Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Duty, Dust, Women, Literature, Poem, Poetry, Sense, Responsibility

Pages: 1

Words: 275

Published: 2021/01/03

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In her poem “How I Learned to Sweep,” Julia Alvarez uses a simple act to highlight the much bigger, important ideas of duty and responsibility. The poem begins with a young girl sitting in front of the television. Her mother hands her a broom and leaves her to sweep the room herself for the first time amid the sounds of the personified television: “the t.v. blared the news” (11). At first, the girl thinks she did well as shown by Alvarez’s simile, using a simile to compare the floor to a squeaky clean plate: “Her floor was immaculate / as a just-washed dinner plate” (14-15). The poem takes a quick turn, however, when she again sees the television and witnesses the realities of war. Alvarez turns to simile as the speaker describes the scene of helicopters landing “their propellers swept like weeds seen underwater” (21-22). She uses metonymy in her descriptions of the “beautiful green gardens” that are the jungles and the “dragonflies” that are the helicopters (24-25). Alvarez uses figurative language to show how the task immediately seems small and insignificant, as does the girl’s quality of work. The more she sees, the harder she sweeps. The more she sees, the more she matures and begins to understand the realities of duty and responsibility.
Visions of military men firing at the enemy and helicopters falling from the sky hit the girl hard: “I watched a dozen of them die. . . / as if their dust fell through the screen / upon the floor I had just cleaned” (30-32). To the child, the floor wasn’t a big responsibility at first; however, just like the soldiers, she has a responsibility to do her best. Alvarez uses the dust falling through the screen to symbolize the difference between the child’s sense of duty and the soldier’s sense of duty. The girl is sweeping dust as the soldiers are turning to ash, and as she understands the difference in their duties, she begins to see the dust as ash. It shows how the child realizes the importance of their duty and how it tarnishes her sense of accomplishment in sweeping the floor for the first time. The poem ends on a great line that is meaning-filled metaphor for the dust: “she hadn’t found a speck of death” (40). In the end, the child understands her sense of duty, but she also sees the contrast between her accomplishment and the accomplishments of the soldiers.

Reference

Alvarez, Julia. “How I Learned To Sweep.” Homecoming. New York: Plume, 1996. Print.

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WePapers. (2021, January, 03) Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example. Retrieved June 18, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/
"Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example." WePapers, 03 Jan. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/. Accessed 18 June 2021.
WePapers. 2021. Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example., viewed June 18 2021, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/>
WePapers. Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example. [Internet]. January 2021. [Accessed June 18, 2021]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/
"Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example." WePapers, Jan 03, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/
WePapers. 2021. "Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved June 18, 2021. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/).
"Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 03-Jan-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/. [Accessed: 18-Jun-2021].
Good “How I Learned To Sweep” Literature Review Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-how-i-learned-to-sweep-literature-review-example/. Published Jan 03, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021.
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