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Grace Nichols Poetry Comparison

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How does Grace Nichols convey the life of the slave women in her poetry? One way Grace Nichols shows us how the slave women had to live is by saying what they had to do for their captors. In her poem 'We the women' Grace says 'we the women who cutclearfetchdigsing'. The idea of not putting spaces between each work shows how hard they had to work without a break. Grace also says 'we the women who toil' which also shows how hard they had to work. The simile 'whose deaths they sweep aside as easy as dead leaves' shows how much they were hated and seen as pieces of rubbish. The use of the word 'we' in the poem shows just how many women had been captured and a gives a sense of empathy with the slave women. The sun in this poem is shown as a bad figure even though it gives life. To the slaves it is bad because it makes the labour they have to do even harder than it should be. The slaves tried to cheer themselves up by singing. The verb 'sing' in the poem has a religious connotation which shows their belief in God. However, this belief is doubted by the suffering they have to endure day after day and also because their prayers go unsung, as Grace says. ...read more.


This is because the slave woman is carrying it on her head whenever they needed water which, in the heat, is often. It also shows how much work they had to do and for how long every day. Grace says in this poem as well that they are like cattle 'always hurried'. This conveys how badly they were treated and actually what the captors saw them as. The words 'tried to walk like a woman' is used to show how injured they were because of work and the fact they could not walk properly. Grace implies that the slaves had to pull themselves erect to keep some self-esteem, to keep going and not give up, and to show the overseers they will survive whatever they throw at them. However a vast number of slaves died during the 18th century alone. 'Ala' is a poem about a woman killing her own child and then being punished for it. In the poem, the slave has given birth to a child which she does not wish to keep because of who the father is. In this instance the father is one of the overseers/captors who raped her. This poem also symbolizes the horror the slave women had to go through and the fact that the title is a religious word meaning 'god' their cry for help to their God. ...read more.


The baby is being dropped here onto the ground because there are no medical facilities available. Grace says the baby is 'my tainted, perfect child'. This is an oxymoron because she is saying two virtual opposites together. The hatred towards the overseers raping them is shown in the words, 'my bastard fruit' and 'my strange mulatto'. The second example shows that the baby's father's parents are mixed race and the mother does not like this. It will always remind her of the slave drivers or her captors if she ever escapes from their grasp. Where as the first shows how appreciative the overseers are of the baby but not the mother. She wishes it wasn't born so it did not have to become a slave. Grace uses the words 'my sea grape' to show how far they have had to travel before arriving at their work place or deathbeds in many instances. At the end she says 'now my sweet one it is for you to swim' showing that the baby should make its own decisions on its life and to begin its journey. Overall Grace Nichols poems show her hatred towards what happened to her ancestor's long time ago and what is still happening today in some places. She believes ruling on it should be stricter and so there will be no slaves left. Adam Giles 2nd Draft 10/06/07 Page 1 ...read more.

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