Literature Review (Snapping Beans)
In the poem, “Snapping Beans”, Lisa Parker has portrayed the story of the speaker and her conversation with her grandmother. The speaker is assumed to be a girl because the poet has used a distinctively feminine voice. The speaker and her grandmother are snapping beans while sitting together on a porch together. The poem then goes on to explore the series of emotions sparked in the mid of the speaker when the grandmother asks her a simple question, ‘How is school a-going’? (Meyer, 141). Upon being asked this question, the speaker embarks on chain of thoughts regarding the problems she was facing, at her school in North, and yet, how happy she felt.
The poem also explores the speaker’s relationship with her grandmother. From the way they are conversing, it is clear that they must have shared a close bond before the speaker shifted to her new school. It is evident in the initial few lines of the poem that the speaker is studying in a school away from her home, and has come to her home during the weekend. The poem is a narrative about the problems and issues faced by youngsters when they go to a school or college, away from their homes.
The poem explores the feelings and fear of the speaker as she has joined a new school away from home. The speaker is finding it difficult to adjust in the more modern environment at her new school, in the North. The speaker sadly ponders on her own thoughts about how much she would like to tell her grandmother about the new unorthodoxy lectures she attends at school, about her friends who wrote poems about sex and wore nose rings. The speaker also thinks about how she cries in the night and wishes to the the evening star for being back at home. She wanted to tell her grandmother that she was afraid of speaking in the class and yet, she felt happy being there. The poem ends with speaker, believing that her grandmother would be unable understand her apprehensions, telling her grandmother lie that school is fine.
The poet, Lisa Parker, was herself 27 years old when she wrote the poem. The poem reflects her own experiences with college and schools, as she studied away from her parents and home. In this literature review, I would conduct an explication and analysis of the poem, Snapping Beans.
The most noticeable feature about the poem is that the poet has adopted a narrative style and hence not used rhyme. The poem is in the form of a story thus, explaining the missing rhyme scheme in the poem.
The most important literary device used by the poet is imagery. The poet creates image of the speaker and grandmother sitting on their porch in front of the cornfield. This image gives an impression that they both are enjoying a peaceful day together. However, it also represents the contrast between the outer peace and the inner conflict inside the heart of the speaker.
The language devices used by the poet include smiles, personification and metaphor. The author uses the simile “the revelations by book and lecture as real as any shout of faith, potent as a swig of strychnine” (Meyer, 141), to show that the speaker’s mind is going a transition as she is learning newer things and she is becoming open minded. The poet then uses personification when she writes “heartsick panels of the quilt she made me”, showing that the quilt panels are heartsick because the speaker cries into the quilt while missing her home and her grandmother.
The poet also uses alliteration in two instances, “I snapped beans into the silver bowl” (Meyer, 141) and “that sat on the splintering slats” (Meyer, 141), to emphasize on the b-sounds and the s-sounds. Lastly, the poet uses an important metaphor, “hickory leaf”, comparing the speaker to it. The grandmother remarks about how the hickory leaf is let loose and blown away by the wind. This poet relates with the speaker who also living away from her home, to study independently.
Overall, the poet has used very definitive words to convey her feeling. Her style of writing works with the reader because they are immediately able to connect with the speaker.
- Michael Meyer, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, 9th ed.[Boston: Bedford, 2011] 782.