The Legend Garrett Hongo Analysis

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Explication – “The Legend” by Garrett Hongo “The Legend” by Garrett Hongo dramatizes the difficulties that face immigrants in the United States and the anonymity by which they can exist. In the poem, an unidentified Asian man is shot down during the day of a cold Chicago winter. The speaker is a disgruntled observer of the incident who is not appreciative of the fact that a man, especially an Asian immigrant, can be killed during “the twilight of early evening” with little to no reaction from the witnesses. The speaker is hoping to illuminate the invisibility that immigrants can live under in the United States and that even violent acts against them can go unnoticed. During the first stanza, the speaker states the setting to be Chicago during a light snowfall in the late afternoon. A man has just finished his laundry and the speaker assumes him that he takes pleasure in the warmth of his hands in the cold winter. The speaker makes an allusion to a Rembrandt painting as the setting sun creates “a triangle of orange in the hollow of [the man’s] cheek”. The speaker’s vivid and detailed description of the setting as well as the visual appearance of the man shows how no one is invisible but to those who choose not to care nor place any importance on their lives. The speaker is the only witness of the incident who chooses to care about this man and therefore can give, in lively detail, a clear recollection. In the second stanza, the speaker describes the man as “Asian, Thai, or Vietnamese”, which shows that the actual nationality of the man is not important. The speaker is trying to communicate that the man is killed and no one notices because he is an immigrant and from another country, he can be from anywhere but if he is not from here, by passers will choose to make no notice of the incident. The speaker describes the man’s killer “as a boy [and] that’s all he

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