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Audre Lorde Hanging Fire: Anxiety of a Teenager Essay

The dominant emotion in the poem Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde is anxiety. This is the poem about the uncertainty of a girl in her maturity, who longs for adult guidance. The author uses several examples of imagery in the poem, but the most notable of them is the repetition – anxious repetition. The narrator in the poem is the fourteen-year old girl, who is worried about many things in her life, one of them is the color of her skin. This is a very important issue among the teenagers. In this case, the girl states that her skin “betrayed” her (Lorde 521). The repetition of girl’s thoughts is quite evident, and her tone of anxiety is thus conveyed to the reader. These thoughts are inherent to many teens, when they are concerned about the way of their awkward dancing, and that they have “nothing to wear” (Lorde 521).

These thoughts of anxiety are intertwined with the narrator’s reference to momma, who is behind the closed door. This is a great depiction by the author of the unavailability of the mother to the teenager. The reader understands that the mother of the narrator does not care about her. The closed door is depicted literally (the door is closed) and figuratively (the mother is not open to her daughter). The repetition makes the emotion of anxiety so powerful, making a strong emphasis on that. This may be explained by the difficult relationship of Lorde with her mother. The narrator seems alone in this world, and the repetition about death expresses her worries about being unnecessary to anybody. Repetition clearly demonstrates to the reader the hard fate of the girl, who wants to convey that she needs someone around her so badly that those people do not even realize.

Work Cited

Lorde, Audre. The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. New York, NY: Norton, 2000. Print.

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