Compare And Contrast A Barred Owl And The History Teacher

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“Rain, the tears of Heaven” is a popular explanation of rainfall by parents to their children. When children’s mental capabilities are not developed and mature enough to digest complex concepts, whether scientific or historical, adults often replace the facts with simplified stories. In “A Barred Owl” and “The History Teacher,” the poets present the idea that adults always attempt to shield their children from the danger of the outside world. The former speaker employs onomatopia to facilitate children to overcome fear, and the latter euphemizes the cruelty of warfare. However, while the former adopts a playful tone and style to “domesticate fear” (Wilbur 8), the latter aims to “protect… innocence” in a sarcastic tone (Collins 1), resulting…show more content…
In “A Barred Owl,” Wilbur adopts a playful tone through rhyming: “We tell the wakened child that all she heard/ Was an odd question from a forest bird” (3, 4). The rhyme imitates the style of nursery rhymes, creating a joking tone. The playful tone avoids seriousness and weakens the horror of the owl, which contributes to the poem’s style like a nursery rhyme. Wilbur also euphemizes the owl to help create a nursery style. He does not represent the horrible creature of an owl as a carnivore with sharp claws that hunts during the night, but euphemizes it as a “forest bird” (Wilbur 4). The owl’s representation as a safe forest bird refers its figure to the enthusiastic birds with heavenly sounds in cartoons and story books, which often help the protagonist to overcome difficulties and dangers. Referring to nursery imageries of birds, the euphemism contributes to the poem’s style as a nursery rhyme. Creating a playful tone and a nursery style, Wilbur uses rhymes and euphemism to “domesticate fear” (Wilbur…show more content…
Collins employs a sarcastic tone from the beginning of his poem: “Trying to protect his students’ innocence/ he told them that the Ice Age was really just the Chilly Age…” (Collins 1-2). To protect children’s “innocence,” the teacher ironically teaches false history, which actually miseducates his students. The teacher’s goodwill only results in more ignorance: “The children would leave his classroom/ for the playground to torment the weak/ and the smart” (Collins 14-16). Juxtaposing the euphemism of warfare and the children’s bullying behavior, Collins adopts a sarcastic tone to convey the ironic consequences of shielding children from the reality. Using sarcasm and irony, Collins criticizes the behavior of keeping children away from the truth. With different intentions, the poet of “A Barred Owl” employs playful tone, while the other is rather

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