattie, the maid, and her boss is greatly enhanced by the strategic structure that Evans uses to mold the poem’s composition. This poem may seem to be a regular rhythmic poem, but this is trickery! One should not simply read this as a normal poem, but as an intelligently arranged, artistic one. Though the poem at first glance seems visually pleasing with an almost sing-song, rhythmic cadence, it is truly irregular with deeper analysis. The structure of the poetic dialogue between an elitist master and her oppressed servant exhibits the struggles of the African American community of the pre-desegregation era of the 1900’s. “When in Rome” is clearly structured with dialogue between two personas. The first character speaks freely to her maid, Mattie. Her words are assorted in prose without punctuation. This serves to show she is free to speak her mind. Mattie’s responses are enclosed with parentheses symbolizing the oppression or suppression of her thoughts. This device shows the reader that Mattie is not comfortable expressing herself because of the hierarchy of the relationship. Further, the meter of the poem is not regular. This adds to the portrayal of disconnect between the two characters. At times the poem is iambic, but fails to be consistently so. A reflection of this is that Mattie’s employer

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