Wild Bees by James K. Baxter

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As people, we naturally “size people up,” or rather determine their value and treat them accordingly. If we come across someone with money or someone well known, we tend to determine that they have a higher value and place them on a high pedestal. Whereas, when we come across someone with noticeably less money seen in the way they dress, the type of house they live in, or what job they possess, and automatically assume their value is less, deeming them not as important as someone more well off. We essentially treat the wealthier better than the less fortunate. But what gives us the right to treat people differently? I ask the same questions while reading the “Wild Bees” by James K. Baxter. The poem addresses a group of boys attacking a beehive in a horrific way, reminiscent to that of genocide. Similar to people devaluing one another, the boys devalue the bees and wind up destroying the beehive. In the poem, Baxter uses the scenario to address people’s tendency to define another individual’s worth and how the affects may lead to violence. Baxter addresses the negative side effects of determining someone else’s value by referencing Ophelia from the Shakespearean play Hamlet. In Hamlet, Ophelia was the love interest of Hamlet, but is driven crazy by Hamlet’s sudden disregard of Ophelia and her feelings. As a result, she drowns herself in a river. One may argue that Ophelia drowned herself because Hamlet devalued her and deemed her unimportant and useless to himself, therefore, causing her to see herself as unimportant and useless. The poem states, “Often in a summer… downstream between willows, a safe Ophelia drifting / In a rented boat” (line 1-3) which may be hinting towards the noti... ... middle of paper ... ...rst devalued them, assumed themselves more superior and acted in destroying them. Violence occurred for the boy’s enjoyment and they were able to kill them successfully because the bees were smaller than them. The bees were not less important than the boys, similar to how no person is less important than another person. In today’s society though, we often place each other in categories whether by stereotype, or significance, or based upon wealth. The overall message Baxter sends, though, is that we do not have the right to place a value on another person (whether increasing their value or lessening it), and that the violence that often occurs from doing so is senseless and achieves nothing. Works Cited Page Baxter, James K. “Wild Bees” The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. Ferguson, Margaret. New York: Norton 2005. 1701. Print.

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