Comparing Poems: "Immigrants in our own Land" and a Poem from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Today, I'm in a bit of a pensive mood, so I will compare Jimmy Santiago Baca's poem "Immigrants in our own Land" to the following suicide note/poem from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky:

Once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines
he wrote a poem
and he called it "chops"
because that was the name of his dog
and that's what it was all about
his teacher gave him an A
and a gold star
and his mother hung it on the kitchen door
and read it to his aunts.
that was the year Father Tracy
took all the kids to the zoo
and he let them sing on the bus
and his little sister was born
with tiny nails and no hair
and his mother and father kissed a lot
and the girl around the corner sent him a
Valentine signed with a row of X's
and he had to ask his father what the X's meant
and his father always tucked him in bed at night
and was always there to do it

once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
he wrote a poem
he called it "Autumn"
because that was the name of the season
and that's what it was all about
and his teacher gave him an A
and asked him to write more clearly
and his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because of the new paint
and the kids told him
that Father Tracy smoked cigars
and left butts on the pews
and sometimes they would burn holes
that was the year his sister got glasses
with thick lenses and black frames
and the girl around the corner laughed
when he asked her to go see Santa Claus
and the kids told him why
his mother and father kissed a lot
and his father never tucked him in bed at night
and his father got mad
when he cried for him to do it

Once on a paper torn from his notebook
he wrote a poem
and he called it "Innocence: A Question"
because that was the question about his girl
and that's what it was all about
and his professor gave him an A
and a strange steady look
and his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because he never showed her
that was the year Father Tracy died
and he forgot how the end
of the Apostles's Creed went
and he caught his sister
making out on the back porch
and his mother and father never kissed
or even talked
and the girl around the corner
wore too much makeup
that made him cough when he kissed her
but he kissed her anyway
because it was the thing to do
and at 3 am he tucked himself into bed
his father snoring soundly

that's why on the back of a brown paper bag
he tried another poem
and he called it "Absolutely Nothing"
because that's what it was really all about
and he gave himself an A
and a slash on each damned wrist
and he hung it on the bathroom door
because this time he didn't think
he could reach the kitchen

The author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower doesn't explicitly say it's a suicide note, but most people believe it is the suicide note of the protagonist's best friend, Michael.

This is actually one of my favorite poems. I believe that the authors' attitude towards life and the general theme are very similar. We have Jimmy Santiago Baca, who has high expectations for life in America, and we have Michael, who had high expectations for life in general. In both cases, the reality was... disappointing, for lack of a better word. Jimmy Santiago Baca notices that life in America isn't much different from life in his old neighborhood, and Michael begins to observe his surroundings a little more and notices things like his family falling apart. It became hard for the authors to remain hopeful. Baca noticed segregation in towns and the men who ran towns like dictators. Michael lived through the death of Father Tracy and, in a way, the death of his mom and dad's relationship. Baca's lack of hope for a better life didn't lead to anything extreme like in Michael's case, but I still believe their attitudes are the same. The main theme I got from "Immigrants in our own Land" is that sometimes... life isn't as great as it may seem and sometimes, reality doesn't live up to our expectations. It's clear to see that Baca came to America with hopes of living a better life, but ultimately, life in America wasn't much different from life back home. With Michael, I believe the reader can infer he had a happy life at the beginning of the poem and eventually, it kept getting worse and worse and he became less hopeful for a better tomorrow.

I also believe there are some similarities in literary devices. The biggest similarity is the use of repetition. Baca repeats the phrase "dream in our heart" near the end of "Immigrants in our own Land". Baca first used this phrase in the first line, referring to himself and all other immigrants crossing the border with him. He later uses this to refer to the immigrants that coming into the prison where Bacastanza, when he describes the poems he wrote. All of Michael's poems demonstrate a change in his attitude towards life, which is important. In the midst of all the bad things that went on, Michael kept writing poems talking about how he felt- something that remained the same in his life. In "Immigrants in our own Land", many things remained the same in Baca's life as well. There are little things that stayed the same, such as hanging clothes out to dry, and then there are other not-so-little things that stayed the same, such as the lack of interaction between people of different cultures. A difference between these two poems, however, is that Baca explicitly says the things that stayed the same, while Michael didn't; the reader can imply that him writing poetry stayed the same because his use of repetition in his suicide note.

So... yeah. Prepare for this lit AF twelve-day extravaganza.


Sooooonnnnnggggg: Sweet Life by Frank Ocean

I realize that many songs I put at the end of my blog posts aren't really related to the posts themselves. Many of them are just songs that come up while I'm writing. Like this one.

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