Bob Dylan's, "The Times They Are A-Changin" is an anthem for the oppressed, down-trodden young people, while warning that oppressors and abusers will be victims of their own actions. In the beginning of the poem, Dylan speaks to everyone and talks of the change coming from young people who feel that laws from the government and mom and dad's rules are smothering. He emphasizes "everyone" by using water to help the reader visualize how complete the wave of change will surround people. He then uses the water in a sink or swim analogy illustrating the direness of the situation.
Throughout the poem, he shows the extent and gives examples of who will be affected. Although he draws class lines and social standings, the opportunity to change along with the times is always present. Dylan points specifically to "senators, congressmen," "mothers and fathers," because they have the most influence on America's youth.
Dylan calls on the American government to "Please heed the call' which shows that in the beginning, respect and persuasion will be used. The next two lines begin "Don't" which indicates a stronger will and mind set. "For he that gets hurt/Will be he who is stalled," illustrates that if there is resistance to young people's ideas against the war in Vietnam, the idea of free love and the distaste for accepted social structures, that peace may not be an option. Dylan goes as far as to say "There's a battle outside/And its ragin/it'll soon shake your windows/and rattle your walls." These stanzas are not literal in the sense of war, but lends emphasis to the will of the revolutionist's idea. Change will come; the battle is seen between good and bad, yin and yang. Although blood will not be shed, politicians, judges, and other elected officials will be removed from office.
An argument that the battle is not literal is Dylan calling for writers and critics to witness the change around them. "And don't speak too soon/For the wheels still in spin," tells the media not to judge too soon because the initial reactions are not necessarily the results.
Mothers and fathers commands will no longer be taken as gospel. Young people are aware that they have reason and are going to use it to make decisions. These decisions will not always be right or what has been accepted in the past. Dylan is asking why does the old way of parents dictating to their children have to be the right way.
The final stanza stages the entire poem. Sides have formed, and it is too late to stop young people from using their minds to control their lives. The persons with less money, men in Vietnam, African Americans, teenagers who feel manipulated, will all be leaders in America as sure "as the present now/will later be the past." Dylan says that the change will be swift, focused, and improve positions of the meek. While it is true that young people at the time were organized, they were unfocused. Many changes occurred but not as completely or nearly as swiftly as Dylan prophesied. Revolution occurred, for better or worse, and Dylan stated ideals without being threatening. A must for the time he lived in.