Compaing "A Barred Owl" to "The History Teacher"

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Comparing “A Barred Owl” and “The History Teacher” A child's innocence is such a mysterious thing. They are protected from the terrors of the outside world and left to create their own reality. In “The Barred Owl” by Richard Wilbur, a child is scared by the noise an owl outside its window makes. We are not given much imagery, only a description on the owl’s true nature as shown in “dreaming of some small thing in a claw, borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw”. “The History Teacher” by Billy Collins gives us a lot more imagery regarding how “innocent” the children really are and the teachers ignorance towards how effective lying to the children is when stated at “The children would leave his classroom for the playground to torment the weak and the smart, mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses”, and “...walked home past flower beds and white picket fences”. While A Barred Owl focused on calming a child’s nerves about something unknown, The History Teacher focused on hiding the truth from the children altogether. At the end of each poem, the tone changes drastically. A Barred Owl shows the owl’s true nature, a violent and gruesome one that does not really need to be told to the child at this point in her life. The History Teacher, on the other hand, changes to a tone where we realize that the teachers methods are incorrect. We are shown that despite being kept from the worlds violent truths, the children still know of violence and bullying. Although it was not much, the little dialogue the poems had both had the effect of sugar coating the truth in order to misguide the children to a false conception of reality. “Who cooks for you?”, as stated in The Barred Owl, uses the actual sound the owl made and personifies it in order to help the child cope with the fear it caused. In The History Teacher, the line “How far is it from here to Madrid?”
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