Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Little Black Boy

I chose to analyze William Blake's The Little Black Boy. This poem caught my attention because it is centered around discrimination towards African Americans during the 17 and 1800s. The little black boy gets a strength from God and what he has been taught from his mother to overcome his "inferiority" from his slave years and "repay" the little white boy with fellowship.

Primarily, the poem presents a past and present identity for the little black boy. The poem starts off as him being a younger child, just big enough to sit on his mother's lap as she tells him the greatness of God and all he has given to us on this earth. His mother is conversing with him up to stanza 6, and stanza 6 tells of him in "present day" imagining of his newly acquired knowledge. The two different "versions" of the little black boy help put the poem in perspective because I feel like he is a feeble, young mind towards the beginning, but he matures and his mind somewhat transforms in the last two stanzas. His feelings towards whites, I feel are different than many slaves back during these years, and this also shows strength because he is taking his own side and being the "leader" not the "follower." The boy has been exposed to God's strength, along with the love of his mother in the past (those few moments of the story telling), and these two powers allow him to look past the inferior state many African Americans were in during this time period. The little black boy realizes that the little white boy is one of God's children, and he wants to "be like him, and [the white boy] will then love him."

He also utilizes the first person point of view frequently in the last two stanzas, portraying he is truly confident in himself on the inside and out. The last line of the poem states "[the little white boy] will then love me." After reading this line, I felt like it cemented the fact that the black boy has fully transformed into a "little white boy" in a way. In stanza 6, the little black boy uses "lambs," referring to both him and the white boy, and he also references him and the white boy together in three consecutive lines, also illustrating a growing "strength" of relationship.

This poem really illustrates the true strength of God's love and how it can really transform people's mindsets. This little boy, most likely enslaved, looked through the hardships whites have put him through and has now put joy not only in his life, but in another's life as well.

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