English Composition II
College of the Ouachitas
Analysis of “anyone lived in a pretty how town”
Though the word usage of this piece is not self-explanatory, Cummings’ poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town,” provides an important observation of society’s expectations. The interpretation of any artistic work is subjective, but I feel this particular poem had a straight forward theme. In any society exists unspoken boundaries that are intended to guide conduct of those within it however, in enforcing these boundaries, many lose site of the goal of society as a whole.
The typical American dream consists of “go to college, get a job, open a 401k, get married, buy a house, start a family, rear your children to adulthood, and eventually retire on your 401k in Florida or Arizona” ( Rupersburg, 2015, p.2 ). This is essentially what the author was expressing in the line “(sleep, wake, hope and then) they / said their nevers they slept their dream” ( Cummings, 2014, line 19-20 ). This is ideal for many people and is a good life but this is not every single person desires in life. If someone does not go to school, they are seen as ignorant. If someone does not “marr[y] their everyones” and have a family, they are seen as odd or even homosexual ( Cummings, 2014, line 17 ). If someone does not have a good job, they are viewed as less worthy as a person.
Within our society exists guidelines of what a person should do with their life and “those who don't follow it tend to be viewed as ‘abnormal,’ even ‘deviant’ in the minds of family fundamentalists” ( Rupersburg, 2015, p.2 )The expectations of society have been challenged throughout history. In many cases, these challenges have enhanced the quality of life of the individual as well as facilitate the betterment of the society as a whole. I feel that Cummings’ realization of the monotony in his surroundings and apparent lack of acknowledgment from those around him inspired him to