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Paired Passages: Sympathy, and An Account of an Experience with Discrimination
Paul Laurence Dunbar and Sojourner Truth

Sympathy

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I KNOW what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals -
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting -
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore, -
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings -
I know why the caged bird sings!


An Account of an Experience With Discrimination

by Sojourner Truth

A few weeks ago I was in company with my friend Josephine S. Griffing, when the conductor of a streetcar refused to stop his car for me, although (I was) closely following Josephine and holding on to the iron rail. They dragged us a number of yards before she succeeded in stopping them. She reported the conductor to the president of the City Railway, who dismissed him at once, and told me to take the number of the car whenever I was mistreated by a conductor or driver. On the 13th I had occasion to go for necessities for the patients in the Freedmen's Hospital where I have been doing and advising for a number of months. I thought now I would get a ride without trouble as I was in company with another friend, Laura S. Haviland of Michigan. As I ascended the platform of the car, the conductor pushed me, saying "Go back--get off here." I told him I was not going off, then "I'll put you off" said he furiously, clenching my right arm with both hands, using such violence that he seemed about to succeed, when Mrs. Haviland told him he was not going to put me off. "Does she belong to you?" said he in a hurried angry tone. She replied, "She does not belong to me, but she belongs to humanity." The number of the car was noted, and conductor dismissed at once upon the report to the president, who advised his arrest for assault and battery as my shoulder was sprained by his effort to put me off. Accordingly I had him arrested and the case tried before Justice Thompson. My shoulder was very lame and swollen, but is better. It is hard for the old slaveholding spirit to die. But die it must....




Both texts deal with racial discrimination. How does the structure of poem help convey this meaning in a way that the prose passage does not?
A) The poem conveys meaning through imagery; the prose passage does not.
B) The poem uses first person point of view; the prose passage does not.
C) The poem conveys meaning through metaphor; the prose passage does not.
D) The poem conveys meaning through its rhyme scheme; the prose passage does not.

How do these two passages differ in their approach to a similar topic?
A) Neither Truth nor Dunbar express any sadness or regret in their emotional stories.
B) Truth does not seem angry or unhappy about her encounter, while Dunbar is seething with rage.
C) Truth tells a specific story from her life, while Dunbar speaks in poetic terms of general emotion.
D) Dunbar tells a specific story from her life, while Truth speaks in poetic terms of general emotion.

I think they are both c.

  • ELA -

    I agree! Good work.

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