Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes and Nothing’s Changed

Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes and Nothing’s Changed

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Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes and Nothing’s Changed


Two Scavengers in a Truck,

Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes (Lawrence Ferlinghetti) and
Nothing’s Changed (Tatamkhulu Afrika)

The American Constitution clearly states that all men are created
equally and should have the same opportunities as each other. However,
Ferlinghetti believes this is not true. In his observation he sees the
garbagemen or ‘scavengers’ tired and weary from their route, working
hard but still in unavoidable poverty. Also using a word like
scavengers he compares the garbagemen to rodents scrounging a living
at the bottom of society. He then sees the ‘elegant’ couple in an
‘elegant’ Mercedes, loving their life, not a care in the world, both
wealthy and smart. The woman ‘so casually coifed’ and the man in ‘a
hip three piece suit’ who, have both benefited from the inequality of
the American Constitution, taking it easy in their heavenly life.
Ferlinghetti understands the unfairness of the Constitution but knows
deep down that it cannot change and will never change.

In the poem Ferlinghetti makes many contrasts between the scavengers
and the elegant couple. The title shows us straight away that the poem
will be about the contrasts between two pairs of people. ‘Scavengers’
is a derogatory term for the garbagemen because it suggests that they
live off the rubbish of others - a scavenger beetle lives off rotting
flesh. However, ‘Beautiful People’ is a compliment. So, right from the
start, we feel the garbagemen are at a disadvantage. Ferlinghetti also
chose these words to describe their different classes, as they are
strong indications of who they are and what they do for a living.
Scavenger impl...


... middle of paper ...


...o both speak about the corruption of
the systems of which they are under. Ferlinghetti uses the phrase
‘across that small gulf

In the high seas

of this democracy’

This simple phrase begs the question - Is this really a democracy?

Afrika chooses not to ask the question directly, but expects you to
ask the question yourself. In his autobiography he wrote:

‘We may have a new constitution, we may have on the face of it a
beautiful democracy, but the racism in this country is absolutely
redolent. We try to pretend to the world that it does not exist, but
it most certainly does, all day long, every day, shocking and
saddening and terrible. I am full of hope. But I won't see a change in
my lifetime. It's going to take a long time. In America it's taken all
this time and it's still not gone... So it will change. But not
quickly, not quickly at all.’

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