Paul Laurence Dunbar's Life in his Poem "Sympathy"
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The paper discusses how Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "Sympathy" reflects the horrors of captivity in his life. The paper explains that throughout his life, Dunbar dealt with rejection because of his skin color, and his metaphor of a cage reflects the sense of entrapment or imprisonment that restricted him from accessing the opportunities whites received. The paper notes that Dunbar wrote the poem "Sympathy" as a call for freedom and equality not only for him, but for African Americans everywhere.
From the Paper:"Dunbar's talent and frustrations can be seen from the beginning of his life. "He was born in the year 1872 to Matilda and Joshua Dunbar"(UDRI)in Ohio. Dunbar's parents were both former slaves but his father escaped from slavery His father left at the age of two leaving his mother to work in Dayton as a washerwoman. Dunbar's mother encouraged him to read and write poetry. At the young age of 6, Dunbar had already begun reciting and reading. Dunbar attended Dayton Central High as the only African American in his class. He found it difficult to find employment because of his race so he remained focused on school. Dunbar was involved in the debating society, editor of the school paper, and president of the school's literary society. Dunbar finally received a job as an elevator operator in 1892(UDRI) where he worked while writing the poem "Sympathy".
"Throughout his life, Dunbar dealt with rejection because of his skin color but praise over his writings. Sterling Brown commands Dunbar as "a highly gifted man"(Gabbing 227)but then refers to him as "the Negro peasants as a clown" (Gabbing 227). His talent of writing becomes meaningless because of his race. Dunbar is denied equal opportunities and refers to this racial discrimination as a "caged bird" (Dunbar, Line 1)."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Dunbar, Paul Laurance. "Sympathy." Portable Legacies: Fiction, Poetry, Drama Nonfiction. Eds. Schmidt, Jan and Crockett, Lynn. Boston: Wadson 2009. 1021-1022.
- Gabbin, Joanne., "Intimate Intercessions in the Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar" African American Review 41.2 (2007): 227-231 St. Louis University. 4 Apr. 2012 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/40027054>.
- Li, Xilao., "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings!: Dunbar in China" African American Review 41.2 (2007): 387-393 St. Louis University. 4 Apr. 2012 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/40027073>.
- O'Malley, M.."A Blood Red Record: the 1890s and American Apartheid."History 122.N.p.,1999. Web. 4 Apr 2012. <http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/links/misclink/1890s/>.
- UDRI WebDevelopment Center, ."The Life of Paul Laurence Dunbar."University of Dayton.Web Development Center, 03 F. Web. 3 Apr 2012. <http://www.dunbarsite.org/biopld.asp>.
Cite this Poem Review:
Paul Laurence Dunbar's Life in his Poem "Sympathy" (2013, January 07) Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.academon.com/poem-review/paul-laurence-dunbar-life-in-his-poem-sympathy-152163/
"Paul Laurence Dunbar's Life in his Poem "Sympathy"" 07 January 2013. Web. 25 June. 2019. <https://www.academon.com/poem-review/paul-laurence-dunbar-life-in-his-poem-sympathy-152163/>