Lorna Dee Cervantes’ poem, “Freeway 280.” Review

Task One— The Literal Context

To begin to understand Cervantes’s poem, first read it over carefully several times. Now, with this basic understanding of the poem, let’s work on explicating the fundamental, literal context of the poem. Who is this speaker? How do you know? What details in the poem suggest the speaker’s identity? Secondly, where are we? What details in the poem suggest the literal setting and action of the poem? Using this work, please write at least one full paragraph that details the identity of the speaker, the setting, and the action of the poem.

Task Two—Defining Metaphor & Simile

Next, after considering the literal level of the poem, I’d like you to define a metaphor and simile. Using your text and my lecture, define “metaphor” and “simile.” What are these techniques? How and why are they similar? How are they distinct? Once you define these terms, explore why poets use these techniques. What do these techniques achieve for them that imagery does not? Please write one full paragraph here.

Task Three—Cervantes’ Use of Metaphor & Simile

Now, with this work as a background, let’s explore Cervantes’ use of these techniques. What comparisons is she making? Are there, for example, comparisons between human and non human objects? Look especially for objects that are not literally in the poem. Identify these metaphors and then explore their significance. Using this work, please write at least one full paragraph that details the metaphors in the poem and what they seem to suggest.

Task Four—Theme

Finally, taking all of this work into account, I’d like you to consider the theme of Cervantes’ poem. Remember that when we state the theme of a poem, we are trying to state the impact of a poem as precisely as possible. This statement usually includes two things: an issue and an author’s comment on that issue. For example, if you think a story is about revenge, what does the author want you to believe about revenge? (Note: this comment is quite often implied, not stated. So you’ll probably have to try to put the pieces of the story together.)

Example: In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allen Poe suggests that revenge is an insatiable hunger that finally devours everyone associated with it.

Now, try to state your interpretation of Cervante’s theme. It’s probably easier to explore your ideas in a paragraph or so, but, eventually, try to state your idea in one precise sentence.

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