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LAVC Marriages in Canterbury Tales and Todays Society Discussion

LAVC Marriages in Canterbury Tales and Todays Society Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a literature discussion question and need an explanation to help me understand better.

discussion 1

dialect and Dunbar

Dunbar was well-known during his time as a master of dialect poetry. In the module, we discuss Dunbar’s dialect as a possible form of “masking”. In other words, through his work he pretends to be someone who comforts or provides entertainment for his largely white reading audiences. African American dialect has often functioned in this way. It entertains. It provides humor. For this discussion, you have two choices:

1) Examine the use of dialect in the following poem. Does it simply entertain? Are there other issues that are being addressed? If so, what are they?

The Old Front Gate


Dey keep on a-gittin’ tall;

But de folks don’ seem to see

Dat dey’s growin’ up at all,

‘Twell dey fin’ out some fine day

Dat de gals has ‘menced to grow,

W’en dey notice as dey pass

Dat de front gate’s saggin’ low.

W’en de hinges creak an’ cry,

An’ de bahs go slantin’ down,

You kin reckon dat hit’s time

Fu’ to cas’ yo’ eye erroun’,

‘Cause daih ain’t no ‘sputin’ dis,

Hit’s de trues’ sign to show

Dat daih’s cou’tin goin’ on

W’en de ol’ front gate sags low.

Oh, you grumble an’ complain,

An’ you prop dat gate up right;

But you notice right nex’ day

Dat hit’s in de same ol’ plight.

So you fin’ dat hit’s a rule,

An’ daih ain’ no use to blow,

W’en de gals is growin’ up,

Dat de front gate will sag low.

Den you t’ink o’ yo’ young days,

W’en you cou’ted Sally Jane,

An’ you so’t o’ feel ashamed

Fu’ to grumble an’ complain,

‘Cause yo’ ricerlection says,

An’ you know hits wo’ds is so,

Dat huh pappy had a time

Wid his front gate saggin’ low.

So you jes’ looks on an’ smiles

At ’em leanin’ on de gate,

Tryin’ to t’ink whut he kin say

Fu’ to keep him daih so late,

But you lets dat gate erlone,

Fu’ yo’ ‘sperunce goes to show,

‘Twell de gals is ma’ied off,

It gwine keep on saggin’ low.


2) Address the issue of using dialect itself? How do you think it is used in contemporary pop culture? Does the use of dialect still signify “simple” or uneducated? What are your thoughts?

Discussion 2

the black hero

Note the use of hyperbole in black tall tales, especially those that feature such larger-than-life figures (“Stackolee” and “John Henry”). Given the racial climate of the time, why do you think these ballads are attractive to a listening or reading audience? In other words, what forces seem to have inspired the emergence of this figure?

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