Monday, October 1, 2007

Red Shift Model Paper Example 2

Though there are some analytical stretches that are made here, this is a fine example of a Marxist critique of the poem. If the analysis of the poem were more text based, this would have been very successful at an interesting socio-economic analytical angle. The addition to the significance of the title in the introduction would have also been helpful. The idea of eschewing a total capitulation to conform to societal norms seems to be a uniquely American form of Marxist criticism.

Christina Period 6

Ted Berrigan mocks the post-World War II American society in his poem, “Red Shift,” because the country becomes a living example of a broken dream. The setting of the poem takes place on a cold, February night in the streets of New York. The atmosphere is depressing, reflecting the conditions of the American people during the Great Depression in the 1950s. Homeless children and poor people are seen on streets such as 6th & Bowery, a part of New York that had high crime rates and low-income families. America isn’t described as a land filled with sunshine and endless opportunities. It becomes a country of loss hope.

The speaker’s tone changes throughout the poem. First, he is calm, but disappointed while recalling his present surroundings. The air and smoke represent pollution. Berrigan is unhappy with the filthy American lifestyles—the way they are taking care of their communities and each other. He writes, “…smoke to have character and to lean/In.” (5-6) The poet is disappointed in how easily Americans conform. They smoke to look cool and to fit in with the crowd as if non-smokers are outcasts. Without a difference in beliefs and opinions, the country goes unchallenged and the people lead purposeless lives.

Then, he becomes depressed when observing the conditions that some Americans are forced to live in. The poet writes, “The Calvados is being sipped on Long island now…” (10) While some families are fortunate enough to be having the time of their lives, relaxing at a nice beach, other families are scrambling to find a way to put supper on their tables every night. It’s frustrating to see fellow human beings ignore the existence of those who need a hand. The streets of America are filled with helpless people. This isn’t the way it should be. Berrigan states, “everything/Love, children, hundreds of them, money marriage-ethics, a politics of grace…” (15-16) The people who are living the “American dream”—driving the BMW, maintaining a high-position office job, married and settled in with children—are too preoccupied with their own lives to look around and see that homeless children and families are suffering from hunger and unemployment.

Finally, he hardens with rage when blaming the people for allowing this national catastrophe to occur. He uses anaphoric repetition to emphasize his determination. Berrigan writes, “I will never die… I will never go away…and you will never escape from me.” (34) He sees the weakness of the American society and strives to warn people not to keep making the same mistake. He’s well aware of this, but it’s up to those who have already conformed to redeem themselves and those who haven’t conformed to remain so. He claims, “I’m only pronouns, & I am all of them, & I didn’t ask for this/You did…”(37-38) It is not the duty of one man to remake America. It is up to all of the American people to work together as one and overcome the obstacles together and redefine what their country stands for. The poet believes that people have to power to say no. He writes, “not for sex, not politics/nor even permanent estrangement.” (26-27). A person can refuse to accept an idea, and develop his own beliefs. Peer pressure shouldn’t affect a person’s decision on when to have sex or who they should vote for. It’s up to the individual to make his own decisions, or else he’ll lead a miserable life, tolerating the life that others have paved for him.

Like Frank O’Hara and Allen Ginsberg, Ted Berrigan worked to prevent Americans from being corrupted and accepting materialism. The Beat Generation and the anti-conformist movements influenced Berrigan by making him step back and look at the world he is living in. He wants Americans to maintain their individualities and hold on to their beliefs. Ted Berrigan breaks away from traditional poems by following the rhythm of his own voice and emotions. His pauses in the poem make the audience stop a moment in their lives to register his message and hopefully take action. This movement against conformity must carry on.


Feel free to post any constructive comments here, or questions, or observations. Trenchant insights are always welcome but please (always) avoid pithy observations.

15 comments:

Faedhra said...

Christina did a great job with her introduction as she connected the Red shift to the World War II. She also did a great job by noticing and describing the different tone throughout the poem. And she explained why Ted Berrigan would want to write such poem. Everything went smoothly which show great understanding of the poem.

Elina R 6 said...

