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Compare the brief encounters between two 'culture clashes' in 'An Old Woman' by Arun Kolatkur and 'Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes' by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

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Introduction

Compare the brief encounters between two 'culture clashes' in 'An Old Woman' by Arun Kolatkur and 'Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes' by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Though similar in subject matter: both poets relating a brief encounter exposing a clash of cultures they are executed in different ways. The first few lines of the poem 'An old Woman' introduce us to an anecdotal tone and narrative concept, in order to create a sense of story telling the style draws us in and is very personal. In writing by refering in the second person; 'she grabs hold of your sleeve', 'she tightens her grip', 'she won't let you go' intensifies the subject and makes the encounter very personal and urgent. By stereotyping 'you know how old women are' Arun Kolatkur invites us into his confidence having identified himself with the reader he shares with us his journey through the poem, drawing us with him to share the same final conclusion. In Ferlinghetti's poem, focused on exposing the gulf between the lifestyles within Americas 'shiny' democracy, stereotyping is also used, but the style is impersonal by taking an almost ariel overview. ...read more.

Middle

In contrast to the organised layout of Arun Kolatkur's poem, Ferlinghetti's poem lacks appropriate punctuation, this along with the abnormal phrase positioning forces you to think about the various ideas in the poem and help towards your understanding. Initially in the two poems the impression is given that the wealthy are superior to the poor; the garbagemen and the old woman are de-humanised by both poets: neither are given names and both are described with similes. Kolatkur appears to despise the 'old woman' who 'hobbles along' and 'clings on' like an irritating 'burr', whilst Ferlinghetti refers to the bin men in the derogatory context of 'scavengers' a form of de-humanisation, suggesting that the bin men are not as good as 'ordinary people'. He also depicts the garbagemen as shabby and poor: 'grungy', 'hunchback' their 'red plastic blazers' exposing a cheapness and lack of concern for their appearance in contrast to the 'casually coifed' woman and 'hip' man. Also there is no visual or verbal contact to make the poem impersonal. However in Kolatkars poem his initial observations undergo a complete about-turn in verse six - the epicentre of the poem when the irritating, hobbling tugging woman speaks; 'What else can an old woman do on hills as wretched as these?' ...read more.

Conclusion

Towards the end of both poems the poets reach their conclusions both are drawn to a close with their feelings of inequality, Ferlinghetti closes his poem with irony; American democracy 'in which everything is always possible' and then in the following verse states 'as if anything at all were possible' leaves us questioning the reality of opportunity - does one ever get to 'cross the line'? Arun Kolatkur's poem on the other hand is intensely personal he concludes that this 'old woman' managed to achieve a moral victory and all he is left to consider his humiliation in the face of a humanitarian struggle and the fact that his very being was 'reduced to so much small change in her hand'. Both poets conclude with their intentions of the poem. Ferlinghetti remarks sarcastically at the inequality of democracy which supposedly puts countries like America above the third world countries whilst Arun Kolatkur leaves us with a message about humility and humanity, it is not for the wealthy to assume a moral high ground. ?? ?? ?? ?? Joshua Blake 13/02/07 ...read more.

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