The essay assignment for this week is to compose an essay of at least 750 words in which you offer your interpretation of a literary element (such as theme, imagery, symbolism, or characterization) in one of the assigned poems. You may choose any poem from our reading list. If you wish, you may base your paper on the analysis you began in this week’s discussion.
Tips for the Essay
- Open your introduction with an engaging opener, such as a question, quote from the poem, or interesting idea. Then, connect to the poem and mention the title and the author. End your introduction with a thesis statement that interprets one literary element of the poem (such as theme, imagery, symbolism, or characterization).
- The body paragraphs should support your thesis. Present specific aspects of the poem that help to illustrate your points. Make sure to quote from the poem and analyze specific lines that support your argument. Typically, body paragraphs will contain at least two short quotations each as supporting evidence.
- Include a strong concluding paragraph that summarizes your main points and explains the significance of the thesis. Finish this paragraph with a strong and satisfying ending.
Use APA style for formatting the essay and for source citations. Begin with a title page. Include a running header, and use proper font and spacing. End with a separate references page. Refer to the Week 1 lecture on avoiding plagiarism for an APA essay template and additional resources.
Important Note: Do not do any outside research for this essay. This analysis should be your own insights regarding the poem. If you need help, refer to the sample student paper shared in the lecture on themes, and contact your instructor with questions.
The poem is below
JANICE MIRIKITANI (1942– ) Suicide Note 1987) . . . An Asian American college student was reported to have jumped to her death from her dormitory window. Her body was found two days later under a deep cover of snow. Her suicide note contained an apology to her parents for having received less than a perfect four point grade average. . . .
How many notes written . . . ink smeared like birdprints in snow. not good enough not pretty enough not smart enoughdear mother and father. I apologize for disappointing you. I’ve worked very hard, not good enough harder, perhaps to please you. If only I were a son, shoulders broad as the sunset threading through pine, I would see the light in my mother’s eyes, or the golden pride reflected in my father’s dream of my wide, male hands worthy of work and comfort. I would swagger through life muscled and bold and assured,
drawing praises to me like currents in the bed of wind, virile with confidence. not good enough not strong enough I apologize. Tasks do not come easily. Each failure, a glacier. Each disapproval, a bootprint. Each disappointment, ice above my river. So I have worked hard. not good enough My sacrifice I will drop bone by bone, perched on the ledge of my womanhood, fragile as wings. not strong enough It is snowing steadily surely not good weather for flying—this sparrow sillied and dizzied by the wind on the edge. not smart enough I make this ledge my altar to offer penance. This air will not hold me, the snow burdens my crippled wings, my tears drop like bitter cloth softly into the gutter below. not good enough not strong enough Choices thin as shaved ice. Notes shredded drift like snow on my broken body, cover me like whispers of sorries sorries. Perhaps when they find me they will bury my bird bones beneath a sturdy pine and scatter my feathers like unspoken song over this white and cold and silent breast of earth.
Here’s the copy of my assignment on that same poem I turned in
- Identify the key images in the poem, which you believe are vital to understanding it.
- Provide a detailed discussion of how those images function in the poem.
- Do the images work together to form a coherent pattern?
- What ideas or feelings are conveyed by the images?
- How do the images contribute to the overall meaning of the poem?
In the poem “Suicide Note” written in 1987 by Janice Mirikitani, a young woman shares with us her thoughts and struggles as she is preparing to take her life. The detailed images provided by Mirikitani at the beginning help the reader sympathize with the woman. Some of the disappointments and resentment that she has towards her parents have a strong presence within the text. In the poem it describes, “If only I were a son, shoulders broad/as the sunset threading through pine,/I would see the light in my mother’s/eyes, or the golden pride reflected/in my father’s dream/of my wide, male hands worthy of work/and comfort” (Mirikitani, 2016, Lines 10-16).
- She takes you on this emotional ride through how this young woman is feeling with each line. Later in the poem she describes what she is seeing out of her window as she writes her note, “It is snowing steadily/surely not good weather/for flying-this sparrow/sillied and dizzied by the wind/on the edge./not smart enough/I make this ledge my altar/to offer penance” (Mirikitani, 2016, Lines 36-43). This has set a scene of a cold day with dreary weather and filled with loneliness. The images work together by setting this scene that continues to have a theme of depression and disappointment that the woman is experiencing.
- The images put you in the mindset of a young woman who no matter what can’t live up to certain standards and her feelings are even shown in the weather that is described. The poem closes with the conclusion of this young woman describing her post suicide, “Perhaps when they find me/they will bury/my birds bones beneath/a sturdy pine/and scatter my feathers like/unspoken song/over this white and cold and silent/breast of earth (Mirikitani, 2016, Lines 56-63).
Mirikitani, J. (2017). Suicide Note. In L.G. Kirszner & S. R. Mandell (Eds.), Compact Literature:
Retrieved from https://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/#/books/9781337517867/