I can really relate to Christina’s paper, because I too connected the poem to American society, but I liked how she specifically connected the poem to post-World War II society. This sense of time allowed me to picture the living and social conditions of America better. I completely agree with the point she makes regarding conformity, because it unfortunately still is part of the American society today. People often leave their own identities or believes in order to fit in to their surroundings. I wished she had used a few more quotations from the poem to support her ideas. The use of more quotations would’ve proved that her point is true throughout the entire poem and not just the few sections she picked out. Over all, I really enjoyed reading her essay because I can relate everything that is still going on in the world today to it.

sarah c 6 said...

I really like how Cristina introduces her idea. It really caught my attention. I think that the way she connected the poem to the war was really good and she gave adequate examples. She cited and gave good evidence from the text. She put her paper together very well.

Jessica S. 6 said...

First of all I like the way Christina interpret her poem which is through a historical view. When I read the poem itself I thought it was about something political and historical but I couldn't put my finger on it. But after reading her essay I felt as though she cleared things up for me. Christina described Berrigans attitude and tone in the poem which caught my attention, the evidence were all appropriate in order to describe her thesis. I thought she did a great job!

Meaghan S6 said...

Christina's paper was really effective for me because I typically don't read through a historical set of eyes. Her thesis is strong, and she sticks to her topic throughout the essay. Her connection between 6th and Bowery and the Great Depression was intreguing, because I had looked up that it was in New York but I didn't find out details about the area. It adds to her argument, and it was really effective that she related the change in tone to a change in the speaker's feelings. She also integrated some information about Allen Ginsberg and Frank O'Hara which was interresting as well.

Jessica F. 6 said...

Christina made a lot of good connections about how Ted Berrigan is trying to send messages to the public about fighting against society and becoming their own person. The Marxist view made the paper interesting. I also liked how Christina added some of her ideas and thoughts to the paper, although I believe that we are not supposed to add much of our opinion of what we think we believe things mean but what the author believes the purpose is. Overall, I liked the piece and I felt like I could connect and understand your view on the meaning of the poem.

Laurie M 6 said...

Wow, this was a really interesting paper. I liked how she connected the poem to post war, I never would have thought of that. Cristina was very descriptive about everything she included in her paper. The historical view of it all was insightful. It is sometimes hard to stay with your topic and not linger onto different things, but she went the whole essay without getting off topic. Good Job Cristina!

Quan T 6 said...

Christina's essay is unique. I never thought to look at the poem in her perspective. Her idea is developed well and her evidence clearly supports her thesis. Christina's quotations support her thesis well, but I believe she could improve on integrating her quotations into her evidence to make her essay flow better. Overall, Christina did a great job connecting the poem to World War II.

Amy H 6 said...

I thought Christina did an excellent job with the explication. She backed up her thesis with proof and evidence. I would never have thought Berrigan mocking American society in the poem, but Christina made it seem like it was Berrigan’s intension of writing the poem.

Kevin Ta 5 said...

Christina's explication is an interesting critique of the poem. Her thesis is a great way to answer why the author wrote the poem. She stays concise but uses detailed analysis, such as Berrigan's use of anaphora.

Emily L 6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily L 6 said...

i thought about connecting the peom with history, but i think christina did a far better job than i would have. i liked how she said " America isnt decribed as a land filled with sunshine and endless opportunities. it becomes a country of loss hope." It was an interesting idea to explicate on. i was hoping she'd talk about the title "Red shift" a little because i wanted to see how she would of connected it with her idea.

Shuyi G 6 said...

I think Christina’s explication is creative and inspiring. I like the way she bravely criticizes materialism, and advocates to resist conformity. I think she sounds firm and powerful because she makes great observations and provides relevant examples. And from her elaborate analysis over the diction, Christina successfully expresses her purpose.

Kenneth M5 said...

I liked where Christina was trying to go with this essay, but I felt that there was a lot of unexplained assumtions made that made the paper hard to follow. I also had difficulty following the overall flow of the paper, which I assume is a combination of my misunderstanding and her stretching of the literature.

Ronald d5 said...

I like this paper because it is on topic and can connect everything to it. The topic of a historical event as a relation to the authors purpose is great. I liked how she even added an explanation for the authors odd rhythm of his voice when the topic that she was explicating did not need that. Although a great paper, she had one mis type and that is that the great depression took place in the 1930's and not the 1950's.