The next stanza is separate from the others as it only has two lines and says ‘No sign says it is: but we know where we belong’ is following from the third verse ‘white’s only inn’. This couplet is separate to make it stand out that he is not wanted, and neither are any black people, in the restaurant. No sign actually says that black people are not allowed in, but the guard says everything.
In the fourth stanza, Tatamkhulu is describing the interior of the restaurant. He starts the verse as if he was a little child by writing ‘I press my nose to the clear panes.’ A child stands in front of a window of a sweet shop because they are not allowed in. This is the same context, Afrika is not allowed in so he presses his nose against the window to see what is inside. In the rest of the verse, he is talking about what he sees inside the restaurant. ‘Crushed ice white glass, linen falls, the single rose’ these are the touches of quality inside the ‘haute cuisine’. ‘Linen falls’ is the tablecloth. Linen suggests quality as it is expensive and hard to clean. ‘The single rose’ also suggests quality. You get an image of a table with linen falls and one single rose on the table with a burning candle.
In this fifth stanza, Tatamkhulu compares the café to the posh restaurant down the road. Afrika writes ‘Down the road, working mans café sells bunny chows’ tells us that this café is more to his standard as it is selling more common food and the fact that it is a café is significant as it is isn’t fancy. As well as a café not being posh, it is also usually outside in the open, which is not very stylish and looks a lot cheaper than a restaurant. ‘Take it with you, eat it at a plastic table’s top’ adds to the description of cheap and nasty. ‘Eat it at a plastic table’s top’ says to you that this café is simple as it uses plastic, which is cheap and easy to clean, whereas at the restaurant they have linen and roses on the table. ‘Take it with you’ lets you know about the kind of food that the ‘working man’ sells, food that you can take away, whereas if you sit in and eat at the restaurant then you would eat your food there and then. If you do eat at the restaurant you would be eating quality, but if you eat at the café then the food would be hotdogs, sandwiches and other takeaway food. ‘Wipe your fingers on your jeans, spit a little on the floor: it’s in the bone’. If you look at the first part of the quote, it says, ‘Wipe your fingers on your jeans’ this suggests that there is nothing for you to wipe your hands on, so you should wipe them on your jeans. ‘Wipe your hands on your jeans’, also suggests that you eat with your hands and then wipe them on your jeans. In the middle of the quote, Afrika writes ‘spit a little on the floor’ meaning that the food is of poor quality and has pieces of gristle in it. I also think this means that black people have to eat here because the food is of poor quality and you spit on the floor, wipe your hands on your jeans and take your food with you. Jeans are clothes for working and are for the common man. Now we come to the last section of the quote ‘it’s in the bone’ suggests that it is a part of black people and it is how they live. Tatamkhulu writes about this café to contrast with the expensive restaurant. He doesn’t use any complex words he just says it how it is. There is hardly any description in this stanza as you can see, Afrika writes plain, simple words in the verse and does not get into too much detail.
We are now at the sixth stanza, where Tatamkhulu pulls away from the glass and becomes angry. As Afrika writes this verse he must have been feeling extremely angry, he writes ‘hands burn for a stone, a bomb to shiver down the glass’ this suggesting that he has seen inside the restaurant and wants to get hold of something to smash the window and show his anger. The choice of words that Afrika uses in this stanza make all the difference, ‘small, mean O of small, mean mouth’ is describing when Tatamkhulu pulls his face away from the restaurant window after he sees all of the ‘linen falls’ and ‘crushed ice white glass’ which all make him mad as he isn’t allowed inside. ‘To shiver down the glass’ carries on from when Afrika is talking about wanting a bomb or a stone to smash the window of the fancy restaurant. I think Tatamkhulu Afrika uses the expression ‘shiver’ because the people are cold hearted and evil. He has now expressed all of his feeling, from upset and sadness to anger in this poem. At the start he was very descriptive when setting the scene and showing his feelings. He ends by writing ‘Nothing’s Changed’, which is significant as he is talking about racial prejudice throughout the poem. At the beginning he says that nothing has changed as when he last visited District Six the apartheid was in motion and even though it has now been lifted there is still that little hint of it still in the air. As he finds out when he isn’t allowed inside the restaurant ‘No sign says it is but we know where we belong’ this short verse says it all about the racial discrimination even without the apartheid. Imagine what it would have been like when it was the law for black people not to mix with white people. In Tatamkhulu Afrika’s poem he has explored cultural issues such as the discrimination; the apartheid and expressed his feelings and attitude towards it in an angry tone.
