Youth's Desire For Freedom In Nineteen, By Elizabeth Alexander

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Teenagers have always sought to be their own person, to forgo rules and even recommendations in favour of
In the poem "Nineteen", Elizabeth Alexander illustrates how youth's desire for freedom, to escape their reality, allows them to grow into adulthood and leads them to make choices that will impact their perception of the world. This theme will be analysed through structure, symbolism and contrast.
The growth of a young adult through his or her experiences is illustrated through the structure of the poem. Composed of three stanzas, the poem's division represents the growth of a teenager into an adult as he or she experiences life. The persona states, in the first stanza, that she was, at the beginning of the summer, "[a] baby" (line 4). As such, the opening stanza represents the period of the speaker's life when she is still
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The persona later explains how "at nineteen it was [her] first summer away from home" (9) in the second stanza. This revelation implies that the narrator grew up sheltered and has had a limited experience of life until that summer. Yet, in the same stanza, as she lives new experiences, like having a fling with an older man, the persona feels "like a fool" (11). She feels foolish when she learns that the older man is actually married and has failed to state that fact. This conflicted stanza demonstrates how the persona's perspective of life suddenly changes and the learning curve one has to go through when being exposed to new environments and situations. While she was previously full of enthusiasm to discover new things, a single negative experience is sufficient alter how she views life. As the persona ages, "[she learns to] underst[and, in the third stanza,] that nothing c[an] be ruined in one stroke" (21-2). This represents a shift in the persona's perspective on life
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