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Analysis and comments on The Day-Breakers by Arna Bontemps

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Comment 16 of 21, added on March 4th, 2011 at 3:34 AM.

This poem was written during the Harlem Renaissance (which lasted from the
1930s up until WW1) in which African Americans (and other poor Southerners
who were jobless from the Great Depression) were migrating to industrial
cities to find a new hope and better pay. The African Americans were drawn
to Harlem in New York because it was an established African American
community in which they could support each other. The Harlem Renaissance
was a time in which African Americans showed America that they had a
cultural identity and that they were a proud people as seen with the
widespread love of jazz and certain dances such as the Stomp, both of which
originated from African Americans.

This poem exemplifies this with its analogy of waging war on a hill and the
pointlessness in doing so. There is no point in trying to fight with an
inanimate object. The first to lines show this, but without the next two
lines, this seems rather grim when stepping out of the symbolism. It says
that there is no point trying to fight the racism of the white people
(which at the time was extremely high due to the lack of jobs increasing
tension leading to riots and lynchings). The poems follows up by saying
that there is no point to waste time trying to convince the white people
who will never listen. The poem lastly provides the alternative: damaging
oneself trying to find the rising sun or hope. I believe that this is
partially irony in that Arna believes that this hope for a new world
without the racism is achievable and that the African Americans should not
just try to make do with what they have.

Anon Ymous from United States
Comment 15 of 21, added on March 31st, 2010 at 11:49 PM.

I'm sorry but have any of you actually read this poem? The actual poet,
Bontemps, lived from the beginning of the 1900s to the 1970s. If I'm not
mistaken, slavery was abolished some thirty years before then. And even
though he focuses mainly upon this aspect of the past in some other poems
it does not mean that this specific poem does as well. Has anyone given a
thought to this poem beyond fighting past white dominance? Here's a hint:
The last phrase "rising sun" may or may not mean new generation, or, more
specifically, their children. I'm just saying, Bontemps is all about
symbolism (in this context at least). "Look underneath the underneath." (I
stole this from that manga/anime Naruto but it fits perfectly with most
aspects of poetry so deal with it.)

MooSaysTheLiar from United States
Comment 14 of 21, added on May 28th, 2009 at 9:32 AM.

People from africa: this poem was written many years ago when in the united
states, slavery was around. it has nothing to do with slaves in africa 2
years ago. Excellent poem!

Betty Savage from United States
Comment 13 of 21, added on February 28th, 2009 at 8:41 PM.

This poem explores the feelings of African Americans who have to raise the
sun in the western Hemisphere. They "break" the day but they are forced to
act as terrorists. Black people are forced to be alive by whites who care
about them. This should not happen to black people. I hate them all! This
sucks! Ahhhhhh! Jews did WTC, god bless and god speed.

Albert Lu from Belarus
Comment 12 of 21, added on May 7th, 2008 at 12:24 PM.

Im not sure all of you are understanding this poem...hes not saying that we
are slaves, he is speaking in the terms of a former slave. This is a
magnificent poem

Bontemps at his best

Franny from Germany

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Information about The Day-Breakers

Poet: Arna Bontemps
Poem: The Day-Breakers
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 1052 times
Poem of the Day: Jan 20 2001

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