In the next poem I have been reading, the message is the same as ‘Nothing’s Changed’ because in this poem there are two different kinds of people that shouldn’t mix. However in ‘Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes’ this group of people shouldn’t mix as they are socially worlds apart but in ‘Nothing’s Changed’ the subjects couldn’t mix as culture is holding them back. The writer of ‘Two Scavengers’, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, shows the message of cultural issues in a different way than Afrika, whereas he was showing them in a form of racial abuse, Ferlinghetti puts them across as social issues. Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers, New York on March 24th 1919. He began writing poetry during his years at boarding school in the late 1920's. It wasn’t until very late, that he brought us this poem that I am about to discuss, ‘Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes’. Ferlinghetti sets out this poem in a peculiar way, the verses aren’t in any set place and the lines in the stanza are all over. But it has some significance to the poem, the lines are set out as if each one is staying away from the other and the poem is about garbage men and ‘two beautiful people in a Mercedes’ not socializing together. The poem's structure is fairly free. The poet doesn't use punctuation; instead, he begins a new line when he wants us to pause in our reading. This slows the poem down and gives us time to appreciate each idea. In addition, whereas Afrika wrote the poem in first person, Lawrence writes it in third as it is not as personal to him as ‘Nothing’s Changed’ was to Tatamkhulu. The title shows us straight away that the poem will be about the contrasts between two pairs of people. 'Scavengers' is a derogatory term for the garbage men because it suggests that they live off the rubbish of others - a scavenger beetle lives off rotting flesh. However, 'Beautiful People' is a compliment. So, right from the start, we feel the garbage men are at a disadvantage.
At the start of the poem the poet is writing about the two sets of people meeting for a few seconds maybe minutes at the traffic lights. Lawrence writes ‘two garbage men in red plastic blazers’ this can be compared to ‘Nothing’s Changed’ when Afrika had to eat at the café where they had plastic tables which are cheap and easy to clean or replace. He then writes ‘standing on the back stoop’ suggesting that the garbage men have to stand on the ‘bright yellow garbage truck’ whilst moving around on their journey whilst cleaning up other peoples junk and rubbish, which can’t be a very pleasant job. Straight away you realize that the garbage men are going to be the ones who are like Tatamkhulu in N.C as Ferlinghetti writes ‘one on each side hanging on and looking down into the elegant open Mercedes’ which tells us that they are being compared against the people inside the ‘open Mercedes’. The garbage men represented negatively here although they are looking down on the people inside the ‘elegant Mercedes’ so they could be being represented positively. It is the lower culture that do the looking and longing just like in ‘Nothing’s Changed’.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti makes comparison through the vehicles here, the garbage men are driving and standing on a ‘bright yellow truck’ whilst the elegant couple drive around downtown San Francisco in an open top Mercedes. Now we come to the people inside the Mercedes, Ferlinghetti describes the man first by writing ‘The man in a hip three-piece linen suit’, first of all he shows the mans youth and freedom by saying that he is wearing a ‘hip’ suit, and the fact that Ferlinghetti uses the comparison between ‘linen’ and ‘plastic’. This is the comparison that Afrika uses in his poem, as linen is expensive and hard to clean so you are forced to replace it, but if you are using plastic then it is easy to clean and even if you were forced to replace it, it will be cheap. ‘Shoulder-length blond hair & sunglasses’ make the man sound stylish and you can easily create that image in your head. You get the image of an elegant man with straight, chic, shiny blond hair with expensive sunglasses in a Mercedes cabriolet. When Lawrence comes to describing the woman he describes her as ‘young’ and ‘casually coiffed’ which makes her sound attractive and ‘sexy’. Ferlinghetti also describes the woman to be wearing a ‘short skirt and coloured stockings’ if you look at the last two lines in the poem he uses alliteration as he writes ‘casually coiffed’ and ‘short skirt’. This phrase sounds much more appealing than ‘gargoyle quasimodo’ which is how Ferlinghetti describes the garbage men. The techniques that the writer uses often make the poem sound completely different. In the third stanza, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is now describing the garbage men and how they look.
