11AP English 9/17/13
The pain and cruelty slaves had to endure throughout their lives is represented by their ability to let it out through song. In ‘Sympathy’ by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Narrative by
Frederick Douglas, both authors argue that singing is a captive’s way of expressing anger and sadness, not joy. In ‘Sympathy’, the bird’s singing inability to fly away to its peaceful surroundings is the same as a slave’s lack of freedom and rights. However in Narrative the slave’s trips to the house farm is a misconceptional release of negative emotions.
While composing ‘Sympathy’, Paul Lawrence Dunbar makes an effort to connect the reader to the caged bird using Imagery. What can you feel but sympathy when “the caged bird beats his wing till its blood is red on the cruel bars”(start of 2nd stanza, ’Sympathy’). After reading those two lines you cannot imagine the bird’s song being in any way a song of joy, while it sits caged in front of all the free, peaceful land surrounding it. As “the river floats like a sheet of glass”, the bird is seeing the same image you envision. Doing so the author has created mutual feelings of sadness between the reader and the caged bird. The usage of that metaphor just exponentially raises the birds distress since it can see its’ own predicament, on the river. It’s almost like a human being, placed in prison and being surrounded by mirrors. A human wouldn’t be able to handle such a situation with no escape.
While the bird fought the bars, and tried to escape, a slave could do no such thing. Slaves had no way to fight the bars, and although their wings were also red, so to say, it was not because of them fighting the bars. The slaves were brutalized for unjust reasons, sometimes even for pleasure. Most of the time it was the overseer who held the fates of the slaves. He could do as he pleased. By characterizing the overseers well, you could see the acceptance of the slaves in their