Poem Analysis of Chicago

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Poetry Analysis of “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg Carl Sandburg’s 1914 poem, “Chicago”, depicts Illinois’s largest city as a flawed, yet vibrant, industrial and commercial center, in the heart of America. Although the city has its shortcomings and darkness, Sandburg shows it is a dynamic city with redeeming qualities. In an attempt to capture the working class American experience, Sandburg applies literary techniques such as personification, simile, and repetition to create a vivid image of Chicago, embracing the good and bad that the city has to offer. Immediately, Sandburg brings the city to life with the use of personification. He does not describe it as a place that butchers hogs or where tools are made, he names it “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, etc.,” thus giving it a human quality and positive attributes. Sandburg goes a step further in his personification by continually referring to the city as “you.” At the beginning of the poem such repetition as, “you are wicked… you are crooked…you are brutal,” hammers in a rather derogatory personification of Chicago. As the poem progresses, the author defends his city and the attributes become complimentary, such as proud, bold, strong and cunning. Not only does Sandburg give the city human attributes, he also gives it human anatomy such as a mouth that is filled with white teeth and big shoulders. He names it “City of the Big Shoulders” instilling the reader with vivid imagines of a broad, big-shouldered person, domineering and assertive. By extension, we can relate that personality to the city as a whole. As the reader approaches the end of the poem, Chicago is so personified that it seems more like a person than a place. The city has actually turned into one of its inhabitants with a heartbeat and a pulse. Sandburg creates an image of Chicago as a strong and burly, hardworking man. Just

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