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Essay About Love in Baraka’s For Hettie

Searching for a Deeper Love in Baraka’s For Hettie

Amari Baraka’s poem, “For Hettie,” may seem to be like just another Hallmark card; trite, overly simplistic, and unrealistic. However, after reading this poem, our thoughts changed drastically. Our first impressions were that it was insulting and offensive. The speaker criticizes almost every aspect of his wife, even her unborn child. The first time through, we saw no evidence of love or affection. In addition, we also recognized how it could be interpreted as a loving view, with the central concept being imperfect love. Either way, both sides provide convincing arguments for each perspective.

The speaker is supposed to be writing a love poem to his wife, but the unmistakable criticism he places on her makes one wonder if this is really love he speaks of. It may not be a “traditional” love story, but he does not need to degrade his wife in this manner. Reading through this poem the first time made us feel defensive and almost angry at the speaker for criticizing his wife so badly. Although it is flattering to be the subject of a poem, we do not think many women would like to be written about in this way.

Hettie is left-handed, which seems to be the whole basis of her “weirdness.” He says it is “A sin and a shame” (Baraka 7.699) how people always try to be different. Why does he consider her left-handedness a shame? It is not fair to say this, because she has no control over it. Also, her husband commands her like she is an animal, and thinks he must tell her what to do, and what is right, because after all, he evidently has all the answers. At one point he even appears angry because she is not writing in the proper direction, and he shows this anger in a particular style. Written in all caps he says to her, “TAKE THAT DAMN PENCIL OUTTA THAT HAND. YOU’RE RITING BACKWARDS” (13-15.699). From the way she dresses to the way she acts, she cannot please this man. He even goes so far as to “attack” their child that is soon to be born. He states, “

Relationship between Chopin’s Life and The Awakening

Relationship between Chopin’s Life and The Awakening

Katherine O’Flahtery Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri February 8,1851. She was the daughter of Thomas and Eliza O’Flaherty, a prominent Irish-born merchant and his wife. Together, Chopin’s parents represented freedom and the American dream. Their ambition and spirit helped mold Chopin into a unique character with independence and intelligence. Her father died suddenly when Chopin was four years old. His death was the result of a terrible accident that took the lives of several civic leaders when the key link to the Pacific Railroad was being completed and a bridge collapsed. After Thomas O’Flahtery’s death, Katherine’s childhood was most profoundly influenced by her mother and grandmother, women of French Creole pioneers. As a child, Chopin spent much of her time with her family’s Creole and mulatto slaves, whose dialects she mastered. She studied piano, wrote poetry, and read books by such famous authors as Dickens, Austen, and Goethe. Although Katherine displayed a very independent and responsible personality, she was once nicknamed the littlest rebel for yanking down a Union flag. However, despite her free spirit, Chopin grew to be a leading social belle, admired for her wit and beauty.

As a debutante, Chopin was an undistinguished student at the convent school named the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart. She graduated at age seventeen and spent two years as a young woman of fashionable St. Louis society. It was then that the young Katherine O’Flaherty met Oscar Chopin, a wealthy Creole cotton factor. In the year 1870, Kate married Oscar and, for the next decade, Kate Chopin pursued the demanding social and domestic schedule of a wealthy wife and mother. …

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…r that surrounded the publication of The Awakening, and its harsh reception is what ultimately stopped her from writing. She felt that because of the vast amount of controversy and criticism she received because of The Awakening, there was no future for her as an author. Chopin devoted the last few years of her life to her family.

Katherine O’Flaherty Chopin died of a cerebral hemorrhage on August 22, 1904 at the age of 53. Many felt that Kate Chopin had been denied the recognition she desperately wanted and richly deserved. As well as The Awakening, other of Chopin’s writings are receiving the critical acclaim that they had been neglected. The short stories collected in Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie established Chopin as an important writer of local-color fiction.

Works Cited:

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. 1899. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1993.

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