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"Promise" is a poem about the time and love put into one rose. The rose then blossoms, and blooms, and grows more and more beautiful. But before the rose reaches its peak of beauty, it was picked. The conflict is that the rose wasn't seen at its most beautiful stage by the one who nurtured it. This rose can symbolize any one sacred thing to one's heart. The author of this poem, Paul Lawrence Dunbar uses irony of situations and satire in this particular poem. The red rose that was picked by the inconsiderate child portrays the feelings of parents losing their offspring before complete maturity.
In this poem, the rose symbolizes a child as it grows and develops. When a child is nurtured and smiled upon, it only promises a beautiful masterpiece at the end, just as a rose requires such "loving care" (2). As time then passes, a child slowly reveals characteristics of individualism. The rose it too shines its true hint of color with time (6). However, this beauty only comes when one works very hard to achieve it. Furthermore, as a child depends on its parents for basic needs to be met, the rose then too depends on its keeper to supplement where mother nature deprives. Parents take great pride in watching their young mature into adults. The keeper of the rose also took pride in watching the rose blossom (10-11). The rose resembles a child and both require much "more than loving care" (2). These statements reveal that both the child and the rose require allot of attention, grooming, and nurturing. In other words both are like investments and are not just thrown away.
The color red in the rose symbolizes the bond between the keeper and the rose as it grows more intense. Within the poem, the red rose continues to grow brilliantly red. The stages of red portrays the growth in the child. The author never says that the rose is just red. Instead, he uses more intense language. For example, the rose starts getting a tinct in its blood (6). This statement says that the rose is beginning to turn a shade of red. This red resembles the bond of a child and its parents. Within time, this bond does then grow stronger. The rose then is referred to as a ruddy flame (9). This color of red is even more intense than before.
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"Irony of Situations and Satire in Chaim Potok's Promise." 123HelpMe.com. 12 Nov 2019
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The thoughtless child that plucked the rose symbolizes how the youth is robbed from the elder. Dunbar states, "I watched it taking on its ruddy flame until the day of perfect bloom came, then hasted I with smiles to find it blushing red--Too late! Some Thoughtless child had plucked my rose and fled!" (9-12). This inconsiderate child symbolizes the young person who marries the rose child. The child wasn't at full maturity to be swept up and married. This thoughtless child took the parent's most sacred masterpiece before they got to see the child at full maturity. The parent worked very hard at molding this young person only to have no reward.
This poem "Promise" is a misnomer. Parents who spend the time to raise and mold their children should be granted the first enjoyments of the finished product. All of the effort it takes to raise a child should promise a beautiful masterpiece in the end. This masterpiece should be first admired by its creators. Just as the rose's keeper knew through all the work invested, it would promise a perfect bloom someday. Unfortunately, the rose's keeper had this promise broken.
Dunbar, Paul L. "Promise." Introduction to Literature: Reading, Analyzing, and Writing. 2nd ed. Ed. Dorothy U. Seyler and Richard A. Wilan. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1990. 283.