Reflective Response - Patterson - "Birmingham 1963". A Reflective Response paper written describing the situation in the poem.

Essay by agent6t9University, Bachelor'sA, February 2006

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Patterson, Raymond L. Birmingham 1963. Retellings: A Thematic Literature Anthology. Eds. Clarke, M.B. and A.G. Clarke. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 886-887

The poem sets up a strong contrast between the girl's restlessness at home and the complete rest created by her death. What language in the poem reinforces this contrast? What is the speaker's attitude toward the contrasts? What does it say about the possibility of peacefulness in life?

During the poem I found there were a few key phrases, scattered here and there, that painted the picture of both restlessness and complete rest. Starting with description of the scene, the mother is shown braiding her young child's "...springing hair" (2). "Pulling her sharply...Not sit still..." (3-4). These two lines gives us a feeling that the child is ancy and cannot wait to leave the house and be off to Sunday church with her friends. The mother is trying with all accuracy and skills to prepare the child so as to look her best and not to have people think of her child as a slob.

The mom is portrayed as restricting her child in order for her betterment. Halfway through the poem Patterson switches gears and begins speaking about the outside community. "The quiet escape from the warring country...The confused landscape of grave issues and people" (13-14). He is introducing peril to the poem, which is the gateway for the last set of statements. He portrays her rest in a chaotic setting, but with a still character. Her dress is no longer fighting the restraint of the buttons, nor is her hair wild and free "The blue dress all undone...Her still, dull face, her quiet hair..." (20,21).

I believe the speaker's attitude varies between scenes. In the first scene, he is writing in a sort of charming outside...