On The Island I Have Seen By Judith Ortiz Cofer Summary

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Through Another’s Eyes As an American from the Midwest, the image that comes to mind of life on a Caribbean island is of paradise and tranquility. It’s a place to escape and not have to deal with long winter months of snow and freezing temperatures. A place one could enjoy beautiful beaches, tropical trees and foliage year round. Everyone has their own perspective of things whether they’ve experienced it first hand or formed an opinion based on things they’ve formed based on resources or second hand information. In Judith Ortiz Cofer’s poem, “On the Island I Have Seen” she provides a glimpse of what life in Puerto Rico is like from a unique perspective. She was born in Puerto Rico, but growing up she moved back and forth between Puerto Rico and America. In an interview she shared: “But I think culture is very complex. You could say that I’m Puerto Rican by birth. I certainly enjoy and appreciate my heritage, and have used a lot of my culture for my art and incorporated it into my life” (Kevane and Herdia, 753). The experience allowed her to see life in Puerto Rico from through a different lens. The use of imagery contributes to the theme of the poem which illustrates the struggles of life on the hot Caribbean island.
In the first stanza of the poem jumps right into the hard, laborious life of men working in the sugar cane fields which sets the tone for the poem:
Men cutting can under a sun relentless as an overseer with a quota, measuring their days with each swing of
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