Countee Cullen Incident Analysis

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“Tableau” and “Incident” by Countee Cullen were written in the early 1900’s during the Harlem Renaissance. They both show racial interactions and reveal others reactions to the communications. The themes of “Incident” and “Tableau” are shown by the use of figurative language and tone in the poems. The figurative language in both the poems is very distinct. “Tableau” includes comparisons with metaphors while “Incident” has only imagery. “The black boy and the white, / The golden splendor of the day / The sable pride of night” (Cullen 2-4). The “golden splendor of the day” is a metaphor for the white boy while the “sable pride of the night” is a metaphor for the black boy (Cullen 3-4). The author is trying to say that the boys are like night…show more content…
“Tableau” uses figurative language to develop a powerful tone and “Incident” uses it to show a disappointed tone. The use of the phrase “[i]n unison to walk” shows that the boys are not only together, but also equal, which shows the power that Cullen was portraying. “That lightning brilliant as a sword / Should blaze a path of thunder.” (11-12). Cullen’s use of the metaphor of lightning and thunder show the amount of power the boys’ friendship has. Though they are being stared at by everyone on the streets, the boys continue to walk arm in arm. Their friendship “blazed a path of thunder” and defied the stereotype (Cullen 12). In “Incident,” the first stanza uses an ABCB rhyme scheme, which depicts the happy tone of a boy who doesn’t care what others think of him. As the poem goes on, there is an incident where another boy, “no whit bigger,” sticks his tongue out at him and calls him “nigger” (Cullen 6,8). This experience crushes the boy. In the last stanza, he explains that “[o]f all the things that happened there / [t]hat’s all [he] remember[s]” (Cullen 11-12). The tone of the boy quickly changes from joy into…show more content…
“Tableau” reveals that there is no prejudice in friendship while “Incident” shows that words can be powerful. “From lowered blind the dark folk stare / And here the fair folk talk” (Cullen 4-5). The black and white communities are astonished by this unlikely friendship. They are “[i]ndignant that these two should dare” enjoy each other's company, but the two boys are “oblivious to look and word” (Cullen 7, 9). The boys don’t pay attention to the townspeople and their opinions. “Incident” shows the different and more realistic interaction. While explaining his interaction with the other boy, the boy narrating the poem claims that he “smiled, but he [the Baltimorean] poked out / His tongue and called me, ‘Nigger’” (Cullen 7-8). At the beginning of the poem, the boy was “[h]eart-filled, head-filled with glee”, but after the white boy insults, he claims that “[o]f all the things that happened there / [t]hat’s all [he] remember[s]” (Cullen 2, 12). Although the white boy only said one word, it changed the narrator's point of view on
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