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Literary Analysis of Hanging Fire Essay

The poem, “Hanging Fire” written by Audre Lorde, causes readers to enter into the mind of a random person. It’s left up to the readers to determine whose thoughts have been recorded. It’s clear that Lorde believes readers can gain historical insight based on thoughts written in “Hanging Fire.”

The poem’s language and order mimic human thought. It starts with someone revealing their age and a number of social dilemmas they are worried about. From the information, readers should assume that it is teenage black girl’s thoughts that have been written. Based on other factors readers can safely assume that the narrator is likely living in a Pre-Civil Rights Movement era.

Assumptions are the best tool for readers to understand “Hanging Fire” because the audience is only left with vague thoughts. This makes the poem ambiguous enough to be interpreted in a number of ways. How the poem is interpreted depends on whether or no one can identify with the narrator. It would make sense that the great majority of readers interpret that the narrator is a black teenage girl struggling with issues of racism, sexism, and along with social issues that occur in the average teenage life.

This theory is further supported if one notes that the author, Audre Lorde is a black female, who wrote the poem during times of racial tension. Lines like ‘and my skin betrays me’ with ‘suppose I dies before graduation’, point to this racial tension. If this assumption is true then the narrator would have had tremendous amounts of social strain simply because of her race. It’s likely that sexism would have been common in the setting of the poem, as demonstrated by the lines ‘I should have been on the Math Team my marks were better than his.’

Audre Lorde, overall, has a love for civil rights and women’s rights, something that was not very common when she wrote “Hanging Fire.” Lorde uses human thought rather than dialog to convey her message. “Hanging Fire” isn’t merely the random thought of a naive teenage girl, but a look into life during a time less favorable than our own.

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