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Thread: The little mute boy by Federico Garcia Lorca - my interpretation

  1. #1
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    Jun 2011

    The little mute boy by Federico Garcia Lorca - my interpretation

    Hey all I tried analysing this poem, naturally, there is much room for improvement. (I just started taking English literature, after all, and English is not my first language.) Please help me review, and help me correct any mistakes in my analysis. Also, are there any other aspects that I should analyse?

    P.S. Can a kind soul explain trochees, even after consulting the internet and library books, I can't seem to find it in poetry unless it is pointed out, and to me it does not seem to have much effect on the understanding of a poem. And how do you determine "euphony" and "cacophony", that bit doesn't seem to make much sense to me...and when there is assonance, is there necessarily euphony?

    The little boy was looking for his voice.
    (The king of the crickets had it.)
    In a drop of water
    the little boy was looking for his voice.

    I do not want it for speaking with;
    I will make a ring of it
    so that he may wear my silence
    on his little finger

    In a drop of water
    the little boy was looking for his voice.

    (The captive voice, far away,
    put on a cricket's clothes.)

    My analysis

    The title of the poem ‘the little mute boy’ conveys the message of the inability to speak, and hence, express oneself. The idea that the mute is young (‘boy’) and diminutive (‘little’) gives rise to the impression of the insignificance and juvenility of the mute. This title prepares the reader for the poem, which, with its simple, unassuming language, allows the reader to easily relate to the character in the poem.

    The poem’s central message is the inevitability of the loss and willing submission of individual expression to a higher authority, I believe this is a reference to society, in order to gain acceptance. The “king of the crickets” – society – has taken the boy’s voice, it is natural that the boy looks for it, but during the shift in narrative, the boy proclaims that he wanted to make an accessory of his voice so that “he” – society – may “wear [the boy’s] silence”. The idea of the boy looking for his “voice” only to subjugate it to the will of society by demoting it to a mere adornment gives the reader a sense of the inevitability of the loss of individual expression.

    The last stanza, in third person, depicting the imagery of the captured voice itself donning the “cricket’s clothes”, further compounds the inevitability of the loss of individual expression; as even the “captive voice” itself conforms to the “king” – society – without the owner’s instigation and having ‘become’ a cricket, fall under the jurisdiction of the “king”. This ultimately confirms that conformity is a naturally occurring process, almost subconscious, and in the end, losing individual expression in unavoidable. This is perhaps the poet’s way of highlighting people and society’s inability to embrace their own and other’s individuality in society, which dictates that people conform.

    The structure of the poem is formal, in stanzas, and tries to convey the idea by alternating between the actions (“Little boy was looking”) and the problem of the willing subjugation and loss of individual expression. This back-to-back comparison serves to elevate the tension of the conflict in the poem and impresses upon the reader the significance of the problem, despite the seeming insignificance of the self, likened to the unobtrusive little mute boy in the poem.

    The narrative poem (can it be considered a narrative poem?) has four stanzas with the first two stanzas having four lines and the last two stanzas having two lines. This seeming structure is broken by the author’s use of free verse – the lines are fragmented and do not rhyme – perhaps to underscore the illogic of society’s demand for conformation; that it is impossible to get people to all be the same within even if they are forced to act the same without.

    There is a sudden change in narrative, going from third person in the first stanza to the undramatised first person in the second stanza and back to third person in the third and fourth stanzas. The persona is undramatised possibly because it is a commentary of the behaviour of the people in society at large. This change in narrative gives us insight to the mind of the persona, who, paradoxically, looks for his voice only to give it away. This reversal, meant to disorientate the reader, is perhaps meant to satirise people’s actions, thereby shedding some light on the problem faced.

    The fantastical imagery:
    -of a "cricket king" stealing a "voice" (Society stealing ability of individual expression?)
    -of a "voice" contained in a drop of water (Expression being fluid?)
    -of a "voice" - something intangible, - being transformed into something tangible, a ring, and being giftable
    -of a "voice" putting on "cricket's clothing" (The individual expression being covered up and hence, subjugated?)

    (BTW can a tone be neutral? Are there any examples?)

    The persona's tone is obviously determined. Through the poem, he never stops searching for the "voice". However, the repetition of "the little boy was looking for his voice" perhaps conveys a note of desperation as it gives an impression of frantic searching. It adds to the tension of the poem and makes the ending of the poem more impactful, when the boy ends up never finding the "voice" and it conforms anyway. It suggests that the fate of conformity and loss of individual expression is unavoidable, whether the individual is able to find their sense of self and express it or not.

    Ok , that's the end of my interpretation. (I know that I need to have a conclusion somewhere in there, but I'm stuck. Conclusions are generally for evaluations, but isn't a poem analysis an evaluation? My teacher already said that a summation isn't good enough, so when writing an essay on poetry analysis, how should the conclusion look like?)

  2. #2
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    Jun 2011
    i think it's good becase you underline the most important aspects of this poem . i don't know what your teacher exactly wants from your analysis. for me it's very good. here in Italy we used to express our thoughts and impression in the end of our analysis.. you could try writing something about your impression if you want .. anyway.. well done

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