This paper will compare the following poems: The Third and Final Continent by Jhumpa Lahiri, What you Pawn I will Redeem by Sherman Alexie, Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros, Everyday Use by Alice Walker, and Picture Bride by Cathy Song. What is prevalent among these poems is the mood and the themes. Reading the poems aloud can evoke certain moods in the reader especially the tone set by the author or the narrator.
One would be bewildered and feel sorry for the narrator in The Third and Final Continent as he finds it difficult to stay in a new country-United States where people value individuality more than community therefore he is forced to live in solitude. This is in contrast to Lahiri’s home in Calcutta, India where one is surrounded by family. Life is unbearable in this new place due to isolation. Just like in The Third and Final Continent, the narrator is an American Indian whom the reader cannot help but feel sorry. The mood in the poem by Alexie is sad because the narrator is homeless, has broken several relationships and how he has wasted himself with alcohol.
The reader becomes infuriated about Cleofilas torment through the hands of her husband in Woman Hollering Creek. Just like the traditional woman in a patriarchal society, she is beaten by her husband who does not care about her feelings, Cleofilas women neighbors are suffering the same fate as most of them have been left by their husbands. In Everyday Use, the mood is confusion which is a bit different from the other poems. Dee is confused about her heritage as is not sure about her heritage. Dee accepts and values the quilts that her family has made but rejects the names of her immediate ancestors as she does not understand her heritage. Dee’s confusion is also evident where she sees the household items not as symbols of oppression but as aesthetic objects. The mood in Picture Maid is disgruntling because the reader feels unhappy about how the Asian women were ostracized in the United States and how they were submissive to the male authority.
The poems can be compared on the basis of themes. The predominant themes in the poems are struggle, gender, individuality, immigration and discrimination/ethnicity. Ethnicity and tradition plays out in Dee’s heritage confusion state. She chooses a name that reflects her African roots instead of picking white names which is symbolic of slavery. In What You Pawn Will I Redeem, Jackson, an America Indian, narrates about his struggle by leaving several women he married with children and now being homeless. The struggle is real for Jackson as he uses the $25 he was supposed to add and purchase her grandmother’s regalia on alcohol with his friends. Ethnicity in What You Pawn I Will Redeem is revealed where the narrator thinks that the audience is white and he thinks they don’t care for homeless Indians.
The narrator of Third and Final Continent who has immigrated to the United States is struggling to survive in the United States where the national culture is individuality as opposed to his home where it is communism. To the narrator, marriage is also a problem especially if it is arranged. The struggles of a woman and immigrants are experienced in Picture Bride, where women are treated as second fiddle to men and taught to be subject to men’s authority. The Chinese women immigrants were barred from the American shores and those who were accepted e.g. female subjects of Japan and Korea were alienated. Picture Bride introduces the theme of generational differences where he juxtaposes the traditional woman who was taught to be submissive to the man and the modern woman who exercises independence and individuality. Lastly, Cleofilas is a representative of women who are struggling in their marriage under macho men who beat and humiliate them.