B as in Boy

In the poem Prelude to Bruise, there are many instances of repetition. There is especially a lot with the words broke/broken, boy, and with the letter B in general. Even the setting of this poem takes place in Birmingham. The word boy is also repeated numerous times and led me to think of how for many years, and even for some still today, black men would commonly be referred to as “boy” as yet another implicit way of white people expressing their feelings of superiority to them. The words mine and your(s) are also repeated many times and, I believe, are a focal point of the poem. This wording emphasizes the “us vs them” mentality even more and expresses the division between groups. An overall feeling of “your pain, your suffering, and your submission is what I profit off of and how I stay in power” is prevalent throughout Jones’ poem and a crucial idea I interpreted after my first reading. At the end of the poem, the “begin, again, bend”(22) made it seem like this is a cycle that will continue over and over again and will not break, whether that be from lack of control by the speaker or the overly inflated amount of control by an external force. Overall, I think these lines are about the division and constructed assignment of superiority and inferiority instilled in society’s views of race. This poem vividly portrays the extent of which physical, verbal, and emotional violence were used against Black Americans in an attempt to keep this order.

4 thoughts on “B as in Boy”

  1. I really liked the way in which you analyzed the elements of this poem and the meaning they have. I totally agree with you regarding the emotional and verbal way of expressing superiority. I think that that one is a very important and real kind of violence, that since it is not as visual as the physical one is more difficult to identify and to eradicate in our society.

  2. Your analysis of the use of “boy” as well as the “us vs. them” mentality reminds me of how frequently queer children are disregarded, especially black queer children. To me, the use of “boy” seemed to be a nod towards the way queer kids’ feelings and experiences are often neglected or scorned by their parents and peers; Boy experiences a lot of this neglect in the poem by his father, too.

  3. The analysis of the word “boy” is actually quite interesting, for before reading your post, I would not really think of the word meaning this way when I read the poem. The expression of superiority by one specific race, in this case, white people, somehow still do not align with my understanding, since it’s just a matter of personal perspective and it totally depends on context. The author himself, is yet just another person with his own opinion, and assuming one word to represent the entire race as their way to express superiority is not exactly justified, for such cases, actions usually speak louder than words.

  4. I love how in your analysis you highlight the “us vs them” idea, as it highlights how systems of oppression come back to put down individuals whom are prejudiced against. The use of “vs” is important because it provides the connotation that there is a battle of some sorts going on. It also brings up an interesting binary, which is such because we as a society tend to think in binaries.

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