The last line in the second verse is ‘on the way to his architect’s office’ and the first line in the third is ‘and the two scavengers up since four a.m.’. There is a comparison between jobs here, as the garbage men have been up since 4 am and are now returning home just as the couple are going to work at 9 a.m. The man has a well-paid job and is rich, but in direct contrast, the garbage men have a horrible job, get very little pay and have to be ready for work at 4 am. ‘Grungy from their route’ suggests to us that the garbage men are dirty and tired from their early shift, whereas the elegant couple in the Mercedes only had to be ready at 9 am. Lawrence Ferlinghetti then writes ‘the older of the two with grey iron hair and hunched back looking down like some gargoyle Quasimodo’. I think that in this context Ferlinghetti is trying to portray the image of the garbage man as being ‘stone-face ugly’. The description of the older garbage man makes him stand out and the way in which he describes his hair. He makes it sound dull and tough, not soft and silky like the man’s hair in the Mercedes. When he describes the second of the garbage men he says ‘also young with long hair and sunglasses’ as if he could be just like the rich man. Ferlinghetti describes the man as young with sunglasses and long hair to make him sound like the rich man, but they are nothing alike.
In the fourth stanza Lawrence begins to describe the cultural side of things, by writing ‘And both scavengers gazing down as if from a great distance’ this quote as a whole suggests that they are so far apart when really they are adjacent to each other. Parked up at the traffic lights, they get a glimpse of the real life and what it is like leaving the house later than 4 am. Also driving in a stylish car and having a beautiful wife. If you look at the quote again but this time take a word out, ‘gazing’ it suggests that the two men on the truck are longing to be just like the couple in the Mercedes, but just can’t reach out and grab it. Lawrence Ferlinghetti also writes ‘the cool couple’ when he is describing the two people in the open car, he does this to make the point that they are so much different to the garbage men and their lifestyle. When the poet writes ‘as if they were watching some odourless TV ad in which everything is possible’ the thought you instantly get is the garbage men thinking that they one day could be like the Mercedes couple, but in reality it is impossible unless they win the lottery. When Ferlinghetti writes this, the garbage men are thinking that the couple is unreal and their lifestyle is out of reach. In the final stanza it says ‘as if anything were possible’ this phrase is repeated from the fourth stanza to make it more effective to add to the mood. And the final three lines of the poem finish it off perfectly by saying that the garbage men could possibly make it to where the elegant couple is but it would be equal to crossing the high seas which are very hard to get across. ‘Across that small gulf in the high seas of this democracy’ the distance between the two vehicles is very small like a narrow gulf that should be relatively easy to cross. Yet we also think of other meaning of gulf - a deep chasm or abyss. It may look easy to cross but really, it is impossible. The lives of the two pairs may cross 'for an instant', but they will never be genuinely close together. The poet writes ‘as if they were watching some odourless TV ad’, because when you see something on television they make everything look possible but in actual fact, the garbage men just could never become rich and stylish like the beautiful people in the Mercedes.
I have now analysed both poems, given quotes and explained them. Therefore, we conclude both poems. In the first, ‘N.C’ written by Tatamkhulu Afrika he explores the cultural issues of racial discrimination and his attitude towards it. In the second of the two, Two Scavengers, written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, he explores the cultural issues of social discrimination and his attitude towards it. In the poem, N.C Afrika describes the posh restaurant by writing ‘linen-falls’ and then when he comes to describing the café he writes ‘eat it at a plastic table’s top’ making a direct comparison between the posh restaurant and the grubby café. In Ferlinghetti’s poem ‘Two Scavengers…’ he describes what the beautiful man is wearing, which is a ‘three-piece linen suit’ and then when he describes the garbage men, they are wearing ‘red plastic blazers’. This is again another comparison between the two types of people. In addition, both poems have used these comparisons to split the two groups of society apart. Both poets use their attitude in the poems but whereas Afrika writes his in first person and Ferlinghetti writes his in third person Afrika’s poem has more feeling as it is from his point of view. In the first poem, ‘Nothing’s Changed’, Tatamkhulu uses his point of view to get his feelings across, but in ‘Two Scavengers…’ Lawrence does not write it using his feelings, therefore making the poem ‘Nothing’s Changed’ much stronger.