Individuality In 'Anyone Lived In A Pretty How Town'

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E. E. Cummings ' "anyone lived in a pretty how town" is often interpreted as a love poem (Macksoud 72), but it can be analyzed more deeply to reflect societal themes. Cummings ' use of grammar and punctuation is unconventional and at the same time organized in a way that draws the reader to certain conclusions about the way the citizens of the "how town" live. None of the protagonists are given a name, and yet knowing their titles—"anyone," "women and men," "children," "someone," "everyone," and "noone"—and analyzing the contrast between the individual and the group is essential to understanding the message the poem conveys (Kidder 143). During E. E. Cummings ' life, he made many arguments in favor of individualism and condemned conformity. During a speech at Harvard, he once stated, "So far as I am concerned, poetry and every other art was, is, and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality" ("E. E. Cummings"). His unique writing style is also a testament to how he valued individuality and creativity—how his poetic style was drastically different from most of the poetry that had been written before him. "Anyone lived in a pretty how town" begins with "anyone" who is a typical—and individual—citizen in this town. He is presented as an average person, with little detail about his personal life. It can…show more content…
The next stanza transitions again to the idea of the group, with "someones" marrying "their everyones" (line 17), and the emotions of these lovers as a group appear to be insincere, as indicated by the idea that they "laughed their cryings" (line 18) in order to hide their emotions (Kidder 145). They were also insincere in their love for God, since they "said their nevers" (line 20) rather than their prayers before
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