Commentary On The Poem On The Subway By Sharon Odds

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In the poem titled “On the Subway” written by Sharon Odds, the author contrasts the differences of the white and black population. The narrator is a high class white woman, and is describing a low class black man through some literary techniques such as imagery and symbolism.
The most important literary device presented on the poem is imagery. The whole story is composed of describing images to highlight how the man and woman’s skin tones makes them so different in society. For example, when the girl says “we are stuck on opposite sides of the car” she purposely uses the word “opposite” and demonstrate that they are not even seating on the same side nor next to each other because she is racist and believes he doesn’t have the right to be close to her. The
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The story has many symbols that need close attention from the readers in order to understand what the words actually mean. For instance, the woman says “I am in his power-he could take my coat so easily, my briefcase, my life” meaning that she is afraid of the man because he is black. If he were white like her, she wouldn’t thought he was dangerous or a mugger. Therefore, she is only judging him based on his looks because she doesn’t even know him personally. In addition she mentions how the white society act superior and take advantage of the minority, “ I am living off his life, eating steak he does not eat, as if I am taking the food from his mouth.” Another symbol that expresses how being white means being fortunate is the phrase in lines twenty six and twenty seven when the woman says “how easy this white skin makes my life” meaning that only because she is not black, she is superior and has an easy life.
All literary techniques included, On the Subway contrasts two people based on their skin tones. Olds illustrates these differences through symbolism and imagery to interpret with detail how racism is presented in
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