Summary Of 'On The Island I Have Seen'

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It’s Not So Hot in Paradise As an American from the Midwest, the image that comes to mind of life on a Caribbean island is paradise which evokes a feeling of peace and tranquility. A place where one can escape the snow and freezing temperatures during the long winter months. A place one could enjoy beautiful beaches, tropical trees and green foliage year round. Everyone has their own perspective of things whether they have experienced it first hand or through second hand information. In Judith Ortiz Cofer’s poem, “On the Island I Have Seen” she gives a glimpse of what life in Puerto Rico is like from a unique perspective. Her use of imagery contributes to the theme of the poem which illustrates the struggles of life on the hot Caribbean island. Cofer was born in Puerto Rico, but growing up she moved back and forth between Puerto Rico and America. She stated in an interview: “But I think culture is very complex. You could say that I’m Puerto Rican by birth. I…show more content…
It evokes an image of stress and worry as well as a hope through faith for a better life. It goes on to say: “The ones who are lost to God and mothers/may take the fields/the dry fields” (20-21). The reference to “dry fields” emphasizes the heat and lack of rain and also illustrates the unpleasant working condition. This also symbolizes how they are bound to the island with no other options, trapped. The last two lines say: “where a man learns the danger of words/where even a curse can start a fire” (22-23). The reference to fire and heat pertains to the men and their inner struggles. Heat in the fields is not only experienced as a physical quality, but a mental one as well. This provides added imagery of the men working in the fields, that wasn’t offered in the beginning of the poem, creating additional imagery to support the struggles of working in the
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