Tuesday
October 21, 2014

Homework Help: 10th grade English

Posted by Andy on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 5:08am.

This is my English oral speech. Please check whether there are any mistakes or awkward phrases. Please help ASAP

Published in 1974, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein is a poem which depicts our typical human life. In this poem, he criticises our life full of distress, and encourages us to move on to somewhere full of hope. To do so, he uses both aural and visual techniques throughout the poem. Regarding this message, many intertextual links can be found between this American-written poem and the image of the U.S. Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Most of the relations in both of these texts emphasises the change needed in our daily routines and the polluted world.

By using effective poetic techniques, the mood and the speed of the poem changes continuously throughout the poem. Our life in the first stanza is shown as light and consistent, with frequent use of alliteration. Such technique is shown in the third and the fourth line of the poem; ¡®grass grows¡¯ and ¡®sun burns crimson bright¡¯. This poetic technique enables the first stanza of the poem to follow smoothly and brightly.

However in the second stanza, combination of alliteration and homonyms change the mood of the poem completely different. Homonym is a group of words with same spelling and pronunciation, but have different in meaning due to two words having different origins. For example, ¡®Walk with a walk¡¯ used in the tenth and the thirteenth line of the poem shows exactly the same words being used twice in the sentence. However, the first ¡®Walk¡¯ in the sentence is a verb whereas the second ¡®walk¡¯ is a noun. These significant uses of techniques instantly change the mood of the poem to dark and slow. This is further strengthened by another use of alliteration used in the seventh and the eighth line of the poem; ¡®smoke blows back¡¯ and ¡®dark street winds and bends¡¯. This stanza clearly symbolises the dark and distressful side of our life.

The poem keeps its tempo until its third stanza by using many commas, but its mood changes again towards the bright side. The personification used by the poet in the fourteenth line of the poem, ¡®where the chalk white arrows go¡¯, make us visualise the white arrow moving as if it is just like humans. This creates the sense of hope and happiness, which enables us to understand how Shel is depicting our life. Using various techniques not only shifts the mood of the poem, but it also controls the pace of the poem.

The visual text shown above contains vivid intertextual links which can be drawn with Where the Sidewalk Ends. Within the Japanese territory, Iwo Jima is known as one of the most famous battlegrounds between the Americans and the Japanese, towards the end of the World War Two. The photo taken shows several soldiers putting their flags on top of the hill, signifying that they won the battle. Although the photo symbolises success, its mood and the atmosphere seems to be rigid and depressing, because of the way the photo is illustrated. The overall colour of the image seems to be dull and there isn¡¯t any source of light shining through the picture. These effects clearly represent the negative aspects of the war, that although winning the war may be great, the outcomes of the process are disastrous. Moreover, how things are situated and elevated in this visual text seems awkward and irregular. The position of the flag is diagonal to the image, which represents the tension during the time of the war. Surprisingly, the soldiers are also positioned diagonally, except they are against the pole. This implies that they are trying to end the tension created, as if it¡¯s their responsibility. Despite the fact that we know the photo signifies victory, the way it is illustrated provides completely different theme as we thought.

The intertextual connection between this photo and the poem is substantial. Although they are set in different periods of time, they both contain similar message and purpose. Both of these texts suggest that our life consists of both success and failure. Shel described the sidewalk as our life or journey. In the first and second stanza, he stresses that we both face good things and bad things as we live. Similarly in the photo, we can realize that fighting for your country is patriotic, however, the outcomes of the war are horrendous. It can be argued that the image represents the glory of the war, but both texts clearly have similarities in them. Moreover, the overall mood of both texts is quite relevant. Where the Sidewalk Ends shifts its mood from happy to gloomy, and finally to hopeful. Likewise, the photo I¡¯ve chosen also contains both joy and hatred in it. Although the soldiers are happy that they¡¯ve won the war and raising their flag, what they have lost and how they felt physically at that critical moment is rather stressful. These aspects definitely show that the poem and photo I¡¯ve selected contains intertextual connection between them.

Shel Silverstein¡¯s famous poem, Where the Sidewalk Ends and the photo of the American soldiers signifying that they won the battle on Iwo Jima both describes our life having both good and bad aspects. The hardship shown by the soldiers in the image agrees with the poem¡¯s line ¡®let us leave this place where the smoke blows black¡¯. Different technique used in the poem and the way the picture is illustrated also strengthens the link between these two texts. Therefore, it is evident that these two particular contents share similar, yet significant message for us.

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