White Lies Natasha Trethewey Analysis

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Charmayne Hill Professor Young ENGL 1120 25 March 2011 Imagism Natasha Trethewey’s “White Lies” discusses issues of race and the struggle of identity, which are at the heart of Trethewey’s poem. In this poem imagery represents colors and lies to describe the main character. Imagery the collective set of images in a poem or other literary work. The author points out that, by employing skillfully techniques of imagery, symbolism and metaphor, and by utilizing concrete details, Trethewey is able to communicate effectively the difficulties she experiences growing up interracial. The poem tells of an African American girl, struggling with her identity that may tell lies that she doesn’t really mean much. She lies about where she lives, where she brought her clothes, and would also lie about being African American. When she lies about her skin color, “I could even keep quiet, quiet as kept, like the time a white girl said (squeezing my hand),…show more content…
The colors also paint a picture of a young girl untrue to herself and the honest proclamation of her betrayal towards her heritage. In order to fully grasp the meaning of the poem, it is important to understand Trethewey’s upbringing. Threthewey was born in Mississippi in 1966 to a black mother and a white father. At a time, interracial marriage was illegal in Mississippi and viewed with a great deal of shame by society. Based off of these facts, a reasonable assumption can be made that the speaker in the poem is indeed Trethewey. The unacceptance of an interracial marriage at that time only reinforced the unfortunate shame Tretheway felt as a half-black half-white girl living in the South. In her eyes, the acceptance in society was dependent on the color of one’s skin. If gaining privileges meant lying about her ethnicity to others, then a small “white lie” couldn’t do much more
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