Close Reading of a Poem Essay

1280 Words Dec 7th, 2011 6 Pages
Close Reading of a Poem
Maria Clinton
ENG 125
May 31, 2011
Tiffany Griffin-Minor

Close Reading of a Poem
ON THE AMTRAK FROM BOSTON TO NEW YORK CITY: BY SHERMAN ALEXIE
On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City is an emotionally provocative poem by the Native American Indian writer, Sherman Alexie. It describes a train journey from Boston to New York City in which an elderly white woman excitedly points out historical sites to her fellow passenger, a younger Native American Indian. The poem demonstrates how narrow minded the American Indian finds the white American culture; for, it does not go beyond any history prior to their coming to America. The white woman is only able to have a limited understanding of her surroundings;
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These immediate images provoke other images in the Indian’s mind; these images are far more spectacular than those immediate images pointed out by the white woman. The two hundred year old house on the hill is linked in the Indian’s mind to the structures of his tribal ancestors which he describes in stanza three as “whose architecture is 15,000 years older”.
The mention of “Walden Pond” in stanza three by the white woman is linked in the Indian’s mind to “there are five Walden Ponds on my little reservation out West and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane,” in stanza four. These larger images once again demonstrate the incapability of the white Americans to look deeper into other cultures and their sites surrounding them. The only reason the white woman recognizes Walden Pond is because it was made famous by a white American, Henry David Thoreau who wrote a book about his life in a house next to the pond, in which he takes on a simplistic life which mimics the Native American Indian life style. The Indian on the train, is unimpressed by this because he states that “I know the Indians were living stories around that pond before Walden's grandparents were born and before his grandparents' grandparents were born.”These lines display a certain amount of disdain by the Indian for what the white Americans believe to be historically important it

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