Repellence of Conformity
Individuality is the great catalyst of progress; without it there is a stagnant state of mind where no revolutions in thought would occur. Yet, individuality comes at the price of isolation, thus it is long sought after but hard to truly achieve. Breaking from societal reigns upon ideas comes difficultly, but to remain docile in the face of conformity is a far worse fate. Alice Walker's poem "Be Nobody's Darling for Lester Julius" is an order directed towards the individual to break free of societal molds, but only by its use of extensive imagery and an assertive tone is her poem able to convey its meaning to its full extent.
Walker's fervent belief in the value of individuality is reflected in her use of images that draw out a deeper meaning in her work. By using her extensive imagery, the ideas she presents become vividly depicted and are easy to relate to.
In order to express the need to embrace our differences with one another, she paints a "shawl" (6) of "contradictions" (3) to values and paradigms held by the conformist whole. The shawl she uses not only visualizes her point, but its connotation of safety offers a desire to embrace contradictions to fend off the boorish beliefs of the masses. She later compares the masses to the individual with her use of a river of conformity, where the whole of society is pushed along the "river bed" (18) where is driven forward to a predetermined destination as opposed to the individual who "makes a merry gathering on the bank" (21-22) free to choose their own destiny. The use of the river of conformity to herd a mass of people is a frightful image that shows the true path of those who do not make their...