Figurative Language And Diction In Queens, 1963, By Julia Alvarez

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In “Queens, 1963”, the speaker narrates to her audience her observations that she has collected from living in her neighborhood located in Queens, New York in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. The narrator is a thirteen-year-old female immigrant who moved from the Dominican Republic to America with her family. As she reflects on her past year of living in America, she reveals a superb understanding of the reasons why the people in her neighborhood act the way they do towards other neighbors. In “Queens, 1963” by Julia Alvarez, the poet utilizes diction, figurative language, and irony to effectively display to the readers that segregation is a strong part of the American melting pot. The poem begins with the speaker addressing her moving to America, whilst using poetic devices to reveal the blending of the ethnic groups in America. The speaker tells us that “everyone seemed more American/than we, newly arrived/foreign dirt still on our soles” (Alvarez 1-30). Upon arriving, the narrator feels foreign right off the bat as other immigrants appear to be more adopted into America. The harsh word “dirt” helps to portray to the reader that although the foreign dirt is still on her shoes, the speaker leaves behind her native country, but still naturally carries her roots with her. The soil wears off eventually as revealed when the speaker mentions that “By year’s end, a sprinkler waving/like a flag on our mowed lawn,/we were blended into the block” (Alvarez 4-6). The simile of the sprinkler on the lawn recognizes that much like the spraying of the sprinkler symbolizes the speaker’s family finally being used to their new home, it can be compared to the waving of a flag that symbolizes the family embracing America. The word choice of... ... middle of paper ... ...s. The irony in this passage, along with figurative language, help the reader understand the degree of resentment that ethnic groups may have for each other, despite being apart of the same country. The female, adolescent speaker helps the audience realize the prejudice that is present in a “melting-pot” neighborhood in Queens during the year 1983. With the setting placed in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, the poem allows the audience to examine the experience of a young immigrant girl, and the inequality that is present during this time. Julia Alvarez in “Queens, 1963” employs poetic tools such as diction, figurative language, and irony to teach the reader that even though America is a place founded upon people who were strangers to the land, it is now home to immigrants to claim intolerance for other foreigners, despite the roots of America’s founding.

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