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Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes by Lawrence Ferlinghetti Different Cultures – Cluster 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes by Lawrence Ferlinghetti Different Cultures – Cluster 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes by Lawrence Ferlinghetti Different Cultures – Cluster 1

2 Lawrence Ferlinghetti Born 1919 Lives in California One of the Beat Poets who came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s

3 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes The poem describes a moment when time is suspended, like a snapshot. Two pairs of people are thrown into contrast. They meet as one couple ends its work and the other is about to begin. The snapshot raises questions about the society which the four people are part of.

4 At the stoplight waiting for the light nine am downtown San Francisco a bright yellow garbage truck with two garbage men in red plastic blazers standing on the back stoop one on each side hanging on and looking down into an elegant open Mercedes with an elegant couple in it The man in a hip three-piece linen suit with shoulder-length blond hair and sunglasses The young blond woman so casually coifed with a short skirt and colored stockings on the way to his architects office

5 And the two scavengers up since four am grungy from their route on the way home The older of the two with grey iron hair and hunched back looking down like some gargoyle Quasimodo And the younger of the two also with sunglasses & long hair about the same age as the Mercedes driver And both scavengers gazing down as from a great distance at the cool couple as if they were watching some odorless TV ad in which everything is always possible

6 And the very red light for an instant holding all four close together as if anything at all were possible between them across that small gulf in the high seas of this democracy

7 Two Scavengers... Lines 1- 9 At the stoplight waiting for the light nine am downtown San Francisco a bright yellow garbage truck with two garbage men in red plastic blazers standing on the back stoop one on each side hanging on and looking down into an elegant open Mercedes with an elegant couple in it Informal American terms (red) Informal American terms (red) What are the effects of the repetitions (green) ? Each line adds a new piece of information Open, free style (very Californian ?). Each line is a short phrase, a unit of sense or meaning

8 Two Scavengers... Lines The man in a hip three-piece linen suit with shoulder-length blond hair and sunglasses The young blond woman so casually coifed with a short skirt and colored stockings on the way to his architects office Professional, clean, blond, stylish Cumulative effect – each line adds more, building the scene

9 Two Scavengers... Lines And the two scavengers up since four am grungy from their route on the way home The older of the two with grey iron hair and hunched back looking down like some gargoyle Quasimodo And the younger of the two also with sunglasses & long hair about the same age as the Mercedes driver Tired, dirty; one older with grey hair, ugly /deformed; one younger, similar in some ways to Merc driver We are invited to make a comparison

10 Two Scavengers... Lines And both scavengers gazing down as from a great distance at the cool couple as if they were watching some odorless TV ad in which everything is always possible A visual connection: the scavengers watch the beautiful people as distantly as if they were on a TV ad, part of a fantasy. The beautiful people are odorless, unlike the grungy garbage men. A reversal: the garbage men look down on the beautiful people Each of the first 4 sections adds to & builds the description of the scene

11 Two Scavengers... Lines And the very red light for an instant holding all four close together as if anything at all were possible between them across that small gulf in the high seas of this democracy The red light is emphasised. Its what brings the 4 together in this snapshot What is possible between them ? In this democracy (USA), how big is the gulf between rich and poor ? A small gulf but in high seas The fifth section is a pause for reflection and conclusion

12 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes The poem has 5 sections: Lines 1 – 9 set the scene Lines 10 – 15 describe the beautiful people Lines 16 – 25 describe the scavengers Lines 26 – 30 suggest a comparison Lines 31 – 37 sum up the scene and raise a question for readers

13 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes Lines 1 – 9 establish the time and place very exactly. 9am, downtown San Francisco, traffic lights. Two garbage collectors (scavengers), wearing red jackets, are symmetrically positioned on a bright yellow truck, looking down into an open car, at a couple who are very different from them.

14 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes Lines 10 – 15 describe the beautiful people in the Mercedes: professional, clean, blond, fashionable, stylish. They are on the way to work in his architects office. Lines 16 – 25 describe the garbage collectors: tired, dirty, one ugly and deformed, the other similar to the Mercedes driver in age and in some points of appearance. They are on the way home from work, up since 4 am.

15 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes Lines 26 – 30 establish a visual connection: the scavengers watch the beautiful people as distantly as if they were on a TV ad, like part of a fantasy. The beautiful people are odorless, unlike the grungy garbage men. Lines 31 – 37 return to the coincidence of their being in the same place at the same time. The red light, which has caused the coincidence, is emphasised as very red. The illusion of a connection is repeated (as if anything at all were possible between them). The poem ends by asking whether the gulf between them is great or small (its a small gulf, but its on the high seas) and whether the democracy they are all part of is capable of bridging the gap.

16 How Two Scavengers is written. 1. Shape and Sense Written in 37 short lines. An open, free style. 2 – 9 words in a line. 2 – 13 syllables per line. Each line is a short phrase, a unit of sense or meaning. Within each of the 5 sections, each line adds a new point of information to the previous lines, developing the description of the scene in a cumulative way. The sequence of the first 4 sections has a similar cumulative effect, building the description of the scene. The last section is a pause for reflection on what is being observed. The cumulative effect of building the scene is emphasised by the use of And...and...and to begin lines and sections.

17 How Two Scavengers is written. 2. Visual Description Description is straightforward and precise and focuses specifically on visual information. Colour is important: red, yellow, blond, grey, very red. It is easy to visualise the scene. We are invited to observe a snapshot and draw conclusions about the connections between the people involved. There is an emphasis on visual connections when the garbage men observe the cool couple like watching a TV ad.

18 How Two Scavengers is written. 3. Use of Language Language is plain and simple. There is frequent use of informal, everyday American terms: downtown (commercial centre of the city), stoop (step), hip, grungy, cool. Frequent use of alliteration (not shown above in the text) gives pattern and texture to the language. Examples: standing/stoop casually/coifed grungy/grey/gargoyle gazing down/great distance cool/couple The accumulation of detail, emphasised by the use of And...and...and gives the poem energy and immediacy, appropriate to the idea of its being a live scene stopped for us to observe. Repetitions also help to build the energy: elegant/elegant, blond/blond, possible/possible Description of the beautiful people is ironic/mocking: beautiful, blond, elegant, cool

19 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes

20 Two Scavengers Three tasks. Compare the ways in which the two couples are described (Lines 10 – 15 and 16 – 25). Comment on the fact that the younger garbage man is similar in some ways to the Mercedes driver. How similar is he (or will he become) to the older garbage man ? Compare the working lives of the two couples. What do you think is the poets view of the democracy that he and the two couples are part of ?

21 Two Scavengers Comparison with another poem You can compare the social division suggested in Two Scavengers with that described in Nothings Changed.


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