Example Of A Close Reading Of A Poem Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Poem, Workplace, Poetry, Literature, People, Job, Rhythm, Employment

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/02/16

In "5000 Apply for 100 Jobs", Jim Daniels paints a short poem with brushstrokes of despair and depression, as he casually relates his experience of waiting in an employment line, along with 5000 other people. Daniels uses several literary devices in the work. His use of alliteration, imagery (figurative language), simile and metaphor, hyperbole, rhythm and rhyme, as well as alliteration flavor the poem uniquely, effectively revealing the thoughts and emotions of the poet.
While alliteration is not used often in the poem, Daniels finds a place for repetition of the same consonants at the beginning of some of his diction. For example, "At least I have another job -- minimum wage -- /washing windows, sweeping floors," (Daniels, lines 11-12). This alliterative moment, "washing windows", emphasizes the hum-drum nature of the actual activity, adding further to the overall tone of despair that permeates the poem. Also, in the verse, "Some of us I knew were poor/with pink skin sticking out/of what we wore" (Daniels, 4-6). "What we wore" underscores the overall sound of deflation and disillusionment heard throughout the poem. Here, the alliteration, as it is in past tense, underscores the reflective nature of the verse. The narrator is pondering the event that happened before -- the sound of dejection still in his voice.
Daniels uses some imagery in the poem as well. For example, although it is nothing more than an employment line (with 5000 people in line), Daniels begins the poem by stating that "I stood in line, drunk with the cold/shuffling toward the factory door" (Daniels, 1-2). Obviously, Daniels is not literally drunk, but it is an odd phrase to choose at this point in the poem. To be drunk is an emotion that suggests some sort of elation. The word's presence here is somewhat ironic, as it not likely that a person will literally feel drunk when one feels very cold. Also, in the next couple of lines, Daniels says, "Hundreds danced slowly in front of me/hundreds behind" (Daniels, 3-4). Here, Daniels conjures an almost-humorous image of bored people dancing in an employment line. It is the last place one would expect to find people drunk, as well as dancing. Yet, in the poem, Daniels' effective use of imagery helps the reader develop a mental picture of the activity. Daniels evokes the image of people he knew were poor "with pink skin sticking out/of what we wore" (Daniels, 5-6). Daniels paints a picture of poorly-dressed people, whose pink skin, perhaps, is a result of being in the bitter cold. Daniels' use of imagery here is also suggestive of people who resemble animals with pink flesh, or cartoonish people even. At any rate, Daniels does not appear to emphasize with their plight as fellow job-seekers, much less as fellow human beings.
Metaphorically speaking, the pink-fleshed people in line represent some sort of animal, such as pigs. Daniels likens the experience of waiting for one of 100 jobs to waiting in line with pigs, little more than farm animals who are not doing anything interesting or creative. They are only being queued through an employment line, just as a farm animal would be guided through an enclosure to a food trough. Daniels equates poverty with being animal-like and improperly-attired.
Daniels also uses hyperbole, or exaggerated statements or claims, in the beginning of the poem. For example, again, "I stood in line drunk with the cold/shuffling toward the factory door" (Daniels, 1-2). Also, he follows that with: "Hundreds danced slowly in front of me/hundreds behind" (Daniels, 3-4). While both lines effectively conjure the images of drunkenness and interpretive dancing, it is clear that Daniels is looking for a job, and is somewhere in an employment line. His verse is hyperbolic, conjuring images in the mind's eye of the reader that are at once troubling and amusing.
The rhythm of "5000 Apply for 100 Jobs" adds to the overall complexity of the poem. The rhythm has a sort of sing-song rhythm that is both wistful, nostalgic, and at times, devoid of hope. For example, its "de-dum, de-dum, de-dum" metrical foot -- iambic pentameter -- lends the poem a feeling of monotony and impending doom, foretelling what actually happens in the poem. Ultimately, most people are turned away, do not get a job, and the narrator likens the "bit of joy" he feels to "Happy Hour at the Goodwill Store". He accepts his meager job working for minimum wage as a janitor, and life goes on. However, the rhythm is ominous, and continues in the mind of the reader long after the words and images have vanished. The rhyme also indicates a type of glumness, and a burdensome weight that every man and woman who is looking for a job must carry. For example, "When the man said go home, that's it/some kicked the ground and swore./Others moved on quickly/having been here before" (Daniels, 7-10). The rhyming scheme underscores the fact that those who are familiar with job-seeking move quickly, whereas the others swear and kick the ground out of sheer frustration and disappointment. The rhyme is a perfect mode of transmission for feelings of sadness, and lost opportunity.
Jim Daniels, in "5000 Apply for 100 Jobs", successfully uses a number of poetic devices to relate a wealth of information to his readers. His tone of despair is mediated by both the rhythm and rhyming scheme of the short work, and his use of alliteration -- albeit limited -- supplements the rhymes. Moreover, the imagery and hyperbole interwoven throughout the poem help relate a situation that (ironically) has an element of humor and surprise, despite its depressing nature. Finally, Daniels hints at an expression of gratitude when he unveils his final simile.


Daniels, J. (n.d.). "5000 Apply for 100 Jobs."

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"Example Of A Close Reading Of A Poem Essay," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 16-Feb-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-a-close-reading-of-a-poem-essay/. [Accessed: 15-Jun-2024].
Example Of A Close Reading Of A Poem Essay. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-a-close-reading-of-a-poem-essay/. Published Feb 16, 2021. Accessed June 15, 2024.

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