The History Teacher vs. the Barred Owl

365 Words2 Pages
In “The History Teacher”, the teacher tries to protect his students’ innocence by sugar-coating the raw facts of historical events. He understates the situations, calling the ice age the “Chilly Age”. However, when the children are released for free time, they show their natural actions where they torment one-another. Using an allusion, Billy Collins compared the children tormenting one another with an important scene from Lord of the Flies. This is seen in the line where he states that the children go about “messing up their hair and breaking their glasses”. This was the scene where Piggy’s glasses were broken in Lord of the Flies. Billy Collins also adds the imagery of the American dream when he mentions walking past white picket fences and flower beds. He tries to keep the children’s innocence and have them believe in this utopia, however he questions whether that is possible. Similar to “The History Teacher”, “A Barred Owl” is also about an adult, in this case a parent trying to keep her child’s innocence. “A Barred Owl” is about a typical scenario where a child is afraid of the unknown in the dark. Both involve adults telling lies in order to try to protect the youth. The irony in this is that the adults are doing something that is morally frowned upon, however it is suppose to actually help the kids. Contrasting areas between these two poems include the rhyme schemes. “A Barred Owl” is based on an AB rhyme scheme, whereas the structure of “The History Teacher” does not follow a particular format. In “A Barred Owl”, Richard Wilbur writes about how he knows that the real world is cruel. However in “The History Teacher”, Billy Collins is in denial of this cruel world and insists on saving his children and mind washing them to believe that the world is a perfect place where everyone is essentially good. The title of A barred Owl is ironic itself because
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