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“After Auschwitz” by Anne Sexton Essay

In the poem “After Auschwitz” by Anne Sexton, the speaker talks about her feelings after touring a concentration camp. The speaker writes about what humans are able to do to other humans and how horrible this specific time was. The speakers tone is mostly angry. During the poem, the speaker’s tone becomes more and more angry and dark but at the end of the poem in the last two lines it also turns into a sad tone. These tones are created to confirm the bad things that happened in the concentration camp Auschwitz. Sexton’s use of sentence structure, imagery and detail are key to create this angry, dark and sad tone through the poem.

The strongest tone that appears through the poem is an angry tone. One technique Sexton uses to convey this tone is sentence structure. The sentences in this poem are mostly quite short. The poem already begins with the key word in line 1: “Anger,” From the very beginning of the poem, Anne Sexton is angry. Another examples in line 4 + 5: “Each day,” “each Nazi” This is a great example how Sexton uses very short and hard sentences. It sounds just like the speaker spits them out as they would be something gross which tastes bad. It conveys the anger of the speaker and thus the angry tone about how the horrible treatment of humans goes on every day, again and again.

Another technique the author uses to convey the tone is imagery. Using that imagery the author makes the reader feel angry and also the reader can feel how the speaker’s anger is getting bigger and bigger until it reaches its pinnacle in lines 26 – 29. As the author writes in line 26: “Let man never again raise his teacup.”, she is so full of anger, so angry of all humans that it is almost a little bit scary although the tone is derived from something so innocent. She imagines this man sitting on a table or in a chair and drinking a tea and while she imagines that she gets so angry because she can’t believe that a man is sitting there, drinking a tea, doing nothing while somewhere else humans are tortured and die in concentration camps. The speaker thought of all the things in concentration camps through the poem and now she is just so angry that she would like to see the whole human race obliterated.

Because of all the anger in it this image is so significant and it totally conveys the tone in the poem. Line 19 + 20: “And death looks on with a casual eye, and scratches his anus.” is another really good example of imagery. The speaker imagines the death as a person. She imagines the death being somewhere in the concentration camp, simply standing there bored by the same things that happen every day, scratching his ass and waiting for the next person who dies. The speakers tone in these lines, as well as in lines 9 + 10, is still a little bit angry but it turned into a sad ton too. She feels sad about how people suffer so much pain and torture and everything and how they slowly die. I think this image is significant because it is such a good image that the poem literarily comes alive and you can see the concentration camp with its prisoners as you would stand in it.

Detail is the third technique Anne Sexton uses to convey the tone. In the last two lines the tone changes suddenly from the dark and angry tone into a sad tone: “I beg the lord not to hear.”(line 33). This line is very important to understand the poem. Suddenly the speaker notices that she was thinking to do the same things to all humans as Nazis did to the prisoners in concentration camps. So she feels almost embarrassed and begs the lord not to hear her words. But, wouldn’t everybody else who reads this poem feel the same anger? Certainly this detail is key in expressing the speaker’s feelings on this topic and that’s why the detail is significant.

The tone’s effect is that it reminds readers about the terrible treatment of humans in the concentration camp Auschwitz. Readers are moved by it because everybody knows the Nazi time but nobody really wants to remember it. Exactly that is where Sexton created her poem on. She’s one of the small number of poets who wrote a poem on that time.

So when people hear, read or see about it they feel angry and sad just like Sexton!The universal idea of this poem is how humans could have ever done such horrible things or how they let could have let them happen. Anne Sexton writes in her poem how people today get away with it. The Holocaust is a vehicle for this poem. It is about anger, although it might sometimes not be justified, and sadness and how, while they are necessary emotion for survival, in the most loathsome and horrific of situations, it must not be the sole rule of one’s life.


Poem: “After Auschwitz”www.wikipedia.comwww.americaspoets.com

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