A Green Crab's Shell Doty Analysis

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Poet Mark Doty shares this sentiment in his piece “A Green Crab’s Shell” which explores the theme of death through an abandoned carapace of a small sea creature. Doty employs evocative imagery, colorful detail, and fragmented structure in his poem to portray death as an opportunity to be reflective on one’s life. In investigating the small shell, Doty shows the beauty of what one leaves behind, far after their death, no matter how insignificant or short their life might have seemed. The usage of imagery evocative of power and prestige at the start of the poem sets the initial focus to the outer shell of the crab,…show more content…
In describing the shell at first glance, Doty writes that is “not, exactly, green: closer to bronze,” signifying that it is still grand, yet weathered and worn as time has passed. As death has closed in on the crab, it initially looks old and tarnished, yet as it is more closely examined, the inside of the shell has a “lavish lining” of “a shocking, Giotto blue.” Doty argues here that the deepest part of the shell is the most beautiful, showing it was not as it appeared to be. This shocking color is the “size of a demitasse,” a detail that is largely more delicate than the stronger imagery used previously in the poem. As the poem draws to a close, Doty leaves readers contemplating the connection between the crab and a human, posing “What color is the underside of skin?” There is beauty in death, Doty argues, and it is implied that the color is one of brilliant beauty. Details regarding color are employed in order to reach the grand conclusion that the little things humans leave behind are often the most beautiful, and that they should be celebrated.
Summative Statement:
Doty explores themes of death and reflection in his poem “A Green Crab’s Shell”, using powerful imagery, colorful detail, and fragmented structure to create a connection between the shell of a small creature and the “shell” of humans. In observing both
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