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UCSD In Just and Christmas 1970 Poems Discussion

UCSD In Just and Christmas 1970 Poems Discussion


Part 1: 8 points

After reading “In Just?” and “Christmas, 1970,” please answer the following questions:

Regarding “In Just?

1. Almost all of the words in this poem are in lower-case. What is the effect of the arrangement of words on the page? What effect does this have when you look at the poem? How does the visual representation relate to the content of the poem?

2. Is the balloonman a “good guy,” or is he sinister? How can you tell?

3. Does the poem actually end? If so, where?

Regarding “Christmas, 1970,”

1. What is the role of race/nationality in the poem? 

2. How is the tree described?  Why do you think it is described in this way? 

3. This poem includes a number of details about time. How do place and time intersect in this poem? Why are they important?

Part 2: 2 points

After you have posted your response, respond to at least two other students in the class. These responses can be shorter and less formal but should provide more feedback than “I agree” or “Good post.”

Peer 1:

1. The arrangement of words on the page help guide the voice and the mind to a clearer sense of sound, meaning, and feeling. It helps people understand the meaning of the poem and visualize what is going on in the poem with the balloon man.

2. I believe the Balloonman is a good guy. In lines 1-5 it states how the world is lame. The balloon man comes and blows his whistles and kids come running to get a balloon.

3. The poem does not actually end. It cuts off talking about the balloon man blowing his whistle and weeing.

Christmas, 1970

  1. The race in this poem is Mexican when she stated “Tia’s Tere’s Christmas Tree.” Tia in Spanish is Aunt.
  2. The tree is described as if they just bought the tree and were putting it together. It was described that way to talk about how it is their first time decorating for Christmas on their own.
  3. The poem takes us back and forth to the past and the future of the sisters growing up at home during the holidays. At the end of the poem in the last three lines, “Even a map cannot show you the way back to a place that no longer exists.” Meaning you can only move forward in life and see what else life brings you ahead of you.

Peer 2:

In Just?

  1. The effect that the arrangement of words has on this poem is to force the reader to follow the poem by leading their eyes down the group of words. The words are spaced out and some span down to new lines. I think the effect that this has on the poem is that it’s conveying some sort of a timeline because the repetition of the word “when” and the visual representation of “hop-scotch and jump-rope” could indicate that the author is referencing childhood moments.
  2. I think the balloon man is sinister because of how the author references him and his whistling can mean that he is luring the kids. The description of the balloon man gives him a goat feature which I found odd because he mentioned the balloon man was “goat-footed”. Notoriously, Goats, or half human half goat creatures are sometimes a symbol of evil in mythical stories.
  3. I don’t think the poem actually ends because it leaves the reader wondering what is next. I believe Cummings did this intentionally because he wants the reader to imagine the many different possibilities of this poem.

Christmas, 1970

  1. The role of nationality in this poem is to emphasize why the speaker is speaking about this “new world” that they are in. We can infer that the speaker and their family are foreign and the situation the speaker is describing is that they have moved to another country.
  2. The tree is described as a memory holder of their lives before they moved away from their home. The speaker describes the tree as “our translated lives” with “its luminous branches” as they assemble it meaning that their family is getting ready to build their new life in this new place.
  3. Time intersects in the poem when the speaker is looking at a picture of their family under “Tia Tere’s Christmas tree” when they were back in their home country. The picture is of the family during Christmas time and currently, the family is getting ready to celebrate their first Christmas away from their family back home. The importance of time and place in the poem is that it conveys that we always want to revisit the past when we are displeased with our present, but if we can’t get through the struggles or the situation that displeases us we can’t branch out and grow. 

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