The Poem 'Heritage' By Linda Hogan

672 Words3 Pages

America has always possessed a rich tradition of racism and inequality. The "land of the free" was really built on killing and racial dominance. In Linda Hogan's poem, "Heritage," the speaker addresses her Caucasian and native American traits acquired from each family member. Readers of the poem might disagree about the influence of the relatives on the speaker, but a closer analysis helps us realize that the speaker's traits resemble her ancestor's past. The author uses descriptive imagery and connections to the past to explain how the speaker came about. We can assume through background research and supporting evidence that the speaker is part Chickasaw Indian. As a Chickasaw herself, Linda Hogan is well-known for writing about her native …show more content…

At first, she uses joyful, welcoming ideas such as "baking bread" and "warm fine hairs" to describe her mother. However, as the poem progresses and she gets to her grandparents, she switches to a more serious tone by using dark words such as "kill" and "black." The reader of the poem develops the idea that the speaker's grandmother plays an important role in the poem from the long stanza and word choice. The speaker uses the word "brown" multiple times to remind the reader of the grandmother’s heritage. The speaker feels humiliation in the presence of her full-blood Chickasaw grandparents, her "whiteness a shame." One also gets the idea that the grandmother is a darker, straight-forward woman based on her actions. An example that stands out is her "spitting into her father's mouth" when he was an infant. This supports the racial divide between the two heritages following the bitter past. The speaker's grandmother tells her about the rough lives of their people and how they never remained in one spot. Finally, the speaker concludes the poem with the thought that the Chickasaw people have never had a home. The last sentence of the poem leads the reader to believe that it will end happily, but she alludes once again to the discrimination against her heritage. After being discriminated against and removed from their land, the ancestors of the speaker pass on their history

Show More
Open Document