Interpretation of Poem “Incident”- Countee Cullen
The boy's innocence and naive ness is what makes readers feel sorry for him. I think that is why Cullen chose to make the character in his poem so young. If the boy had been a grown man instead I don't think his readers would have had the same reaction because in that time period that incident was nothing out of the ordinary. It was common to hear of a black man experiencing that kind of discrimination and things far worse like lynching.
Hence, a Black individual roaming the locality of Baltimore with a cheerful countenance appears to strike the attention of those who have lived there and those who have an understanding of the historical context of the society. Hence, it is no surprise that the Baltimorean kept “looking straight” at the speaker. In the context of Saussure, the concept of “old Baltimore” may suggest the presumption that it may not necessarily be the case that the area of “Baltimore” is not to be taken strictly in the sense of being “old” in terms of age.As a child of eight years, the psychological effects of the experience of being called a “Nigger” is emotionally or psychologically devastating which is the idea being presented in the last stanza (Piaget 81).
Inevitably society cannot replace spirituality without losing a portion of it’s soul and resulting in men that are devoid of life.
Cullen, Countee. “Incident.” Caroling Dusk: An Anthology of Verse by Black Poets of the Twenties. New York, N.Y.: Citadel, 1993. 187.
Phillips, Christopher. “Slavery and the Growth of Baltimore.” Freedom’s Port: The African American Community of Baltimore, 1790-1860 (Blacks in the New World). Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.
Piaget, Jean. “Memory and the Structure of Imge-Memories.” The Psychology of the Child. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 2000. 81.
Eliot, T.S. “The Hollow Men” The Pearson Custom Library of American Literature. Eds. John Bryan, et al. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2007. 249- 253.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.