White Lies Poem Analysis

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Analysis of the poem “White Lies” by Natasha Tretheway The lies I could tell, when I was growing up light-bright, near-white, high-yellow, red-boned in a black place, were just white lies. I could easily tell the white folks that we lived uptown, not in that pink and green shanty-fied shotgun section along the tracks. I could act like my homemade dresses came straight out of the window of Maison Blanche. I could even keep quiet, quiet as I kept, like the time a white girl said (squeezing my hand), Now we have three of us in the class. But I paid for every time Mama find out. She laid her hands on me, then washed on my mouth with ivory soap. This is to purified, she said, and cleanse your lying tongue. Believing…show more content…
It does not have a rhyme pattern because written in free verse. In this poem Thretaway writes about a little African American girl that tells lies that may really don’t matter, but in some point they do. The author describes every image of the poem so that the reader can imagine everything clearly. The first stanza uses lot of color imagery; it uses six colors to describe the lies the little girl, who is the author, told (J. Sirkant). In this stanza the author is also using these colors to describe her skin tone as she was growing up in a black community. At the end of this stanza she uses the title of the poem to tell the reader that no matter what colors where the lies “in a black place, were just white lies” (Tretheway 5 – 6). This title may have two connotations because by saying “white lies” she may be implying that these lies were all just about simple and unimportant things. However, this may also mean the little African American girl pretend being…show more content…
The reader can understand better the girl did not look much like an African American in the last three strophes of the second stanza: “I could even keep quiet, quiet as I kept/ keep quiet, quiet as I kept, like the time a white girl said/ (squeezing my hand), Now /we have three of us in the class.”(Treteway 15 – 19). Here the reader can see this image clearly, and can fully understand the reason she just kept quiet or lied. After all she is just a little girl and liked the way the white girl was acting as her friend, not pushing her apart just because she was black. It is also important to know the author’s background so that we can entirely understand the poem. Thretaway was born in Mississippi in 1966; she was the daughter of a white man from Nova Scotia and a black woman and in the mid-sixties interracial marriage was considered a crime. Just by knowing this important facts of her life the reader can recognize that her poem “White Lies” is somehow an autobiographical

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