Analysis : Gwendolyn Brook 's Kitchenette Building Essay

Analysis : Gwendolyn Brook 's Kitchenette Building Essay

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Sociologists often employ intersectionality theory to describe and explain facets of human interactions. This particular methodology operates on the notion that sociologically defining characteristics, such as that of race, gender, and class, are not independent of one another but function simultaneously to determine our individual social experiences. This is evident in poetry as well. The combination of one poet’s work that expresses issues on class with another poet’s work that voices issues on race, and so forth, can be analyzed through a literary lens, and collectively embody the sociological intersectionality theory.

Take Gwendolyn Brook’s “Kitchenette Building”, for example. Brook describes life within the lowest of socioeconomic classes in the United States during the late 1900’s. Particularly, she depicts the quality of life for impoverished African-Americans during this era in America. Brook conveys the unfair but all-too-real injustice experienced by blacks at this time. She notes that “”Dream” makes a giddy sound” (2), speaking on the fact that because of their low socioeconomic rank, pursing the “American” dream is not even considered a reality to blacks. They may “wonder. But not well! not for a minute!” (11), meaning that pondering about things other than the present implies having the luxury of time to do so, which was not afford to those worried about where they would live and what/if they would eat. Instead they “think of lukewarm water” and “hope to get in it” (13). Present concerns of bathing, housing, and feeding inevitably took precedence over aspiring or “dreaming” towards a better future.

Brooks also notes the (perhaps justified) cynical nature surrounding the notion of someone from a low socioeconomic cl...


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... just one?” (81-83). This conveys the questions of what it means to be a woman: are we simply similar because of “awful hanging breasts” as the speaker of the poem questions, or are we held together by something else, and what is society’s perception on this? It is also interesting to note Bishop’s use of parenthesis around the line “I could read” (15). It may function as an aside for the reader to realize that the six year old girl can in fact read, but also might function as a wink to the misconstrued notion throughout history that women were less educated and didn’t read.

Respectively, the works of Brook, Hughes, and Bishop with regard to class, race, and gender when analyzed through the literary perspective collectively embody the theory of intersectionality, where multiple social factors overlap and interact with one another to form the sociological experience.

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