“The Truth the Dead Know”

The narrator dreams that he and his grandfather went to a circus but the grandfather does not seem to be interested with the clowns. The grandfather gives him a briefcase that contains an envelope. He opens the envelopes and several others only to find a letter written: “To Whom It May Concern . . . Keep This Nigger-Boy Running.” It is relatedg to a scholarship given to him by the members of the white community. It is a symbol of latent racism. This foreshadows the damaging influence on the narrator of the college ideology lessons. When the narrator joins the brotherhood, he is appointed as the organization’s black spokesperson, but Brother Jack’s mistress really doubts whether he is black enough to deserve the post. This eventually causes the group’s betrayal of the narrator.

Allen Ginsberg in his poem “A Supermarket in California”, narrates how he walked down the side streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon. He was thinking of Walt Whitman and when he enters into a supermarket, he finds him there. The narrator portrays himself as someone who is keen in observing some other persons as he does with Walt Whitman. He also portrays a unique aspect of poetry where poems can be used to describe events sequentially.

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The poem “The Truth the Dead Know” by Anne Sexton portrays in itself various themes. The major theme in the poem is ‘Death’. Death is a stage in life that all humans have to go through. The poet’s parents died, beginning with the mother then the father, in a short period of three months, as illustrated by the caption below the title:

For My Mother, Born March 1902, Died March 1959

and My Father, Born February 1900, Died June 1959

The poet seems to have great difficulty to deal with the parents’ demise. She even refuses to attend the burial of her father claiming that after attending her mother’s funeral she had no bravery left. It is illustrated in Line 4: “It is June. I am tired of being brave.” The grief of death really consumes the narrator as she mourns the two deaths for the rest of her life.


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