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“Letter to My Sister” by Anne Spencer Casey Green.

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Presentation on theme: "“Letter to My Sister” by Anne Spencer Casey Green."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Letter to My Sister” by Anne Spencer Casey Green

2 Author Background Full name Annie Bethel Spencer, born in Lynchburg, VA ( ) American Black Poet, involved in Harlem Renaissance. Harlem Ren. Poet James Weldon Johnson push Annie, gave penname Anne Spencer. Involved in local community and NAACP Virginia Seminary, graduated in 1899

3 “Letter to My Sister” It is dangerous for a woman to defy the gods; To taunt them with the tongue's thin tip, Or strut in the weakness of mere humanity, Or draw a line daring them to cross; The gods own the searing lightning, The drowning waters, tormenting fears And anger of red sins.

4 “Letter to My Sister” Oh, but worse still if you mince timidly-- Dodge this way or that, or kneel or pray, Be kind, or sweat agony drops Or lay your quick body over your feeble young; If you have beauty or none, if celibate Or vowed--the gods are Juggernaut, Passing over... over...

5 “Letter to My Sister” This you may do: Lock your heart, then, quietly, And lest they peer within, Light no lamp when dark comes down Raise no shade for sun; Breathless must your breath come through If you'd die and dare deny The gods their god-like fun.

6 Speaker + Attitude Female, talking to other females (title) Feministic, distrusting, isolationist attitude 3 rd person first stanza, 2 nd person second and third stanzas Women lowly place in society under men, men all- powerful, women servile (“It is dangerous for a woman to defy the gods”) Calls for toughness (“Oh, but worse still if you mince timidly”) Against involvement, for isolation (“Lock your heart, then, quietly, And lest they peer within, Light no lamp when dark comes down”)

7 Organization Three stanzas Stanzas 1 and 2 are 7 lines, Stanza 3 is 8 Stanza 1 3 rd person, 2 and 3 in 2 nd person Each stanza is a sentence –Possibly used to divide up ideas of the poem Free verse No rhyme scheme

8 Stanza Breakdown ST1 – Establish women as underneath men. Claims dangerous for women to stray from the guidelines and orders given by men. Purposely defying gods doesn’t help ST2 – Says being weak or hardworking or obedient doesn’t help either, men still above women. Purposely following gods doesn’t help either. ST3 – Advises women to isolate themselves from men and avoid being noticed by men. Anti- marrige and seemingly anti-relationship

9 Imagery Gods = Men –Metaphor, men total control over women like ancient Roman and Greek gods over humans, and society in general, holding women down (“The gods own the searing lightning, The drowning waters, tormenting fears And anger of red sins.”) Light Imagery –Tells women to stay out of the light, vulnerability (“Light no lamp when dark comes down Raise no shade for sun”) as not to draw attention.

10 Imagery Cont. Juggernaut –1. any large, overpowering, destructive force or object, as war, a giant battleship, or a powerful football team. Describing men as a whole that they are totally above women. –2. anything requiring blind devotion or cruel sacrifice. Describing the ways of men, and how their influence in society requires women to follow along or become outcasts. Red sins – red is traditionally the color of sin and anger, highlight the sins of men.

11 Diction and Syntax Readable and understandable language Mince - to walk or move with short, affectedly dainty steps. Lest - for fear that; so that (one) should not Alliteration (“To taunt them with the tongue's thin tip”) (“If you'd die and dare deny”)

12 Conclusion “Letter to My Sister” by Anne Spencer is a poem commenting on male dominance. In this work, men are compared to the ancient gods who rule fiercely over the mortal humans (women). Spencer writes that her “sisters” should not purposely defy men, nor be completely subservient to them either, as they hold total and complete power. The only way to be unaffected by the gods is to lock the heart and avoid drawing attention to oneself.

13 Bibliography “Anne Spencer”. Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org on 6 May 08. Last modified 25 April “NAACP”. Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org on 6 May 08. Last modified 5 May 2008.


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