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Analysis and comments on A Boy Named Sue by Shel Silverstein

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Comment 16 of 126, added on January 26th, 2006 at 11:45 PM.

My mother grew up a huge fan of Johnny Cash to the point where her family
nicknamed her Johnny. I just happen to be bored and thought I would read a
few poems from Shel Silverstein because his poems are always so interesting
in a weird sort of way. I was amazed to find out that Shel Silverstein
wrote this poem I think that my mother would love to here where the story
came from. I am so glad I found this site!

Amanda from United States
Comment 15 of 126, added on January 20th, 2006 at 3:23 PM.

I'm reading Larson's book, saw the reference to the real boy named Sue who
was one of the attorneys on the Scopes monkey trial. Does anyone know if
Silverstein new the story about the Scopes lawyer, Sue K. Hicks? The song
refers to Gatlinburg, TN and the trial was in Tennessee?

Linda from United States
Comment 14 of 126, added on November 7th, 2005 at 7:19 PM.

There really was a boy named Sue according to author Edward J. Larson in
his book, "Summer for the Gods - The Scopes Trial", page 89. He was one of
the lawyers that prosecuted John Scopes. He was named Sue by his father in
memory of the boy's mother who died during his birth.

Fred from United States
Comment 13 of 126, added on October 14th, 2005 at 5:46 AM.

As a retired English teacher I give occasional lectures to community groups
on language and related topics, one being names and their origins, and how
one's name relates to self-image. I sometimes start this lecture with a
mention of "A Boy Named Sue". Its humour lies in its absurdity - why would
the boy retain the name when he grew up, as if it was like a birthmark,
scar or other unchangeable thing? But the cleverness of the poem is of
course it isn't as absurd as all that. Names are very much a part of our
identity, given to us by those responsible for our existence, and we don't
lightly abandon or change our name. Parents often do give children awful,
pretentious or obscure names, and mostly the kids put up with them all
their life. So "A Boy Named Sue" is partly a satire on this. But surnames
can be pretty bad too - Belcher, Swindell, Coward, Ramsbottom, Death (all
of these originally had innocuous meanings, of course) - yet you'll find
plenty of people in phone books with such names. Again, our name, whatever
it is, is part of identity, and surnames in particular link us to ancestors
and present families and relatives. Silverstein of course knows these
traditions and sends them up in a marvellously humorous but basically
fairly gentle fashion.

Bill Jennings from Australia
Comment 12 of 126, added on June 28th, 2005 at 10:31 AM.

I am a high school teacher and I was looking for an entertaining poem to
discuss with my students - I found one! I will also play the song for my
kids to hear and to enjoy.

gailgw from United States
Comment 11 of 126, added on June 15th, 2005 at 11:56 AM.

Many times, I've listened to Johnny Cash do "A Boy Named Sue", had a laugh
and drove on. Not until today did I know that Shel had written the words.


Frank from United States
Comment 10 of 126, added on June 13th, 2005 at 12:30 PM.

i was realy suprised to see shel say mother fucker

Boom Wee from Israel
Comment 9 of 126, added on May 1st, 2005 at 12:07 PM.

this poem iz sooo freakn awesome!! its really funny! i luv shel

Nikki from Australia
Comment 8 of 126, added on April 14th, 2005 at 8:04 PM.

I really like this poem and song as well! I like it a lot! =)

- -*Jade from United States
Comment 7 of 126, added on April 4th, 2005 at 6:55 PM.

cute poem.., i think i kno why it wasnt in a kids book... i think...haha...

hana from United States

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Information about A Boy Named Sue

Poet: Shel Silverstein
Poem: A Boy Named Sue
Volume: sung by Johnny Cash
Year: 1969
Added: Apr 22 2004
Viewed: 68159 times

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