The Jackhammer Syndrome Poem Analysis

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Society’s conventions teach that immoderate desires are unappealing manifestations of basal instincts that individuals must learn to control. However, a certain sense of liberating freedom is also attached to the idea of living in uninhibited by the guidelines that society imposes. “The Jackhammer Syndrome”, a poem by Al Purdy, and Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief present two different narratives concerning the pursuit of personal desire and deal with the consequences that ensue from this behavior. Their characters’ experiences suggest that the unchecked pursuit of personal desires, at the expense of conformity within society, does not produce lasting gratification.

“The Jackhammer Syndrome” is narrated by an individual who recounts various memorable events in his life. He mentions such instances as “hide-and-seek and run-sheep-run/in my old hometown/where the kid was pretty funny” and “swimming across a river meeting a girl halfway/along the wet footpath and going/on together to the other/side for an hour doing/nothing dizzily balanced in the moment.” These memories, which seem ordinary and pleasant, are described by the narrator in a way that causes the reader to question his true feelings towards them. Throughout the entire poem, the author does not use a single mark of punctuation, dividing thoughts according to verse instead. However, the more the narrator reminisces, the less coherent the verses become, combining multiple ideas that lack an obvious connection. These

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